Untitled Image (Carrying a Covered Hammock)
This image depicts two enslaved people transporting a merchant or planter in a covered hammock in Bahia, Brazil. On the right, another enslaved person carries the European's sword and an umbrella to shield him from the sun when he alights. Frézier described how the "rich people, even if it is inconvenient, hardly ever walk. They are always industrious in finding ways to distinguish themselves from other men. In America, as in Europe, they are ashamed to use the legs that nature has given us for walking. They are gently carried in beds of woven cotton, suspended at both ends on a large pole that two blacks carry on their heads or on their shoulders. And being hidden there so that the rain or ardor of the sun cannot make them uncomfortable, this bed is covered with a fringe of gold hanging from curtains that one can close when one wants. There, comfortably laying down, the head supported by a bolster of luxurious fabric, they are carried comfortably. . . These cotton hammocks are called Serpentin and are not Palanquins, as some travelers call them (p. 526). The Brazilian scholar, Gilberto Freyre, explained how "within their hammocks and palanquins the gentry permitted themselves to be carried about by Negroes for whole days at a time, some of them travelling in this manner from one plantation to another. . . Nearly all [the slaveholders] travelled by hammock" (Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves (New York, 1956), p. 409-410, 428). The same illustration appears in the Paris edition of Frézier, but as a fold out spreading over two pages (1716). Amédée-François Frézier (1682–1773) was a French military engineer, mathematician, spy, and explorer. He was dispatched to South Americas to correct existing navigational charts and make exact plans of the most important ports and fortresses along the coast.
Amédée Frézier, Relation du voyage de la mer du Sud aux cotes du Chili, du Pérou, et du Brézil, fait pendant les années 1712, 1713, & 1714 . . . (Amsterdam, 1717), vol. 2, plate 35 (facing p. 526). Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library.
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"Untitled Image (Carrying a Covered Hammock)", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed September 18, 2020, http://www.slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/2629