Treasures of Jamaican Heritage
re- 8oltum6ian &old Vise
Jhe only Arawak gold
item known from Jamaica, this pre-
Columbian disc was found in St.
Ann by Dr. James Lee.
It is not certain what the disc
was used for but its similarity to
ornaments found in other islands
of the Greater Antilles suggests that
it might have been an inlay
representing an eye or ear in a
wooden or stone sculpture; or a
decoration sewn into some item
of clothing or mask.
The presence of nickel in the gold
suggests that its source might have
been the Dominican Republic
where gold nuggets occur in river
gravels near deposits of laterite
containing nickel. The disc is 92.5
per cent gold, 7.2 per cent silver,
0.24 per cent nickel and 0.36 per
cent iron. It weighs 0.596 grams
and is 16 x 21 mm.
The disc was donated to the
Institute of Jamaica on 24
November 1983 by Mr. Maurice
Facey and Dr. Lee and is now on
permanent exhibition at the Coin
Museum of the Bank of Jamaica.
The disc is shown here in a
mounting by Swiss Stores.
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Vol. 18 No. 1 Copyright 0 1986 by
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Vol. 18 No. 1
FEBRUARY -APRIL 1985
HISTORY AND LIFE
2 CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS AND THE TREASURE OF THE
TAINO INDIANS OF HISPANIOLA
by Ricardo E. Alegria (translated by James W. Lee)
13 SOME EARLY JAMAICAN POSTCARDS, THEIR
PHOTOGRAPHERS AND PUBLISHERS
by Glory Robertson
49 THE COTTON TREE AND THE SPIRITUAL REALM IN JAMAICA
by John Rashford
25 EDNA MANLEY: SCULPTOR
by David Boxer
by Lorne Goodisen and Anthony McNeill
-Maria Le Yacona
COVER: Edna Manley's dramatic but little-
known early work The Forerunner (1941)
heralds our feature on the noted artist's
oeuvreon the occasionof her 85th birthday.
Review by Gloria Esoofftey
Review by Laurie Gunst
22 NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
Christopher Columbus and the
Treasure of the Tafno Indians
By Ricardo E. Alegrla
Originally published as Cristobal Colon y el Tesoro de los Indios
Ta(nos de La Espanola. Fundacion Garcda-Arevalo Inc.Santo Domingo,
Repu*blica Dominicana, 1980. Used with permission of the author.
Translated by James W. Lee
O n 2 January 1494, Christopher Columbus and those
accompanying him on his second voyage to the new
world disembarked on the island of Hispaniola.
There they founded the city of Isabela which would become
a centre from which conquest and colonization would begin.
The discoverer immediately commenced the construction
of forts for defense from possible attacks by the Indians,
imposed tribute on them and later arranged the capture of
the cacique rebel, Caonabo. Caonabo was considered respon-
sible for the destruction of the fort of Navidad, constructed
during the first voyage, and the slaughter of the Spaniards
who had stayed in it.
By way of ransom or payment of tribute by the Indians
and by the expropriation of the goods of the rebels, especial-
ly of the cacique Caonabo, Christopher Columbus between
10 March 1495 and 19 February 1496, assembled a valuable
treasure of indigenous objects, many of which were enriched
with decorations of gold.1 He also took back a good quantity
of gold and cotton.
The inventory of the objects collected by Columbus is a
valuable source for the study of Taino ethnography2 since
some of them do not appear to be mentioned in other ethno-
historic sources. These objects reveal the ceremonial richness
of the Tarnan culture and the multitude of artifacts which
were embellished with gold. The study and interpretation of
the list of ethnographic objects gathered by Columbus gives
us a new perspective of this culture beyond that which
has been established by archaeology. Taino gold mask. Artistic re-creation by Mela Pons de Alegria.
Conch shell mask of the Taimo Indians similar to those
that were made of gold Republica Dominicana.
Museum of the Garcia-Arevalo Foundation, Santo
Small masks called 'guayzas' were distinctive symbols
used by chiefs and other distinguished persons in the
tribe. Three beautiful samples made from conch are
exhibited in the Museum of Archaeology in Altos de
Chavon, Dominican Republic.
Belt of woven cotton with a mask showing inlays.
Repdblica Dominicana. Museum of Ethnography,
In the inventory there are 45 guayzas or miniature Taino
Indian masks. Bartolomed de Las Casas [1957, I: 197 ]
describes them thus: 'These faces or figures that are called
"guayzas" were made without collars to be put over the
heads of the men and kings suspended from behind by two
metal threads like the hanging ornaments of the Bishop's
mitre, quite in the same manner replete with precious stones'
Las Casas specifically describes one of the guayzas that
the cacique Goacanagari of Espanola had given to Columbus
during the first voyage: 'He had brought to the Admiral a
great mask that had some large pieces of gold in the ears and
in the eyes and in other parts, which was bestowed with
other gifts of gold, and the same King placed it on the
Admiral's head and neck'. In describing the gifts that Colum-
bus carried to the Catholic royalty on his return from his
first voyage, Las Casas [1957, 1:233] noted: 'He brought
green parrots, very beautiful and coloured, and guayzas that
were made of precious stones and fish bones like pearls'.
Among the 45 guayzas taken back by Columbus were in-
cluded masks made of woven cotton or of wood, decorated
with adornos of conch shell and sheets of gold. Twenty-seven
masks had adornos of thin gold sheets. Some of these were
brought to him by a brother of the cacique Caonabo. The
three masks with 19 pieces of gold
one mask with 10 gold leaves
14 guayzas worked of cotton and stones; three with
seven leaflets of gold. These were obtained in the
plunder of Caonabo
four guayzas, two with 10 gold leaflets
one guayza with 4 gold leaves
five guayzas with 8 gold leaves
three guayzas with 11 gold leaflets which were
brought by some caciques
one mask with 3 gold leaves
five guayzas with 15 gold leaflets
one mask of cotton with 9 gold leaves
four guayzas with 21 gold leaves
two guayzas which are masks with 9 gold leaves
built into them; the weight of the gold being four
ounces and one ochava of 5 tomines and 6 grains of
one mask with seven pieces of gold leaf that was
taken from Caonabo and his heirs.
Another important item of the treasure collected by the
admiral included seven cintos or belts of woven cotton with
adornments of conch shell, stone beads, and thin gold sheets.
These belts, described by the chroniclers of the conquest,
were used by the Taino caciques. Las Casas [1909: 156]
describes them thus:
they made and used some belts as wide as three good fingers
that were girdled with the same pretty stones worked in pat-
terns of white and colours and on the inside part which shows
the reverse where all the cotton threads appear with which the
stones were attached or stitched, one could see the slip knots
or ruffles as if they were painted. This 'cinto' with stones and
stitched thread was as strong as a cross-bow, that would pene-
trate two coats of mail before being able to trouble the 'cinto'.
Pieces of this were introduced from this island by the first
Admiral who discovered these Indians, to the Catholic rulers,
Don Hernando and Dona Isabel, who considered them and
greatly praised the craftsmanship more than that of the pieces
that carried gold as in crowns.
Syllacio [Syllacio-Coma, 1967: 255] narrates how the
cacique Goacanagarn of EspaFiola supplied to the admiral
'more than a dozen belts made with admirable art and some
of them enriched with delicate leaves of gold interwoven in
the cotton cloth with marvellous artifice'.
One of these belts, possibly sent by the Catholic kings or
by the Emperor Charles V to some European princes, for-
tunately has survived and is in the ethnographic museum of
Vienna [Schweeger-Hegel, 1966 and Vega 1973]. Another
extraordinary belt ornamented with small beads of shell, a
unique archaeological find, is in the collection of the Garcda-
Arevalo Foundation of Santo Domingo.
Among the seven belts of woven cotton received by
Columbus, three of them carried masks and adornos of gold.
The belts are described thus:
Belt with green mask and two leaflets of gold
Belt with mask with four leaves of gold that came
from the Indians of Caonabo
Belt with a mask holding 15 thin leaflets of gold
Belt with 2 masks and cast tubes of gold
Belt without gold
Belt taken from Caonabo.
Guanins or Discs
The treasure of the Tainos included discs that the caci-
ques used as distinctive marks of authority. Referring to
the death of the cacique Agueybana of Puerto Rico during
an encounter with the Spaniards, the chronicler Oviedo
said [1851, 1:480] 'and he wore on his breast a "guanin"
or piece of gold which only principal Indians suspended from
their necks'. Martyr of Angleria [1964, 1:338] also described
the discs: 'the metal sheets and balls that were clustered on
the breast and other valuables they called "guanins" '. In the
inventory they are called espejos (mirrors): 22 'mirrors of
gold, one of copper and six of cotton brightened by gold
Martyr's description seems to indicate that in some cases
the disc of thin gold sheet would be incrusted in a base of
woven cotton. These guanins have never been mentioned in
the archaeological sources of the Antilles.
Other objects collected by Columbus included four
'tablets covered by gold leaf'. It is difficult to determine
what would be the use of these 'tablets'. It seems to us that
they could be body ornaments. Bernaldez [1869, II: 75],
referring to the adornos that were decorating the cacique
who visited the ship of Columbus on the coast of Jamaica
during the second voyage, said: 'and from the ears there were
suspended two large tablets of gold with some strings of
green beads, very minute ..
We are especially interested in one of the ethnographic
objects collected by Columbus because it is the first and
only one ever described. He refers to a figure, indubitably a
Taino idol, covered with gold leaf. He does not say of what
The Tafno chieftain was distinguished by the 'guanin'
or gold disc pendant on his chest. Museo Arquel6gico
Regional, Altos de Chavon.
Bone idol with inlays of gold in the eyes. Republirc
Dominicana. Garcia-Arevalo Foundation, Santo
Idol of wood for cohoba: "The Twins". Repzblica
Dominicana. Museum of Dominican Man, Santo
Dujo or ceremonial seat of wood with gold inlays.
Repu'blica Dominicana. British Museum, England.
Sub-Taino, lithic anthropozoomorphic frog-shaped
amulets. MuseoArqueldgico Regional, Altos de Chavon.
Tafno Zemi or three-pointed idol. The mouth and eye
areas are unpolished and are engraved in low relief to
facilitate the application of decoration of small gold
pieces or conch plates. Museo Arquelogico Regional,
Altos de Chavon.
(Left) Zoomorphic vomiting spatula of bone with
depressions to be filled with gold inlays. Repdblica
Dominicana. Museum of the Garcia-Arevalo Foun-
dation, Santo Domingo.
(Right) A vomiting spatula and timbrel of wood show-
ing depressions that were filled with gold sheets.
Repdblica Dominicana. Museum of the Garca-Are-
valo Foundation, Santo Domingo.
material the figure was made. Most probably it was made of
stone or wood and had pressed over it a thin leaf of gold.
Though the use of incrustations or decorations of gold on
idols of stone, wood and bone was known, we are unaware
of an idol entirely covered with gold. In the inventory, it was
stated that the 'figure' had been brought by Cristobal Torres,
quartermaster of the admiral, who had been given it by the
The use by the Taino Indians of incrustations of gold on
idols of wood, stone, bone, shell and cotton is also apparent
among the objects collected by Columbus. The inventory
includes 'two zemis with 10 spots of gold'. The term 'zemi'
was used by the Taino to designate the idols of their gods
and guardian spirits.
In the course of past archaeological investigations in the
Antilles, evidence has been found for the use of inlays of
gold and other materials on idols and dujos or ceremonial
seats. The major example up to now is the dujo from His-
paniola preserved in the British Museum, which has five in-
crustations of thin gold sheet.
A miniature idol of bone, found in Santo Domingo and
today preserved in the museum of the Garcia-Arevalo
Foundation, is patterned with an inlay of fine gold sheet in
one of the eyes. The characteristic three-pointer stones or
idols of three points from Puerto Rico and the east of the
Dominican Republic, known traditionally as cemis in Puerto
Rico, were designed with depressions to be refilled with
inlays of gold or conch shell.
Another interesting ethnographic object of the treasure is
'a "purgadera" with 26 spots of gold'.5 The term purgadera
undoubtedly indicates a vomiting spatula, an instrument used
by the caciques and the shamans for purification, inducing
vomiting prior to inhalation of the hallucinogenic powder
cohoba. Peter Martyr [1944:555] describes the use of these
vomiting spatulas: 'In order to be purged and to be more ac-
ceptable to the gods, they placed in the throat as far as the
epiglottis (or by finger to the uvula) a little trowel that each
one always carried in his hand on such days, vomited and
evacuated the stomach until nothing was left.'
In archaeological investigations, beautiful vomiting spatulas
have been found artistically engraved on manatee bones,
conch shell and wood. In some cases, the spatulas were
decorated with inlays of conch shell. In the archaeological
collection of the Garcia-Arevalo Foundation of Santo Domin-
go, there are preserved various vomiting spatulas of bone and
wood with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic representations,
which seem to have been embellished with gold inlays. We
have no information about spatulas with inlays of gold as
are mentioned in the inventory. This valuable piece was from
the booty that was seized from the cacique Caonabo.
The inventory included 'four perfumers for the nose with
11 spots of gold'. These 'perfumers' were no other thing than
inhalers of cohoba. It is possible that these were made of
wood, similar to one discovered in Gonaive, Haiti, a few
years ago and conserved in the Collection Maximilien in that
country. In the Antilles, others have been found made of
clay, conch and bone but none as rich as those obtained by
Columbus. Ferdinand Columbus in the Historia delAlmirante
S. [1892, 1: 277] described the use of these cohoba in-
halers thus: 'they placed into the nostrils a tube with two
branches through which they sucked in that powder'.
The information about body decorations used by the
Tamo Indians is enriched by the data the inventory offers us
about the use of clothes made of feathers. Among the objects
that were obtained in the plunder from Caonabo was'a robe of
feathers'. The inventory also mentioned another 'robe of
feathers' that was obtained as ransom. The chroniclers refer-
red to feather decorations used by the Indians and specifi-
cally among members of the entourage of a Jamaican caci-
que who visited Columbus' caravel when, on his second voy-
age, they met on the coast of that island. Bernaldez [1869,
11: 73], who read the admiral's diary, tells us: 'a man like an
ensign led the Cacique in his canoe, standing alone in the
prow of the canoe, with a cloak of coloured feathers of a
shape like a coat-of-arms and, on his head, a large feathered
headdress that seemed very pretty'. Similarly, Peter Martyr
(1944, 501] described the costume of the Indians of the
Bahamas: 'the men go naked except when going out to do
battle, or when, on festive days, dedicated to celebrations
and dancing, they put on cloaks of feathers of various colours
and headdress tufts for elegance'.
Another object of personal adornment collected by
Columbus was 'a bonnet of cotton covered by gold leaf .'.
Dr. Chanca [1858, I: 365], chronicler of the second voy-
age, referred to the fact that the cacique of Hispaniola, Goa-
canagarl, gave the admiral 'a bonnet of the same bejewelling'.
In this case, the bonnet was covered with adornos of conch
shell and stone beads but, as the inventory demonstrated,
had the appearance of being covered with laminae or leaves
of gold. In the cohoba idol known as 'The Twins', a wooden
sculpture from Hispaniola, there are two figures (the divine
twins) carved sitting on a dujo, on whose heads are bonnets
or head ornaments that remind us of those collected by
Fifty-four naguas are registered in the inventory. Ten of
them are from the plundering of Caonabo. Another three
were brought by the Indians of the same cacique. It is possible
that there was no current trade in naguas since the married
women used them daily. Las Casas [1927, I: 463] describes
'naguas' thus: 'there were some like petticoats that the
women wore from the waist down half-way on the leg,
woven and with workings of the same cotton'. Documents of
the period [Alegrfa, 1979] give information about 'naguas
of areyto' or naguas being used during socio-religious cele-
brations of the Tainos and which seem to have been adorn-
ed with beads and decorations of conch shell and stone. The
curate of the palace [Berna/ldez, 1869, 11: 75] gave the
following description of the 'vestments' of the daughter of a
Jamaican cacique: 'the elder daughter and most beautiful
walked completely naked except for a pretext of a belt made
of very small and black stones girdling only the waist from
which dangled a thing shaped like an ivy leaf made of green
and coloured stones fastened onto woven cotton'. We know
that the cacique Anacaona of Hispaniola gave richly woven
naguas to Bartholomew Columbus.
Another interesting object mentioned in the inventory
(Left) Wooden inhaler showingareas that were enriched
with gold inlays. Haiti. Collection Maximilien, Port-au-
(Right) Anthropomorphic cohoba inhaler of bone
whose eyes and mouth must have been filled with
inlays of gold or shell. Republica Dominicana. Museum
of the Garcea-Ardvalo Foundation, Santo Domingo.
A cohoba officiant inhaling, using y-shaped reeds,
while holding in the other hand a vomiting spatula.
Museo Arqueldgico Regional, Altos de Chavon.
Necklace of stone beads. Coleccidn Hostos, Museum
of the University of Puerto Rico, San Juan.
and which gives the only brief information on this ethno-
historical item is una bocina de palo (stick like a bugle).
Bernaldez [1869, 11: 74] in his description of the entourage
of a cacique in Jamaica, says: 'there were another two men
painted in different styles; these bore wooden trumpets
much worked with birds and other designs and polished; the
wood from which it was made was very black and perfect;
each of them wore a very beautiful hat of thick feathers of a
very subtle workmanship'. These bocinas or trumpets of
wood could then be placed on the short list of Taino musical
instruments. Cultural groups of South America linked to the
c Tai"os, also used these wooden trumpets.
SThe Taeno treasure collected by Columbus included 12
canutos or cautillos or canutillos (bugles), that is, delicate
tubular beads 'of gold leaf'. One of the cotton belts held
eight canutos of gold leaf. These canutos also were used for
collars just as they were sewn to cotton belts and naguas.
Five of the bugles were of amber. In Hispaniola we have
archaeological evidence of the use of amber by the Tai'os.
Incrustations of gold sheets. Repdublica Dominicana. Go t
Garcai-Arefalo Foundation, Santo Domingo. Gold Objects
Among the booty from the cacique Caonabo, Bartholomew
Columbus received a little gold chain. It is possible that this
chain, which weighed five ounces, three ochavos (coins
valued at two maravedis) and three tomines (1 tomin = 6
centigrams) of gold, was the same gold chain that, according
to some of the chroniclers, Columbus made the cacique
SDiego, supposed brother of Caonabo, wear when he accom-
Spanied him to Spain on his return from the second voyage.
A, The curate of the palace, who received Columbus and his en-
tourage [Bernaldez, 1869, II: 78] referring particularly to
D.o.e this, said: . he wore a gold collar, the said D. Diego,
brother of the said Caonabo, whom the Admiral took to
show to the cities and other places, that was made of chain
links that weighed 600 "castellanos" which I, myself, saw and
held in my hands as did a stranger in my house, the said
Se?~or Obispo, and the Admiral and the said D. Diego ..
The existence of this chain demonstrates that, although the
Tainos did not know how to melt gold, they could make
-' : rings for chains.
The inventory included 63 'leaves of gold'. The Tainos,
who were unacquainted with the art of melting metals, work-
Decorated fragment of gold sheet that could have ed the nuggets of gold collected from the rivers with heavy
served as an inlay. Excavated by Krieger in Monte stone hammers to convert them into delicate leaves or plates.
Cristo, RepdblicaDominicana. Smithsonianlnstitution, In this way they beat them until they attained the desired
Washington D.C. courtesy Clifford Evans. shape.
Dr. Chanca [1858, 1: 364] explaining the use of these
gold leaves notes that 'This gold was made into delicate
jewellery because they wished to use it for masks and to be
able to set it in bitumen that they had for exactly that appli-
cation.' It was with these gold leaves or plates that sculptured
Taino artifacts were decorated by incrustations (inlays) as
were the 'dujos' or ceremonial seats and the idols and other
objects of the magico-religious cult. In Cuba, Hispaniola,
Jamaica and Puerto Rico, fragments of gold leaf have been
.found that were used as body adornments or for encrusting
other objects. Recently, from Jamaica, James W. Lee 
reported the finding of a fragment of a gold ornament made
of thin gold sheet which shows traces of incised designs [see
inside front cover]. Other evidence of pre-Columbian gold in
Monolithic belt with an un-polished panel for incrus- Jamaica was reported by Berngldez [1869, 11: 75] wherein
stations. Puerto Rico, Museum of the University of he described the cacique of Old Harbour as wearing ear
Puerto Rico, San Juan. decorations in the form of suspended tablets of gold. The
small disc found by Lee is on permanent exhibition at the
Coin Museum of the Bank of Jamaica, Kingston.
The inventory also mentioned a frog that had been shaped
from a gold nugget. This object is described as 'a grain of
gold made into a frog'. It weighed one and a half ounces. This
object is of great interest as it demonstrates that although
ignorant of the art of melting gold, on some occasions the
Tainos worked the kernels of gold, as if they were stone, into
the desired shape. As far as we know, this frog is the only
Tainan sculpture made of solid gold.
Besides gold, Columbus collected from among the Indians
articles of sheet brass (laton). These were listed as 'certain
pieces of sheet brass tied together in one'. The Spanish
sometimes used the term laton to refer to impure gold, mix-
ed with copper, originating in the South American continent.
It is also possible that the latdn was provided by the Spaniards Conch shell hooks to be inlaid in a 'tiradera' or dart
S. Conch shell hooks to be inlaid in a 'tiradera' or dart
since, from their first contact, they traded it to the Indians propellor. Puerto Rico. Museum of the University of
for gold and other objects. Puerto Rico, San Juan.
In the inventory were also listed 152 coloured stones 'that
Juan Vizcaino had carried to La Concepcion'. These coloured
stones were undoubtedly the cibas or small stone beads that
the Tainos esteemed so highly and with which they made
necklaces and other adornos. From his first voyage, Colum-
bus had perceived the value that the Indians placed on these
small beads. According to Las Casas [1957, I: 251], the caci-
que Goacanagarr: 'made a present to the Admiral of 800
small stone beads which they prized very much and which
they called "cibas" '. Besides these coloured stones, there is
mention of 101 strings of amber. Doubtless they refer to
necklaces of amber beads.
Among the valuable objects were mentioned 12 torteru-
elos. It seems to us that this term is used as a diminutive of
tortero, a word used in the 16th century by the Spaniards
to refer to the whorl or counter-weight in the shape of a disc
that was placed on the spindle for spinning cotton; eight of
these torteruelos were described as 'with surfaces of gold
leaf', two 'of amber' and two 'of brass'. Up to now, in
archaeological investigations, we have found only clay discs
and globes of stone with central perforations that were used
for spinning. Stone axe with wooden handle, engraving from Oviedo,
Weapons Historia, 1534.
The collection of ethnographic objects assembled by the
admiral also included examples of the principal arms of the
Tainos of Hispaniola. One of these was a macana that had
been obtained through ransom. There was no indication of
whether it had any special decoration. Of the macanas,
Oviedo [1851, I: 56] has left for us the following description:
'The Indians of this Island (Hispaniola) fight with 'macanas'
which are some poles as wide as three fingers or somewhat
less and as long as the height of a man with two edges some-
what sharpened, and at the end of the 'macana', a handgrip; /
and they used it as if it were a two-handed battle-axe; they
are made of very solid palm wood and of other trees ....'
The other weapon gathered by Columbus was the tiradera
or dart propeller. Not all of the Indians of Hispaniola had the
use of the bow and arrow, and the weapon most used was the
tiradera. Las Casas [1909, 171] noted: -- --
some rods like darts which were thrown with great strength o
and cunning, and their manner of use was that they held a
'tiradera' a stick well-made and smooth of four palms and Engraving of a Tainan hammock according to Ovied
toward the extremity it had a 'pecesito' with its notch where Historia, 1534.
Columbus receiving gifts from the Taino Indians of
Hispaniola. 16th century engraving.
the rod-like dart was seated, and the handgrip of it was made
of cotton very well worked like a handle which measured
from wrist to arm like a sort of hook or shepherd's crook
holding the rod in a notch at the foot of the 'tiradera' and
with the fingers clutching the dart by the hilt, the spear was
thrown with the force of a cross-bow.
In the inventory, ten tiraderas were registered. One of these
stands out by being decorated with nine pieces of gold.6 This
is an interesting detail not corroborated up to now. In
Mexico the conquistadors also collected tiraderas adorned
with gold and some of these have been preserved in Euro-
One of the objects most typical of the Tainan culture was
the stone axe with wooden handle. The inventory listed 'nine
Indian hatchets'. It is possible that Columbus gave one of
these to Peter Martyr of Angleria [1965, II: 479]: 'In the
beginning of this grand discovery, Christopher Columbus
made a gift to me of one of these stones .... It was a dusky
emerald colour, attached to a stick which served as a handle.
The same was used for striking blows with all the same
strength as an iron crowbar without the stone being injured
or damaged in any part'. The chronicler Gonzalo Fernandez
de Oviedo [1851, I] illustrates his Historia with a draw-
ing of these Tainan axes.
The ethnographic objects mentioned in the inventory
have strongly attracted the attention of students of Antillean
archaeology. The 'seven stone collars' cited, use a term
which Antillean scholars had until recently assumed to refer
to the monolithic belts associated with the rubber ball game.
It is difficult to decide if the inventory referred to these
monolithic belts or to the collars of stone beads that were so
valued by the Tainos. We are inclined to believe that it is the
latter that was meant by the inventory. The archaeological
evidence seems to indicate that the use of monolithic belts
in the rubber ball game had been discontinued some time
before the discovery.
Hammocks and Mats
Not all the objects collected by Columbus were, as we have
seen, precious adornos or ceremonial objects. The list also in-
cludes 94 hammocks, of which 66 are identified as 'old' and
one as 'tejida' (webbed). As all the hammocks were woven of
cotton or maguey fibre, the one that is singled out as 'tejida'
must have been an exceptional specimen.
From the first moment of discovery, the attention of the
Spanish conquistadors was attracted by the hammocks. In
the letter informing about his discoveries, Columbus
mentioned the use of hammocks by the Tainos. Oviedo
[1851, I: 138] described them in the following manner: 'The
beds in which they sleep are called "hamacas", which are
some blankets of well-woven cotton and of a good and pretty
weave and some of them delicate, of two varieties and three
lengths and some more narrow than long'. From the very
first, the Spaniards began to use hammocks themselves.
Oviedo is the author of the first known sketch of a hammock.
The inventory also included six esteras or mats, woven of
straw. The esteras were used for sleeping and to cover the
earthen floors of the bohios and working areas. Like the
hammocks, they were immediately adopted for use by the
In the inventory, there are some ethnographic objects that
cannot be identified, including seven taos, one of guany. The
word guany could be guanin, the alloy of gold and copper
that the Tainos received in trade with the South American
coasts. We do not know what los taos were.7 'Four little
pieces of madejita' are also listed. We cannot identify what
madejita was. It is possible that it was the diminutive of
madeja, or bundle of cotton threads. The inventory also men-
tions 'a half-moon of "madejita" '. And another 'half-moon
of "guany" '. These objects could have been adornos one
made of guanin (gold or copper) and the other of 'madejita'
Columbus also collected '52 arrobas ( a weight of 25 Ibs)
of cotton and three pounds and 11 "madejas" '. In one case
it is specified that three of the arrobas of 21 pounds are of
Only two objects of Spanish origin appear to be men-
tioned in the inventory: four wooden pipes and one cask.
An interesting object that is registered in the inventory is
'one stone cross'. This was one of the objects obtained from
the cacique Caonabo. It is impossible to determine if this
refers to an indigenous or Spanish object.
In the treasure collected by Columbus, gold occurs in
nuggets of different sizes and weights. In the inventory, the
value of this gold is indicated as equal to that of the ethno-
graphic objects obtained by ransom or by tribute that
Columbus imposed on the Indians and by the expropriation
of the goods of the rebel caciques.
Another interesting component of the treasure was 14
papagayos (parrots), birds whose coloured feathers attracted
the attention of the Spaniards. Columbus had already taken
some of these birds to Spain on his return from his first voy-
A good part if not all of this valuable treasure obtained
from the Tanos of Hispaniola was carried by Christopher
Columbus to Spain on his return from his second voyage
on 10 March 1496. Las Casas [1957, I: 304] described the
gifts that the admiral bore to the Catholic royalty:
He handed over a good gift of gold for melting as it came from
the mines; some small, some in grains like chick peas, and some
which were larger than the grains previously mentioned, and
some like walnuts. He presented many 'guaizas' or masks with
eyes and ears of gold and many parrots and other things from
the Indians. All of which the King and Queen received with
much pleasure ...
The palace curate [Berna'dez, 1869, II: 79] moreover
referred to the gold chain that the admiral had placed on
Don Diego, brother of the cacique Caonabo when entering
the cities with his entourage, and described some of the other
things that Columbus brought:
The Admiral brought at that time many things that the Indians
used: crowns, masks, belts, collars and many things woven
from cotton, the devil figuring in all of them in the shape of
the cat or the face of an owl or other worse figures,somesculp-
tured in wood, some made of the same cotton in bulk and
some were jewellery. He brought some crowns with wings -
some with eyes and sides of gold and especially a crown that
had belonged to the cacique Caonabo, that was very grand and
tall and held at the sides of the headdress some wings like
silver cups of half a 'marco' weight [1 marco = 8 oz.] each one
arranged as if enamelled with very delicate and admirable
workmanship and the devil figured in each crown and believed
to appear thus to them . he presented the things and the
gold that he brought to the King and Queen which were well
received and they were delighted to see the strange things and
to learn of them and their discovery.
Unfortunately, these priceless Tainan ethnographical ob-
jects were valued by the conquistadors only for the gold that
they contained or as exotic curiosities. Once mutilated to ex-
tract the gold, these objects were laid aside and lost to
history. It is possible that the Catholic royalty may have sent
some as mere curiosities to European princes, to the pope and
cardinals. The emperor Maximilian (father of Prince Philip,
husband of Juana the daughter of the Spanish rulers, and
father of Margarita, wife of the hereditary Prince Juan) who,
like other Renaissance princes, kept a cabinet of curiosities,
might have received some of these objects. The Italian human-
ists that Queen Isabel had attracted to her court, also sent
these objects as gifts to their friends in Italy. It is thanks to
these presents that a very few Tainan ethnographic objects
have survived up to now in the museums of Austria and Italy.
It is to be hoped that those in the collections of the Vatican
and in other European museums and palaces, as in the un-
explored caves of the Antilles, will show us in the future new
examples of the art of the Taino Indians of the Greater
1. Between January 1494 and March 1495 Christopher Columbus
obtained a great deal of ransom and tribute of which, unfortunate-
ly, there is no remaining description. We know that good quant-
ity of gold (30,000 ducats) was sent by Antonio Torres to Spain.
2. This valuable document is preserved in the General Archives of
the Indies in Seville [Patronato, Est. I, caj. I, Leg. B]. It was
published for the first time in Vol. X of the "Colecci6n de Docu-
mentos Ine'ditos .. "- Editor Luis Torres de Mendoza, 42 Vols.
Madrid 1865-1884. Coll y Toste [1907: 43] cites the documents
by referring to the fact that in it were recorded seven stone
collars. Morales Cabrera  included the document in the
appendix of his work and Tejera  used it for his linguistic
study. Chanlatte  also reproduced it, though incomplete.
It is surprising that a document so rich in ethnographic infor-
mation about the Tainos should not have been studied before.
3. The Tarnos are a sub-group of the Arawak Indians: those Arawaks
of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico being classified as Ta'nos and
those of Jamaica, Cuba and other islands as sub-Tarnos.
4. It is possible that what is meant is 'that was melted'.
5. It is possible that these pintas (spots ?) or inlays of gold leaf
were not on all of the purgaderas but that some referred to
tiraderas or dart propellers.
6. It is possible that others of the three tiraderas studied were
decorated with gold inlays but the citation is not clear, saying
only 'three tiraderas and one purgadera with 29 pieces of gold'.
It could be interpreted that the gold inlays were only on the pur-
gadera or only on the three tiraderas.
7. It is possible that it deals with a cotton adorno.Jn lists of ethno-
graphic objects collected by the Spanish conquistadors in Puerto
Rico are mentioned 'los maos' the meaning of which is also
not known, although suspected to be a type of cotton vest-
ment [Alegria 1979].
ALEGRIA, Ricardo E., "Etnograffa Tarna y los Conquistadores",
ensayo leido ante el 8.0 Congreso Internacional de Arqueo-
logra del Caribe. St. Kitts, 1979.
ANGLER(A, Pedro Martir de, Decadas del Nuevo Mundo. Buenos
Aires: Editorial Bajel, 2 vols., 1944.
-, Decadas del Nuevo Mundo, Mexico: Jose Porru'a, 2 vols., 1964.
BERNALDEZ, Andres, Historia de los Reyes Catolicos. Madrid:
Biblioteca de Autores. 1869.
CASAS, Fray Bartolome" de Las. Apologhtica Historia Sumaria.
Madrid: Nueva Biblioteca de Autores Espai oles. Vol. XIII,
., Historia de las Indias. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Espanoles,
CHANCA, Diego Alvarez, "Segundo Viaje de Cristobal Colon", en M.
Ferna4ndez de Navarette (ed.), Colleccion de los Viajes y
Descubrimientos .. vol. 1, Madrid 1858.
CHANLATTE BAlK, Luis A. Primer adorno corporal de oro (nari-
guera) en la Arqueologia Indo-Antillana. Santo Domingo: Co-
edicion del Hombre Dominicanoy la Fundacion Garcia Arevalo,
COLON, Crist6bal, La Carta de Colon. Carlos Sanz. (ed.), Madrid,
,Diario de Col6n. Carlos Sanz. (ed.), Extractado por Fray Barto-
lome de Las Casas. Madrid, 1962.
COLON, Fernando, Historia del Almirante D. Cristobal Colon . .
2 vols. Madrid, 1892.
COLL Y TOSTE, Cayetano, Prehistoria de Puerto Rico. San Juan,
GARCIA AREVALO, Manuel, El Arte Taino de la Republica Domini-
cana. Santo Domingo: Museo del Hombre Dominicano. RD.,
GERALDINI, Alejandro, Itinerario por las Regiones Subequinociales.
Santo Domingo: Fundaci6n Rodrfguez Demorizi, Vol. 1, 1978.
LEE, James W., "Precolumbian Gold in the Antilles", Archaeology -
Jamaica 83-4, 1983.
"A Precolumbian Gold Artifact from Jamaica", Proceedings of
the 10th International Congress for Caribbean Archaeology,
MORALES CABRERA, Pablo, Puerto Rico Indigena. San Juan, 1932.
OVIEDO, Gonzalo Ferna'ndez de, Historia General y Natural de las
Indias ... Madrid, 3 vols. 1951.
SCHWEEGER-HEGEL, Anne Marie, "Ein Ratfelhaftes Stuck Ana Der
Altern Ambraser Dommlung", Archiv fur Volkaskunde. Bund.
SYLLACIO, Nicolo, "The Syllacio-Coma Letter", in John Boyd
Thacher, Christopher Columbus ... New York: Kraus Reprint.
TEJERA, Emilio, Indigenismos. Editora Santo Domingo, 1977.
TORRES DE MENDOZA, Luis (ed.) "Relacion del oro e joyas e
otras cosas que el se'nor Almirante ha recibido, despues que el
receptor Sebastian de Olano partio'desta Ysla para Castilla el
10 de marzo de 1495" en Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos,
Relatives al Descubrimianto, Conquista y Colonizacion de las
Antiguas Posesiones Espanolas de America y Oceania. 42 vols.
(vol. X). Madrid, 1865-1884.
VEGA, Bernardo, "Un cinturon tejido y una careta de madera de
Santo Domingo, en el per(odo de transculturacion taino-
espanol", Boletin del Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Nu'm.3,
Santo Domingo, pags. 199-226, 1973.
Report of the gold and jewellery and other things that the Senfor
Admiral had received and afterwards had been sent by the receiver,
Sebastian de Olaio from this island for Castille from the 10th of
March of 95 years*.
*Coleccio'n de Documentos Ine'ditos, Relativos al Descubrimiento,
Conquista y Colonizacion de las Antiguas Posesiones Espan'olas de
America y Oceanfa: Editor: Luis Torres de Mendoza, 42 vols. Madrid,
1865-1884. (Vol. X, pp. 5 -9)
On the said day, March 10, received three masks with 19 pieces of
gold leaf and two mirrors, the reflecting parts of gold leaf, and two
'torteruelos' of gold leaf that a brother of Caonabo brought on the
Moreover, on the 11th of the said month, a mask with 10 gold
leaves that was gained by ransom.
Also, on the said day, were delivered into the chamber two ham-
mocks and two naguas and 11 madejas (skeins of thread?] of cot-
ton that had been received as ransom.
On the 4th of April, the following items which were acquired by
ransom and brought by 'saddle' [pack-horse] were delivered to the
chamber: 25 naguas, 15 hammocks, six tiraderas, one macana, nine
Indian hatchets, one wooden bocina [bugle/horn], one robe of
feathers, six mats, 14 parrots, three arrobas 21 pounds of woven
On the 6th of May were delivered to the said chamber to the clerk
in charge the following, which came from the defeat of Caonabo: 14
guayzas worked with cotton and stone; three of them with seven gold
leaflets, and one all-woven hammock and another 76 old hammocks,
and 10 naguas and one belt and one feather robe. Also, a weight of
five ounces, three ochavos and three tomines of gold which was the
weight of a chain received by his brother the Adelantado on the 3rd
of June. Moreover he received 152 coloured stones that Juan Vizcaino
had brought to La Concepcion which came from La Fusta.
Also delivered on the 9th of July into the authority of the said
chamberlain were four guayzas, two of them with 10 leaflets of gold,
a belt with a green mask that held two leaflets of gold, a hammock
and three matching naguas that some Indians brought from Caonabo.
Also delivered to the said chamberlain on the 6th of October one
guayza with four gold leaves.
Also delivered to the said chamberlain, nine hammocks and eight
naguas which were obtained as ransoms.
Also received seven ounces and one ochavo of gold at La Concep-
cion on the 11th of August to make a melting of gold and one
large nugget of gold.
Also received on the 18th of December two marcos, three ounces,
seven ochavos, five tomines, nine grains of gold and a nugget of gold
shaped like a frog that could weigh an ounce and a half, and a belt
with a face with four gold leaves that an Indian brought from Gua-
Also received two marcos, six ounces, three ochavos and six grains
of gold that were brought to La Concepcion and to St. Thomas by
certain caciques as tribute.
Also received two tomines of gold which some peasants brought
which had been hidden in some bohios.
Also received one ounce, one ochava, one tomin and nine grains of
gold that some caciques had sent as well as three gold mirrors.
Also received five guayzas on the 21st of January with eight leaves
of gold, and on the 2nd of February 1496, three guayzas with 11
gold leaflets that some caciques brought to this city. Also on the 2nd
of February, a large face of doubtless gold which appeared in certain
bundles of clothes which had been presented by the caciques and
Indians of this island which was valued at seven marcos,three ochavos,
one tomin; and five nuggets of gold of which the largest weighed two
marcos and three ounces; and 16 gold mirrors, 10 gold leaves, two
gold bugles and one mask with three gold leaves. Also the large face of
gold that was given by some caciques and Indians of this island who
were obliged to send tribute was one marco, one ounce, 6 ochavas,
and three tomines of gold.
Also received on the 16th of February six ounces and seven
ochavas of gold, five guayzas with 15 gold leaflets and one figure
covered in gold leaf that Cristobal de Torres (Master of the Chamber)
brought and which was said to have been a god of Befechio.
Also received, for handing over to the holders of the treasure to be
carried to their superiors, on the 19th of February, 10 marcos seven
ounces and five grains of gold and the following presents: a belt with
a face that had 15 gold leaflets, five arrobas of cotton, with 36 gold
leaves, six torteruelos with surfaces of gold leaf, two zemes with 10
pieces of gold, a tiradera with nine pieces of gold, a cotton mask with
nine gold leaves, three cotton mounted gold leaf mirrors, a belt with
two faces, eight bugles in gold leaf, four guayzas with 21 gold leaves,
a tao and four tablets covered in gold leaf, a cotton bonnet covered in
gold leaf, four inhalers with 11 pieces of gold, one tao of guanin, a
half-moon of guanin, another half-moon of madejita and probably
little bits of brass in one bundle, a belt without gold, two torteruelos
of amber, five canutos of amber, four little bits of madejita, two guay-
zas which are masks, with nine gold leaves around them, the gold of
which weighed four ounces, one ochava, five tomines and six grains of
Also received, four *ochavas and nine grains of gold that Fray
Alonso delivered which was brought to him by confiscation: the
following objects were delivered to the keepers of the treasure by
command of P. de Salcedo which had been seized from Caonabo and
his heirs in exchange for prisoners: . five ounces of two ochavas,
two tomines and nine grains of gold; one mask with seven pieces of
gold leaf; three cotton framed mirrors whose reflecting surfaces were
gold sheet; two little bugles of gold leaf; and two arrobas of cotton
with 17 gold leaflets; three tiraderas, a vomiting spatula with 29 pieces
of gold; 101 strings of amber; seven stone collars; a copper mirror;
five taos; two little plates of brass and a stone cross.
Also delivered to the said keepers: 42 arrobas and three pounds
of cotton, three naguas, four pipes and a cask which Luis de Mayorga
received by command of the admiral and marked the said pipes.
The admiral also received from Molina to whom a cacique had
brought it, probably as ransom, a large mirror of gold and also 11
grains of gold which were not weighed because the admiral went
away but they would have been more or less the weight of 10 gold
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Some Early Jamaican Postcards
their Photographers and Publishers
By Glory Robertson
The Cousins-Hereward Collection in the University of the West Indies Library, Mona
he University of the West Indies
Library at Mona has been given
a collection of over 200 post-
cards of Jamaica dating from the early
years of this century. The donor, Mr
Guy E.S. Hereward of Dorset, England,
is the nephew by marriage of H.H.
Cousins, Jamaica's first director of
agriculture. He found the collection in
England among the papers of the Cousins
family and made the imaginative gesture
of returning the cards to the country
The First Postcards
The first postcards, introduced in
Austria on 1 October 1869, were official
issues with the stamp already impressed
on the address side and without pic-
tures.1 This type of card was intro-
duced in Britain in the following
year. In 1872, private printers in Britain
were allowed to make cards which were
then taken to the Department of Inland
Revenue for the half-penny stamp to be
impressed, as the use of adhesive post-
age stamps on postcards was not yet
permitted. These firms often added
small advertisements in one colour to
their cards, but the true picture post-
card evolved on the European continent
between 1882-89 and was closely linked
to the growth of tourism.
The new methods of transport by
train and steamship had made travel
cheaper, faster, more convenient and
consequently more accessible to people
of moderate means, by the 1880s
pioneer travel agencies with organised
tours already existed. The idea of a
pictorial record of one's holiday for
friends at home caught the public
imagination and by the 1890s view
cards were circulating widely. The
development in Germany of new print-
ing processes in the 1890s made possible
more rapid production of good quality
picture cards. Postcards of other coun-
tries were printed in Germany and ex-
ported in millions.
British postcard manufacturers were
at first hampered by the post office
regulations on stamping and size of
cards. In 1894, privately printed cards
were allowed to use adhesive stamps
and the first British made view cards
appeared in that year, but the larger
A COLOURED LADY ON A
Raphael Tuck and Sons
Raphael Tuck and Sons were out-
standing English publishers of post-
cards and produced thousands of
views, particularly in their oilettes.
These were reproductions of paint-
ings. This one is from a travel book
on the West Indies with 24 full
page illustrations in colour by A.S.
Forrest, text by John Henderson,
The Tuck trademark, an easel and
palette, is on the back of the card.
size used in Europe, which was more
suited for views, could not be posted
in Britain until November 1899.
By 1900, postcard collecting had be-
come a mania in many countries of the
world. Frequently, the purpose of the
card was no longer to send a message,
but to add to someone's collection. A
tourist on a Swiss mountain top report-
ed 'I believe the entire party had come
up, not for the sake of the experience or
the scenery, but to write postcards and
to post them on the summit'. But by
1910 the boom had reached its peak
and standards began to decline as quan-
tity displaced quality. The start of
world war I however, decreased the
number of cards as so many of them
had been printed in Germany. The final
blow to the craze in Britain came in
1918 when the postage on cards was
raised to one penny resulting in a drop
in the number of cards in the British
post that year to almost half that of the
In Jamaica, the official card was
introduced in 1877, seven years after its
first use in Britain, as a result of Jamaica
joining the International Postal Union.2
Cards had been ordered from De La
Rue, the famous firm of suppliers of
British bank notes, stamps and official
postcards; but, as these did not arrive
in time to be issued on the announced
date, 1 April, two locally printed sets
were used. As a substitute for the im-
pressed stamp, the first set had the
words 'Jamaica 1877 Paid' and the post-
al rate, half-penny, penny or threepence
according to destination handstamped
on the cards in red. This set was known
as penitentiary postcards, having been
made by the convicts in the Kingston
general penitentiary. A second set of
provisionall' supplied by the govern-
ment printer and issued about June or
July was known as 'floriate' from its
decorative border. When the De La
Rue cards finally arrived in November,
they were sold out so quickly that
another printing of the 'floriate' pro-
visional had to be made.
Up to October 1899 only these
official cards could be circulated inside
Jamaica at the postcard rate; 'Any
other cards will be surcharged at the
letter rates'.3 It was not till 1 November
of that year that private cards were
allowed in the inland post.4 The regu-
lations in the official notification of this
change prescribed the material, thick-
ness and size . of ordinary card-
The divided back was first used in 1902, in
Britain, but other countries were slow to
adopt it and the Universal Postal Union did
not agree to do so until 1906. So the card at
top can be dated before 1902; those with the
type of instructions seen at centre approxi-
mately 1902-1906; and the card below,
board not thicker than the material
used for the Official Inland Post Card.
The maximum size must correspond as
nearly as possible with the size of the
Inland Official Card and the minimum
size must not be less than 3'%" by 2%". '
The private card for foreign corres-
pondence presents something of a puzzle.
Aston W. Gardner and Co. of Kingston
had advertised in the Gleaner as early
as 15 March 1899, 'The new Jamaican
post card for foreign correspondence is
now ready. Price 1/- per dozen'. Was
this new card a picture card? The post
office regulation in the Handbook of
Jamaica for 1900 which was worded
slightly differently from the postmaster's
notification in October 1899 may imply
that private cards were allowed for
foreign correspondence before they
were accepted for the inland mail.5 But
no official announcement of this has
been traced either in the Jamaica
Gazette or in the government notices in
the Gleaner. The Gardner advertisement
THE .ADDRESS To BE WRITTEN ON THIS SIDE.
is the earliest indication of something
new for foreign correspondence that has
so far been found.
Publishers of the Cousins-Hereward
The Cousins-Hereward Collection
consists almost entirely of picture cards
of Jamaica produced between 1899 and
1907 there being only seven which are
of later date. Forty of the cards have no
attribution, but of those which do,
numerically four names stand out -
Aston W. Gardner, who published
66 of the cards, H.S. Duperly, photog-
rapher, with 31 cards, A. Duperly
and Son(s), photographers, with 15 and
James Johnston with 11.
i: A. W. Gardner
Aston W. Gardner certainly showed
by his series of Jamaican proverbs, the
Jamaican alphabet and Jamaican house-
hold scenes that he was fully alive to
the possibilities of the postcard collect-
ing craze, for these devices of series
and numbered sets were used to give
collectors an attainable goal in the
flood of cards on the market.
He was the eldest son of W.J. Gard-
ner, author of the well-known History
of Jamaica and a Congregational minister.
Gardner had a stationery, bookselling
and printing business, and among the
books he published were a number of
tourist guides to Jamaica. Using the
trade mark Tangley, he was one of the
pioneers of the citrus trade to Britain,
undertaking to deliver to any address in
London. He also exported pineapples
and mangoes.6 He was the Jamaican
agent for Kodak, operated a tourist
agency, and was also agent for the Nor-
wich Fire Insurance Co.7 At his store
at 127 Harbour Street and its branch
in Montego Bay, he sold such varied
goods as books, stationery supplies,
tea from Ceylon, wicker furniture,
silverware, tennis and cricket supplies,
male dolls, nurse dolls, dolls in winter
clothes, in Swiss and German peasant
costume and 'small negro dolls, 2 in a
box'. In 1899 he acquired a restaurant,
'The Oleanders', at 129 HarbourStreet.8
His advertisements were unusually
imaginative when compared to the
average standard of advertising in the
Gleaner of the late 1890s. He often
made good use of white space and
varied the content as well as the lay-
out, in both respects a notable con-
trast to many other advertisers. He
sometimes published a long list of
(Continued on p. 16)
SERIES: Our House-Cleaner
Cleaners had a way of manipu-
lating the coconut brush to make
a kind of drumming rhythm [tum
tuptum, tum tuptum, tumtup
tumtup tum tuptum] against the
floor. This sound was called
'knocking Johnny Cooper.
ALPHABET AND JAMAICA
PRO VERBS SERIES
The alphabet and some Jamaican
proverbs had already been pub-
lished by Aston W. Gardner in
two books, both illustrated, by
Violet Heaven. In 1896 in Jam-
aica Proverbs and John Canoe
Alphabet, there were illustrations
for five of the proverbs but the
alphabet was not illustrated. The
Negro Alphabet, fully illustrated,
appeared in 1897. There were a
V, "I' '4:t/.Il:,*;-
few textual differences of which
the most memorable were:
I is for myself, when I sick
Igo to bed  and
I is a gentleman berry well
Also the 1897 version made more
of an attempt at a phonetic ren-
dering. For example, in 1896:
B is for Buckra berry bad
C is for Puss him name call
D is for Duppy, him eye
shine like fire.
while in 1897:
B is a Buckra a berry bahd
C is a Puss, him neam cahll
D is a Duppy, him yi tahn
The Cousins-Hereward collection
does not have the whole of either
series. The only pictorial dif-
ference between those in the col-
lection and the 1897 book version
Q is for quattie, I beg massa
one please where the postcard
has only a boy while the book
Q is a quattie I beg missis
one please has a completely
different boy and a lady on horse-
Some of these illustrations if pub-
lished today, would definitely be
denounced as racist. The alpha-
bet cards illustrated here are:
B is for Buckra berry bad
C is for Puss him name call
I is a gentleman very well
J is for John Crow, him have
a peel head.
'When black man tief, him tief
half-a-bit. When buckra tief, him
tief the whole estate'. [Gardner's
Proverb Series]. (The bit was ori-
ginally a small silver coin which
seems to have gone out of circu-
lation in the first quarter of the
19th century, but the word was
retained as an expression of
value long after the actual coin
had disappeared. The value of a
bit at the beginning of this cen-
tury was 4'd. and half-a-bit was
2%d. In terms of purchasing power,
according to the food prices listed
in the Handbook in 1901, a bit
was worth one quart of kerosene
oil or one lb. of mackerel or 43 lbs.
of yam, or 2 quarts of white flour).
[For a version of "The Jamaica
Alphabet Rhyme" see JAMAICA
JOURNAL 17: 2].
OUR HOUSE-CLEANER. ..
B. IS FOR
C. ,~ FO
Mnntegr I*a ,v
available books, at other times recom-
mended particular titles. His advertise-
ment for Christmas and New Year cards
on 11 November 1899, was surrounded
by an attractive border while on 4
December he made the point that, 'The
mail to leave tomorrow gets home [i.e.
to Britain] in time for Xmas . Gard-
ner's has the best selection [of cards]'.
The Montego Bay branch was once
celebrated in song (12 November
1899) and on another occasion, there
was an alphabetical list of its goods, in
which difficult letters like Q and X
Ouery for anything not mentioned
Xpecting many other lines.
(2 May 1899)
Even when slightly ridiculous, as in the
last two examples, his advertisements
offered more entertainment and variety
than the often repetitious content and
crowded layout of other merchants.
Gardner was 'versed in most matters
locally' and was also a collector of anti-
que mahogany furniture. Born in 1854,
he died on 20 April 1916.9
H.S. Duperly, photographer
The idea of going back to northern
climes with a deep suntan had hard-
ly crossed our visitors' minds at this
period they sought rather to pro-
tect themselves from the sun's rays
by helmets, hats and parasols and
were usually warned not to go out
in the midday heat. The ladies in
particular wished to preserve their
peaches and cream complexions. So
the north coast beaches were not
specially emphasized in the guide
books of the day. Port Antonio
and Montego Bay were praised as
places with exceptionally fine sea
bathing, but Doctor's Cave could
be mentioned in the healthgiving
context of Dr. McCatty's 'excellent
sanitarium. . near a good bathing
beach' just as readily as in its own
right as a pleasurable resort where,
'without fear of sharks, currents or
colds, one may sport for hours in
the clearest of blue waters. More-
over, Montego Bay was not an im-
portant port of entry, so that get-
ting there was rather a long excur-
sion whether the tourist was start-
ing from Port Antonio or Kingston.
In the census of 1911, there were
only two people described as hotel
keepers in the whole of St. James.
However, Aston W. Gardner thought
it worthwhile to publish an illus-
trated guide to the town and he
established the only branch of his
A. Duperly and Sons
Although early attempts to at-
tract tourists to Jamaica em-
phasized the mountain areas as
health resorts and not the beaches,
Port Antonio became the first
real tourist centre because it was
the headquarters of the banana
export trade to the United States
and the banana boats provided an
ever-increasing proportion of the
passenger service to Jamaica. From
being an unimportant little coastal
town with a generally drab appear-
ance, Port Antonio became the
second port in the island and 'a
very favourite place with our
American cousins . preferred
by them to any other town in the
island' In 1881, L.D. Baker bought
up about one third of the Port
Antonio waterfront and developed
the Boundbrook wharf which later,
by the merger of Baker's company
with others, became the property
of the giant United Fruit Company.
For most of this century, most of
the passengers departing from Jam-
aica, whether for the U.S. orBritain,
embarked from this wharf The
Titchfield Hotel can be seen in mid-
distance and the Folly Lighthouse,
first lit in 1888, in the far back-
- tzv b-1- ." ,
ii. The Duperlys
The Duperly family were outstanding
pictorial reporters of the Jamaican scene
for over a century. Adolphe Duperly in
1833 published lithographs illustrating
the Sam Sharpe rebellion and in 1838
another depicting the commemoration
of emancipation at the Kingston race
course. In 1840 he published his Daguer-
rian excursions in Jamaica which were
daguerrotypes taken by him and litho-
graphed under his supervision in Paris.
As. the daguerrotype process, an early
form of photography, had been invent-
ed in 1839, he was among its earliest
practitioners. The firm of A. Duperly
and Son was established, according to
their advertisements, in 1840 or 1842.
They won honourable mention at the
Paris Exhibition in 1869 and a gold
medal at the Jamaica Exhibition in
1891.10 About 1905 the firm pub-
lished Picturesque Jamaica, a collection
of 63 photographs, and the business still
existed at least into the 1930s.
It is therefore quite remarkable how
little information exists about this
family. However, we now know that at
the period of these postcards the mem-
bers of the firm were Armand John
Lewis Duperly and his sons Armand
John Louis and Theophile John Baptiste.
According to the Gleaner, Armand
senior was 'the eldest son of Adolphe
Duperly of Paris'. But it seems unlikely
that his father was the Adolphe of the
daguerrotypes for Armand would have
been only six or eight years old when
the firm of A. Duperly and Son was
founded rather young to have been
included as the 'son' in the title. Probably
that first Adolphe had a son also named
Adolphe, and Armand would then have
been the grandson of the founder. He
ROPE TOBACCO SELLERS
A. Duperly and Sons
Early view cards had a space on
the picture side for the message,
as postal regulations allowed the
address only on the other side.
The rope shown here is 'Jackass
Rope', a pungent-smelling tobacco
which was rolled into long ropes
and then coiled for transport-
ation to market. The 'jackass
rope', was cut up and sold by the
J.W. Cleary, Photographer
J W. Cleary, photographer, born in
St. Lucia of Irish parents, came to
Jamaica as a boy. He was also a
keen sportsman who represented
Jamaica on the rifle team atBisley.
He died in 1924.
married Rebecca Ann Dimeresque of
Boston who died in 1910.
The younger Armand died in 1903
in the United States but his body was
brought to Jamaica for burial. He left
his share in the business to his wife to
be managed for her by his father and
brother. The father died in 1909, aged
75, and was described on his death
certificate as 'formerly a photographer',
so he had presumably given up active
work in the business at some time in
the preceding six years. Theophile died
Their relationship to H.S. Duperly,
who has already been mentioned as the
photographer of 31 cards in the Cousins-
Hereward Collection, has not yet been
established. All that has been discover-
ed about him is that his son Charles
Sylvester, also a photographer, died
at the age of 24 in the influenza epi-
demic of 1918, and his wife Josephine
Isabelle in 1934, aged 47.11
THE ROAD TO BOG WALK
A. Duperly and Sons
As the port of entry for these early
tourists was often Port Antonio,
not Kingston, they frequently reach-
ed the Bog Walk gorge by train
from Port Antonio to Bog Walk
station where buggies could be
hired for the drive through the
gorge and on to Spanish Town.
One guidebook carefully pointed
out that Mrs. Gibson's hotel near
the station supplied food and
I a. drink but not ice. Lunch could be
h ad at the Rio Cobre Hotel in
Spanish Town where many Jamaican
dishes were served.
iii James Johnston to a
Another prominent photographer, Son
represented by 11 photographs in this
collection, was James Johnston of m
Brown's Town. Johnston was also a
doctor, missionary, elected member of wen
the Legislative Council and was once
described by the Gleaner as one of sio
'Jamaica's unpaid ambassadors . ou
enthusiastic in his work of building up i
the colony of Jamaica'.12 Afri
He promoted Jamaica as a beauty
and health resort both by his photo-
graphs and by lectures in Britain and
North America. One of his photo-
graphs was used for the design of
Jamaica's first pictorial postage stamp
and a collection of his work was pre-
sented to Queen Victoria. His book
Jamaica: the New Riviera published in
1903 contained the photographs he
used in his lantern slide lectures with an
introductory text. In his Optical Lantern
Lectures he provided the commentary
THE TITCHFIELD HOTEL
This building was completed in
1905, burnt down in 1910, rebuilt
in the same year and extended in
1911. All but the annexe was pulled
down in 1932. L.B. Baker, the enter-
prising pioneer of the banana trade,
acquired the site from a local resi-
dent who did not wish to sell, but
who was manipulated into doing
so because he was, unluckily
for himself, doing business with a
man who had close connections
with Baker. It is said that in the
end, the site had to go to pay this
The first hotel, erected by 1897,
was a modest group of cottages.
Its atmosphere can be inferred from
the complaint that liquor could be
obtained 'only by favour and more
or less surreptiously'. But as the
number of banana boats increased
so did the potential tourist traffic,
and Baker saw that to develop this,
he had to offer first class accom-
modation in Jamaica to his pas-
sengers. So the building in the post-
card was erected, with 'every modern
convenience, including plunger ele-
vator, electric lights, direct cable
and telegraph service and post of-
fice'. The promoters felt unable 'to
preserve the distinctive style of
West Indian architecture in a struc-
ture so large', but provided the out-
door style of living by 'outside
exposure' for every room had
verandahs totalling 800 feet in
length and varying from 16 to 22
feet wide, 'a veritable out-of-door
company showings of his slides. He
compiled a collection of religious
gs of Grace and Truth.
Believing that Jamaican blacks would
;e effective missionaries in Africa, he
t on a 20-month expedition across
continent and recorded his impres-
is in Reality Versus Romance in
th Central Africa. He took with him
Jamaicans and hoped to find in
ca pioneer missionaries 'with whom
*e might be possible openings for
ured assistants'. He expected that
ie assistants would first serve as
iual labourers, builders and planters
the missions, but that in a short time
y would acquire the language and
ld become 'itinerant evangelists,
le their colour would give emphasis
heir words . But along the route
travelled he met no missionaries at
except for a French mission on the
ibezi and hence 'failed to find places
the employment of coloured men'
BARBECUES FOR DRYING
PIMENTO, COFFEE, Etc.
by James Johnston
Coffee was introduced into Jamaica
in 1728 and has been grown here
ever since. Barbecues were the ter-
races used for drying the beans.
In the days of the great coffee plan-
tations of the 1790s this was done
after the pulp had been removed
in a pulping mill and the drying
operation took about four or five
days. The 19th century saw a great
decline in coffee plantations.
Small settlers moved in on the aban-
doned coffee lands and they put
the ripe berries to dry while still
in the pulp. This took up to three
weeks. Today, the ripe coffee is
sent directly to central factories
for processing, but the drying is
still done on barbecues. Pimento
is native to Jamaica which is an
important international supplier
of this spice. After the green ber-
ries have been gathered, they are
heaped and covered on a barbecue
till slightly fermented and then
raked out in a thin layer to dry
in the sun for about five or six
Barbecues have also been used for
drying annatto and bissy (kola nuts).
The seeds of annatto, which is also
native to Jamaica, produce an
orange-red dye which the Arawak
Indians used as body paint. African
slaves in Jamaica added it to cook-
ing oil to give it the colour of the
palm oil they were accustomed to
in Africa. The dried seeds were also
exported for colouring butter,
cheese, smoked fish and soap, but
annatto is hardly seen today. Bissy
Johnston represented St. Ann in the
Legislative Council from 1897 to 1905.
Born in Scotland on 28 August 1854, he
died in Brown's Town on 25 November
That much is clear. But the good-
looking and genial Johnston was also
the central figure in a bitter storm of
allegation and counter-allegation which
in 1876 burst upon the Baptist con-
gregation in St. Ann. He had arrived in
Jamaica in 1874 to assist a Baptist
missionary in Clarendon and then be-
came assistant to John Clark, who had
been at Brown's Town for almost 40
years and at Bethany for nearly 30.
Clark was by then too old and frail to
cope successfully with two churches
and their out-stations and the young
newcomer was very welcome. He start-
ed singing classes, introduced the rous-
ing hymns of Moody and Sankey and
enlivened his sermons by himself sing-
ing solos from the pulpit. After about
six months he was given charge of the
or kola nut came to Jamaica about
1680 from Africa. The drink made
from the seeds has been popular
through the centuries and bissy
is also highly valued in home medi-
NA TIVE DRA Y AND HUT
Louis Winkler and Co., publisher ,
H.A. Richards, photographer
Louis Winkler was born in Hun-
gary in 1849. He established the first
music shop in Jamaica in 1884 and
also sold artists' materials, Jam-
aican stamps and postcards.
church at Bethany, with the contri-
butions of that congregation as his sti-
pend. But both verbally to other
missionaries and in print in English
missionary journals he began to circulate
stories and appeals for money which
were discreditable to Clark. Confronted
with the journals, Johnston said that his
letters had not been meant for publi-
cation and that they had been altered
and distorted. He agreed to the sug-
gestion that four senior missionaries
should look into the matter, but on
arriving at Bethany for what they sup-
posed would be 'a quiet and private
conference' with Clark and Johnston,
the four were dismayed to find a 'multi-
tude' in the mission yard. Johnston had
announced the previous Sunday that the
ministers were coming to turn him out,
and his supporters had gathered. The
ministers after two hours of enquiry did
in fact conclude that Johnston should
leave the St. Ann circuit, and stones
were thrown at them as they left.
No 101. Native dray -nd IIu
Johnston held meetings at Bethany,
Brown's Town and Sturge Town where
he told the people that 'if they would
stand by him, he would stand by them,
and be both a doctor and minister with-
out charge', and many left the Baptist
fold to follow him. Thus the Jamaica
Evangelical Mission was founded.14
Clark's last years were saddened
both by the schism and by the attack
on his financial integrity. He was able
to prove that the titles to the church
property were vested in the duly ap-
pointed trustees and not in his own
name, and other tales which circulated
at the time gradually died away. In the
account by Henderson, who succeeded
Johnston as Clark's assistant and
eventually became his son-in-law, it is
stated that the split was brought about
entirely by Johnston's attack on Clark
and had nothing to do with church doc-
trines. On Johnston's side, however, a
claim was made that he had been ousted
for 'preaching the second coming of
Constant Spring Hotel. Jamaica
Gordon i Town, St. Andrew lamait a
Christ'. The Jamaica Evangelical Mission
still cites 'the immanence of the Lord's
return' as one of the doctrines which
Johnston stressed in the churches which
he established.15 Henderson recounts
that many years later both he and John-
ston felt a desire to heal the breach.
They exchanged pulpits once and when
Johnston died soon afterwards, Hender-
son spoke at his funeral. The Jamaica
Evangelical Mission is still active in St.
Ann, in these days in harmony with the
It has already been mentioned that
Mr Guy E.S. Hereward who presented
these postcards to the U.W.I. Library
is the nephew by marriage of H.H.
Cousins. Cousins was director of agri-
culture from 1908 to 1932 and is one of
the great names in the history of Jam-
aican agriculture. Born in England in
1869, he took first class honours at
Oxford and came to Jamaica in 1900
as island chemist. In 1908 when the
department of agriculture was created,
Cousins became its first director. He
was a nominated member of the Legis-
lative Council from 1907 to 1923. He
left Jamaica on retirement leave in June
1932 and formally retired in September.
The outstanding achievements of
Cousins's career were the establishment
of the Jamaica Farm School which later
became the Jamaica School of Agricul-
T'lh 4liction.l apply Co., Kinrgmton. Janleic
I hp I I apply I Ki,, sto, laia-a
CONSTANT SPRING HOTEL
Educational Supply Co. Ltd.
The Constant Spring Hotel was one
of five hotels built with government
assistance to accommodate the ex-
pected flood of visitors to the Jam-
aica Exhibition of 1891. According
to Bacon and Aaron who stayed
there in 1890, it was the first build-
ing in Kingston to have electric
light. The Constant Spring Post
Office was originally set up as a
facility for the guests. Among
the attractions of the hotel were
the extensive grounds with a uni-
que collection of tropical plants
and a vast variety of butter-
flies, moths, birds, etc. There were
special arrangements for children
(separate dining room, garden and
In spite of the spacious dining room
which could seat 350 people and
the 'celebrated French chef... two
French cooks and a Viennese baker,
guests complained that 'a boiled
egg would apparently require three
quarters of an hour to prepare and
the visitor would sometimes be told
that 'de salt am:all use up. The
staff were said to be uncouth and
the hotel dirty.
From the start, the Constant Spring,
was a financial failure and in 1895
it was taken over by government,
which had guaranteed the capital
when it was built. In 1905, it was
leased by Elder, Dempster, the
operators of a new steamship line
to England, who hoped to attract
tourists from that country, but the
hotel still failed to make money
and Elder, Dempster abandoned
their attempt in 1912. After further
vicissitudes as a hotel, in 1940
it was sold to the Franciscan Sisters
and became the Immaculate Con-
ception Convent and High School.
Educational Supply Co. Ltd.
Gordon Town in the 1890s and
early 1900s was a pleasant country
village with little of note except the
scenery on the drive from Papine.
On the way there was a settlement
of East Indians who would make a
necklace or other ornament from
a handful of silver coins while the
customer waited. It was at the end
of the carriage road into the Blue
Mountains and from this point
onwards one had to ride or walk.
Regular transport to Kingston was
provided by horse-drawn cabs
which left Duval's stables in Gor-
don Town daily at 8: 00 a.m. for
Kingston and made the return
journey from John Macdonald's
store at 3:00 p.m. The return fare
was 5/6. Or, the visitor could go by
tram car to Papine where buggies
and ponies waited for customers.
ture and his pioneering work in the
development of a breed of dairy cattle
suitable for the tropics. Not least of
his many contributions to the Farm
School was his very unorthodox acqui-
sition of some 1,600 acres of land which
completely surrounded the government-
owned land at Hope, where the Farm
School was then situated. In order to
do this with the speed necessary to
prevent the land from falling into other
hands, he took up the lease in his own
personal capacity, using his own private
property as security. In his History of
the Hope Farm, Cousins made the dry
comment that the government 'natural-
ly . [felt] some perturbation at the
rash action of the Director', but the
governor supported him and the matter
was then passed through the proper
In his work on cattle, he experi-
mented with different kinds of grasses
for fodder and with methods of silage
and tick control, but his greatest contri-
bution was the breeding and testing of
all the important breeds of British dairy
cattle which eventually resulted in the
evolution of the Jamaica Hope.16
Cousins had a son and three daugh-
ters.17 Janet Cousins under the pseudo-
nym Jane Rees Wogan wrote the novels
Go down Moses and Green Heritage,
both of which deal with Jamaica after
the abolition of slavery. The post-
cards were found by Mr Hereward
among the papers of another daughter,
Winifred. Only five of them had actually
passed through the post so it seems
reasonable to assume that they were
definitely assembled as a hobby during
the collecting craze. Thanks to Mr Here-
ward's generosity, they now enhance
the collection of the University Library
in the country to which H.H. Cousins
gave most of his distinguished working
1. This account of early postcard history
is based on Picture Postcards of the
Golden Age: A Collector's Guide by
Toni and Valmi Hart, London: Mac-
Gibbon and Kee, 1971, and The
Picture Postcard and its Origins by
Frank Staff, New York: Prae6er, 1966.
2. For the official Jamaican cards see Ast-
ley Clerk and L.C.C. Nicholson, 'Post-
al stationery' in Jamaica its Postal
History, Postage Stamps and Post-
marks jointly edited by G.W. Collett ...
[et al.], London: Gibbons, 1928.
3. The Handbook of Jamaica 1878-1899
had this warning.
I 6 'S
The hIi' group.
SInsurance Company Ltd.
H Life Limited
D.C.&. Investments Ltd.
40-46 Knutsford Blvd.,
Kingston 5, Jamaica,
6 convenient locations:
Chief Office 6-10 Duke Street,
Tel: 922-5751-8; 922-9410-20
6-10 Duke Street
Tel: 922-5751-8; 922-9410-20
73-75 Half-Way-Tree Road
22 Oxford Road
Tel: 984-2629; 984-2633
40 Main Street
Tel: 986-2250; 986-2245
7 Market Street
4. Government of Jamaica notice publish-
ed in the Daily Gleaner 27 October
1899, p.6, and repeated on the follow-
ing day. No trace of it could be found
in the Jamaica Gazette.
5. The relevant sentence in the October
1899 notice was, 'The rules and regula-
tions applying to the Official Inland
Post Card apply equally to the Inland
Private Post Cards' while the Handbook
for 1900 says, 'The rules and regula-
tions relating to the Official Inland
Post Card and to the Official Foreign
and Private Post-cards apply equally to
Inland Private Post-cards'.
6. His obituary in Who's Who in Jamaica,
1916, p.239, and advertisements in A
Guide to Jamaica, Land of Eternal
Summer, Kingston: Gardner, 190-,
following p.18, and Gleaner, 17 June
7. Numerous advertisements, e.g., in
Bradford, Mary, Side Trips in Jamaica,
3rd ed., Boston and New York: Sher-
wood, 1902, p.94-95, in other travel
books and in the Gleaner. The Norwich
Fire Insurance, Gleaner, 30 December
8. Gleaner, tea, 4 October 1898; wicker,
3 February 1899; silverware, 21
February 1899; tennis and cricket
goods, 17 April 1899; male dolls and
nurse dolls, 9 December 1899; other
dolls, 13 January 1900;'The Oleanders',
20 March 1899.
9. His obituary, Who's Who in Jamaica,
10. Bradford, Side Trips in Jamaica, p.98.
11. The younger Armand's will is recorded
at the Registrar-General's Department,
Spanish Town; his death, Register of
burials at Holy Trinity Cathedral, 17
June 1903, p. 73, and Gleaner 18 June;
his father, Kingston register of deaths,
1909, AA2062, Registrar-General's
Department and Gleaner 23 March
1909, p.2; Rebecca Ann, Kingston
register of deaths, 1910, AA3463 and
Gleaner 18 March 1910, p.2; Charles
Sylvester, Kingston register of deaths
1918, AA8858; Theophile, Gleaner
clipping in National Library file and
Kingston register of deaths, 1933,
AA4388; Josephine Isabelle, Kingston
register of deaths, 1934, AA7479.
12. Gleaner, 7 December 1899, p.7.
13. His obituary, Who's Who in Jamaica
14. Henderson, George, E. Goodness and
Mercy, Kingston: Gleaner Co., 1931,
15. 'Church commentary' by Billy Hall,
Sunday Gleaner, 29 August 1982, p.12.
16. J.SA. Golden Jubilee, Kingston: 1960.
H.H. Cousins, History of the Hope
Farm and Part I of the Jamaica Herd
Book of Pure Bred Cattle, Govern-
ment Printing Office, 1933, p.5; T.P.
Lecky, "A Tribute to the Founder of
Hope Farm" in Fifty Years of Cattle
Breeding and Development, Kingston:
Government Public Relations Office
for the Animal Husbandry Division,
Ministry of Agriculture, 1960.
17. Letters of Mr Hereward to the librarian,
Mona Campus, 15 June and 5 October
BACON, Edgar Mayhew and AARON, Eugene
Murray, The New Jamaica, Kingston:
BATCHELDER, C.F. and BRADSTREET, W.
D., Tropic Gold. The Story of the Ban-
ana Pioneer, Lorenzo Dow Baker,
cited in Taylor, F.F. "The Foundation
of the Jamaican Tourist Trade up to
BRADFORD, Mary, Side Trips in Jamaica,
3rd. ed. Boston and New York: Sher-
CASSIDY, F.G., and LePAGE, Robert,
Dictionary of Jamaican English, Cam-
bridge; Cambridge University Press,
CLARK, W.G., Little Journeys from Constant
Spring Hotel toGordonTown, Kingston:
The Farmer's Guide, prepared and published
with the help of the Department of
Agriculture by the Jamaica Agricultural
Society, Kingston: 1952.
A Guide to Jamaica Land of Eternal Summer,
Kingston: Gardner, 190-.
HALL,Douglas, Ideas and Illustrations in Eco-
nomic History, New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1964.
HALL, Douglas, Free Jamaica 1838-1865, an
economic history. London: Caribbean
Universities Press, 1969.
Hotel Titchfield, Port Antonio . Ainslie
and Grabow, managers. 190-.
Jamaica, A Splendid Health Resort . inter-
view with Mr. Charles Reinhardt, M.D.
Kingston,printed bySollas and Cocking,
Hotel, Titchfield, Port Antonio ... Lynn, Mass
printed by Nicholls, 190-.
Jamaica Tourist and Motor Guide, I.P. Mills
(ed.), Boston: Ainslie and Grabow,
RAMBLER, Jamaica What to see, where to
see it and how to see it: the tourist
guide to Kingston and the parishes of
MATTHEWMAN, L. de V. "Summering in
Winter", Extract from The Era, a
monthly magazine of literature, Decem-
RICHARDS, Judith, "Early Jamaican Hotels"
in Jamaica Architect, issue no. 5, V. 2,
SENIOR, Olive, A-Z of Jamaican Heritage,
Kingston: Heinemann Educational
Books (Caribbean) and the Gleaner,
A Tourist Guide to the Parishes of Jamaica,
Kingston: DeSouza, 189-.
The Tourists' Pocket Guide, Kingston: print-
ed at Sollas's, 19087
TAYLOR, F.F., "The Foundation of the
Jamaican tourist trade up to 1914",
Thesis (MA.) U.W.I., 1971.
WRIGHT, Philip and WHITE, Paul, Explor-
ing Jamaica, London: Deutsch, 1969.
Ricardo E. Alegr'a is the executive director
of the Centre for Advanced Studies of
Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in San
Juan, Puerto Rico, He has researched
extensively on Tafno ethnography.
James W. Lee has been a geologist, mining
engineer and lands manager in the bauxite
industry of Jamaica since 1951. A keen
amateur archaeologist, Dr. Lee is the
founder and president of the Archaeo-
logical Society of Jamaica. He is the editor
of Archaeology-Jamaica the quarterly
newsletter of the society.
Glory Robertson is a professional librarian
at the main library, University of the West
Indies, Mona. She worked previously at
the West India Reference Library (now
National Library of Jamaica) where she
developed an interest in West Indiana and
is in the process of compiling a pictorial
record of clothes in Jamaica. Miss Robert-
son is a former editor of the Jamaica
Historical Society Bulletin.
David Boxer is director/curator of the
National Gallery of Jamaica. His formal
training as an art historian has helped to
give focus to the development of a method-
ology for the study of Jamaican art. An
outstanding painter, he has had several
one-man exhibitions, the most recent being
at Frame Centre in late 1984.
John H. Rashford is assistant professor in
the Department of Sociology and Anthro-
pology at the College of Charleston, South
Carolina; his current research reflects his
deep interest in ethno-botany. His "Plants,
Spirits and the Meaning of 'John' in
Jamaica" appeared in Jamaica Journal
Lorna Goodison has had her poetry pub-
lished in Jamaica Journal, Savacou, Carib-
bean Woman, The Caribbean Poem, New
Poets from Jamaica, and Nimrod. Her first
collection, Tamarind Season was published
by the Institute of Jamaica in 1980.
Anthony McNeill has published three
collections of poetry; Hello Ungod (1971),
Reel From "The Life Movie" (1975), and
Credences at The Altar of Cloud (1979).
His work has been widely published in
periodicals and anthologies in Jamaica and
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ACRYLIC ON MASONITE
40" X 48"
By David Boxer
Nothing disturbs Edna Manley
more than the now-too-often
question, 'Are you still work-
ing?' ('If they took the still out I might
answer them.') Her current work, of
course, is her answer, for Edna Manley
is still sculpting, still drawing, still
exploring, still studying, still dutifully
taking part with new work in all the
The recent "Forerunners" exhibi-
tion at the Mutual Life Gallery saw a
drawing, a profound meditation on age,
and the wisdom and experience that
comes with great age; the 1984 Nation-
al Exhibition at the National Gallery
revealed a recently completed The
Listener; the activity in her studio
mounts, as she prepares for the.parti-
cularly arduous task of casting a new
(and her best) goat, and even as she pre-
pares to cast, her restless pencil has care-
fully delineated a new idea, a superb
drawing of a Fallen Angel that has all
the surety and inventiveness of those
special drawings from the forties -
('I have been studying Greek vases again.
I believe the vases the drawing of the
figures far outstrips anything else the
Greeks did, even their sculpture, so I'm
back to thinking about drawing again
and line again.')1
She discusses, too, the alternate
possibilities of the Fallen Angel being
transformed into a bas-relief, a fully
developed sculpture in-the-round or,
perhaps, 'even a painting'.
Edna Manley is clearly a very active,
creative spirit still at work. As we cele-
brate her eighty-fifth birthday, however,
it is an opportune time to review brief-
1. Albert Huie, Portrait of Edna Manley.
1940. Oil on canvas. Collection: National
Gallery of Jamaica.
ly her life as an artist and to attempt to
understand and to assess the significance
of the major works produced during 66
years of creative activity.
The Formative Years
Miss Edna Swithenbank is the middle
one of a family of nine. She, therefore,
possesses many qualities not developed
in girls with fewer fraternal and sisterly
advantages. She can hold her own
against all comers. She has a wide
and lasting vocabulary and a clear
resonant voice. She can continue long-
est in a bout, in the use of language.
Her legs are long and supple. They are
useful for covering the ground or for
climbing over furniture. She likes bee-
She possesses great adaptability, turn-
ing readily and without strain from one
career to another. She wears glasses;
but that is really to blind surrounders.
She can see as far as most or farther.
She is original and, therefore,she some-
times does the unexpected or unsuspect-
ed. Conventions are lightandairy things
to her, capable of destruction at a
For anyone who desires not to be dull;
to have many subjects on which to
ponder, I recommend this youngster
as a companion. I understand that she
hankers after teaching. May the Lord
have mercy on her and them.
This 'word portrait' was written
when Edna Manley was nearly 17 and
was, in fact, the character report given
her by her headmistress a Miss Hanna,
who obviously knew her well.2
It reveals, in a flash, all the salient
characteristics of a highly individualistic
young girl about to move out on her
own and to begin the process of pre-
paring herself to become an artist:
I had always been passionately interest-
ed in art and, although between 1916
when I left school, and 1919 I tried
my hand at almost everything from
working with horses in a remount
depot to flax-pulling, gardening, and
working in a Pension's office from
which I got the sack twice I always
left the evenings free so that I could
continue my study of it.
In 1919, I came to London to go to
an art school, and in the two years that
followed before my marriage, I attend-
ed no less than five. I went to St.
Martin's, the Sir John Cass Institute,
The Regent Street Polytechnic, the
Paddington School, and I studied pri-
vately under Maurice Harding, the
Little of her student work has sur-
This article is based on a book length biography ofEdna Manley in preparation. 25
vived but her anatomy notebook with
its numerous drawings of dissected ani-
mals demonstrates an immense capacity
for study, and work, while photographs
of the sculpture completed between
1918 and 1921 reveal a talented artist
revelling in her new-found gift to give
form to feelings. For the works are not
truly 'academic'; they are, in fact, with
the exception of a portrait of her mother,
The portrait is instinctive: emblazon-
ed across the base, larger than any sig-
nature need be, is E. Swithenbank; it is
both Edna's name and her mother's
Ellie Swithenbank. (Fig. 2). We look at
this resolute face and are glad we know
the history of this Jamaican woman,
born Ellie Shearer, near Lucea in
Hanover in 1869. As a young woman of
23, she met Harvey Swithenbank, a
Wesleyan priest on a seven-year tour of
duty in Jamaica. She married him, bore
two daughters and, pregnant with a
third child, followed him on his return
to England in 1897. In England, she
bore seven children. The fifth child,
born in 1900, vas Edna. Harvey Swithen-
bank was to die in 1909, and this strong
Jamaican woman was to single-handedly
preside over a family of nine.
The early animal sculptures, too, are
instructive: Edna Manley's love of all
animals, especially horses, and her ability
to use them to portray her own feelings,
her own passions is immediately evi-
dent. The Lone Wolf, succeeded by
Two Wolves, and the Lion overpowering
the Eagle, speak not only of her growing
power as an artist but also of her rapidly
developing sense of self, as she moves
out on her own; as she falls in love,
rebels against that love, and then begins
the difficult process of coming to terms
with that love.
Edna first met her cousin Norman
(the son of Ellie's sister, Margaret)
when she was 14 years old; He had just
arrived in England to study at Oxford;
29 years old, a Rhodes scholar, a cham-
pion athlete and in Edna's words, 'very
She tried to be indifferent, but it
was a confused meeting that left her
shaken. When she next saw him four
years later, he was a tired soldier on
leave from the battlefield seeking re-
fuge in his aunt's house. A friendship
developed between them, and a true
companionship based on their com-
mon interests: walks, concerts, plays
and visits to art exhibitions. The seed
of love was planted.
2. Portrait of Ellie Swithenbank. 1921.
Plaster. Private collection.
After the war, Norman returned to
Oxford, and after a courtship, attest-
ed to by an exchange of several hundred
letters, the cousins were finally married
in 1921. Their first son, Douglas, was
born in 1922 and with him the young
couple, lawyer and artist, left England
for 'home': Jamaica.
The excitement of 'coming home'
soon paled as the Manleys started to
come to grips with life in Jamaica. Liv-
ing in shared, cramped quarters didn't
help and their new friends had little to
offer in terms of the activity and intel-
lectual stimulation that they craved.
Accustomed to full rounds of concerts
and plays, museums and galleries, to
reading the latest books and to, above
all, stimulating conversation, it was for
them, as she described it, 'an arid
Art as it existed in Jamaica then
could not have interested Edna Manley.
Sculpture was almost non-existent and
painting was limited to a conservative
watercolour landscape tradition, prac-
tised essentially by amateurs.
Describing art in Jamaica (in 1934,
not 19221) she found it little more than
'a few anaemic imitators of European
traditions, a few charming parlour tricks,
and then practically silence. Nothing
virile, nor original, nor in any real sense
creative, and nothing, above all, that is
an expression of the deep-rooted, hid-
den pulse of the country .. 5
Yet, her own work changed dramatic-
ally after her arrival in Jamaica. We are
hard-put to explain the tremendous
leap from the 'romantic realist' studies
done up to the time of her departure
from England to her first Jamaican
work, The Beadseller. (Fig. 3). It was as
if in one giant leap, nearly a hundred
years of sculptural development had
been bridged. We are suddenly trans-
ferred from the language of Delacroix,
Barye, et al to the world of the Modern-
ists: Brancusi, Barlach, Gaudier-Brzeska.
While the subject the beadseller -
is taken from drawings done of bead-
sellers in the Mandeville market place
and is important as the initial portray-
al of a key iconographic type in her
work the market vendor, the bead-
seller has been 'recast' in a late 19th
century symbolist mode with an up-
dated, refined cubist structuring.
The Beadseller was shortly to have a
male counterpart, The Listener, where
the dynamism is increased by carrying
the contrapposto even further than it
had gone in The Beadseller, in fact, to a
full 1800. The zigzag effect of this
unnatural twist of the body seems to be,
in fact, an attempt to impart vorticist-
like line of dynamism to the subject.
In 1923 Edna Manley went to England
with her two plasters 'to think things
out'. As Wayne Brown puts it in his bio-
graphy of the early years of the artist,
'The marriage had momentarily lost
its stride, not that it had collapsed'.6
The visit proved fruitful. She had the
plasters of The Beadseller and The Listen-
er cast into bronze, and she was accept-
ed into the Society of Women Artists
who exhibited The Beadseller in their
exhibition for 1924. She had also re-
visited her teacher, McCrossen at St.
Martin's who suggested a solution to
the problems of casting in Jamaica,
namely, turning to carving in wood.
McCrossen in fact also gave her her first
and only lessons in wood carving.
Back in Jamaica in early 1924, she
quickly set to work with new carving
tools and produced Wisdom and then
The Ape, both even more radical in
their cubistic treatment than The Bead-
seller. There is no attempt in either carv-
ing to utilize the organic flow of wood,
rather, the wood is blocked out (as in a
block of marble) and the carving pro-
ceeds with the basic elements relating
to the rectilinear structure of the block.
The method is reminiscent of Brancusi's
well-known The Kiss.
At this time, too, she begins to
model realistic portraits in clay, first
of Norman and the two-year-old Douglas,
and then of a friend, Esther Chapman.
Then, testing the possibilities of her new
medium, she does a head of another
friend, Leslie Clerk, in wood.
3. The Beadseller. 1922. Bronze. Collection:
National Gallery of Jamaica.
Her next carving is Demeter and
Demeter issues in a new style of rounded
massive forms which will be developed
and refined over the next seven years.
Her first carving after Demeter
was a massive piece, well over six feet
in height. It was called Man and Woman
and showed a standing figure of a woman
related to Demeter, but more refined -
one arm reached down to rest on the
compressed sleeping figure of a man. It
is a tragedy that Edna Manley herself
destroyed this piece some years later.
Succumbing to criticism that ques-
tioned the strong/erect female, weak/
crouched male and which attempted
to equate this with her relationship
with Norman, she responded in a rage
and chopped up the carving. Norman
was later able to salvage the head and
upper torso of the woman.
The refinement continues in Torso
of a Woman, (Fig. 4) and in her next
major works: Boy with Reed, and
The artist's submissions to the ex-
hibitions of the Society of Women
Artists began to be noticed, and in 1927
two French journals Les Artistes
D'Aujourd 'Hui and La Revue Moderne
singled out her work for praise and
gave her short illustrated articles. In
La Revue Moderne, Clement Morro
wrote of her attempts to achieve indivi-
duality through solitude, but signifi-
cantly aligns her with the modern
In England too, the interest in her
work begins to grow and in 1929, Edna
Manley returns there with the small
group of recently completed sculpture
including Eve, the Torso of a Woman,
the Boy with Reed and The Ape, and is
accepted in the Goupil Summer exhi-
bition, a major event of the London
The Morning Post review of the
1929 Goupil Summer show headlines
Edna Manley: 'for special distinction
[the exhibition] relies upon a hither-
to unknown woman sculptor and Mr.
P. Wilson Steer' and devotes most of the
review to a short discussion of Eve:
'primeval abundance . [is] suggested
with uncommon spirit and technical
authority in the full length figure of
"Eve". A sense of awakening to some
new significance is finely conveyed in
the strange wonder expressed in the sub-
missive features and in the unconsider-
ed awkwardness of equilibrium and
womanly dignity. The carving is sym-
pathetic and sure. Every part of the
superb body and limbs is searched for
strength and the rhythmic rise and fall
of pulsating life'.
The interest in her work is growing
and in the person of Kineton Parkes,
reviewer for Apollo and author of
books on sculpture she finds a true
champion. He will repeatedly single out
her work in Apollo and in The Art of
Carved Sculpture (published 1931), he
devotes two pages (and a reproduction
of Eve) to her work .
4. Torso. c. 1927. Wood. Private collection.
In London, on the 1929 visit, she dis-
covers a new medium. She writes to
Norman: 'I'm going eventually to carve
stone'. Stone was the preferred medium
of the direct carvers whom she would
have been observing at this time, and
on her return to Jamaica late in 1929
she begins to carve in imported materials:
Hopton-wood stone, Caen stone, Port-
land stone, Sandstone.
A total of six works will be completed
in the slower material, which demands a
greater discipline; a more careful 'pre-
paration' of the idea before the actual
carving commences. Girl with Basket
(1929) is followed by Dawn (1931),
Seventeen (1932), Beulah (c. 1932),
Sun and Earth (1934) and Pocomania
(1936). A new enthusiasm on her re-
turn, too, is bas-relief, a technical chal-
lenge to the sculptor of how to com-
press forms into a pictorial rather than
an actual or sculptural space. By the end
of 1930 she will have completed a trio of
bas-reliefs (two in wood, and the third
modelled and cast in bronze) all of
which are connected with a symbolic
iconographic programme: "the cycle of
The most important of these bas-
reliefs is the large Dance. (Fig. 5). Read-
ing from left to right the work is com-
posed of a couple, a seated old man, a
great reclining male, a woman with
two young boys, and to the right, an-
other male playing a flute. The artist
assists us with the identifications: the
couple on the left are the young lovers,
the old man in the background is very
old and 'thinking of another world',
'then there is the family group: the
male is lying, this great big figure across
the front, like a landscape, like the hills,
and the woman reaches down to the
two children. The man on the right is the
artist, detached from it all.'
The "cycle of life" is compressed into
four stages: childhood, youth with begin-
ning romance, maturity with the respon-
sibilities of parenthood, and old age.
This cycle of human time is then balan-
ced by the timelessness of art.
When we consider the date of this
carving, 1931, we recognize that Edna
Manley has cast herself and her family
in this frieze of characters. Once we
recognize the autobiographical basis
of the work, however, we are duty bound
to explain some of its more 'difficult'
features, the most inexplicable of which
is the reclining male who at the prime
of his life is given a very passive role in
the whole tableau. We are also hard
put to explain the curious distancing
- the lack of communication between
the man and woman of the family group.
The woman, in fact, is more intimately
connected with the male figure playing
on the flute. The male figure recalls in
its passivity, the male figure in the sculp-
ture which the artist had only recently
destroyed, the Man and Woman from
The whole work has a brooding
quality, a feeling of ennui which is height-
ened by the realization that the reclining
male figure does not make contact with
his family, but seems, instead, to look
towards his future, a future symbolized
by the old seated man facing death.
We must realize that when this work
was done, Norman Manley was at that
uncomfortable age in his late thirties
facing the middle years of his life. From
this and other evidence which Wayne
Brown provides, he seems to have begun
to sink into a sort of melancholia which
must have been linked to the feeling
that time was passing him by. There also
seems to have been a feeling of lost
direction. As Brown puts it, 'He had
played the "game" of law and won; it
had left him at forty seemingly with
nowhere to go.'8
Norman's mental state in these years
at the beginning of the thirties, if we
have interpreted it correctly, seems to
haunt all the images of men that Edna
will carve for the next four years. Dawn
of 1931, a large stone carving with
its curiously phallic leg, exhibits a
monumental weariness; the male figure
of Sun and Earth supposedly symboli-
zing the energetic sun nurturing the
earth is curiously passive their roles
seem reversed. Even Sixteen and Seven-
teen, images of male youth, have a melan-
cholic cast the same sort of poignant
sadness that we find in the early sculp-
tures of women (The Beadseller and
Demeter). But nowhere is this melan-
cholia more clearly stated, than in the
exquisite small carving, Man with Bird
(Fig. 6) the image of a young man
tenderly holding a wounded bird, where
the sadness is clearly linked to the
wounded bird. But the bird itself, I
would like to suggest, is a symbol ap-
propriated from the ancient Egyptians
and from later Western painting, where
like other winged creatures cupidss,
butterflies), it represents the soul. The
wounded bird represents the wounded
The images of women from this period
are somewhat more positive. In Women,
a bas-relief completed shortly after
Dance, the cycle of life is recast as the
'three ages of man' (or rather 'woman')
theme. In this work we seem to have
entered the world of Ingres and his Turk-
ish baths dominated by voluptuous
women. Partially inspired by the famous
Ludovisi Throne, depicting the Birth
of Aphrodite, the relief depicts an adol-
escent girl being 'drawn into the world
of women'. The artist elaborates:
I had read everything by D.H. Law-
rence. I really knew him, and I believe
this influenced me. For one thing he
understood that women didn't all
come in the same package. In Women,
this young girl is faced with two very
different choices for growth and
development. The women, not only
represent age types, but they are differ-
ent. The older woman on the left is
the analytical type the younger one
on the right is all affection and soft-
The Negro Aroused: 1935-1940
Everything has become internalized.
Stillness and serenity is the keynote of
their form and the keynote of their in-
ner meaning is meditation and longing,
dre ns and sadness, doubt and brood-
The words actually describe the
works of the great German sculptor,
Lehmbruck but they could just as
easily refer to the pre-1935 works of
Edna Manley, where the whole line of
figures drawn from her observation of
Jamaican life from The Beadseller
and Demeter, Market Women, through
to Beulah, Sixteen, Seventeen and the
Man with Bird, exhibit what Wayne
Brown has called a 'kind of rooted
calm, a dreaming or just disturbed
serenity'. I, in fact, go further, for in
the inevitable downcast heads and the
relative inactivity of the postures we
see a sadness which at times may re-
flect Norman's own melancholia, but
captures also the mood of the people
(to what extent Norman's melancholia
is a reflection of the mood of the people
is another matter) the common people
who are the models for Edna Manley's
art; a sadness which mirrors the benign
acceptance of 'benevolently shepherded'
But by 1935 things had begun to
change and Edna and Norman Manley
seem, in their own ways, to have be-
come acute 'barometers', sensing and
reacting to the mood of the people.
In Edna Manley's work we sense it
first in the Mountain Girl from early
1935. Gone is the languid ease of Rachel
and Woman with Basket, its iconographic
predecessors. The architectonic structur-
ing of the piece develops the contrap-
posto through abrupt right angle shifts.
An uneasy tension ensues which is match-
ed by the straightforwardly presented
5. Dance. 1930. Wood. Collection: Sheffield Art Gallery.
face, from which all traces of sentiment
have been banished.
Then after Mountain Girl, she carves
Negro Aroused, (Fig. 7) the first major
exposition of a new and dramatic lan-
Panofsky reminds us that 'for a
work of art "form" cannot be divorced
from "content", the distribution of
colour and lines, light and shade, volumes
and planes however delightful as a visual
spectacle, must also be understood as
carrying a more-than-visual meaning'11
Nowhere in Edna Manley's oeuvre is
this more true than in Negro Aroused.
The 'meaning of form' or the 'symbol-
ism of form' has been so carefully analy-
sed in this marvellous work that every-
thing about it seems inevitable. It is this,
absolute clarity of meaning in form,
that allows its acceptance as a signum,
as the very icon of an age: book jackets,
postage stamps, posters, a monument,
all have used this famous image.
Negro Aroused. A symbol of what?
A symbol of that search, that vision for
a new order; that vision of a people
being awakened to a new consciousness
of self and of country. Norman Manley
in 1938 at the launching of the Peoples
National Party, one of the key instru-
ments of the process of change that
Negro Aroused has come to symbolize
expresses the vision thus:
and it has been symptomaticof the exist-
ence of an increasing number of organ-
izations in all classes of the community,
and most markedly in the growth of
opinion among the young men of this
country, of the dawn of the feeling
that this land should be their home and
their country . There is a tremen-
dous difference between living in a
place and belonging to it and feeling
that your own life and your destiny
is irrevocably bound up in the life and
destiny of that place.
It is that spirit which is the most hope-
ful thing in Jamaica today. It is that
spirit which alone encourages the
development of our national con-
sciousness and can lead us to any-
thing resembling civilization in this
country. That and nothing else.12
Negro Aroused, as sculpture, achieves
its excitement through the akimbo place-
ment of the left arm, through the 900
twist of the torso from frontal to pro-
file view and from the spectacular
motif of the head strained back, the
neck elongated to allow the face to be
presented in a horizontal plane to the
heavens above. The discovery of this
motif, the head turned, straining up-
wards, obviously excited the artist who
was to repeat it in subsequent works
6. Man with Bird. 1934. Wood. Collection:
George Winfield Digby.
like Young Negro, Prayer and Tomorrow.
The Prophet, carved in six weeks
immediately after Negro Aroused, oper-
ates more fully as sculpture (Fig 8)
in the round.
These two different approaches are
of course totally in keeping with the
iconological intent of the artist: Negro
Aroused is a figure in concentrated re-
pose. The single frontal aspect (like a
punched out, high relief) stills the view-
er into a straightforward iconic con-
templation of the piece. The composition
of The Prophet, on the other hand, de-
mands the more active participation of
the viewer. We are tempted by the con-
stantly shifting profiles, to explore the
work. This more active involvement on
the part of the viewer is totally in keep-
ing with the work's more dramatic,
more rousing meaning:
So with the carving of Negro Aroused
finished I realized that I was still rest-
less, there was something crying out to
be said. A figure that denounced, oh
powerfully denounced cruelty, poverty,
injustice, and it came, the Prophet, the
Amos who came down from the hills
and denounced the world as he saw it.
Denounced those that had so much
and offered to the poor and weak so
Other carvings were to follow as the
artist, 'caught the hidden inner spirit of
our people and flung their rapidly rising
resentment of the stagnant colonial
order into vivid appropriate sculptural
Pocomania, utilizes a simple but ef-
fective movement drawn from her
observations at Pocomania meetings,
and along with Young Negro, and
Prayer seems to capture the cathartic
effect the meetings had on the practi-
tioners, as they channelled their des-
peration into hallucinatory ritual.
Two carvings followed which take as
their subject acts of labour. In The
Diggers, (Fig 9) we have an assertion
of power through the glorification of
male strength, while the Market Women
abandon the servile postures of The
Beadseller, et al, to stride erect, bear-
ing their baskets proudly.
These diggers and market women are
direct descendants of the proud peas-
ants of Jean Francois Millet (1814-
71), the great French romantic painter
of peasant life. When we look at Millet's
Two Men Digging A Field, however, and
compare it with Manley's The Diggers
and Market Women, we find something
new. The figures in the Manley works
act in unison. This is important. The
rhythmic repetition of form conjures up
the sound of digging songs:
Him dig a hole
Him dig a hole
Him dig a hole
An put de devil in.
But more than this, it emphasizes the
unity of thought and purpose as if these
representatives of the labouring masses
were being marshalled into armies. It is
not coincidental that the probable stylis-
tic source for The Diggers is a relief by
Mestrovic of archers in formation: The
Archers of Domagoj, itself deeply in-
debted to Assyrian reliefs of archers,
for in The Diggers, the pickaxes are
downplayed while the bodies of the
men are curved and taut like archers'
bows. In the arms and heads, the
artist achieves a crescendo of anger
as, reading from left to right, the heads
are lowered and the intervals in the arms
The French Gallery in London had
been pressing for a one-man exhibition
for years and at the end of 1936, Edna
Manley felt she was ready. But she made
a significant decision to first hold the
exhibition in Jamaica, and in January
1937, her first one-man exhibition open-
ed at the Mutual Life Assurance Society's
building in downtown Kingston.
The exhibition was a tremendous
success, with nearly a thousand people
visiting it. A public subscription was
started to acquire Negro Aroused for
presentation to the Institute of Jamaica,
7. Negro Aroused. 1935. Wood. Collection:
National Gallery of Jamaica.
and the 100 guineas necessary were
quickly raised. Edna Manley and the
pieces travelled to England and in early
March, the exhibition was opened at the
French Gallery by Sir Hugh Walpole,
the distinguished novelist who was a
collector of her work.
The exhibition received a great deal
of publicity throughout England, with
notices and reviews in most major news-
papers, but the significance of the sculp-
tures, so intimately bound up with the
rapidly developing political conscious-
ness in Jamaica, was lost to the British
press, most of whom chose to discuss
the works in purely sculptural terms.
Then 1938: Bustamante's agitation;
the riots at Frome; the uprisings and
strikes; the detention of Bustamante
and his release; the marches, the political
meetings the endless nights of dis-
cussions; the formation of the Peoples
National Party; a heady year yet
Edna Manley found time to work.
She recalls how one important piece,
an unusually naturalistic head of a man
deep in thought, the fingers of one hand
raised to his chin, came to be born:
A group of us were jam-packed on a
truck in the midst of a vast crowd. We
were waiting for Bustamante to be
released and coming with him was
Norman who had fought such a fight
for his release . St. William Grant
was at the mike thundering away ...
but also on the truck was A.T. Fair-
clough sitting absolutely still, watch-
ing, with silent intensity, his hand on
his chin. This was the young Fair-
clough who understood his country-
men so well. I modelled him in clay,
subsequently cast in bronze and
true to the spirit of that year .
we called it Strike.
Towards the end of the year she be-
8. The Prophet. 1935. Wood. Collection:
National Gallery of Jamaica.
gan to carve another impressive 'monu-
ment' to labour. But by this time, the
momentous occurrences of 1938 had
passed, and it is precisely in the mood
of Norman Manley's speeches, calling
on Jamaicans to face the 'hard road'
of 'organization' and 'discipline' and
calling for 'unity' that The Sawyers is
In The Sawyers two men in counter-
point operate a cross-cut saw. It is an
optimistic expression of strength and
co-operative labour the saw will not
operate unless the two men integrate
their efforts. The metaphor can be car-
ried further for the men are sawing
wood which is the first step in the
building process. And these 'labour-
ers' become vital links in the process -
they are 'builders of the nation'. The
motif also carries a personal meaning,
for the men also cut the wood from
which her own sculpture, her contri-
bution to 'building the nation' origin-
In 1939, immediately after comple-
tion of The Sawyers, Edna Manley turns
once again to clay, for a new idea about
form is developing and it is only in the
freer medium of clay that she feels that
it can be realized. And in clay she crea-
tes Tomorrow, a praying man praising
God, his large hands open in a gesture
of reverence. But difficulties arise and it
cannot be cast. So the artist does the
impossible and translates this incredibly
linear construction into wood! A
9. The Diggers. 1936. Wood. Collection:
National Gallery of Jamaica.
remarkable feat, so delicate and fragile
are the forms. (Fig. 10).
The extremely elongated figure, of
course, has become a cliche in modern
sculpture ever since the example of
Giacometti's remarkable oeuvre, but to
place Edna Manley's linear phase (which
is ushered in by Tomorrow and which
involves her for all of 1939 in sculpture
and well into 1941 in the drawings) in
its correct historical perspective, we
must recognize that it predates Gia-
cometti's first exploration of linear
figurative extension by several years.
There are, of course, prototypes
for the idea of linearity: Gothic sculp-
ture, Mannerism with El Greco's ex-
amples and Michelangelo's Rondanini
Pieta, and closer in time to Edna Manley
Edna Manley however, would have
been aware of all the historical antece-
dents, and would have recognized the
common function of linearity in all of
them. The whittling away of the human
form and its extension upwards, imbues
man with a heightened sense of spiritual-
ity. This is as evident in the Rondanini
Pieta as it is in Lehmbruck. And the
breakthrough piece for Edna Manley,
Tomorrow, is the most spiritual work
she will ever do. Faced with a sense of
failure over the kneeling figure, Prayer,
(Fig. 11) she had gone deep within
herself to find the appropriate forms
for her vision and she does, for while in
Prayer we are faced with a hollow al-
most mechanical gesture, in Tomorrow,
hallelujahs rise loud and clear.
Two further carvings explore the
linearity achieved by Tomorrow. In the
joyous In the Beginning, the man and
woman theme hitherto so problematic,
(Dance and Sun and Earth) receives its
first truly joyous expression realized
through a dance-like movement of the
figures. This newly achieved joiede vivre
clearly speaks of a happy period in Edna's
and Norman's relationship.
In England, in 1937, in one of her
many letters back to Norman, she had
I feel that the last couple of years I
have been carving for Jamaica and for
a purpose, dragging out every ounce of
life .. and now I want to carve quiet-
ly for myself and for you ....
Working for you and me woulcj e
glorious like having a baby again.
In Idyll (unfortunately destroyed in
the 1951 hurricane) the theme is re-
peated but the dance movement has be-
come even more expressive the arms
are raised and linked.
Edna recalls an important stimulus:
I remember thinking to myself -
'You've worked in wood all these
years and you've never carved a tree'
and so I carved Idyll. The dancers
are like two trees and I have always
liked tall, elegant trees rather than
squat, spreading ones.
Idyll, judging from a surviving photo-
graph, was also given a feature which
was to become important in later carv-
ings, a roughened, more spontaneous
surface texture most probably inspired
by the bark of trees.
After Idyll and a related 'explosive'
little figure which she calls Atom, the
linear style is appropriated to express
a new, more literal iconography, as she
relates the elongated figure to the idea of
'hunger' she models a work in clay
which shows an extraordinarily elon-
gated figure of a mother holding her
hungry child in her arms.
Like Tomorrow, the sculpture could
not be cast and it was destroyed. The
drawing for Hunger was, however, pub-
lished in Public Opinion, the organ of
the Peoples National Party as was another
drawing utilizing the same style The
Unemployed, representing three men
angry in their idleness.
It was inevitable that as the annus
teribilis, 1940, unfolded (which saw
country after country crumbling at the
advance of German might as the year
10. Tomorrow. 1939. Wood. Private collection.
progressed, the intensification of Hitler's
air battle against Britain, and in.Jamaica
increased hardships as the war effort be-
gan to take its toll) the ecstatic, idyllic
mood of the 1939 carvings would evapor-
ate. The sculptures done in 1940 re-
veal the artist in an increasingly pessi-
mistic mood: Father Forgive Them,
with its 'savage sorrow' ('I hacked it
out, its an ugly work but it was the
only way I could release the feelings I
was having'); The Dead, a moving head
of a Negro, pieta-like (I was obsessed
with a feeling that there must be quiet,
it was a tremendous longing for peace')
and finally, The Fiery Furnace, an agi-
tated portrayal of the three just men
who walked through the flames un-
But Edna Manley, as she moved into
the decade of the forties, would rise
above the hardships of the war and the
unfolding drama of a world locked in
global conflict and seek solace in a pri-
vate world, a dream mythology which
would begin to unfold up in the moun-
tains, at the cottage which Norman and
herself built in 1940: Nomdmi.
The Dying God Series: 1941 1948
I was totally drained and I carved the
Dead. Then, in 1941 up at NOMDMI,
these drawings started to come I
couldn't explain them. The first I call-
ed Before Thought.
The figures in Before Thought and
its companion drawing, Into the Mist
although stylistically related to To-
morrow, with the extreme elongation
belong to another world: a mystical
realm where shafts of light imbue them
with a spiritual aura. Their eyes glow like
11.Prayer. 1936. Wood. Private collection.
suns and their hair stream upward as if
caught in the same spiritual pull that
stretches their bodies pencil-thin. And
the artist, indeed, cannot fully explain
them, because they spring from the sub-
conscious mind into visible form 'before
Then from the same plane of sur-
reality, a crude drawing emerges of a
sort of 'messenger' with large hands
bearing two heads male and female -
and Edna Manley begins to carve a work
that she will call The Forerunner (cover
illustration). In the carving, however,
the male and female heads are replaced
by the heads of two horses. The horses'
eyes are treated in very much the same
way as the eyes in Before Truth and
Into the Mist: they have become glowing
orbs. The Forerunner, in turn, becomes
the catalyst for a whole series of carvings
which pour out in rapid succession
as a coherent mythology begins to
emerge. This series she later called the
"Dying God" series.
In this "Dying God" series, she moves
away from the elongated-style of 1939 -
40 and into a totally new style. As I
have said elsewhere:
The new style is difficult to define;
there are motifs here and there that ap-
pear to be drawn from Blake, and
occasionally from the romantics -
Fuseli and Redon, perhaps, but in
general, we sense in these works a uni-
que personal involvement with her
materials mahogany, Guatemalan
redwood and an attempt to capture
in these woods the light of Nomdmi.
Thus the marks of the chisel become
increasingly expressive, and they cause
the light to shatter, and to give to the
works a smouldering quality. There is,
too, a feeling about these carvings of
the mist, the ever-present mist of
Nomdmi, that drifts in and envelopes
forms, and the forms slip and slide,
they hesitate between palpable reality
and a sort of other-worldly existence.
At one moment, we seem to have them
in our grasps, we think we understand
them then, the emphasis shifts, and
a whole arena of associations is opened
up. It is precisely this quality, this
'poetic ambiguity' that makes them so
The "Dying God" carvings are at one
and the same time Edna Manley's most
private works, and, yet, her most univer-
sal, for interwoven in this series of arche-
typal images based on an intense fascin-
ation almost 'worship' of the sun,
are elements of a personal symbolism
based on her own intimate relationships
with her husband and family.
And who, or what are the artist's
'two Gods'? One 'dark' and one 'light'?
They are the embodiments of a system
of opposites, couched in the most
elemental terms dark and light;
night and day:
And God said, "Let there be light";
and there was light. And God saw that
the light was good; and God separated
the light from the darkness. God called
the light Day, and the darkness he cal-
Day governed by the sun will come
to embody the active principles: open,
masculine, jovial; night governed by the
moon will embody the passive: closed,
feminine, saturnian. Already in The
Forerunner, the two horses intimate the
antithesis. The artist explains that 'the
horses are of different temperaments:
one sensitive, and gentle and passive, the
other is a brute of an animal!'
A further antithesis was to develop
within each type: beginning and end,
youth and age. The daily cycle of the
sun, rising, blazing across the sky and
'going down each evening smouldering
red' establishes the movement of life -
youth and age symbolized by the young
sun god and the aged sun god; the Ris-
ing and Setting suns.
The first of the sun carvings was cal-
led Young and Old. Above an ingenuous,
but rather involved hollowed out base
that makes the two suns/ heads seem to
hover above a landscape, the young
beardless sun, the globes of its eyes
barely formed, rises while the old craggy,
bearded head of the aged sun begins to
Generations(Fig. 12) repeats the basic
idea, but the head of the rising sun is
much more powerfully carved and more
emphasis is given to the opposed treat-
ment of the eyes, which carry now the
basic meaning of the work. There are
two further carvings of the subject where
the format is compressed with what
now becomes a 'ruthless' rising sun, eyes
full of 'flaming power' rising above the
old sinking head of the setting sun with
its hollowed out and empty eyes. One
of these carvings she called New World,
Old World, and its variant she named
The Dying God.
The most successful carving of the
sun god, however, would abandon this
system of the cycle of the sun and revert
to the image of the spirited horse of
The Forerunner. In 1943, she carved 13. Horse of the Morning. 1943. Wood. Private collection,
14.New Moon. 1944. Wood. Private collection.
15.Morning. 1947. Wood. Collection: Dorit
in Guatemalan redwood, the magnifi-
cent Horse of the Morning (Fig. 13)
which, from the time it first went on
display in the forties, has been im-
mensely popular, many hailing it as her
Edna Manley explains its genesis:
It was early in the morning ... I want-
ed to watch the dawn come up, and I
went along the little path behind the
house, and I did see him leap up from
behind the mountains. I saw him ..
he was there for an instant and then he
But I did see him.
Her diary for 20 April 1943 has a
For only the brave
See the horses
of the morning ...
The Horse of the Morning represents
a specific aspect of the sun god, namely,
his sexual, libidinous aspect. He is caught
in a moment of searing erotic intensity
with carefully articulated 'ping pong
ball' eyes that read both as suns and as
symbols of a fully charged sexuality.
The artist was to carve only one
image of the dark god, Night a brood-
ing male head looking over his shoulder.
His raised hand, creates a shadowy, mys-
terious image. He is the embodiment of
vis contemplativus, the antithesis of the
vis activus of day.
It is only in this carving of Night that
we sense contact with Michelangelo
whose Medici Chapel would obviously
have been a touchstone for any icono-
graphic programme of the nature of the
"Dying God" series. But the nature of
the Medici chapel statues which, after
all, serve a funereal purpose, symbolizing
collectively as they do, the passage of
time which leads to death, is opposed
to Edna Manley's sun-drenched optimis-
tic art and she respectfully shies away
from Michelangelo's grand tragic pro-
gramme. In Night, however, Manley's
dark god, the head to shoulder relation-
ship, recalls Michelangelo, while its
brooding melancholic aualitv seems to
speak albeit in gentler tones the
same language as Michelangelo's tomb
Of more interest to Edna Manley
would be the female principle of night
embodied in the moon; the soft feminine
orb reflecting palely the sun's light. And
she carves two moons which should be
seen as companion pieces: The old
12. Generations. 1943. Wood. Private collection.
Moon and the New Moon giving form
now to a different cycle, the longer,
more thought-provoking lunar cycle.
In the old Moon, we are given only
the face, saddened by her impending
sleep/death, the eyes fully lidded open-
ed now to the barest crescent shape.
New Moon is a young, lithe gliding
spirit, the most delicately wrought of
all Edna Manley's depictions of wo-
man. (Fig. 14).
And in the morning
The Sun rose
And towards him turned the land
And thus day dawned
The fragment of an unfinished poem
quoted above from the artist's diary
introduces the third major personage in
her pantheon: The Land.
The cosmic relationship between the
earth and the sun had already been ex-
plored in 1934. Here, 12 years later, a
much more dynamic interplay is estab-
lished. In The Land we are given the full
torso of a woman who seems to be
reaching up out of the undifferentiated
mass (earth) of the base towards the
sun. Her eyes are fully blown, mirrors
of the sun at which she gazes, but the
attraction is made more explicit by the
symbolically placed hand directed up-
wards towards the heavens.
Elsewhere, I have described Moon as
the consort of the Horse of the Morning.
This must be corrected for in every
sense it is this figure, The Land, with
her elemental attraction to the sun,
which we must imagine blazing above
her across the sky, that is his true
Three more carvings would be added
to the "Dying God" series: The An-
nouncer which repeats the idea of The
Forerunner, but who arrives now with-
out his charges, the horses; and Morning
(Fig. 15) and a later variant The Rising
Sun. These last are full-length figures
rising fully extended with their arms
reaching up into the heavens, works in-
spired perhaps by Blake's ecstatic image
The New Day.
In 1948, Edna Manley held her second
one-man show at the Doorly Hall in
Kingston and it was dominated by the
carvings and drawings of the "Dying
God" series. The exhibition was well
received by an enthusiastic public and
press: a Gleaner blackout of news of
the exhibition being remedied (after
public reaction) by Theodore Sealy,
then assistant editor, turning out the
most perceptive of the many local
The exhibition has about it something
strong and imponderable .... There is
something mystical about the whole
group, a groping after some light dimly
seen. Yet the groping is vigorous, not
timid, and the whole process almost
does violence to the senses until one be-
comes more attuned to the lines,
shadows and shapes.
Madeline Kerr, the psychologist,
describing this 'groping' in psycho-
analytical terms, reviewed the show for
the Manchester Guardian and the News
Chronicle of London. A year later her
review, rewritten as an article and well
illustrated, was used as the cover story
for the international art magazine,
The Studio, with Moon chosen for the
1949 1969: The Public Years and
The increasing pressures of family
and political life led Edna Manley to
seek another studio away from Drum-
blair and away from Nomdmi and she
secured a space at the new University
College at Mona. There, within view of
the mountains which she loved, she be-
gan the carving The Hills of Papine:
May 29th 1949 Today the first chips
came out of the carving of Papine it
was quite early up there cool and sweet.
The golden light on the grass and trees.
A grand old tough old piece of wood
that I love, to make the mother of all
men and the child of all women ...
The Hills of Papine (Fig. 16) was
from the outset conceived as an arche-
typal image the Great Earth Mother
embodied in the form of the mountains,
cradling her infant child in her arms.
This concept of the mountains anthro-
pomorphized originates in the artist's
own earlier allegorical representations
of the earth/land (1934, 1947) and
ultimately in the monumental reclining
figure of Dance (1930). It is repeated
shortly after Hills of Papine in the
beautiful terracotta The Mountains
where male and female, that persistent
theme of the artist, is cast in the form
of two interlocking mountain ranges.
Edna Manley's involvement with her
husband's increasingly active political
life would not permit the sort of con-
tinuous intensive thought and explor-
ation that is necessary for her work
to develop sequentially as it did in the
thirties and forties. The works of these
'public years' are, consequently, iso-
lated pieces, usually commissions. The
All Saints Crucifix (Fig. 17) was the
first major commission. The crucified
Christ is, for western man, one of the
most potent images: the Son of God
being put to death by man; the ulti-
mate image of suffering. Each of us who
approaches the image does so with a
host of associations, and a host of superb
portrayals by the greatest of artists with
which we must inevitably do combat.
Edna Manley's dilemma as she wrest-
les with her concept is best summed up
in the draft of a letter to an unidenti-
fied friend dated 8 April 1951:
For weeks now I have been struggling
with the basic idea of this crucifix I
am doing. I have seen it as agony, tor-
ture and pain. I have seen it as the man
of authority and vision, as the mystic
with union with God, as the Son of
God and the Son of Man, as the intel-
lectual vision even as God himself,
and now this morning I wake and I
see it, . as a quiet floating spirit -
eternally rising, eternally hanging quiet-
ly over this world of men and women.
Then she produced a drawing of the
head of Christ which was clearly a break-
through. The stimulus as her diary re-
cords, was a personal anxiety: 'Then
came Norman's detention [on Ellis Is-
land, by the American authorities]
and all alone since no one else knew,
I struggled to see it in perspective not
to succumb to tear on I couldn't
fail to see it imaginatively lov-
ing him as I do and knowing his strange
loneliness and out of the struggle
came the big drawing of the Head'. This
drawing fortunately survives, and the
head is unmistakably Norman Manley's
and indeed it is the head in the carving
with its large Sun eyes of the visionary
seeming to make contact with the In-
finite/Father God that carries the full
force and meaning of the carving.
During the decade between 1952,
after the completion of the Crucifix,
and 1962, when she started her next
major commission, the so-called Shera-
ton carving, Edna Manley the sculptor
is practically silent. Opposition politics
for Norman Manley and the Peoples
National Party had become hectic and
then from 1955 to 1962 when he be-
comes Chief Minister, Edna's official
duties leave little time for sculpture. She
does, however, continue to draw. In fact
when she holds her third exhibition at
the Hills Galleries in 1960, she will show
drawings exclusively. The majority were
images of women: portraits (Gatha,
Nora); mythological subjects (the
Daphne legend Woman into Tree);
drawings done on a visit to the Eastern
Caribbean (Girl from Antigua, Girl
from St. Lucia). The titles of others
which I have not been able to trace are
intriguing, suggesting a continuation of
ideas already established, but perhaps
given new interpretations: Youth, Early
Morning, Earth, Sleeping Land, Dawn.
There were also drawings of a new motif
- Night Flower images of women (re-
lated to Moon) cradling the large myster-
ious blooms of the night-blooming
cereus, that magnificent flower that
lives for just one night a poignant
postscript to the night/moon images of
the "Dying God" series.
As for sculpture, there is only one
important work done during this period
and it is predictably a coda to the
"Dying God" series. Titled Growth
(National Gallery) it shows an upward
progression from the human to the
spiritual, achieved in terms of a highly
personal transformation of traditional
Resurrection, Ascension and Last
Judgement iconography. In the human
element, two banks of figures represent
the cycle from awakening to sleeping,
while the spiritual realm is represented
by the Horse of the Morning surmount-
ed by the Sun God a head of infinite
wisdom and energy. The link between
the two zones is the topmost figure of
the bank of sleeping figures, who just
begins to lift his head and open his eyes
as he re-awakens to another existence.
Edna Manley's diary entry for 3
So much has happened again since last
writing: We have been in Regardless
now for four months. Drumblair has
been taken down and sold for old
lumber. We have lost the election . .
meanwhile I am working hard at
Sheraton carving every morning -
and oh dear it is BIG but its coming
slowly and its a wonderful discipline
The carving she refers to was com-
missioned for a new hotel being built in
Kingston, the Sheraton. It is a massive
bas-relief that resurrects some of the
ideas of Dance, that other large relief
done some 30 years earlier.
It represents in repoussoir form a
giant recumbent figure (compare the
male of Dance) sublimated to a single
encompassing outline. This is the female
earth from which all life springs. In the
centre, the theme of the cycle of life is
condensed to the family unit man, wo-
man and child. A curiously flat carving
relying essentially on bold outline and
the varying textures of the chisel
marks, the work is essentially a drawing
in wood. She gave it the title Cometh
The Sheraton carving was followed
by another commission, a private one,
for which she executed a variation of
the man/woman theme carved in juniper,
'a ghastly difficult thing with a violent
The couple is essentially the young
Jamaican couple of the Sheraton carv-
ing (the woman complete with bandana)
watching the sun rise. It is a carving full
of optimism which she called and The
Dawn Came. And following this a new
area of interest began to develop; terra-
cotta. Her diary entry for 17 June
we begin at the beginning again (... )
a fresh (...) start a new medium and
one that is quicker and allows of free
movement and anyway a lovely one.
Clay, fired earth and water and fire.
The kiln when it is hot ha! so like
life and what comes through has stood
and she plots the work she will do:
So I do a little goat's head and men
(with) a whole goat. Then an owl, and
a Tyger, Tyger and each time it must
be enforced with no striving for effort
only an attempt to understand what
clay can do and to get the owliness of
the owl. Nothing really matters except
to find a core of simple truth.
Several works were completed in
terracotta mostly animal sculptures
including a beautiful highly stylized
goat, an owl, a bull and the promised
Tyger, Tyger of Blake's rapturous poem.
The next commission was to be one
of the greatest challenges of her life -
the commission for the monument to
Paul Bogle (Fig. 18) leader of the
Morant Bay 'rebellion'. Several sketches
survive showing her preliminary ideas on
the subject as it evolved from a curving
dramatic figure to the hierarchic symbol-
ic figure, where the horizontal stretch of
the bent arms, evokes the crucifixion.
The form established, there then
came the difficult problem of the face
of Bogle. She rejected the photograph
purported to be Bogle and created in-
stead an imaginary head probably in-
spired by Blake's concept of 'visionary
heads'. In trying to arrive at her own
'visionary head' for the leader of the
'Jamaica rebellion' she sought inspir-
ation in visits to Bogle's birthplace -
Stony Gut. She remembers clearly an
old lady who kept repeating 'But Bogle
was a Bold man, Bogle was a Bold
Man'. Her diary too records a visit to
the courthouse where the statue was to
When I got there a murder trial had
just come to an end and the defense
had been unsuccessful ... Three men
were saying that the lawyer had sold
16. The Hills ofPapine. 1949. Wood. Collection: Olympia International Art Centre.
out the case that all lawyers were
PNP and that's why they always sold
out the small men's cases! I quietly
joined the little group and one man
stepped towards me very aggressively
and said. 'Why you don't give Bogle
back to us alive he was a very good
man and we need him' ...
'Well I can't do that and I don't think
it would be a good thing either you
see I think that the things he fought
for are alive and I think that his
spirit is alive what he died for
Freedom and Independence these
things have been won'.
Further commissions awaited the
artist in the sixties. For the children's
hospital she created a Mother and Child
Tondo, while for Webster's United
Church she created The Bush Which Was
Not Consumed translating the symbol
of the church into a highly rhythmic
free-form bas-relief of the burning bush.
Inspired by her re-readings of the story
of Moses during the preparatory period
for the carving of The Bush she began
doing preparatory studies for an illus-
trated Life of Moses. While there are
sketches for Moses in Egypt, Moses
Before Pharoah, the Brothers Moses
and Aaron and for the Pillar of Cloud
By Day, the only themes which reach
any sort of definitive statement, are
the Parting of the Red Sea and Moses
Bearing the Two Tablets of God's Law,
the latter translated into a terracotta
sculpture. The significance of this aban-
doned project increases when we recog-
nize that Norman Manley in the early
days of his political life was nicknamed
'Moses' by his followers in recognition
of his increasingly important role in the
development of modern Jamaica.
Then in 1968 she was commissioned
to create a life-size Mary for the Holy
Cross Church. Early drawings and a
maquette survive for the Mary, all of
which show the hands held up towards
the face. In the later drawings and the
carving, however, the hands move rigid-
ly down as if reaching for the dead
Son who we must imagine is at her
feet. As we find in so much of Edna
Manley's work, the artist has not at-
tempted to portray emotion through
facial expression but does so through
the form, the geometry of the work.
Here the angled axis of the carving
twists the figure into an expression of
tormented grief. The work is in fact
correctly titled The Grief of Mary.
Within a year of the completion of
The Grief of Mary, Edna Manley would
be thrown full force, with the death of
17. Crucifix. 1951. Wood. Collection: All
Saints Church, Kingston.
Norman Manley, into the storm which
would be her own grief.
1969 -1974: A Period of Mourning
In the film Edna Manley: Sculptor,
the artist speaks candidly about Nor-
man Manley's illness and death and the
creation of the Angel (Kingston Parish
Church). It was while he was ill, and she
knew that he was dying, that she created
a small, rough clay study of an angel
cradling a small figure in one of its
The drawings that follow attempt
to clarify the artist's concept through
the inclusion of familiar symbols. In
them, the angel is a gigantic, almost
owl-like presence looming over a vast
mountainous landscape. The sun is set-
ting and the moon is high in the heavens.
A winding road cuts through the moun-
tains. The head of the angel which is
clearly to be the focus of the carving is
explored in a further magnificent draw-
ing which, afterwards, strikes the
artist as being 'too ruthless, too frighten-
ing'. It is, however, clearly a drawing
full of personal meaning for the artist -
it is the only work of her own which she
refuses to part with, keeping it close to
her, hanging in her home.
In the carving, a true bas-relief, a
gentler head, in fact reminiscent of the
head of Moon but given now an ex-
pression of resigned grief, looks down
tenderly at the soul-figure. (Fig. 20).
Because of the soul-figure's size in re-
lation to that of the angel, the imme-
diate impression is that of a mother
18.Bogle 1965. Photographed in clay before
casting into ciment fondu. Morant Bay.
cradling in her wing/arms her infant son.
There is, in fact, in the placement and
carving of the soul-figure, the faintest
echo of the sleeping Christ-child of
Michelangelo's Madonna of the Stairs.
The lower wing of the Angel seems to
caress the figure but, in fact, as the artist
explains, it creates a gateway, the portal
for the soul's entry into a new existence.
Adios, first worked out in a clay
sketch and a drawing, uses a common
motif in art most familiar through the
works of Munch the standing, embra-
cing couple united in a kiss. But in
Manley's carving, we are presented with
the farewell, the final embrace of the
couple. The faces are fused with no at-
tempt at features but the hands, especial-
ly the man's hand grasping and lifting
the head of the woman, are enormously
Next came the carving of the mythic-
al Phoenix which according to legend,
lives to a great age, finally sacrificing
itself in its funeral pyre (or on the altar
of the sun) from which a new phoenix
arises. (The phoenix was adopted as a
symbol of Christ's resurrection, and
consequently became a common funereal
The carving seems to have been
created almost in a frenzy, if we read
the extraordinarily expressive chisel
marks correctly; fire and plumage are
one, the phoenix is being consumed
and is being reborn. It is an uncon-
scious wish for the return of the lost
It is the realization that phoenixes
are but part of myth and imagination,
that throws Edna into the despair of
the next carving, Woman the agonized
woman alone. It is one of her most ex-
pressionistic carvings, Germanic in its
agitated surface and in its twisting, tor-
tuous architecture, that throws the
breast and head out of joint. The artist's
diary entry for July 1971 records a
moment of pause during the creation of
this painful work:
This morning I got up early to go and
carve, but it didn't last very long. I
think I am at last finished with carv-
ing . . Sorrow steals over one very
slowly; it comes like a mist through
the trees, slowly enveloping you -
Nothing lasts forever...
The carving of Woman, with its un-
restricted abandon of emotions was
clearly cathartic, for the work which
follows reveals an incredible mental
Mountain Women (Fig. 21) the final
carving for 1971, is a consummate work
drawing together so much of the past
yet speaking of the future. It is a master-
piece of defiance, the triumphant carv-
ing of a 70-year-old woman who has at
last accepted her husband's death, and
who is ready to live on . .. 'I felt that
because my roots were here in Jamaica,
I could survive. It was my return to the
world after that period of intense grief.'
As in the Hills of Papine and The
Mountains, the mountains have been
anthropomorphized: here into three
female heads. Increasing in mass as we
ascend the three 'peaks', we move
from, at the base, the young girl's head,
then a mature woman's head and then
finally at the summit, the large domi-
nant head of the old woman. In this
building up of three heads, we have
one of the most concise statements
possible of the age-old "Three Ages
of Man" theme, but in contrast to all
other representations of the theme that
I know of, the emphasis is placed on the
oldest head which is seen as a culmin-
ation, the depository of three generations
of experiences. This is the 'wise, old
Jamaican grandmother' who, notdespite
age but because of age, has much to
contribute to her family and society.
After a short break which saw the
five completed 'mourning carvings' ex-
hibited at the Bolivar Gallery in an enor-
mously successful exhibition (her first
to include sculpture since 19481)
Edna Manley returned once again to
carving and two more works were added
to the series.
The Faun came quickly a symbol
of the inner frightened self: 'It's a night
piece really, it's all about having to face
the night by yourself. The wood should
be darker though.' And while she was
carving the Faun, the drawings for
Journey, now one of the treasures of
the National Gallery started to develop.
The earliest drawings show the basic
motifs: the slanted upward moving
figure, the downward moving hand in a
gesture of farewell; the toes clinging to
the earth 'not wanting to go'; the poig-
nant slant of the head leaning on the
shoulder. As the drawings develop,
deep shadows invade the cavity below
the chest and the area around the eyes.
The wood is prepared for the carving
but she hesitates. Her main concerns
were the shadows how to sculpt the
dense void that must speak of death,
and her own sense of loss and loneliness;
and that 'clinging feeling' how to im-
part in an image of the soul departing
her own reluctance, nay, refusal to let
i " ; "- "
19. The Grief ofMary. 1968. Wood. Collection:
Holy Cross Church.
Blake's illustrations to Blair's The
Grave, which she owns in the original
1808 edition, must have been a great
comfort during these difficult months.
Particularly meaningful to her would
have been the plate depicting The Soul
Hovering over The Body Reluctantly
Parting with Life.16
The pause over, she began the carv-
ing one full year after the first drawings
had surfaced. In a letter to the author
late in 1973, she wrote:
. Your shadow standing behind me
and saying deeper and deeper shadows
has been driving me onl You have no
idea what a tough job it is going deep
between the flame shape and figure -
I smash my knuckles to hell . It
would have been so much easier in the
round. You see it's the inhumanity of
it that's difficult. The face has gone
beyond emotion and the torso only
one slightly moving hand and the feet
clinging and not wanting to go ....
The womb-like shape, or as she calls
it, 'flame shape' through which the
figure is ascending was a late addition
and adds poetic intensity to the work's
iconography, speaking as it does of a
She also wrestled with a title: Ascen-
sion would have been pretentious; she
considered Translation and settled on
Journey, remembering Norman Manley's
final days when he spoke of preparing
to go on a journey.
The effort to complete Journey
was an exhausting one and when it was
finished, she put aside her carving tools,
presented them to a young Jamaican
sculptor and declared thatshewould not
create in wood again. And she has been
true to her word all subsequent works
have been modelled terracottas or cast
in plaster, then re-cast into various final
materials: ciment fondu, fibreglass,
bronze. The first of these after Journey
is an exquisite terracotta Grief, and with
this figure of a running woman, her
hands held up to her face in a gesture
of despairing grief the artist's period
of mourning comes to an end.
The Recent Works
The past decade 1974-1984 has seen
the completion of a remarkable number
of works as the artist both explores new
ideas and recapitulates themes from the
Among the most important of the
new themes that develop is the grand-
mother theme ultimately derived from
the authoritative head at the summit
of Mountain Women. In the 1975 Old
Woman with a Dog, a sculpture cast in
ciment fondu, the heroic stance of the
'old woman' combines strength with
humility. Then followed The Shepherdess
in which the 'old woman' is cast in the
role of spiritual leader, and then in 1976
she takes her place as the grandmother
in the monumental Man-Child,a further
restatement of the three ages of man
theme. In Man-Child, the child's clear
preference for the arms of his grand-
mother over those of his mother echoes
an undeniable truth about so many
Jamaican families. Edna Manley herself
It is a matriarchal society I am speak-
ing about the Masses it is only recent-
ly that thefather is making his presence
felt this is one of the positive things
about the Rastafarian Culture but
the grandmother is usually the person
who rears the children, the mother is
usually out making a living. The
father has for centuries been absent.
Jamaica 1976 done during the throes
of a particularly difficult period, politic-
ally, can be regarded as a symbolic self-
portrait. Originally titled The Old
Woman, the title was changed shortly
before it went on exhibition in 1977
in an attempt to drive home the social
implications of the work: the furrowed
brows speak of turmoil but the deter-
mined set of the head speaks of defiance
and the strength not only of the 'Jam-
aican grandmother' but of the artist her-
self. This head (Jamaica 1976) acts as a
study for the next major sculpture
The Message in which two crouching
women face each other in conversation:
I saw them in the market, two women
sitting, lost to the hub-bub around
them . (I watched them and drew
them on the back of my cheque book.)
I was in the mood when I wanted to be
back in touch with the people of the
market place. They are probably shar-
ing some earthy secret. I never knew
what it was, but it was a secret an older
woman tells a younger woman.
In The Ancestor of 1978, the 'old
woman', beyond the grave now, takes on
mythological dimensions. She has
become the ancestral spirit that nourishes
successive generations. (The male figure
is not a child, as so many have misread;
rather the difference in scale between
ancestor and the male is meant to con-
vey the difference between the earthly
and spiritual dimensions.)
In 1977, the Government of Jamaica
commissioned the artist to re-create
her famous sculpture, Negro Aroused, as
a monument to be cast in bronze and
to be placed at the site of the historic
20.Angel. 1970. Wood. Co,
meeting between Norman Manley and
Alexander Bustamante after the latter's
release from prison. With the assistance
of a young sculptor, Peter Smith, and
Christopher Gonzalez (who did the
plaster mould), she created a seven foot
version of the famous torso. In doing
so she altered the proportions, elongating
the work to compensate for the altered
viewing angle, once the work was placed
on a plinth. She also utilized a greater
naturalism in the handling of the head
and the hands, which was not simply a
concession to the current style of The
Messenger and Manchild, but was also
intended as a means of giving greater
clarity to the work's silhouette.
In July of 1978, the plaster mould
was crated and in the warehouse of a
shipping firm, on its way to New York
election: Kingston Parish Church.
to be bronzed, when disaster struck.
The warehouse burned to the ground
and the work was destroyed.
In 1982, the artist, utilizing the
photographs of the lost monument,
created a third version of the work im-
parting once again, a greater naturalism
in the heads and the hands.
In 1981, the Pocomania theme of
the thirties returns in a group of ciment
fondu bas-reliefs, the finest of which,
perhaps, is of a shepherd advancing
towards the viewer, his hands raised
'in praise' and these in turn release a
new theme, that of the Rastafarian
drummer best realized in a magni-
ficent charcoal drawing. Then the artist
created as a companion to this, a Rasta-
farian with his head turned back in a
manner reminiscent of Negro Aroused.
His eyes are closed and his mouth is
partly opened. She calls this head,
The Voice., A song comes forth, but
from the pain etched in the roughened
brow, we know that it is "Redemption
Song", that he sings.
The theme of the mountains anthro-
pomorphized which we saw expressed
in The Hills of Papine of 1959 and
which reached its climactic development
in Mountain Women of 1971 is recast
in a trio of small ciment fondu works
completed between 1977 and 1979. The
group also offers an interesting exposi-
tion firmly establishing the artist's
iconological linkage of the earth and
the feminine. In this respect it is the re-
clining 'earth' figure of the Sheraton
Cometh Up to which these figures are
The first is Sleeping Hills which is
followed by Morning where the limp
forms of Sleeping Hills give way to
more erect assertive forms. Then came
The Mountains where the theme is that
of the succession of generations where
an older woman is embodied in the
taller, craggier mountain range, and
cradles the younger, less experienced
woman. In The Mountains the psycho-
logical explorations of Mountain Women
gives way to a purely formal investigation
of the placement of masses in fact the
faces are totally devoid of features.
An interesting feature of these works
is the surface treatment where the
artist seeks, in the subtle colouring of
the ciment fondu, to capture the feel of
worn stone. Morning is in fact cast in a
red-ochre ciment fondu, recalling the
bauxite-rich earth of central Jamaica.
The male and female theme (the
most persistent of all her themes) re-
ceives further treatment as the first
couple in Rainbow Serpent where, link-
ed by the serpent, the heads of Adam
and Eve flank the mask of the Creator,
and in The Flaming Sword, a massive
drawing, where Adam and Eve are
united into a single being, leaving Eden
under the giant arch of the Angel with
the Flaming Sword.
In The Wave, the couple stands toge-
ther facing adversity, embodied in the
giant wave which is stilled above them -
'It is because they have each other that
they can hold that wave up'. The male
and female theme also finds expression
in sculptures devoted to dance: The
Dancers of 1974, The Trees are Joy-
ful of 1979 and Dancers of 1980. In
The Trees are Joyful we have an ecstatic
dance of love recalling the destroyed
carving of 1939 Idyll.
A new theme, The Creation of
Adam, is one of the most persistent
themes of the late seventies. In 1978 a
'definitive' drawing is attempted. The
Creator is gripped in a heroic struggle,
attempting to impart life to Adam,
who is no longer the ecstatic figure we
find in the earlier drawings, but is pre-
sented as a compressed despairing form.
He seems to refuse to be born and clings
desperately to his ill-formed foetal
status. It is a poignant and sad coda to
the many joyous images of 'Adam'
created since the late thirties, and is a
signal of a growing pessimism which is
to climax two years later with the cre-
ation of The Ghetto Mother.
Nothing in the previous renditions
of the mother and child theme quite
prepares us for the dramatic, powerful,
and most disturbing treatment of the
theme in the large, massive Ghetto
Mother, 1980 (Fig. 22) where that
expressionistic streak in Edna Manley,
normally kept under strict control, but
which explodes forth at moments
of great stress, erupts now into the
most horrifying work of her career. No
symbolism, no iconographic subtleties,
no literary allusions, are allowed to
mask the direct, brutal statement of
a mother trying helplessly to shield her
cowering frightened children from the
horrors of a Jamaica caught up in the
throes of the most intense and outrage-
ous political violence in its history.
21.Mountain Women. 1971. Wood. Collection: David Berger.
22. Ghetto Mother. 1980. Ciment Fondu. Pri-
Others of us Jamaican artists could
try to deal with aspects of the social
upheavals of the seventies: Parboo-
singh painted The Gun Court, Abrahams
- Vox Populi, Milton George The
Green Bay Massacre, Roy Reid the
Orange Street Fire I created the
Graffiti Heads and the Rapes and an
ambiguous symbol of a child running
toward us in an expression of joy and
laughter turning in an instant into a
seizure of horror and screams the
Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death
of Children) but only an Edna Manley,
the mother of a key personality of
the political drama, and in fact for
many people, herself the 'Mother of
the Nation', could sum up all the ele-
ments of her great gift to create such
a work, a monument to our failures as
a people; an elegy to the divisiveness in
our society; a Marcia Funebre to the
unbelievable viciousness that man is
But Edna Manley created the work
too, with a hope that it might in 'its
own small way' help to bridge the
'gap of understanding'.
After completion of the Ghetto
Mother in 1981, she immediately sets to
work on a fine bas-relief where the
struggle between Jacob and the Angel
is utilized by the artist as a metaphor
for an internal wrestling between the
two selves. The 'wrestling' is a personal
one involving the artist's perception of
herself as an artist and the road she
must travel in her future works. The
subsequent works reveal that it is the
angel, this figure of light, fantasy and
the world of the imagination that will
win out at least for the moment.
The subsequent sculptures and draw-
ings recapture the mood of the Nomdmi
carvings of the forties. A large female
head, her arms raised and crossed
above, is titled Dawn. Her eyes are glow-
ing suns reminiscent of the eyes of
the sun gods of the forties. Related to
her is a fine male head cast in black
ciment fondu, which is titled The Black
Sun. There are drawings, too, of Night
and the Sun and Moon, then a carving
that captures the graceful floating
movement of New Moon: a woman
running in an expression of anticipation.
The artist calls it The Future. Then a
sensuous nude, her arms reaching back
into her trailing hair, she titles Praise
and her male counterpart, based on
drawings done in the seventies of
Orpheus, she calls The Listener. (Fig.
Praise and The Listener counter-
pointed expressions of the flow of
music are sensuous hymns of praise,
and the mood of the recent drawings
from which will spring new works is
very much the same. There is an idea
gestating now, the drawings still search-
23. The Listener. 1984. Plaster. Collection:
ing for the forms to give expression to a
sea goddess, born of waves that caress
her seductive, reclining form. In some
of the drawings, we begin to see horses
materializing in the foam. An erotic
fantasia is winding its way through the
subconscious, and soon will spill forth
into reality. Edna Manley calls the idea
The Wave, but we know it will be the
birth of Aphrodite herself.
1. All quotes from Edna Manley unless
otherwise stated are from conversation
with the author, or letters to the author.
2. Quoted in Wayne Brown, Edna Manley;
The Private Years: 1900-1938. London
3. Edna Manley quoted in Leeds Mercury,
2 March 1937.
4. See also Rex Nettleford (ed.), Norman
Manley: The New Jamaica, Selected
Speeches and Writings, (London 1971).
5. Edna Manley, The Daily Gleaner
quoted in Wayne Brown op. cit.
p. 191 f.
6. Wayne Brown op. cit. -p. 134.
7. Morning Post, London, June 29/ Eana
8. Wayne Brown op. cit. p. 176.
9. August Hoff, Wilhelm Lehmbruck,
New York 1969. p. 9.
10. The term is Norman Manley's. See op.
cit. p. 15.
11. Erwin Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual
Arts, London 1980. p. 2.
12. Norman Manley, op. cit. p.15.
13. M.G. Smith, Introduction to catalogue,
Edna Manley: Selected Sculpture and
14. Wayne Brown op. cit. 225f.
15. David Boxer,"Edna Manley",Americas,
Vol. 32 No. 6-7, June-July 1980.
16. Robert Blair, The Grave. Illustrated by
etchings by L. Schiavonetti after the
original inventions of William Blake,
BHALLA, Hans, Edna Manley (Exhibition
catalogue, Spelman College) Atlanta,
BOXER, David, Ten Jamaican Sculptors
(Exhibition Catalogue, Commonwealth
Institute, London) Kingston, 1975.
,Jamaican Art 1922-1982, Smithsonian
"Edna Manley: Sculptor", Americas
BROWN, Wayne, Edna Manley: The Private
Years 1900-1938, London, 1975.
CLARKE, Edith and RAE, Norman, Looking
Back: Drawings by Edna Manley 1938-
1970 (Exhibition catalogue, Bolivar
Gallery, Kingston, 1970).
KERR, Madeline, "The Wood Carvings of
Edna Manley" Studio, London,
Vol. 139, June 1950, pp. 174-177.
McFARLANE, Basil, Edna Manley: Fifty
Years a Sculptor (Exhibition catalogue,
Bolivar Gallery) Kingston, 1971.
PARKES, Kineton, The Art of Carved Sculp-
ture, New York, 1931, Vol.1.
SMITH, M.G., Edna Manley: Selected Sculp-
ture and Drawings 1922-1976. Intro-
duction to Exhibition catalogue.
By Gloria Escoffery
Can we use the word "masterpiece"
in connection with modern art? The
whole history of modernism is that of an
attempt to disrupt not only established
norms but established hierarchies.
- Edward Lucie Smith, Introduction to
Masterpieces from the Pompidou Centre.
Sn 1984 the customary end-of-
year quickening of life on the
local art scene was more mark-
ed than usual. After a post-Festival lull,
in which a low-key showing of recent
National Gallery acquisitions scarcely
compensated for the loss of the Hyde
Retrospective [see Jamaica Journal
17: 3] the main source of excitement
was a show of women's art at the Mutual
Life Gallery. The Mutual was once
more the focus of attention in October
as a crowd of apparently art-starved
viewers flocked to the opening of an
exhibition somewhat pretentiously titled
"The Forerunners" a bold if not entire-
ly successful attempt to present an up-
to-the-minute survey of Jamaica's first
and second generation artists. The the-
matic approach once more scored a hit
at the Mutual in mid-November as
"Today's Generation" succeeded to the
limelight. Meanwhile the National Gal-
lery's week-long tenth anniversary cele-
brations were already in full swing with
a variety of social functions: the launch-
ing of the annual national show by the
governor-general (successful in spite of
a three-hour power cut) and the open-
ing of two new rooms, one for the pre-
twentieth century, the other for the
international collection. A programme
which included lectures, concerts, film
shows, demonstrations by artists, and a
reception in honour of outstanding
patrons who had assisted the gallery
over the hurdles of its early years turn-
ed this institution into a hub of activity.
Perhaps the greatest fillip in terms of
putting the artistic community on its
Albert Artwell, The Life Story oj
mettle was, however, the visit, planned
with the cooperation of the Jamaica
Tourist Board, of a party of American
journalists, art critics and travel writers
who were rushed off their feet as gallery
proprietors, official, corporate and pri-
vate collectors seized the opportunity
to show their collections. (One excep-
tionally fine one-man exhibition they
must have seen at this time was a col-
lection of recent small collages and
watercolours by David Boxer at the
The National Gallery and the art
community in general were indeed 'at
home' to visitors for this exhilarating
week, but, happily, there was no feel-
ing of constraint or 'company man-
ners'. Throngs of school children of
all ages took possession of the National
Gallery on specially arranged guided
tours. As I watched them (rather
hazardously sometimes) darting from
work to work and room to room, pen-
cils poised to fill in the answers to a
newspaper quiz which was part of the
educational exercise, I noted their
sparkling eyes and the candid scrutiny
they accorded to whatever took or
did not take their fancy. They had
the air of persons who had, indeed,
come to take possession of their patri-
f Jesus. Enamel on plywood. 48 x 96'"
mony, a pearl of great price which they
were examining for the first time. What
secrets of identity would they carry
away from these first impressions?
As a nation confident that we have
produced, and are producing, our own
art whatever else we fail to produce -
we are developing a historical sense
which gives rise to thoughtful specu-
lation about our artists and their indi-
vidual styles. This intellectual approach
will become even more prevalent when
National Gallery visitors become habitu-
ated to making comparisons as they
move from whatever works happen to
be temporarily on view to the permanent
and special collections. It was no art
critic but merely a receptive member of
the public who, reflecting on the sombre-
ness of the Dunkleys, suggested that
Dunkley had perhaps been influenced
by the English view of Jamaican land-
scape as exemplified in our pre-twentieth
century collection. I did not think so, I
said, because during the period Dunkley
was active as a painter in Jamaica, most
of the old prints were housed in the
Institute of Jamaica and it was mainly
the precinct of history research scholars.
(I was then working as a young unpaid
dogsbody filing newspaper clippings on
Jamaican culture in the West India
Reference Library of the Institute).
Consciousness of a living cultural tra-
dition infiltrates a society in a variety
of ways. Looking at a very sub-Kapo
carving (in the Annual National Exhibi-
tion titled As it was in the Beginning by
self-taught artist Joseph Richards) I
thought we could no longer use the
term 'self-taught' without including the
concept 'museum trained'.
To anyone interested in our cultural
4 traditions, the annual national show of.
fers a fascinating field for research. How
Fitz Harrack, Woman. Yoke. Height: 47". better to keep one's finger on the artistic
Laura Facey, Of The Past. Ebony, suede and found objects. Height: 13%".
pulse of the nation than to follow the
example of the children and dart from
present to past, 'back-a-yard' to'foreign'
as the gallery now permits though not
perhaps with such a large frame of
reference as in the major metropolitan
museums. Here one has the chance
without too much difficulty to see new
works as well as works which have been
shown in commercial galleries through
the year. Although modern art tends to
minimise the importance of the con-
sciously created 'masterpiece', it is quite
evident that facilities for showing at a
well planned gallery do tempt our artists
to extend themselves for the occasion of
the annual show.
Inevitably the viewer will approach
the 1984 collection with preconceptions
acquired from that of 1983 [seeJamaica
Journal 16:4 and 17:2]. Expecting a re-
play of the 1983 tour de force of the
post-SITES Exhibition generation, he
may have felt somewhat let down, and
wondered if our golden youth (registered
in catalogues mainly as 'recent graduate
of the Jamaica School of Art') had in-
deed deserted en bloc to shelter under
the solidarity of the 'Today's Gener-
ation' label, or battle cry. In the art
world the 'tides in the affairs of men'
are more like snowdrifts, particularly
in our unstable society where artists
float from one gallery to another and
the milieu where the action is seems to
be ever shifting. However, if one studies
the list of exhibitors at our public gal-
lery going back to the days of the Insti-
tute of Jamaica gallery on East Street, it
is evident that the official centre has
held. Artists come and go, and the
'discoveries' of this year may disappear
from sight for ever after a brief blaze,
or reappear years later. They pass
through periods of discouragement and,
maybe, drop out and take up some
other calling, or emigrate to London or
New York; many take up scholarships in
art schools abroad or simply visit for a
while to earn some real 'bread'.
This year's annual national show in
fact contained much the usual mix of
old and young, trained and self-taught,
Barrington Watson, The Age of Wisdom. Oil on canvas. 50 x 60".
Judy McMillan, Country Boys. Oil on Canvas. 24% x 25 '".
but there was less display of virtuosity
and youthful exuberance from the
young. Most of the impressive works
came, in fact, from well established
artists. This is not to say that last
year's promising young artists had de
fected. Pet Archer. showing interesting
work for the third successive year is
represented by one piece very similar to
those of last year. Carl Bailey, whose
mysterious figure drawings commanded
attention last year, has now turned his
attention with somewhat less human
interest, to landscape treated in similar
manner. Basil Watson (like ceramist
David Dunn, a not so recent graduate,
but still one of the leaders of the 'Today's
Generation' group) offers an almost
Epsteinesque figure titled Hawk a
move towards greater naturalism that
makes (in this piece) for a rather finicky
effect in the arms. But I am confident
that this phase will pass; he is a serious
artist and well worth watching as he
If one is on the look out for rising
stars, the two names to note here are, I
think, Winston Thomas, who is repre-
sented by two paintings in a "Bandana
Series" and Hylton Plummer with a
large and well designed mixed media
work on three panels titled Tree Bark
Series. These appear to be highly suc-
cessful final year art school projects
based on design motif research.
Turning to the older artists, there are
this year several paintings which have
the air of special motivation, as if the
artist felt that this was the moment
for him to make a 'major statement'.
Among these are Albert Artwell's pano-
ramic retelling of the Life of Jesus, an
untitled mixed media abstract com-
position by Carl Craig, a large Cruci-
fixion in diptych format by Milton
George, a not so large but vibrant and
colourful composition titled Transcen-
sion by Nelson Cooper and a work titled
The Bathers by Whitney Miller.
Before discussing these works I must
put in a word for some of the small, in
some cases quite tiny, pieces; good
things really do sometimes come in
___ A i
Samere Tansley, Joan and Yabba. Acrylic on canvas. 22 x 30 .
Milton George, Crucifixion. Oil on canvas, 2 panels each. 72 x 48"'
small parcels, and in an exhibition on
this scale they are sometimes overlook-
ed. Carl Abrahams's Water Angels heads
this list. After this more famous name I
would place works by less established
artists, namely a small ceramic painting,
muted in colour, and titled Cross Roads
Market, by Marjorie Keith; Sylvester
Woods's charming little Landscape, less
dramatic and amusing but even more
pleasing than his version of The Dis-
covery of Chloroform.
All the large pieces mentioned
above and they represent a diversity
of styles and approaches are in some
way challenging. It indicates the high
degree of sophistication in today's art
public that each of them, though it may
not evoke a favourable response, can
be guaranteed an intensive and curious
scrutiny. In Albert Artwell's case, the
childlike style, which would some years
ago have been dismissed as childish, now
is assured of an open-minded reception,
if only because the viewer can comfort-
ably affix to it the label 'intuitive'. This
removal of the old academic 'thou shalt
nots' will surely, in all but the physically
blind, ensure a spontaneous reaction of
delight. Personally I prefer hisAdamand
Eve as being more coherent in design.
However the larger work may be a better
investment for the National Gallery (if a
generous donor could be found) in
terms of the benefit to children of all
ages. What a wonderful way of teach-
ing children to look at works of art: be-
sides the joy of identifying the various
episodes, there is the excitement of a
quest for 'hidden' symbolism.
It is a long spiritual journey from
Artwell to Milton George. What can I
say about George's Crucifixion to con-
vince those religious traditionalists who
may see it as blasphemous, in its emphasis
on animal consciousness as the main
feature of the central figure? Those who
have followed the Goyaesque course of
Milton George's improvisations will read
it as a satire on human fallibility, or
perhaps another excursion into the
theme of human sexuality. One thing
for sure is that those three mourning
Marorie Keith, Cross Roads Market. Ceramic painting. 7% x 15".
Tina Matkovic-Spiro, Dawn Over Seville. Egg, tempera, casein, oil, on linen panel
women against their red background
carry a great weight of involvement in
what is being enacted, and they can not
be ignored. As an esthetic experience
this picture simply bowls one over;
ugly as hell and at the final sound of
the trump, moving and beautiful.
Carl Craig is primarily a designer-
craftsman. His present work will fascin-
ate fellow artists, art students, and those
non-practitioners who delight in his
ingenious use of a fish net and other
materials; it has something more to
offer than this though obviously -
being another statement on his explor-
ation of a personal reaction to environ-
Whitney Miller's Bathers, measuring
in fact only 40%" x 462", gives the im-
pression of being larger than it actually
is. For years, Miller has pursued the
vision of a classical world not unlike
that of Picasso in his classical period.
Here he has come as close as he has
ever been to this ideal, and the painting
contains some beautiful passages, no-
tably the set of the breasts on the two
central figures. Do not ask the artist
what he is after and why he paints such
'un-Jamaican' females. You will deser-
vedly receive the answer, 'None of your
business'. It doesn't bother me that this
work is ostensibly 'un-Jamaican'. In fact
what could be more deeply Jamaican
than a pursuit of otherness nowhere pre-
sent to the senses!
Nelson Cooper's mural composition,
L' which also seems to owe something to
Picasso, that is to the reverse side of
Picasso's distortions, gives pleasure
of a different kind; I hope I am not
short-changing it to describe it simply
There are two other large-scale works
which I haven't mentioned, I suppose
because they don't quite fit into the
category of momentous undertakings
within the oeuvre of the particular artist.
One is Tina Matkovic-Spiro's Dawn over
Seville and the other is Barrington
Watson's portrait titled The Age of
. 46 x 46". Wisdom.
Her American background and train-
ing sets Tina Matkovic somewhat apart
from the artists discussed so far; her
love of her adopted country, especially
its landscape, is tremendous, but one is
aware that she sees it differently. The
difference is not so much one of the
sense of objectivity which discovers new
beauties as a matter of personal, trans-
cendent vision. Dawn over Seville, a
masterpiece of translucent atmosphere
achieved through masterly use of a
rather esoteric medium (egg tempera,
casein and oil) carries the viewer way
beyond the level of wonder at the artist's
virtuosity. Her imagination is at home in
vistas analogous to those she counter-
feits here with mere pigments applied to
a square of stretched linen. How often
have most of us had our breath taken
away at the brow of a hill overlooking
the north coast. And how mistaken we
would have been in thinking our response
could be adequately 'captured' by some
competent photographer. It takes a
moment or two of looking to realise
how stylized, in fact, Matkovic's trees,
for instance, really are; still more is de-
manded in the way of empathy to enter
her \orld of poetic associations and
analogies. A dash of irony will not come
amiss. How else to recognize the signi-
ficance of that hovering John Crow -
nature's angelic scavenger or to realize
that the exquisite waterspout in her
companion watercolour holds the
potential to blow up into a burgeoning
mushroom of atomic disaster; and com-
pletely destroy our Almost Paradise.
I have so far not commented on the
sculpture. This year it seems to me less
interesting than last year, but there are
some intriguing developments, parti-
cularly in the 'mixed media' category.
Laura Facey has gone completely three-
dimensional this year with a sibylline
figure titled The Past in which she con-
vincingly pursues her theme that the
medium is, to some extent anyway, the
message. On close examination this cu-
rious prophetess (?) is found to be con-
structed of suede and ebony, which com-
pose the head and hands, and a fas-
Christopher Gonzalez, Song of Love. Pencil
on paper. 29%x 41%".
cinating collection of nature's detritus,
including shells. Colin Garland, in a new
phase, more freshening to the imagin-
ation than his two oil paintings, has pro-
duced a fantastic piece of moon-mad
architecture titled Moon City. Both of
these works Laura Facey's and Gar-
land's are by way of being harbingers.
By the time this article appears, readers
will have had the opportunity of seeing
further developments, presumably on
similar lines, in one-man shows by each
of these artists.
Many of our sculptors seem to be at
present involved in figurative works
which challenge them to solve problems
of movement and balance. This trend
may be seen in Edna Manley's figure
The Listener, Susan Alexander's Dance
Movement, Leopold James's Salome and
Basil Watson's Hawk referred to above.
Personally, perhaps because of a bias
towards classicism, I found my heart
going out mainly to three very self-
contained works, which I shall name in
order of preference: (1) Lester Hoilett's
Slave Lady; (2) Fitz Harrack's Woman
and (3) Ikuru Salmon's Give a Hand
Brother. All three share a quality of
intense identification with what is
strongest in the Jamaican national
essence (if there is such a thing) our
womanhood and the brotherliness which
is the flip side of the coin that also gives
us violence and cruelty in communities
beset by a struggle for survival.
If I were absolutely forced to com-
mit myself to a statement on the dis-
tinctive character of the 1984 show I
should have to comment on an apparent
resurgence of naturalism which appears
to spring from a wish to pin down and
immortalize the qualities of our inner-
most being. The Barrington Watson tour
de force, The Age of Wisdom, which I
mentioned above but did not discuss,
is an illustration of this trend, and so is
Alexander Cooper's Supplication, a por-
trait of an old lady at prayer which
comes dangerously close to sentimental-
There is nothing sentimental about
Watson's old lady. The humorous tilt
of the head, the narrow pointed, neatly
shod feet, the tension in the upraised
foot which belies the assumed air of
total relaxation, are really brilliantly
observed and captured. The colour is
somewhat dull and the 'stage setting'
is painted in dusty tones which cunning-
ly simulate the effect of a treasured
photograph torn from a family album.
It takes far more skill to achieve such
effects than the uninitiated viewer per-
haps realises, thinking only of the
total emotional tone which has been
Full blown naturalism also has a
field day here in the portraits of Judy
McMillan, fresher and cooler in colour
than Watson's exercise in pastiche. She
shows two portraits of male youths,
both, paintings of real quality which
command respect; as indeed do the
naturalistic paintings, a still life and a
still life-cum portrait, by Samere Tansley.
This show does not consist entirely
of images of sweetness and light. One
may take courage from the acceptance
of things as they are, as in the beautiful
street scene titled You by David Pottin-
LesterHoilett, Slave Lady. Cedar. Height: 24".
ger, or in the suburban landscape of
Ralph Campbell, and Albert Huie's
Frankfort; also in the humour of Gaston
Tabois's Reggae King. But there is also a
disquieting note, coming mainly from
the younger artists. Louis Ruddock's
self-portrait, Stafford Schliefer's Poet of
Patriotism, Philip Henry's Escapism,
Roy Reid's My Money, Michael Parch-
ment's Preparing for a Disaster, Cecil
Cooper's Man Alive, Robert Cookhorne's
Wanted Poster, all in their diverse ways,
with voices of real conviction, carry the
message that all is not well in our "Al-
When that is said, the last word,
of spiritual consolation, may be left
to two, once more quite diverse artists. I
would commend to the viewer the two
works of Everald Brown and my favourite
of Christopher Gonzalez's two lovely
black and white drawings, the one titled
GLORIA ESCOFFERY,O.D., isan artist, poet,
journalist and head of the English Department
at Browns Town Community College.
By Laurie Gunst
Thomas Brott and Philip Kelley (eds.), Richard
Barrett's Journal: New York and Canada
1816, Winfield, Kansas: Wedgestone Press,
1983, 128 pp.
Sichard Barrett was 26 in 1816
I' when he journeyed through
-YL> New York and Lower Canada,
keeping a journal described as a 'critique
of the young nation by an Englishman
abroad'. Barrett was indeed an English-
man, although he was also a Jamaican
planter and the son of a family which
had accumulated numerous sugar estates
near Montego Bay, among them Cinna-
mon Hill and Greenwood. When he
boarded the ship in Montego Bay for
New York, it is likely that he was ac-
companying a shipment of rum from
one of his own estates.
Barrett was then at the beginning of
a career that was to take him into
Jamaica's House of Assembly where he
championed the institution of slavery
despite the rising sentiment in favour of
abolition. An ardent defender of Britain's
colonial pretensions, Barrett was dis-
posed to view the newly independent
United States through the tinted lens
of loyalism. His journey through New
York coincided with the end of the
second Anglo-American conflict, the
War of 1812, and Barrett correctly
understood this war as an exercise in
and proof of the expansionist tendencies
of a nation he called 'this new empire'.
No friend of revolutions, Barrett saw
everywhere the evidence of American
uncouthness and bad manners. But even
as he entered scathing descriptions in
his journal, he expressed a fear of
America's growing strength, and he re-
marked that'only the danger of a terrible
retaliation will keep these proud repub-
There is much venomous wit in Bar-
rett's observations of the new nation
and the characters of its inhabitants.
Their matchless self-confidence, bravado
and patriotism galled him. After taking
leave of one particularly offensive brag-
gart, Barrett drily remarked, 'I was glad
to leave him to the windy contempla-
tion of his national importance'. Bar-
rett was privileged to have letters of
introduction to some of New York's
most prominent citizens industrialists
and politicians but this lofty com-
pany did not undo his critical faculties.
Of the office of the presidency he wrote
that America's chief executive 'is elected
to his chair by a great faction . and is
offered to the people by the heads of
that faction, of which he is one, not
called for by their own unbiased vote'.
When Barrett visited the thriving
port city of New York, it was already
attaining supremacy over the older
commercial capitals of Boston and
Philadelphia; its captains of industry
were becoming prominent in national
political life. But there was another
New York which did not escape Bar-
rett's sight: the city teeming with poor
labourers and new immigrants, many of
them Irish, who were most often fated
to enter New York's workhouses and
The other feature of American life
which concerned Barrett was Southern
slavery. Although the route of his jour-
ney did not take him below the Mason-
Dixon line, he met and talked with
many Southerners and was keenly
interested in the differences between
slavery in that region and in Jamaica.
Barrett proudly believed that his own
country offered enough legal protection
to 'free people of colour' to encourage
them as 'industrious and well-educated'
property-owners. When he came to
understand the dearth of such incentives
for American Blacks, Barrett was sad-
dened and perplexed: he observed that
free black men and women could not es-
cape the prejudice maintained by white
Americans against all people of colour.
Thomas Brott and Philip Kelley are
to be complimented on this well-anno-
tated and illustrated edition of a text
not hitherto available in print. In its
detailed descriptions of early American
manners and politics by an English
Jamaican, Barrett's journal casts light on
the culture and society of both countries,
at a critical moment in the development
LAURIE GUNST is a temporary lecturer in
the Department of History, University of the'
West Indies, Mona.
!i Ar"w 0t
THE BRAND NEW
LP FROM THIRD WORLD
V Record Mfg., Co., Ltd.
14 Retirement Road, Kingston 5.
rU~-~--~--Y~~~L- ~LI Ulr ~YY-~--~uu-~C-l
The Cotton Tree
and the Spiritual Realm in Jamaica
By John Rashford
T he cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra) which is now to be
found throughout the warm regions of the world, is
a native of tropical America that grows to heights of
70 feet or more with a crown diameter that can be as much
as 140 feet. This immense tree with its great outspreading
branches is supported by a massive bulging steel-grey trunk
that is studded with thorns when the tree is young and
braced by huge buttresses up to 10 feet high when the tree is
fully mature. The striking appearance of this extraordinary
tree makes it a prominent feature of the Jamaican landscape,
as it is of the tropical landscape wherever it grows. This article
explores the association between the cotton tree and the
spiritual realm in Jamaica and in other parts of tropical
America, and it suggests that the tree should properly be con-
sidered a natural shrine.
The Cotton Tree and the Spiritual Realm
The association between the cotton tree and the spiritual
realm has long been recognized although there has been little
effort to explain it in a systematic way. In Jamaican folklore
the cotton tree is chief among some 50 plants that are for
various reasons linked to the spiritual realm and many authors
report that African Jamaicans like other New World Africans
regard the tree with awe, reverence and fear [Senior 1978;
Wilkinson 1984: 2]. Barrett [1956: 98] says it is 'a sacred
tree in the West Indies' where, according to Sturtevant [1972:
97], it is called 'God tree,' a name that appears in several
dictionaries. Metraux [1972:108] tells us that in Haitian
The worship of Loco [spirit of vegetation and guardian of sanc-
tuaries] overlaps with the worship of trees in particular of the
Ceiba, the Antillean silk-cotton tree and the tallest species in
Haiti. Offerings for a sacred tree are placed in straw bags which
are then hung in its branches.
There are nine ways in which we can try to explain the
link between the cotton tree and the spiritual realm:
1. One frequently offered explanation is the tree's tre-
mendous size. Perkins [1969:17] for instance, expressed this
point of view when she wrote:
Being a giant among its fellows and easily the most imposing
and awe-inspiring tree in the island, one can well understand
[the cotton tree] having become an object of dread. The great
The striking appearance of the cotton tree makes it a prominent feature of the landscape. Shown here is Tom Cringle's cotton tree which stood as a
landmark at Ferry for hundreds of years.
limbs, often smothered with epiphytes and tangled together
with a network of creepers and snake-like cacti, do indeed ap-
pear as if something sinister might be lurking in their gloomy
Many plants that are unusual in appearance or in some
other respect have duppy, jumble, zombie, monkey or devil
as the generic term in their compound common name. The
cotton tree is unusual because of its great size. The Reverend
Scoles [1885: 57-60] reports that in Guyana the cotton tree
was 'sometimes' known as jumble tree and that it was 'often'
called 'the devil's tree'.
2. While some regard the cotton tree's immense size as
the reason for its association with the spiritual realm, others
point to a possible connection between the cotton tree and
the baobab (Adansonia digitata) which is a tree of great im-
portance to the people of Africa. From this perspective
Wilkinson [1984: 64] has recently argued that West Africans
'imported with them .. the reverence for the sacred baobab
tree, and this reverence was transferred to the ceiba'.
3. If we are willing to consider that ideas associated
with the baobab were transferred to the cotton tree we must
also consider the possibility that they could also have been
transferred from cotton trees growing in Africa. There the
tree is also associated with the spiritual realm. Parrinder
[1970: 61], for example, points out in his discussion of
African shrines and temples, that 'if it is a temple of Loko
there is a tall iroko tree (cotton tree) to one side, several
small thatched huts near the tree, and earthenware unglazed
pots at its base.'
4. Beckwith [1929: 122] suggests that the link between
the cotton tree and the spiritual realm results from the tree's
relationship to animals, particularly snakes. She writes:
The fact that the yellow snake in Jamaica eats eggs and sleeps
in hollows of fig and cotton trees is perhaps one reason for the
fear of eggs and of the duppy-haunted precincts of the cotton
Beckwith's view might lead us to believe that it is only in
Jamaica that the cotton tree is associated with the spiritual
because of its I inks to snakes. This would not be true. Jamaican
belief has to be set in the wider context of the continuity of
African tradition in the New World. In her book To Wind-
ward of the Land: The Occult World of Alexander Charles,
Jane Beck [1979: xxxii] emphasizes the importance of snakes
in African religious tradition and she tells us that this fact is
'well documented'. She points out that Charles's view was re-
markably similar to Baganda practice as described by Roscoe
[1911: 44] who wrote 'pythons were held to be sacred, and
in some places offerings were made regularly to them to pre-
serve the people. A few men kept pythons in their houses,
taming them and feeding them on milk with an occasional
fowl or goat'. Beck [1979: xxxii] argues that:
With such heritage it is understandable that the snake is fre-
quently associated with  beah and is often thought to be
the familiar of the [O]beah Man. In Trinidad, 'All [Olbia-
men keep snakes. Snake is the spirit of a dead person, a dead
person who was cast out. That's why it knows everything.'
Thomas Banbury, writing of Jamaica, says that 'snakes used to
be "set" by the Obeah Man,' and I myself have recorded tales in
Tobago and Grenada of snakes 'planted' under the silk cotton
tree, as Charles also recounted.
In the same way in which one makes contact with a spirit
or 'raises' a spirit, one must also be able to break contact,
which is to 'lay down' the spirit or 'plant' it when the spirit
becomes troublesome or dangerous. It is often said, as Beck
[1979: xxxxii] points out, that spirits, whether identified as
snakes, jumbies or duppies, are 'planted' under the cotton
5. Some say the cotton tree is linked to the spiritual
realm because of the tree's association with graveyards. This
is an interesting idea which we will explore further on.
6. Another line of approach to explaining the asso-
ciation between the cotton tree and the spiritual realm is the
belief that it is capable of acting like a person manifesting
will, mobility, desire and so on. In the 19th century, Banbury
[cited in Beckwith 1929:145] reported that African Jamaicans
'believe that at night the cotton trees move about and assemble
together' and Scoles [1885: 157] made a similar report for
7. The cotton tree is also said to be linked to the
spiritual realm because, like humans it is regarded as having
an inner soul or an intrinsic spirit. Beckwith [1929:145] re-
ports an Irish woman who 'assured' her that Myal, an early
African Jamaican religion, was 'the spirit' or 'soul' of the
cotton tree. Beckwith was sceptical of this and there is little
evidence to show that this interpretation is correct.
8. Another reason for the association between the cot-
ton tree and the spiritual realm is the notion that it embodies
not its own soul but that of an indwelling spiritual being in
the form of a god or some other spirit. Frazer [1976:14-5]
indicates that the cotton tree is 'regarded with reverence
throughout West Africa from Senegal to Niger' and is believed
to be the abode of a god or spirit. One cannot but wonder if
this is not in some way related to the common name 'god
tree'. Rather than a spiritual being in the form of a god,
Beckwith [1929: 145] reports that some 'West Coast Afri-
cans make offerings to an evil spirit inhabiting the cotton-
wood tree called Sasabonsum'. Millspaugh [1902:510] noted
the popular belief in the Virgin Islands that the tree is 'in-
habited by devils' and we have already seen that in Guyana
the tree is sometimes called 'the devil's tree'. Hogg [1964:
64] suggests that the idea of the cotton tree embodying an
indwelling spirit was part of an earlier African belief. He
Lacking close integration and communication, .. [the African
Jamaican] communities [during slavery] did not foster the
association of particular spirits with specific trees, pools, and
other physiographic features. Only the water spirits survived,
and even they lost their individual identities to become general-
ized mermaids. Other African spirits, such as those who dwelt
in the sacred Ceiba, or giant silk-cotton trees, were displaced
by wandering duppies in search of homes. Thus the Jamaican
Ceiba has from the early periods to the present been feared as a
residence of ghosts.
9. All things considered, however, the most important
way in which the cotton tree is associated with the spiritual
realm in Jamaica (as Hogg and many others have made clear)
is the belief that spirits of the dead live in its roots and
branches. Beckwith [1929:45] was quite definite on this
point when she wrote in her concluding remarks on the cot-
ton tree that 'the cult of the dead is strongly imposed upon
the worship of the cottonwood, and the animistic idea of a
tree spirit is less defined than that of a ghost of the dead
harbouring in its branches'. This is the same idea put forward
by Storer [1958: 28] who writes that'in Jamaica, superstitious
people believe that cotton trees are inhabited by "duppies"
or "ghosts" and Senior who identifies the cotton tree as the
'home' of 'duppies'. Bennett's [1980:16] discussion of Myal
combines the idea of spirits or duppies living at the cotton
tree with several other ideas that suggest that the tree be-
haves like a person, has its own intrinsic soul or is the visible
manifestation of an indwelling spirit. The cotton tree is asso-
ciated with spirits in general as well as with particular spirits.
Perkins [1969:17] reports the idea that the female super-
natural being in Jamaica called 'old hige' hangs her skin on
the branches of the cotton tree when she travels about at
night. This idea that spirits are to be found at cotton trees
is common not only in Jamaica but is widespread among
peoples of African descent throughout tropical America. A
Barbadian informant said she was told as a child that the
cotton tree was 'a gathering place for spirits' and she said
she would never go under the tree alone.
We get some impression of how important this idea is in
African Jamaican belief when we look at the view of Imogene
Elizabeth Kennedy ('Miss Queenie'), a 'queen' or 'priestess'
of the Kumina religion, the most African of the African
Jamaican religious traditions. The information presented
here stems from a tape recorded interview of Miss Queenie
conducted in June 1971 by Maureen Warner-Lewis. a Trini-
dadian literary critic, and Monica Schuler, a Guyanese his-
torian. Maureen Lewis has analysed this recorded material
 and transcriptions from this tape were later made by
Edward Brathwaite and presented with commentary in an
article published in Jamaica Journal .
Miss Queenie was born in the eastern parish of St. Thomas
where she was first introduced to Kumina by her neighbour,
a man named Parker who was born in Africa and who played
the drums. In her early twenties she moved to Kingston
where she became queen of the Kumina band. Drumming
and dancing were important to Miss Queenie's conversion but
so too was the cotton tree. The following are her exact words
concerning her conversion:
/So/ I do my twenty-one days at dat ... cotton tree root...
and' den ... a' come 'ere a African Queen ...
It is clear from Miss Queenie's comments that her passage en
route to becoming a 'queen' was fundamentally related to
the idea that spirits are to be found at the cotton tree.
The idea that the cotton tree is the dwelling place of
spirits takes us back to the time of the Spanish occupation of
Jamaica and the folk belief that riches are to be found near
or under the tree. Perkins [1969:17] writes:
Many of the giant Cotton Trees scattered throughout the island
are said to mark the sites of buried Spanish treasure, but to dig
would be futile for, so the legend goes, the Spaniards, having
made a slave dig the hole for the treasure, slew him on the spot
when the task was completed. This murder achieved a double
object since the place was silenced for ever and his ghost would,
henceforth, remain on guard. If any treasure-hunter ventured
to dig at the spot without having the correct password the ghost-
ly sentinel would cause the treasure to keep on sinking deeper
and deeper into the earth. Nor was that all for, sooner or later,
some dire misfortune would surely overtake the rash trespasser.
So, though one hears tales of vast hoards which are supposed
to exist beneath some of these giant trees, no one ventures to
delve for them. Not even rum can break this spell.
Miss Queenie gives us a slightly different version of the
idea presented above by Perkins. One can get the buried
treasure provided one is supported by the spirits at the cot-
Because right now in Sn Thomas you 'ave a' whole heap a'
cotton tree there wh'con/tain a' whole heap a' ting there, which
is all dose slavely-time people, all dey likkle money an' all dem
ting wh. dey bury dere . you 'ave gole chain, you 'ave gole
tables, dat come up in de twelve a'clock a' days ...
Traditionally, an offering of rum would be
before cutting the tree.
No you cahn touch dem, because dey hang-on pun chain .. I
laughs/ ... .dey is on chain .. .
an' sometime yuh see gole table, gole chair, an' all does tings
arrive from . from under dere an' come up an' spin rounn
an' all does tings until yu sih dey go dung back but yu' cahn
touch it ... sih ...
sometime you hear seh de' faen money ...
is who ...
dey want to give you .. an' dey come an' dream yu' an' say
well . .guh to dat place, carry rice . rum .. goat...an'
yu get it . you unnerstan ...
but udder else wa' ju' cannot get it ...
Uses of the Cotton Tree
So far I have presented the various ways in which the cot-
ton tree has been associated with the spiritual realm, paying
particular attention to the belief in Jamaica and elsewhere
that spirits dwell at the cotton tree.
We will now examine the uses made of the tree. First, we
will briefly consider the ways in which the cotton tree serves
as a symbol in proverbial thought and its use as a source of
food, medicine, fodder, fibre and timber; we will then look
at the use of the cotton tree as a shade tree and the way in
which this very important factor contributes to our efforts
to understand the tree as the shrine of a sanctuary where
communing with the spiritual takes place.
The Cotton Tree as a Symbol
There is a sense in which we can say that the cotton tree
is used as a symbol in proverbial thought. Anderson and Cun-
dall  present three Jamaican proverbs based on the
1. Cotton-tree ebber so big lilly axe cut him.
2. When cotton-tree tumble down, nanny goat jump ober
3. Cotton-tree no know how him bottom 'tan' him no call
In the first proverb, the tree is a symbol of the 'big' and
proud but it is overcome or humbled by the patience and
persistence of the 'little'. In the second proverb, the cotton
tree is not only a symbol of the 'big' but of the 'great' and
we see how under changed circumstances the 'small' and the
'ignoble' are able to take advantage of the 'great'. In the third
proverb, the cotton tree is a symbol of wisdom for it does
not send a challenge to the wind without knowing the strength
of its buttressed trunk.
A number of sources identify the cotton tree as a source
of food. Standley and Steyermark [1949 : 392- 3] indicate
that the leaves 'are said to be edible when cooked' and Bar-
rett [1956:98] says both the 'leaves and young fruit [are]
eaten when cooked'. Sturtevant [1972:99] reports that the
'fleshy petals of the flower are sometimes prepared as food
by the Chinese'. As for other uses related to food, Everett
[1981: 667] reports that the cotton tree 'is rated a good
The medicinal uses of the leaves, root, flowers and fruits
of the cotton tree have been reported for many parts of the
tropical world where the tree is to be found growing [Bar-
rett 1956: 98; Watt 1962:148; Ford 1975: 147] Referring
to Trinidad, Dominica, Guyana and Martinique, Ayensu
[1981:58] tells us that the leaves of the cotton tree have
been used in baths to relieve fatigue and to deal with poison;
they have been used to make poultices for erysipelas; swollen
feet and sprained feet; and they have been prepared as a tea
or infusion for colic and inflammation. In his study of Jam-
aica which encompassed the island's plant life, Long [1774:
737] mentions the medicinal benefits of the cotton tree. He
wrote: 'The bark of the root has been sometimes used with
success as a vulnerary and sub-astringent; and the seeds are
administered in emulsions, and pectoral infusions.'
Although this use is not commonly mentioned, Barrett
[1956: 98] identifies the cotton tree as a source of fod-
We should rightly consider the cotton tree a fibre tree if
we are to judge by its most important commercial value. The
tree derives the common name 'cotton tree' or 'silk cotton
tree' from the silk or cotton-like fibres obtained from the
fruit and is called kapok (a common name by which the
tree is known in many parts of the world). Hill [1952:48]
says the fibres 'are five times more bouyant than cork and
are impervious to water' and he identifies it as 'the most
For African Jamaicans, as for other peoples of African descent, the
tree serves as the 'shrine of a sanctuary' a place where communing
with spirits takes place.
valuable of all stuffing materials', noting in the early 1950s
that its use was steadily increasing.
Usher [1974:134] reports that other commercial uses of
the cotton tree include an oil pressed from the seeds which
is used for making soap and as fuel for illumination. Bar-
rett [1956:97] says the oil is also used to make margarine.
One of the cotton tree's most valuable uses in Jamaica is
for timber, although the wood is considered to be of poor
quality, being light, soft, weak, porous and easily destroyed
by insects and decay. Despite its lack of durability, however,
the cotton tree has been a source of commercial timber in
Brazil, Guatemala and elsewhere and the wood has been used
in various places to make toys, boxes, drums, packing cases
and other articles. For African Jamaicans, one of the most
important traditional uses of the cotton tree is in the making
of dugout canoes, a practice which still continues. The tree
was used in a similar way by the native populations of tropi-
cal America (including the Arawaks of Jamaica) and it is
often said that the word 'Ceiba' one of the Spanish com-
mon names for the tree as well as the generic term in its
scientific name comes from the Caribbean name for
African Jamaicans have put the cotton tree to many other
uses, though these have still not been properly documented.
Storer [1958: 28] reports, for example, that the trunks of
cotton trees have been used to make 'cheap coffins' and a
Jamaican informant said when he was a child in the district
of Siloah in the parish of St. Elizabeth, branches of the
cotton tree (and the fig tree as well) were used to make
cricket bats. These branches were obtained from trees felled
by hurricane or they were cut from trees where they could
be reached. Branches were cut from cotton trees even though
he and his friends recognized that one should not 'fool
around' the tree because 'they harbour ghosts or duppies'.
One important benefit of the cotton tree that is not often
considered is its shade. This is a significant factor in our
efforts to understand the tree as the shrine of a sanctuary.
With its huge crown organized into tiers of stout, wide-
spreading horizontal branches that extend up to 140 feet, the
cotton tree is an ideal shade tree especially in the hot, dry,
dusty places where it is often to be found growing and it
seems that the tree survives in many places today for this
reason [Seymour 1936: 1092; Britton and Millspaugh
1962: 275; Little and Wadsworth 1964: 322].
In Jamaica the cotton tree has served and continues to
serve as a shade tree. One such tree gave its name to the
part of the city of Kingston now known as Half-Way-Tree.
The tree is believed to have existed from before the British
conquest of the island in 1655 and survived until the late
One called Tom Cringle's cotton tree which stood along
the main road between Spanish Town and Kingston is prob-
ably the most famous and is celebrated for being recorded in
the early 19th century novel of West Indian life, Michael
Scott's Tom Cringle's Log. Watkins [1952: 89-90] who saw
the tree in the early nineteen-fifties wrote: 'If records are au-
thentic, this tree is in its third century of life. Certainly it is
the largest ceiba tree that I have ever seen.'
In examining the many uses of the cotton tree, the point
I want to emphasize most is this: people are drawn to the
cotton tree to enjoy the cool and dimness of the shade pro-
duced by its great outspreading branches which offer protec-
tion from the sun's glare and heat and shelter from rain; the
trunk of the tree also offers a shield from the wind and its
enormous buttresses provide a natural enclosure or what
has been described as an 'amphitheatre' or 'great chamber'
[Beckwith 1929:89] where people can congregate.
The Cotton Tree as the Shrine of a Sanctuary
The idea that the cotton tree is the shrine of a sanctuary
where communing with spirits takes place consistently ex-
plains much of the bits and pieces of information we have
concerning the significance of this tree to people of African
descent throughout tropical America. One of the clearest
expressions we have of this fact comes from Suriname and
was presented by Captain Steadman [cited in Counter and
Evans 1981: 204] who wrote:
Perceiving that it was their custom to bring their offerings to
the wild cotton tree, I enquired of an old [African Surinamese]
why they paid such particular reverence and veneration to this
growing piece of timber.
'This proceeds (said he) . from the following cause:
The cotton tree's enormous buttresses provide a natural enclosure or
what has been described as an 'amphitheatre' or 'great chamber'
where people can congregate.
having no churches nor places built for public worship (as you
have) on the Coast of Guinea, and this tree being the largest
and most beautiful growing there, our people, assembling
under its branches when they are going to be instructed, are
defended by it from the heavy rains and scorching sun. Under
this tree our gadoman, or priest, delivers his lectures, and for
this reason our common people have so much veneration for it,
that they will not cut it down upon any account whatever..
The above suggests that in addition to its imposing size and
beauty, the enclosure its buttresses produce and the shade
and shelter it affords, the cotton tree is held in reverence be-
cause a spirit man gadoman, priest, sorcerer, obeah-man or
jumbie man 'delivers his lectures' under its spreading
branches. Not only is the tree a place for delivering lectures.
Scoles [1885: 59-65] tells us that in Guyana 'it is at the foot
of this strange tree that the Obeah-man often makes up his
detestable Obeah-bags'. All the things mentioned above are
clearly part of the reason for considering the cotton tree as
the shrine of a sanctuary. The most important factor that we
must bear in mind, however, is that for African Surinamese
and other people of African descent throughout tropical
America, the cotton tree 'is the dwelling place of certain
spirits' and it is at the foot of the cotton tree (as well as
other places) that communing with these spirits occurs.
The transformation of Kumina leader Miss Queenie from
an ordinary person to a spiritual person occurred at the
root of a cotton tree and it occurred in relation to graves and
spirits. This is how she described her experience which
Brathwaite [1978: 4-9] calls her 'passage':
One day . a' remember one day a' faen some lilies ... an' a'
plant de lilies dem in row, an' one Sunday morning' when a'
wake . all de lilies blow . seven lilies an' de seven a' dem
blow . an', a' leave an' guh dung in de gully bottom ... to
go an' pick up some coconut, when a' go a' see a' cotton tree
an a' juss fell right down .. at the cotton tree root ...
an' is dere a' take now ...
when a' don't heat anything ...
twenty-one days ... ha don't h'eat...
in de night, in de cotton tree coming' like it hollow, an' Hi'hinside
there; an' you have some grave arounn dat cotton tree, right
rounn it, some tombs ...
but dose is some hol'-time h'African . yu unnerstann .. ?
well dose tombs around de cotton tree . .an' Hi' inside de
cotton tree lay down, an' a' night-time a' sih de cotton tree
light up wit candles an' . a' restin' now, put me 'an' dis
way an' sleeping ...
an' a' only hear a' likkle vice come to me an' dem talking' to
me, but dose tings is spirit talking' to mih ... an' dem speaking'
to me now, an' seh now ...
'Is a likkle nice likkle chile, an' oo gwine get im right up now
... in de h'African world . .because you brains, you will take
something .so derefore... we gwine to teach you someting...'
In the study of religious traditions around the world, it
has long been recognized by anthropologists and other scholars
that a people's conception of the spiritual realm often paral-
lels or mirrors their natural environment and the existing
organization of their material life.
Like the Surinamese, the Jamaican folk believe that the
cotton tree is an important dwelling place for spirits of the
living and of the dead and the tree serves, therefore, as the
shrine of a sanctuary a place where communing with spirits
takes place or where lost or stolen spirits can be recovered.
In considering the relationship between cotton trees and
spirits and the reason why people seek contact with these
spirits and the way in which they seek to do it, we must
consider graveyards. Graveyards, like the 'bushy banks of
streams', bamboo groves, fig trees and woodlands, are the
places where spirits frequent and cotton trees growing in
graveyards are especially significant. In this context we can
well understand why Beckwith's informant, a Myalist named
James told her that 'not all cottonwood trees are "dealt
with" in (M)yalism, but only those particular trees which
have been planted over a grave'. Beckwith [1929: 145] tells
us that cotton trees in graveyards are especially feared and
that 'Such trees are called "worship cotton trees" and may
well be regarded as tombs of the dead'.
The comments of Beckwith's informant suggest that only
cotton trees planted over a grave (or simply growing in a
graveyard) were associated with the spiritual. Miss Queenie's
description of her 'passage' seems to corroborate this line of
thinking. She tells us she spent 21 days in the cotton tree
and that she heard little voices talking to her and that they
were spirits. She tells us also that there were 'some grave
arounn dat cotton tree, right rounn it, some tombs ...
While there is some truth in viewing the relationship between
the cotton tree and the spiritual as resulting from the tree's
association with graveyards, this line of explaining does not
and cannot account for all the significance attributed to the
tree by people of African descent throughout the New
World. Moreover, we must recognize the possibility that
some plants are identified with spirits not simply because
they grow in graveyards but because of animals in graveyards
with which the trees are associated. There is the belief that
animals in graveyards are really spirits of the dead or duppies
and should not be harmed. Beckwith writes that 'cotton
trees in graveyards are particularly feared, and mice or lizards
[and we should add snakes and birds] that live in their
branches are regarded as duppies of the dead'. While it is
clear that there is some link between cotton trees and grave-
yards that might especially involve the special significance of
animals in graveyards, this is not a sufficient basis on which
to understand the importance of the cotton tree to New
Obeah, Myal and Cotton Trees
Through Miss Queenie we get some idea of the impor-
tance of the cotton tree in Kumina. The tree is also signifi-
cant in other African Jamaican religious traditions. Two of
the most important of these traditions are Obeah and Myal.
Spirit people in Jamaica are individuals who seek to make
contact with spirits in order to influence the course of
natural events and they have traditionally been identified
by a variety of names of which obeah-man or -woman and
myalist are two of the most important.
Obeah is by far the oldest African religious tradition in
Jamaica and obeah-man or -woman is by far the most impor-
tant of over 35 names for spirit people in Jamaica [Cassidy
and LePage 1967: 326]. Abrahams and Szwed [1983: 138-9]
are correct when they observe that the word 'Obeah ... was
[and remains today] the catchall term for all forms of magic
and sorcery. Under this heading fall dream interpreters, grave-
dirt collectors, makers of love potions, specialists in herbal
medicine, and poisoners. Or it is used simply to refer to
belief in spirits duppies, shadows, and the like or the
Myalism is an African Jamaican religion that Jamaica's
ruling elite first became aware of towards the end of the
18th century because of the prominent role it played in
African Jamaican resistance; its history can be roughly divided
into three main periods. The first takes us from the 17th
century to the beginning of the 19th century when Myalism
was clearly a religion whose purpose was to bring the spiritual
to bear on the efforts to resist exploitation and racial oppres-
sion. The second period from the beginning of the 19th cen-
tury to 1849 reflects the impact of missionaries on African
beliefs and practices including that of Myal.
When Jamaica's ruling elite first became aware of Myal at
the end of the 18th century, the heart of Myal religion
was the use of medicinal plants along with intense music
based on drumming and 'violent' dancing. Plants play a very
important part in the Myal world view as they do in Obeah
and in the Jamaican folk tradition in general. Bennett
[1980:14] describes Myal as the 'practice of bush-medicine'
and reminds us that the word 'comes from the African word
"maye" meaning sorcerer or wizard'. [Cassidy and LePage
1967]. She also describes myalists as 'healers' who 'master
the knowledge of the curative powers of plants' which they
use to do good. It is by means of plant infusions, music and
dancing that contact is made with spirits and through this
contact individuals acquire spiritual or supernatural power
which allows them to accomplish extraordinary feats. Long
 described Myal in the 18th century as a clandestine
society of individuals who claimed invulnerability to the
attacks of whites and the ability to restore the dead to
The 18th century historian Bryan Edwards attributed the
1760 rebellion to myalists 'who sold medicine to make men
invulnerable' [Beckwith 1929: 143]. Bennett [1980: 14]
tells us that 'Champong Nanny, Jamaica's best known Maroon
Warrior-Woman, was said to be a great Myalist.'
Obeah and Cotton Trees
The cotton tree is often linked to Obeah in Jamaica al-
though the precise nature of this association remains unclear.
Several authors have identified Obeah as dealing with evil
while Myal is viewed as being concerned with good [DeLisser
1913; Beckwith 1929; Hogg 1964; Baxter 1970]. Beckwith
tells us, for example that 'an Obeah Man would cast an evil
spell on a person by driving a nail into a cotton tree, calling
upon an evil spirit to order a person's shadow to leave their
body and dwell in the cotton tree'. From this perspective,
Obeah is reduced to 'soul-catching' and individuals who lose
their soul suffer from what is described as 'spirit sickness'.
Beckwith [1929:145] presents this perspective on Obeah
and notes in contrast that Myal is the freeing of the 'soul',
'spirit' or 'shadows' of individuals that have been stolen by
an obeah-man or -woman and nailed to the cotton tree.
Myal and Cotton Trees
In regard to the practice of Myal, the 18th century
sources do not make it clear where communing with the
spirits through music and dancing took place. According to
Long  the ceremony took place in houses. There is
no mention of cotton trees at this time. M.G. Lewis [cited
in Beckwith 1929:142-3] also gives the impression that the
ceremony only occurred in homes and he described a Myal
dance he had the opportunity to observe in 1818 in the
He [the practitioner] sprinkles various powders over the de-
voted victim, blows upon him, and dances round him, obliges
him to drink a liquor prepared for the occasion, and finally
the sorcerer and his assistants seize him and whirl him rapidly
round and round till the man loses his senses, and falls on the
ground, to all appearances and the belief of the spectators, a
perfect corpse. The chief Myal-man then utters loud shrieks,
rushes out of the house with wild and frantic gestures and con-
ceals himself in some neighboring wood. At the end of two or
three hours he returns with a large bundle of herbs, from some
of which he squeezes the juice into the mouth of the dead per-
son; with others he anoints his eyes and stains the tips of his
fingers, accompanying the ceremony with a great variety of
grotesque actions, and chanting all the while something between
a song and a howl, while the assistants hand in hand dance slowly
round them in a circle, stamping the ground loudly with their
feet to keep time with his chant. A considerable time elapses
before the desired effect is produced, but at length the corpse
gradually recovers animation, rises from the ground perfectly
recovered, and the Myal dance concludes.
For the 19th and 20th centuries, however, we do have
several reports that definitely identify the cotton tree as
one of the specific places (in addition to open fields, the
home of the sick and in graveyards) where communing
with spirits took place. At or around the cotton tree indivi-
duals would commune with spirits by sprinkling rum, playing
drums and shakers and dancing [Baxter 1979: 138]. We have
already seen that Beckwith and Bennett 
identify Obeah as an effort to do harm by stealing someone's
spirit and nailing it to the cotton tree and Myal as a form of
healing where the spirit would be freed from the cotton tree
and returned to the owner. Banbury [cited in Beckwith
1929:144-5] offers us a description of a Myal ceremony at
the end of the 19th century:
The first thing to do therefore in case of a mysterious illness
which does not respond at once to common remedies, is to
consult the Myal Man in order to find the stolen shadow. This
located, the doctor and patient assemble at the tree, the patient
dressed in white with a large handkerchief wound about his
head and the myal people also wearing white cloths over their
shoulders. They parade about the tree with singing and drum-
ming and pelt it with eggs, fowl, and other offerings in order
to persuade the duppies to give up the shadow. Finally, a white
basin of water is held up, and as soon as the released soul falls
into it, a cover is clapped over, and some one runs home with
the captured soul and restores it to its owner by binding about
his head a cloth dipped in the water. [So valuable were the
Myal Man's services in Banbury's day, that although a simple
matter of obeah could be 'pulled' for four shillings, six dollars
was the price to 'catch a shadow.']
In addition to the dance, individuals also go to the cotton
tree. An anonymous writer in 1838 [Abrahams and Szwed
1983:203] tells of a troubled 16-year-old girl who was con-
cotron tree augour canoes (contemporary examples ar aoston ( ay,
Portland) represent a traditional use of the tree which dates back to
the Arawaks and other indigenous inhabitants of the Americas.
vinced her 'spirit' or 'shadow' had been stolen and that she
would never recover until it was found. The author tells us
that she searched for it by 'the bushy banks of streams' and
around the gigantic cotton tree. Beckwith [1929:147] pre-
sents a story told to her by Elmira Barrows who was a mem-
ber of a Myal group in the parish of Portland. She 'intimated'
to Beckwith that 'a true Myal Man . [did] not work in a
meeting. He dances, sings, and drums about a cotton tree'.
Elmira told Beckwith the following story:
He carries a sheppon [i.e. 'shet pan' = big covered pail] and the
ghosts fall down from the tree and he catches them and brings
them. He sees clear away. If the police is coming he will sit
down and wait for him, invite him in and give him food and
rum; but on his way out [to the road] his horse will fall and
bruise him. The Myal man can bring evil to pass. Them is a
Old Fifee Bogle was one. He lives in St. Mary, at Woodside.
He wore wheels in his ears.
Bogle was the man that caught Bomshee. Bomshee was an evil
spirit that was with a girl like a besetting something. She would
cry out sometimes as if someone were striking her and she
couldn't see something in front of her. If the rain was coming
the evil spirit called Bomshee would pick up the clothes [spread
outside to dry] and bring them in. He had another name as a
man call him Mr. Baker then he loved youl If you said,
'Where is Bomshee?' he would take up rock stone and smash
everything you got, but if you said, Mr. Baker,' oh, myl then
he was well-pleased with you and would do you no harm in
the yard. You might put a pot on the fire and if you lived near
the pasture Bomshee would pick up dung and fill up the pot. If
you cursed he would do worse. Bogle caught Bomshee twelve
o'clock out of a cotton tree. He stood by the tree and did all
kind of queer talk and beat the drum. Bomshee deh 'pon tree
looking. Bogle sang -
De mon i ka sen she...
Something deh a top 'tan' deh a look down 'pon me
Then Bomshee came down from the tree. Bogle caught him.
Bogle was a wonderful manI
The Taboo Against Cutting Cotton Trees
From what has been said so far, it is clear that the cot-
ton tree could and should be considered the shrine of a
sanctuary, the specific location where people come into
their most intimate contact with the spiritual. It is at the cot-
ton tree that people commune with the spirits of the living
and of the dead.
Because it is a shrine intimately associated with the spirit-
ual, the tree must not be harmed in any way and if it must be
cut, as for example, in the making of dugout canoes, the cor-
rect ritual must be performed to prevent harm from coming
to the cutter. Scoles [1885: 59-65] points out that the same
superstition about this tree exists in some of the West Indian
islands, Jamaica and St. Vincent among others.
In Jamaica, Perkins [1969:17] indicates that when a cot-
ton tree is to be felled 'a libation of rum must be poured at
the root of the tree, and the tree-cutters must also imbibe
deeply if the curse is to be averted'. The offering of rum (and
in some cases corn and the sacrificing of chickens) serves to
appease the spirits and to ensure the safety of those cutting
the tree and those who will make and transport the boat.
Tales of 'misfortune' resulting from the felling of one of
Jamaica's most historic cotton trees that stood in the Port
Morant (St. Thomas) square were also presented in a news-
paper article by Hemming  :
Stubborn against the axeman, as were its companion trees -
Tom Cringle's at Ferry Police Station in St. Catherine, and
Alley's market cotton tree, which injured an axeman when
being felled, and would not be chopped down in Clarendon
until white rum was poured around its root Pt. Morant's
cotton tree destroyed the CITU's office with its mammoth
trunk which crashed into the roof and brought to ground, the
building which housed it.
Miss Queenie recognizes that there are a 'whole heap o'
cotton tree' in St. Thomas where she was born and the tree
Hemming describes above is the very tree to which Miss
Queenie made reference when she spoke of her ancestors.
She introduces one use of the tree to which I have not pre-
viously made reference a hangman's tree for Africans -
and gives us another version of what happened when the
tree died in St. Thomas [Brathwaite 1978: 47]:
you 'ave a cotton tree out dere [in Morant Bay] ... what dey
bull' a gas station now .. dat dey use to hang men . .an'
your usban' leave an' come . after you leave the yard now
... you come out... dey ketch you ... an' day heng you; you
husband' come to look fuh you . dey d'wm de same ... you
children come out . dey d'wm de same ting . 'cau' dat is/
was you see, in de slavery time ...
but dose time it was still de African-dem . you under-
well dey hang dem out there, because at de las' time since I
been here, an' when dey gwine to cut down dat cotton tree
to buil' de gas station, it lick dung about four to five men ...
kill dem ...
In this paper I presented the general nature of shrines,
sanctuaries and their relationship to trees as a context for
arguing that the cotton tree should be considered the shrine
of a sanctuary where communing with the spiritual takes
place. In looking at the various ways in which the cotton
tree has been associated with the spiritual realm, I have sug-
gested that the most important is the belief that spirits are
to be found at the cotton tree and it is at this natural
shrine that people seek to commune with these spirits and
to recover lost or stolen spirits. I have also presented the uses
of the cotton tree and within this context, I have emphasized
the possible link between the cotton tree as a shade tree a
resting place for humans and the cotton tree as the dwelling
place of spirits.
In concluding this article there are two things that need
to be said. The first concerns the cotton tree as 'a sacred [my
emphasis] tree in [the] West Indies' [Barrett 1956: 98] and
the idea that New World Africans 'worship' [Metraux 1972:
108] the cotton tree.
Durkheim's emphasis  on the polar distinction
between sacred and profane has had a checkered history in
anthropology. Some anthropologists have accepted the
terms, applying them in a wide range of circumstances includ-
ing the definition of religion itself. I have not used the
Durkheimian distinction in this article; while it is an impor-
tant distinction, it has also obscured a more fundamental
difference, that between the supernatural or the spiritual and
the physical. The cotton tree is a spiritual tree that in some
cases is regarded as 'sacred' and in other cases is associated
with evil. Spiritual things are not necessarily positive and
worthy of worship. The spiritual and the sacred are not syno-
The second point concerns the often repeated idea that
the cotton tree is worshipped by New World Africans. Like
Beckwith for Jamaica, Millspaugh tells us that in St. Croix
the cotton tree is 'worshipped by Obi followers, who believe
it to be inhabited by devils'. The idea that people who believe
in traditional African beliefs expressed in Obeah 'worship'
'devils' that inhabit the cotton tree seems absurd to me.
The notions of 'worship' and 'devil' reflect the impact of
a European characterization of African traditional practices
which became increasingly prevalent with the growth of
missionary activities in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Carib-
bean. The cotton tree is not (or does not appear to be as far
as I can tell) an object of worship, neither is it a place of wor-
ship. In the light of what little information we have concern-
ing the significance of the cotton tree to Jamaicans and other
New World Africans, I have argued that the cotton tree should
properly be considered the shrine of a sanctuary where the
spirits of the living and of the dead dwell and where com-
muning with these spirits takes place.
ABRAHAMS, R.D. and SZWED, John F., After Africa, New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1983.
ANDERSON, Izett and CUNDALL, Frank, Jamaica Negro Proverbs
and Sayings, London, 1927.
AYENSU, Edward S., Medicinal Plants of the West Indies, Michigan:
Reference Publications Inc., 1981.
BARRETT, Mary, Common Exotic Trees of South Florida, Gaines-
ville: University of Florida Press, 1956.
BAXTER, Ivy, The Arts of an Island, Metuchen, N.J: The Scarecrow
Press, Inc., 1979.
BECK, Jane, To Windward of the Land: The Occult World of Alex-
ander Charles, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979.
BECKWITH, Martha W., Black Roadways; a Study of Jamaican Folk
Life, 1929, reprinted New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969.
BENNETT-COVERLEY, Louise, "Myal", Sky Writings (Air Jamaica's
Inflight Magazine). 1980.
BRATHWAITE, Edward K., "Kumina: The Spirit of African Survival
in Jamaica", Jamaica Journal No. 42, 1978.
BRITTON, Nathaniel Lord and MILLSPAUGH, Charles Frederic,
The Bahama Flora, New York: Hafner Publishing Co., 1962.
CASSIDY, F.G., and LePAGE, R.B., Dictionary of Jamaican English,
Cambridge: University Press, 1967.
COUNTER, S. Allen and EVANS, David L., I Sought My Brother: An
Afro-American Reunion, Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1981.
CUNDALL, Frank, Historic Jamaica, 1915, reprinted New York:
Johnson Reprint Corp., 1971.
DeLISSER, H.G., Twentieth Century Jamaica, 1915.
DURKHEIM, Emile, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, 1912,
reprinted New York: Collier, 1961.
EVERETT, Thomas H., (The New York Botanic Garden Illustrated)
Encyclopedia of Horticulture, New York: Garland Pub. Inc.,
FORD, Karen C., Las Yerbas de la Gente: A Study of Hispano-
American Medicinal Plants, Michigan: University of Michigan
FRAZER, Sir James A., The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings,
Vol. II. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976.
HARGREAVES, Dorothy and Bob, Tropical Blossoms of the Carib-
bean, Hawaii: Hargreaves Co., 1960.
HARRIS, W., "The Timbers of Jamaica", Kingston, Jamaica: 1909.
Bulletin of the Department of Agriculture, 1 (1): 10-39.
HEMMING, W., "The Last of St. Thomas' Historical Trees Falls",
Kingston: Daily News, 6 August 1976.
HILL, Albert, Economic Botany: A Textbook of Useful Plants and
Plant Products, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1952.
HOGG, Donald Williams, "Jamaican Religions: A Study in Vari-
ations", Michigan: University Microfilms, Ltd., 1964;
LITTLE, Elbert L., and WADSWORTH, Frank, Common Trees of
Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands, Washington, DC: U.S.
Department of Agriculture, 1964.
LEWIS, M.G., Journal of a West-India Proprietor, London; 1815,
reprinted New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1927.
LEWIS, Maureen Warner,The Nkuyu: Spirit Messengers of the Kumina,
Mona, Jamaica: Savacou Publications, 1977.
LONG, Edward, The History of Jamaica, London, 1774, reprinted
New York: Arno Press, 1972.
METRAUX, Alfred, Voodo in Haiti, New York: Schocken Books,
MILLSPAUGH, Charles F., Flora of the Island of St. Croix, Field
Columbian Museum Publication 67, Vol. 1, No. 7,1902.
PARRINDER, Geoffrey, West African Religions, New York: Barnes
and Noble, Inc., 1970.
PERKINS, Lilly, "Duppy Plants in Jamaica", Jamaica Journal 3: 10,
ROSCOE, John, The Baganda, An Account of Their Native Customs
and Beliefs, London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1911.
SCHULER, Monica, "Myalism and the African Religious Tradition in
Jamaica", in Margaret E. Graham and Franklin W. Knight (ed.),
Africa and The Caribbean: The Legacies of a Link, Baltimore,
Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979.
SCOLES, Reverend J.S., Sketches of African and Indian Life in British
Guiana, Demerara, Georgetown: 1885.
SENIOR, Olive, Pop Story Gi Mi: Peenie Wallies and Silk Cotton Trees,
Kingston: Ministry of Education and Jamaica Tourist Board,
SEYMOUR, E.L., The Wise Garden Encyclopedia, New York: Gros-
set & Dunlap, 1936.
SIBLEY, Inez Knibb, Dictionary of Place Namesin Jamaica, Kingston:
Institute of Jamaica, 1978.
STANDLEY,P.C.and STEYERMARK, Julian A., Flora of Guatemala,
Chicago: Natural History Museum, 1949.
STORER, E., Familiar Trees and Cultivated Plants of Jamaica, Lon-
don: Macmillan & Co., Ltd. 1968.
STURTEVANT, Edward Lewis, Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the
World, (U.S. Hedrick, ed.), New York: Dover Publications,
WATKINS, John V., Gardens of the Antilles, Gainesville: University
of Florida Press, 1952.
WATT, John M. and Breyer-Grandwijk, M.G., The Medicinal and
Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa, London: E.S.
Livingstone Ltd., 1962.
WILKINSON, Mary L., "The Tropics' Crown of Glory", Americas,
USHER, George, A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man, New York:
Hafner Press, 1974.
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for 150 YEARS
Qltye (leaner (o. iEth.
Illustrations by Judith Salmon
my roots are african
I dwell in the centre of the sun.
I am used to its warmth
I am used to its heat
I am seared by its vengeance
(it has a vengeful streak)
So my prayers are usually
My people are farmers
and sometimes the lines
so a painting becomes a
december of sorrel
a carving heaps like a yam hill
or a song of redemption wings
like the petals of resurrection
lilies all these require rain.
So this sunday
when my walk misses
my son's balance on my hips
I'll be alright if you pull down
waterfalls of rain.
I never thought a piano
but I'm hearing you this morning
and right on time
its drizzling now
I'll open the curtains and
watch the lightning conduct
U MY WILL
Son, my will,
when the palm readers
for me an extended
SBesides who knows what
I could acquire
before the life line
J inches to the darker side
S of my hand.
But, for a start,
the gift of song,
this sweet immediate source
of release was not given me
so I leave it for you in the hope
that God takes hints.
Then the right to call
all older than you
Miss, mister or mistress
in the layered love of our
| simplest ways,
eat each day's salt and bread
and may you never know hungry.
I mean the love of them.
May you like me earn good
but just to be sure,
When bindings fall apart
they can be fixed
you will find
that is not always so
And no gold.
Too many die/kill for it
besides its face is too bold.
This observation is the
last I give:
most times assume a
patina a shade subdued
so when you bloom they
will value it.
For Winnie Mandela
Sometimes in the still
when the memories crowded
hot and hopeless against
she would seek its cool colours
and signal him to lie down
in his cell.
It is three in the afternoon Nelson
let us rest here together
upon this bank draped in freedom
It was woven by women with slender
accustomed to binding wounds
hands that closed the eyes of
that fought for the right to
speak in their own tongues
in their own land
in their own schools.
They wove the bedspread
and knotted notes of hope
in each strand
and selvedged the edges with
older than any white man's coming.
So in the afternoons lying on this
bright bank of blessing
Nelson my husband I meet you in dreams
my beloved much of the world too is
asleep blind to the tyranny and evil
devouring our people.
But, Mandela, you are rock on this sand
harder than any metal
mined in the bowels of this land
you are purer than any
gold tempered by fire
shall we lie here wrapped
in the colours of our free Azania?
They arrested the bedspread.
They and their friends are working
to arrest the dreams in our heads
and the women, accustomed to closing
the eyes of the dead
are weaving cloths still brighter
to drape us in glory in a Free
I- - 1O
I rank myself
first among artists
from the far dawn.
Does that deter you : :
Bless the lost one
For Sonia Leahong i
like my head is
singing to itself
If were lonely enough
I'd take the next robot,
then walk the curved road
to your house. It is
Minard Heights, isn't it?
I once lived there, but forgot.
Anyhow, I'd say,
tense; out of breath:
Lisa look here
/ just had to see you
I just had to come
: : He is drunk or red, you'd think, I imagine ::'
The latter condition,
is the norm
Lisa this late I'm
I think I will tell you:
say I am ...
or leave the nail
hanging : :
Confessions take music and time
Lisa, I'm vain
illF -~C ---~~
Whose voice was that just chimed in my carol?
Comfort me, wren
- I'm told he's been
- The family terms it
- How very pathetic, but then he's so rude ; hyperintense
and so on
in the black vein
I know what they say, because I see visions
see visions' redundant,
Some critic will voice
Every 'no' is a stake at the heart
Lisa, I guess
these choruses frightened.
I had to make
a poem tonight
or track like Lear
2 moon, there is sadness
A woman brings thorn every time
Lisa our first meeting
Disregard it &
for a season
The streets may yet shine
- He's in love with a beauty called Catherine
- I know her surname "
- Well don't spell it out in this black composition
- Odd as it is, this'lI probably be published, if only
in the Gleaner or News
- Let her not lower : she rates with the stars
I switch off and leaf Merwin's high prayers
Lisa I say being captioned insane forgive the bromide
is a drag F l
I guess at some point the talking graffiti had basis
It's no longer so
What I am is a serious druggist-neurotic
Druggist is slang
Shall I open its missions?
- He's just being coy, as he can
- What freaks me out, man
- I am hearing
.. the girl isn't even
easy with him
- Why can't he learn : Must be a cretin
- writing these lyrics as if to a queen
- Although his wife's older-&-sick, she's yet more
attractive than this -
- relative infant
- I hear...
- ... that woman's stopped loving
the colourless man
Lisa ;grows dark with you gone
... last choir
was cruel ;; ;
I myself am hell,
Lisa, I'm Grace *-
bound to admit.
I have struck my wife
I cross every Styx through the guilt
Lisa, this song
stopped every chance
for an idyll
you-&-I, to be clear
and yet I still wrote it :
Does that make me a saint or simply an artist?
Mervyn Taylor, a
poet whose work's
to this : :
'Does that make me an artist or simply a saint?'
Tulip I touch you;
Violet; Rose : :
The flowers are fading
as we move on..
- Catherine ditched him of course in two weeks
- He himself owns : : 'I struck out'
- but brags : : 'we kissed;petted'
I dream & take notes
The City of Zion steppin I-man
This garden is choric. Who will next sing?
If the Graces gift crossings in time
to the place before birth;
She said that my voice caused her discomfort
Women come from the mountains, carrying salt
* In this and other contexts of the poet's latter
mythology, the Graces have the same role as the muse.
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,60 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5, Jamaica.
Historic Structures "
The Morant Bay court house is a
reconstruction of the original
which was burnt down during the
Morant Bay rebellion on 11
October 1865. The protesting
citizens of St. Thomas unable to
bear any longer the strains of
economic hardship and social
injustice, marched under Paul
Bogle's leadership to the Morant
Bay court house where they were
addressed by the custos, Baron
Von Keteldholt, from the portico
of the building. The baron on
sensing the dissatisfaction with
his response to their problems,
ordered the militia to fire into the
crowd. The angry protesters re-
taliated by stoning the court
house in which the baron and his
supporters had swiftly sought re-
fuge. At approximately 5.30 p.m.
the court house and the adjoining
school house were set on fire and
One week later Paul Bogle was
arrested and hanged along with his
brother Moses and one of his
lieutenants, from the centre arch
of the gutted court house.
The court house was rebuilt in
1867 by means of a loan from the
British government during the
governorship of Sir John Peter
David Buisseret in Historic
Architecture of the Caribbean
(1980) points out that this
building is a more creolized
version of the Mandeville court
house which is said to be modelled
on the court house at Poole,
Dorset in England. Both buildings
boast graceful dual stairways
ascending to a portico. This is a
feature of Georgian architecture
which may be seen in several other
historic buildings of architectural
interest in the island, for example,
Oakton, Half Way Tree which now
Morant Bay Court House
E. Wells-Elliot [c.1920].
houses the offices of the KSAC
Traffic Department. The portico
of the Morant Bay court house
exchanges the usual classic pillars
for simple but elegant brick
arches. Professor Buisseret
mentions particularly the
'charming little lantern on the
roof' which lightens the 'austerity
of the facade'.
The building remained intact until
1951 when the portico was
destroyed by hurricane after which
extensive repairs were carried out.
In 1965 the statue of national
hero Paul Bogle sculpted by
Edna Manley was erected in
front of the court house as a
permanent reminder of the part
he played on this historic site in
charting the course of his
e .. . ....