Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 History and life
 The arts
 Regular features
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00061
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: August-October 1988
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00061
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
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        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    History and life
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
    The arts
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    Regular features
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
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        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Back Cover
        Page 65
        Page 66
Full Text


9(, 74 do3

Treasures of Jamaican Heritage

The Orange Rinder
Orange rinders can still be found in country kitchens in Jamaica although their purpose
is almost forgotten today. Brought to the island in the nineteenth century by indentured
labourers from India, they were designed to capture the highly flavoured orange oils in
their most concentrated form.
The illustration clearly shows the upper section of this simple but effective device.
Nails were driven in a tight circular pattern through the outside of a shallow metal bowl
which forms the upper part of the funnel-shaped rinder. The spout, which could be fit-
ted into the neck of the large bottle, was sometimes held firm by being passed through a
hole in the bench on which the operator sat. As a worker from the People's Museum in
Spanish Town demonstrates, an orange was rolled repeatedly over the nails until the
essential oils had all been extracted from the rind. The aromatic oils were used as
flavouring in cooking or, in large quantities, in the perfume industry.
A practised user could 'rind' more than one orange at a time, but it was a time-con-
suming operation. Over one thousand oranges were needed to produce a gallon of
orange oil. Modern machinery and bottled essences eventually relegated the orange
rinder to a far corer of the kitchen.
Acknowledgements to the Museums Division, Institute of Jamaica


JAMAICA JOURNAL is published on behalf of the
Institute of Jamaica by Institute of Jamaica
Publications Ltd.
All correspondence should be addressed to:
IOJ Publications Ltd.
2a Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone (809) 929-4785/6
Olive Senior
Assistant Editor
Leeta Hearne
Diane Browne
Support Services
Faith Myers Secretarial
Eton Anderson Accounting
Design and Production
Camille Parchment
Patsy Smith
Back issues: Some back issues are available.
List sent on request. Entire series available on
microfilm from:
University Microfilms,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106, USA.
Subscriptions:J$60 for 4 issues (in Jamaica
only); U.K: Individuals: 10, Institutions 15.
All other countries: Individuals: US$20.
Single copies:J$17 (in Jamaica only); U.K.3;
Other countries: US$7.
All sent second class airmail.
We accept UNESCO coupons. Contact your
local UNESCO office for details.
Advertising: Rates sent on request.
Index: Articles appearing in JAMAICA JOURNAL
are abstracted and indexed in HISTORICAL
Vol. 21 No.3 Copyright 1988 by Institute of
Jamaica Publications Ltd. Cover or contents
may not be reproduced in whole or in part
without written permission.
ISSN 0021-4124

Cover: Maria LaYacona's photographic study
points the way to Pamela O'Gorman's article on
p. 40 which argues for the development of art
music to satisfy our aesthetic needs.



Vol 21 No 3

August-October 1988

SHistory and Life
16 The Diary of A Westmoreland
Planter: Part I
Thomas Thistlewood in the Vineyard 1750-51
i Edited by Douglas Hall

S2 Packy Tree, Spirits and Duppy
by John Rashford

11 Peripatus: The Non-Missing Link
by M.J.C. Barnes

The Arts
31 Strength and Subtle Shades:
Albert Huie Interviewed
by Shirley Maynier-Burke

Regular Features
40 Music: Art Music in Jamaica
by Pamela O'Gorman

50 Books and Writers
Reviews: Christian Habekost's Dub Poetry
Pamela Mordecai's From Our Yard
by Victor Chang
E.K. Brathwaite's Roots
by Sheila Coulson

55 Art: A.D. Scott: Art Patron and
by Gloria Escoffery

64 Feedback

38 Contributors

.'F .- ... ,. ".

- .- ;,. '. J*
f~~- --r
A calabash tree (above); left: carved calabash from the Dominican

The common name 'calabash' is ap-
plied to a number of botanically unrela-
ted plants. The best known of these
bear gourd-like fruits that are used to
make a wide variety of valuable contain-
ers and other useful objects. The three
important plants to which the name is
applied are the calabash tree of tropical
America (Crescentia spp.); the calabash
or baobab tree of Africa (Adansonia
digitata' the 'African calabash' -
known in Jamaica as monkey tamarind;
and the well known bottle gourd (La-
genaria siceraria), which is also from
Africa. We will look at the cultural im-
portance of the American calabash tree
to Jamaicans, focusing on the way in
which it is traditionally associated with
the spiritual realm, i.e. its relationships
to the world of spirits and to duppy


The calabash is a member of the
Bignoniaceae or trumpet flower family,

This is one of a series of occasional articles by
the author on plants associated with the spirit
realm in Jamaica. Previous articles described
John Crow Bead (Abrus precatorius) (17: 2)
and the Cotton Tree (Ceiba pentandra) (18:1) .

and it grows from Central America and
the Caribbean to Brazil and Peru. It pro-
bably owes its widespread distribution
to human dispersal for it is a useful tree
to the people of tropical America. One
of the earliest accurate descriptions of
the tree following Columbus' discovery
of the New World was that of Gonzalo
Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes who
came to the Americas in 1514. He knew
of the tree's importance to Amerindians
for he wrote of it as a source of food,
medicine, wood, and various containers.
The usefulness of the tree which makes
it a likely candidate for human dispersal
means it will be very difficult, if not im-
possible, to determine its true place of
origin in contrast to those places into
which it has been deliberately or inadver-
tently introduced. For the moment,
however, I agree with Heiser [1979: 16]
who wrote: 'Whether it was originally
native to Middle America or to South
America is not clear. It does apparently
occur as a wild plant in Middle America,
and I am inclined to think that it was
carried from there to South America
and the West Indies in prehistorictimes.'
The tree also grows in southern Florida
and it has now been introduced into

California, Bermuda and the Old World
The calabash grows throughout Ja-
maica from sea level to about fourteen
hundred feet. It is frequently found in
home gardens, and Adams [1972]
describes it as 'common', occurring along
'roadsides, and in old pastures, thickets
and woodland margins'. This small
spreading tree reaches from twenty
to thirty feet in height. It has a crook-
ed trunk and long, relatively slender
branches that form an open crown. The
tree produces single, slightly leathery,
'apron-shaped' leaves. They are moder-
ately shiny on top and pale under-
neath and grow mostly in clusters of
three to five on spurs along the branches.
The large, waxy, bell-shaped flowers are
approximately two and a half inches
long, and one and three-quarter inches
wide; they are borne mostly on the
trunk and older branches, and are 'light-
green' or 'greenish-yellow' in colour
with purple streaks and touches of red
and yellow. From these flowers develop
large, rounded, woody, indehiscent,
gourd-like fruits; they are glossy green
in colour when young, and they turn
brown as they ripen and become dry.

Fruits growing from the trunk and
branches give the tree a very unusual
appearance, making it a conspicuous
feature of the landscape. The calabash
flowers and fruits for much of the year.

One of the most important plants to
the people of Africa from both a practi-
cal and a religious point of view is the
bottle gourd and it is reasonable to
assume that many of the uses and some
of the beliefs associated with the bot-
tle gourd were readily transferred to
the calabash when Africans were brought
to the New World. The bottle gourd
does grow in Jamaica, but it is not com-
mon. It would probably be more com-
mon were it not for the fact that the
calabash is widespread, thrives with
little or no cultivation, and the fruits,
which are in season for most of the
year, are readily available at little or no
cost. Its many uses have earned the cala-
bash tree a place, however modest, in
the history of Jamaica's technology,
commerce, medicine, art, music, dance,
sports, proverbs, folk tales and tradi-
tional religious belief.

The tree itself is valued for its shade,
and there are some who cultivate it as
an ornamental or garden curiosity.
The calabash can hardly be consider-
ed a very good timber tree having only a
small, crooked trunk that branches close
to the ground. Nevertheless, its hard,
pale brown, moderately heavy wood has
been put to a number of uses in Jamaica.
In the eighteenth century, Long [1774:
752] described it as 'very tough and
fitter for the coach-makers' use than
any other sort of timber known'. Forty
years after, Lunan [1814 :140] wrote
that it was also used 'for making saddles,
mule and ass crooks, stools, chairs, and
other furniture, as also shafts or handles
for carpenters' tools'. Harris [19091
and Ryman [1980] make similar re-
ports, and Ryman indicates that the
wood has also been used to make 'ribs
Calabashes come in a wide variety of shapes, in boat building' and as a base on which
shades and sizes, as these examples show, to grow orchids.2
Sir Hans Sloane [1707 : 173], in
Sone of the earliest accounts of Jamaica's
0 plant life, noted that the calabash was
to be found 'everywhere in the Savanna's
and woods of Jamaica...,'and he point-
ed out that 'in scarcity of grass by
drought, cattle feed on this fruit fallen

off the boughs, or the trees are then cut
down on purpose that they may feed on
both the fruit and the leaves. . It is
difficult to say how common it was at
that time to cut calabash trees for feed.
Although plants in wide variety are still
collected for animal feed, there is no
indication that the leaves and fruits of
the calabash are ever among them.

In Jamaica, the unripe fruit of the
calabash is used as a cricket ball [Ry-
man, 1980 : 4]. This is only one small
reason why the most valuable part of
the calabash is its fruit; the pulp and
seeds are a source of food and medicine,
and the hard, woody shell is used to
make containers and other useful ob-

In the eighteenth century, Browne
[1756 : 266] reported that the pulp
was occasionally eaten by African Ja-
maicans 'but not looked upon as either
agreeable, or wholesome'. That the
pulp is little eaten (if it ever was) is
understandable considering that it has a
fetid odour and an unsavoury taste. Little
and Wadsworth [1964] describe it as
poisonous. Nevertheless, there are re-
ports that continue to identify the pulp
(as well as the seeds) as edible. Accord-
ing to Ryman [1980], the pulp is
'cooked and eaten occasionally as a
vegetable'. Morton [1981] says 'very
young fruits have been picked in Ja-
maica' and Ryman's [1980] recipe
for making a pickle involves dicing and
seeding the pulp and adding salt, vine-
gar, pepper and pimento seeds. Long
[1774] also reports that the seeds were
'steeped' in water to make 'a tart, cool-
ing beverage'.

Medicinally, the fruit is prepared in
various ways to treat a variety of ail-
ments, particularly coughs and colds.
Roasting the young fruit and adding
other ingredients seems to be the most
basic procedure. Beckwith [1927 : 13]
gives a detailed account of one such pre-
paration: nine young fruits are roasted,
strained, and boiled along with one
pound of sugar, five sweetsop leaves
(Annona squamosa) and five chigger
nut leaves (Tournefortia volubilis).
When it becomes thick, a pint of wine
and a 'quattie' proof rum are added. A
wine-glass of this is taken three times a
day. Other accounts are much simpler.
Asprey and Thornton [1953] describe

a cold remedy where the fruit is simply
roasted, juiced and mixed with castor
oil. Ryman's [1980] account indicates
the extent to which this preparation is
subject to variation: 'the calabash is
baked and the pulp is then juiced and
mixed with either salt, sugar or castor
The published accounts of the medi-
cinal value of the calabash tree in Ja-
maica suggest that the basic procedure
of roasting the fruit and mixing the juice
with other ingredients could well be
considered the source of an all-purpose
remedy. Ryman [1980] said the cold
and cough tonic described above was
also good for treating 'worms' and 'brui-
sed-blood, resulting from a blow'.
Cohen [1973 : 104] also mentions a
similar concoction prepared by the
Maroons of Moore Town: the young
fruit is roasted, strained into a tumbler,
and a pinch of salt added. This is used
not for colds, however, but for 'back
One more thing should be mentioned
here about the medicinal use of the cala-
bash. According to Lunan, 'it is said
that the pulp, if eaten, will make a cow
cast her calf, or a mare her colt. It is
certainly known (if not too well known)
to be a great forcer of the menstrua, of
the birth and after-birth; therefore ought
to be very cautiously given or taken'.

In the eighteenth century, Browne
[1756: 266] reported 'the shell of the
fruit is so thin and close that it serves to
boil water, or any other fluid, as well as
an earthen pot; and is observed to bear
the fire equally, on repeated trials'. The
Oxford English Dictionary [1961]
makes a similar report. If this was proven
to be true, the fruit would be remark-
able indeed a calabash cooking pot.
Be that as it may, the fruit of the cala-
bash is chiefly valued for its hard,woody
shell which is thin, light-weight, durable
and versatile ideal for making a great
variety of useful containers, including,
presumably, the calabash cooking pot.
Given the way in which it is to be used,
the fruit is selected for its size, shape,
colour and overall quality. Long [1774:
802] gives an excellent account of the
way in which it was prepared in the
eighteenth century:

They make a hole at one end, into
which they pour hot water in order to
dissolve the pulp; after this they ex-
tract the pulp with a stick, and rinse
the whole inside thoroughly with sand
and water, in order to loosen the fibres

that remain, and clear them away. After
they are thus cleaned, they are suffered
to dry, and are then fit for use.

Ryman [1981 : 40] gives an account of
the way in which the fruit is prepared
This is achieved by either spooning or
forcing the contents out with a piece
of wire, depending on the size of the
hole originally made in the top of the
calabash. A thorough rinsing and scrap-
ing complete the cleaning process. The
shell is often dried in the sun but some
people prefer to hang it in their kit-
chen indefinitely, where it is 'cured'
by smoke and heat.

The calabash has three names in Ja-
maica and each identifies the tree, the
fruit, and containers made from the
fruit. From the Twi language of West
Africa, the word apakyi has become
packy (packi, packie, paki, pakie).
Apakyi is the specific name of 'a broad
calabash' and it is also used to identify
'the whole calabash' [Cassidy and Le
Page]. The Jamaican word packy identi-
fies the tree, the fruit in general, and a
particular kind of fruit one that is the
smallest in size and commonly used for
utensils. The second name is goady
(goadi, goadie, gourdy, gourdie, guodi);
it is also used to identify the tree, the
fruit in general, and a particular kind of
fruit a large calabash with a small hole
at the top that is traditionally used for
carrying water. The third name is took-
took. It primarily identifies a medium-
size fruit, which, like the goady, has a
small hole at the top, and is primarily
used to carry water. According to Cas-
sidy [1971 : 84], the took-took got
'its name echoically from the sound it
makes when water is poured from it'.
Although this name might have origin-
ated as Cassidy suggests, today it iden-
tifies any medium size container, wheth-
er or not it has a small hole at the top.
Beckwith describes the took-took as a
'fruit half-way between [the 'calabash'
and the packy] in size' and she notes
that Jamaican small farmers 'use these
gourds for water carriers and drinking
vessels'. Similarly, Ryman [1980] says:
'The Took-Took, predictably, refers to
the in-between size and is often used as
a dish for eating or moulding soft foods'.
In the early nineteenth century, Scott
[1833] wrote of African Jamaican chil-
dren who 'had all their little packies or
calabashes, on their heads, full of pro-
visions'. His observations highlight the
value of the fruit as a container and
point to the ubiquity of the calabash
in Jamaica's everyday life at that time.

Noted calabash carver Brother Joseph shows off some of his work
at his roadside stand at Castleton Gardens.

Proverbs, by virtue of being the col-
lective wisdom of a society and a true
product of common tradition, are very
revealing for what they tell us about a
culture's world view as it related to the
ordinary routines of daily life. Jamaica's
calabash proverbs focus on the value of
the fruit and, in most cases, it is from
the perspective of the fruit as a container.
Packy nebber bear pumpkin.
Better water trow way dan gourdy
Bruk calabash bring new one.
Han' go packy come.
Hollow gourd mek most noise.
Keep you secret in a yu own gourdy.

Long [1774: 752] gives an account
of the use of these containers in the
eighteenth century, containers that were
capable of holding from an ounce to
a gallon, and were used to hold water or
rum. African Jamaicans, he tells us,
. .supply themselves from this tree,
with very convenient, and not in-
elegant, cups, saucers, bowls, punch,
and other ladles, spoons, and other
utensils, of various shapes and sizes;
upon some of which they bestow the
best carved work in their power.

Decorated calabashes calabashes
that are carved, engraved, burnt, painted,
dyed or polished are still produced
today, especially for sale to tourists.
In describing his visit to Castleton Bo-
tanic Gardens in the early nineteen-fifties,
Watkins [1952 : 82] writes:

On leaving Castleton we were besieged

by native craftsmen who had surround-
ed our taxi awaiting our departure.

Articles of timber bamboo, artfully
carved, the decorated calabashes, and
the colorful belts fashioned from tropi-
cal seeds are very cheap, usually decor-
ative, and definitely 'of the land'.

Such curios are still made and
sold at Castleton Botanic Gardens and
at roadside stands and stalls along the
north coast; they can also be found in
the Kingston craft market and in shops.

Rattles (Maraccas), traditionally cal-
led shaka, shakey or shaker, are among
the many craft items for sale in Jamaica.
They can be used singly but are typical-
ly used in pairs. Each is made from the
hollow shell of a small calabash to which,
in most cases, a handle is attached; en-
closed within the shell are small stones
or pebbles, or the seeds of the John-
Crow bead, Abrus precatorius [Cassidy
and Le Page, 1967], wild Canna, Canna
coccinea [Beckwith, 1929],. or some
other plant. This instrument was record-
ed very early in Jamaica and it has been
a very important part of the island's
musical tradition. This is evident in
Phillippo's [1843 :243] description of
'John Connu' in the nineteenth cen-
Several companions were associated
with him (the John Connu, 'hero of
the party') as musicians, beating banjos
and tom-toms, blowing cow-horns,
shaking a hard round black seed in a

calabash and scraping the bones of
animals together ...

Shakers are mostly played by hand,
especially today. In the past this was
not so. In his description of the musical
instruments in use during the early
eighteenth century, Sloane [1707] noted
that African Jamaicans 'have ... in their
dances rattles tied to their legs and wrists,
and in their hands, with which they
make a noise keeping time with one
who makes a sounding answering it on
the mouth of an empty gourd or jar
with his hand'. In addition to shakers,
the calabash has been used to make
three other kinds of musical instru-
ments in Jamaica. Ryman [1981] points
out that Sloane mentions the use of a
small 'gourd' fitted with a neck to make
a flute. The second instrument was a
string instrument a kind of banjo, or
guitar, or 'an imperfect kind of violon-
cello' which Long identifies as merry-
Their merry-wang is a favorite instru-
ment, a rustic guitar, of four strings.
It is made with a calabash; a slice of
which being taken off, a dried blad-
der, or skin, is spread across the lar-
gest section; and this is fastened to a
handle, which they take great pains in
ornamenting with a sort of rude carv-
ed work, and ribbands [cited in Cas-
sidy, 1971;265].

The third instrument was the Ja-
maican jenkoving which Sloane men-
tions in passing in his discussion of rat-
tles quoted above. Ryman [1981 : 44]
says it was 'documented and described
in the eighteenth century as a musical
instrument made from an empty bottle
or calabash, played by slapping the
hands over the open mouth of the bot-
It is quite possible that scrapers (cal-
led guiros in Spanish) were at one time
made from large calabashes in Jamaica.
These are calabashes that would have
been notched on one side against which
a stick could be drawn to produce a
sound amplified by the hollow gourd.
The scraper is known in Jamaica, for I
have seen it made from a joint of bam-
boo. There were probably more instru-
ments made from the calabash than we
are aware of today. We get some idea of
this from Sloane's [1707] early descrip-
tion of African Jamaicans who, he said,
had 'several sorts of instruments in imi-
tation of lutes, made of small gourds fit-
ted with necks, strung with horse hair,
or the peeled stalks of climbing plants
or withs'. As Cassidy [1971 : 263] has
observed, however, 'modern instruments

The gourd-like fruit of the calab
waxy flower on the trunk (left).

have almost displaced the traditional,
locally made ones of a former time,
with their mostly African names and
lineage'. Calabash flutes, banjos and
jenkovings are probably unfamiliar to
most Jamaicans today. This is not true
of the shaker, however. It continues to
be a very important instrument in Ja-
maican music and it has now achieved
the status of a curio a novelty, a
craft item as well.

Shell Contemporary Uses
East Portland fishermen still use the
calabash as a bailer and as a container
for bait, sinkers, fish hooks, and other
small items. I have also found that
women who make coconut oil for sale
continue to use it as a skimming vessel.
It is clear, however, that calabash con-
tainers have been largely supplanted by
industrial products made of enamelware,
plastic, china, ceramic, glass, and metal.
In fact, empty 'cheese-pans' were widely
used in the district as a rough general
container, along with other kinds of
tin cans, soda bottles and cardboard
boxes. Despite these changes, I am in
agreement with Ryman [1981] who
notes that although the uses of cala-
bash containers will continue to alter,
and some uses will disappear, they will
always have a place in Jamaican culture.

Increasingly, its place in modern society
is being established by both our tradi-
tional and 'schooled' carvers. Mira-
culously, the lowly calabash, often
ignored and/or abused in the modern
environment, is entering both local and
foreign homes as teapots, dishes, bowls
(large, medium, small), plant hangers,
handbags, decorative wall ornaments,
light shades, saving boxes and decan-

The calabash container will also con-
tinue to find a place in Jamaica given
the value placed upon it in the Rasta-
farian world view, where it is apprecia-
ted for its utility, its status as a 'natural'
object, and its cultural association with
the African tradition. In addition to the
containers and container-like objects


(right) developed from the large

mentioned above, we should also note
that personal ornaments are made from
small pieces of the calabash shell cut
into various shapes and finished in a
variety of ways. I know at least one in-
dividual in St Ann who uses the cala-
bash to make bracelets, necklaces, ear-
rings and pendants for sale to Jamaicans
as well as to tourists.

Calabash and Spirits
Growing up in Jamaica, I vaguely re-
member the calabash being associated
with spirits. I did not think much about
it, however, nor did I consider it of great
interest or importance. Moreover, al-
though the tree is always mentioned in
the early studies of Jamaica's plant life,
it is not routinely associated with Afri-
can Jamaican religious belief. My atti-
tude changed, however, when I did a
field interview with a small farmer in
Portland who was generally regarded as
'de boss of farming' in his district. While
recording the plants in his field, I noted
that there were several calabash trees. I
asked him why he had planted them and
he was evasive in his response; he clearly
did not want to say. This farmer was re-
garded in the district as a wise man. I
was told on more than one occasion
that no one ever stole from his field. I
thought at the time that he had prob-
ably planted the trees as 'guards' against
theft. We know the overlook bean (Can-
avalia ensiformis) was traditionally plan-
ted in fields for this reason but this has
never been reported for the calabash. I
was willing to consider this explanation,
however, since 'charms' for preventing
theft were made from the shell of the
fruit used as a container. In the nine-
teenth century, for example, Phillippo
[1843] noted that 'spells' and 'charms'
were 'signified by the use of calabashes
containing various ingredients'.
The next occasion for thinking
seriously about the calabash and reli-
gious beliefs was also the result of a con-
versation with a small farmer from Bath,
St Thomas. At the time I was studying

the cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra), which
in Jamaica is more associated with the
spiritual realm than any other tree. I
was surprised when he told me that the
calabash reminded him more of 'duppies'
(spirits of the dead) than did the cotton
tree. He said there were many calabash
trees in the Bath graveyard that were
planted as grave markers. This practice
was reported by Beckwith [1929 : 75]
who wrote:

Wilfred says that calabash trees are
often planted one at the head and one
at the foot to mark the grave (and Bar-
clay also notes this custom), but Wil-
fred would not admit that their pre-
sence had any significance.

When I began to ask about the plan-
ting of the calabash in graveyards, it
became clear that this was a fairly well
known tradition. Some said the calabash
grew 'near graves' or that it was 'mostly
seen in graveyards'; others referred to it
specifically as a grave marker; two indi-
viduals noted that it was usually plant-
ed at the 'head' and 'foot' of the grave,
and one person said it was 'used as a
grave marker because the tree is hardy
and does not die easily'. A study of the
literature indicated that the association
between the calabash and graveyards
was not new. In the early nineteenth
century, Barclay [1826 :303-10] wrote,
for example, that 'in the garden too,
and commonly under the shade of the
low out-branching calabash tree, are the
graves of the family, covered with brick

In his use of oral history to under-
stand the 'perception of slavery' in Llui-
das Vale, Craton [1977: 274] tells us
that 'Miss E.R., daughter of the aged
Mrs. M.R., mentioned that slave dup-
pies were often seen where gourd trees,
and "dragon's blood" and croton bushes
marked the old slave burial grounds'.
This suggests that the calabash was not
simply a grave marker, but a marker for
the location of spirits. Ryman [1980 : 5]
confirms this point of view:
In St Thomas, Jamaica, some people
believe that the calabash tree shelters
the spirits of the dead and that its fruits
contain mysterious and curative proper-
ties. Libation is offered to the spirits
by sprinkling rum under the tree and
on the calabashes themselves, after
they have been picked. The rest of the
rum may be shared by the living. The
dead are of course remembered and
protected by a calabash tree specially
planted at the grave site.

Spirits are regarded as potentially

Jamaican craftsmen utilize the calabash
in many different ways for adornment
and decoration. The tiny calabash at left, top,
is used by artist June Bellew to make delicate-
ly carved and burnished purses with leather-
hinged covers. The calabash at left, centre,
carved all the way round with Rastafarian
iconography, contrasts with the simple beauty
of the purely functional object below, left,
the water carrier of a St Elizabeth farmer who
used a corn cob as the stopper. Note the
similarity to the calabashes from the planta-
tion era shown on p. 8, in the method of ty-
ing the 'wiss' to form the handle. The other
photographs show the range of attractive cala-
bash objects available at local crafts stands.

harmful, and they are best avoided; if
they cannot be avoided, they must at
least be treated with care. Given this
belief, it is easy to understand why
some Jamaicans see the calabash as a
tree to be avoided. One informant from
St Catherine (whose opinion reflected
that of two others) said he had always
heard when he was growing up that
spirits 'live under calabash trees' and
that 'you shouldn't play under cala-
bash trees because duppy will lick you'.
Another informant from Brandon Hill,
St Andrew, said in all her 'experiences',

she had never 'gone near to a calabash
tree'. She was told not to pick them -
not even touch them and not to play
under the tree.

Duppy Birds
Understanding that the calabash has
a relationship with the spiritual realm
helps us to explain aspects of Jamaica's
folklore that would otherwise seem puz-
zling. Consider, for example, the asso-
ciating of the calabash with duppy birds.
Cassidy and Le Page [1967 : 165]
were told by one of their informants

that the duppy bird was 'the ground
dove, which is said to frequent burial
grounds, and of which it is believed that
if it flies into the church, someone will
die'. I believe that it is the association
with graveyards that gives the ground
dove its special status as a duppy bird.
In fact, we could say that in general,
there is a tendency to regard anything
associated with graveyards as being other-
wordly and spiritually potent. This is
certainly true of plants such as the dra-
gon's blood (Cordyline terminalis), cro-
ton (Codiaeum variegatum), and night-
blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum).
Some people refuse to grow these plants
in their home gardens because of their
association with graveyards and spirits.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth cen-
turies, 'grave dirt' was frequently men-
tioned among the materials Obeah men
and women were found to have in their
possession, and it seems to have been an
important ingredient in various prepar-
ations. Along similar lines is the recog-
nition that while all cotton trees are
associated with the spiritual word,
those growing in graveyards are especial-
ly significant [Rashford, 1985].
The nineteenth century planter, Mat-
thew Gregory Lewis, [1834 : 98], gives
an interesting account in his journal,
of African Jamaican attitudes towards
graveyards, and towards the plants grow-
ing in graveyards:

Last Saturday [an African Jamaican]...
was brought into the hospital, having
fallen into epileptic fits, with which till
then he had never been troubled .
For my own part, the symptoms of his
complaint were such as to make me
suspect him of having tasted something
poisonous, especially as, just before his
first fit, he had been observed in the
small grove of mangoes near the house;
but I was assured by . one and all,
that nothing could possibly have in-
duced him to eat an herb or fruit from
the grove, as it has been used as a bury-
ing-ground for 'the white people'. [My
emphasis] But although my idea of the
poison was scouted, still the mention
of burying-ground suggested another
cause for his illness to [African Ja-
maicans] .. ., and they had no sort of
doubt that in passing through the
burying-ground he had been struck
down by the duppy of a white per-
son, not long deceased, whom he had
formerly offended, and that these re-
peated fainting-fits were the con-
sequences of that ghostly blow.

In a sense, the calabash tree is a duppy
plant and it is also associated with
.graveyards, as we have seen. It is not
surprising, therefore, to hear that it is
commonly said that one should never

shoot birds out of calabash trees because
they are duppy birds and shooting
duppy birds is not without disastrous
consequences. Cassidy and Le Page
[1967 : 165] cite Uncle Newton who
Of course we are careful not to shoot
'Duppy Birds'. I nearly shot one one
day .. If I had shot that bird, I would
have died.

I have argued in previous articles
[Rashford, 1984, 1985] that, in Ja-
maica, plants, animals and other things
that are associated with the spiritual
realm often manifest unusual, strange,
tricky or mysterious characteristics.
Some produce overpowering odours
that can be sickeningly sweet or repul-
sively fetid; some have a false, imita-
tive appearance or resemblance to things
that are useful to humans in the case
of foods, most are inedible and many
are poisonous. Others are the source of
strange noises, or are active at night, or
thrive in dark places; and yet others, for
various reasons, are associated with
harm, danger, sorrow, sickness, grave-
yards and death.
All trees associated with spirits are
regarded as strange or mysterious in one
or more ways. The cotton tree (Ceiba
pentandra), the fig tree (Ficus spp.) and
the baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) are
giant trees with unusual appearances:
The cotton tree with its massive, but-
tressed trunk and great out-spreading
branches; the strangler fig with its pre-
datory behaviour and its dense tangle of
adventitious roots descending from the
trunk and branches; and the giant bao-
bab with its bizarre appearance, and its
showy, night-blooming, bat-pollinated,
upside-down flowers that produce a
very offensive odour. Duppy chocho
(Morinda citrifolia), duppy coconut
(Barringtonia asiatica), duppy soursop
(Annona montana), duppy cherry (Cor-
dia collococca) and duppy rice-and-peas
(Pithecellobium unguis-cati) are all trees
bearing inedible fruits, some of which
are poisonous; these fruits are similar in
appearance or in some other respect to
edible fruits which they are said to re-
semble or imitate. The otaheite apple
(Syzygium malaccense) is associated with
spirits because its dense, dark foliage
provides an ideal habitat for birds (in-
cluding the true owls) which Jamaicans
call patoo, and these birds are associated
with spirits. The bamboo's association
with the supernatural comes from its
unusual appearance as an enormous, fast-

The ubiquitous 'packy': Details of prints from the plantation era show
how important the calabash was as an everyday object.

growing, tree-like grass. It forms thick
shaded clumps that emit a curious
sound as the wind rustles the long slen-
der leaves, and the hollow stems amplify
the creaking sound which is produced
when they rub against each other (ac-
cording to Cassidy and Le Page [1980],
'bamboo bed' identifies 'a rickety bed
that creaks like bamboos in the wind').
The jack fruit (Artocarpus heterophyl-
lus) derives its association from the un-
usual appearance of the large fruits
weighing up to seventy pounds that
grow along its trunk and branches. These
fruits give off a very strong odour that
many find offensive.

What is remarkable about the cala-
bash is that it is associated with the
spiritual realm for most of the reasons
mentioned above. It too is unusual in
appearance; like the jack fruit, it has
large fruits that hang conspicuously
from the trunk and branches. Like the
baobab, it also produces bat-pollinated
flowers that bloom at night and have a
fetid odour which Lunan [1814:40]
described as a 'cadaverous, nauseous, and
intolerable stench'. We have seen that
the calabash is associated with death in
a number of ways: it serves as a grave
marker; it is grown both in 'remem-
brance' of the dead and to 'protect' the
dead [Ryman, 1980]; and it is one of
several plants that are used to keep (or
to 'plant') spirits in their graves. Throw-
ing parched peas in the grave, or plant-
ing a shrub upside down in the grave, or
placing a branch of the cotton tree on
the coffin are all practices done to ac-
complish the same objective. We should
also remember that the early accounts
of Jamaican funeral rites indicate that
the fruit was often used as a ritual con-
tainer for food and drink [Sloane, 1707;
Leslie, 1739; Scott, 1836]. Sometimes
this food and drink would be poured
from the container into the grave or
buried in the grave along with the con-
tainer. At other times they were spilled
on the grave or left in calabashes placed
at the head and foot of the grave. The
calabash was probably also associated
with funerals as a musical instrument;
this would especially be true of the
calabash shaker.

Finally, the significance of the cala-
bash in Jamaica's folk tradition points
to its association with the spiritual
realm. We have already noted the use of
the fruit as a container for making
charms and the belief that the tree
should be avoided. There are other such
ideas that can be readily identified. June

Bellew is an Irish artist who has lived
and worked in Jamaica since 1978. One
of the many things she does is to make
handbags from calabash. She told me
that the people in Golden Spring ad-
vised her not to work on calabashes at
night, the implication being that she
would suffer some harm if she did. She
was never able to learn the reason for
this warning. Another curious belief is
that a calabash stick placed on a grave
and then used to hit someone will make
him 'crippled for life'. Related to this
association between calabash sticks and
graves is the use of calabash branches in
a ritual intended to make contact with
spirits which can then be used to do
one's bidding. For example, Beckwith
[1929 : 136] presents two ways in which
this is said to be done, one of which in-
volves the use of calabash branches:

To secure the duppy, you should go to
a graveyard at night and visit the grave
of some friend or some member of
your family, preferably your mother.
Take an egg, rice, and rum, and mash
the egg at the grave. The duppy will
come up and feed upon the egg and the
food which you bring; thus you pay
him to help you. To call up a ghost to
set him upon another, Sam Thomp-
son recommended the following me-
thod: Get two wide-mouthed bottles of
proof rum (alcohol) and a bunch of
spiritweed tied to a stick, and go naked
to the grave at night. At twelve o'clock
you go to the gravehead, put the rum
at the head, strike one, two, three
strokes with the spiritweed, and say:
'So-and-so, come an' mek a tell you wha,
fe do.' Repeat this at the foot. Then
'guard the head' and take up the bot-
tle, guard the foot and take up the bot-
tle, and tell the ghost what you want
of it. He will start upon his errand, ...
In Westmoreland a similar method is
employed, but the beating of the grave
is done with calabash switches.

While this discussion has focused on
the usefulness of the calabash tree and
its relationship to spirits and duppy
birds, it is really part of a much broader
effort aimed at understanding the under-
lying coherence of African-Jamaican be-
lief, and African-Caribbean belief in
general. Even though it has been known
for a long time that plants are a crucial
part of this belief system, very few stu-
dies have been done. Yet, as I have
tried to show, this is a subject worthy of
serious attention. 'We must realize', as
Beckwith [1929: 116] has argued, 'that
the whole structure built up by the
Obeah men rested upon the basis of
very ancient beliefs in the relation
between man and natural objects.' In
the relation between Jamaicans and

'natural objects', Beckwith tells us,
'plant life is alive with spirit'.


1. It is important to keep in mind that in
many written accounts of 'gourds' or
calabashess', especially some of the ear-
lier sources, it is often difficult, if not
impossible to tell the specific plant that
it being discussed. This is particularly true
of tropical America where both the fruit
from the calabash tree and the bottle
gourd have a long history of similar uses,
often in the same community [Heiser,
2. The value of the calabash for growing
orchids has long been recognized [Mar-
shall, 1939: 177; Williams and Williams,
1951:138]; Yeaton [1982:137] notes
'The . tree is an ideal epiphyte host
because its soft, deep bark provides easy
anchorage for epiphytes and recesses
for humus accumulations'.
3. We should also note here Ryman's [1980]
report that a cold remedy is made not
only from the pulp but from the leaves
which are used for a tea. Asprey and
Thornton [1953:38] note the pulp is
'considered purgative' and they also indi-
cate that it is used as a poultice. Long
[1774:752] says this poultice is used to
treat burns. According to Lunan [1814:
40], however, a poultice made by roasting
a young fruit and applying the pulp was
used to treat 'bruises' and 'inflammations'.


ADAMS, Dennis C. Flowering Plants of Ja-
maica. Mona, Jamaica: University of
the West Indies, 1972.
ASPREY, G.F., and THORNTON, P. 'Medi-
cinal Plants of Jamaica'. West Indian
Medical Journal. 1953,2 (4): 233-252;
1954, 3 (1): 17-41; 1955a, 4 (2): 69-
82; 1955b,4 (3): 145-168, 1953-55.
BARCLAY, Alexander. A Practical View of
the Present State of Slavery in the West
Indies. London: 1826.
BARHAM, Henry. Hortus Americanus Con-
taining an account of the trees, shrubs,
and other vegetable productions of
South America, and the West Indies,
and particularly of the Island of Ja-
maica. Kingston, Jamaica: Aikman,
BECKWITH, Martha W. Notes on Jamaican
Ethnobotany. New York: Vassar Col-
lege Folklore Foundation. Publication
- Black Roadways; a Study of Jamaican
Folk Life. 1929. Reprinted, New York:
Negro Universities Press, 1969.
BROWNE, Patrick. The Civil and Natural His-
tory of Jamaica. 1756. Reprinted New
York: Arno Press, 1972.
CASSIDY, F.G. Three Hundred Years of the
English Language in Jamaica. London:
Macmillan, 1971.

CASSIDY, F.G. and LE PAGE, R.B. Diction-
ary of Jamaican English. Cambridge
University Press. 1967.
COHEN, Milton; Medical Beliefs and Practices
of the Maroons of Moore Town: A
Study in Acculturation'. Dissertation.
New York University: 1973.
CRATON, Michael. 'Perceptions of Slavery: A
Preliminary Excursion into the Possi-
bilities of Oral History in Rural Ja-
maica'. In Old Roots in New Lands:
Historical and Anthropological Per-
spective on Black Experiences in the
Americas. Edited by Ann M.Pescatello.
Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1977.

CUNDALL, Frank and ANDERSON, Izett.
Jamaican Proverbs. Shannon, Ireland:
Irish University Press, 1972.
EDWARDS, Bryan. The History Civil and
Commercial of the British Colonies in
the West Indies. 1756. Reprint. New
York: Arno Press, 1972.
HARRIS, W. The Timbers of Jamaica'. Bul-
letin of the Department of Agriculture,
1 (1) : 10-39.1909.
HEISER, Charles B. Jr. The Gourd Book.
Norman, USA: University of Oklahoma
Press, 1979.

LESLIE, Charles. A New and Exact Ac-
count of Jamaica. Edinburgh: 1739.
LEWIS, M.G. Journal of A West India Pro-
prietor ... London, 1834.

LITTLE, Elbert L. and WADSWORTH, Frank.
Common Trees of Puerto Rico and The
Virgin Islands. Washington, D.C., USA:
Department of Agriculture, 1964.
LONG, Edward. The History of Jamaica
1774. Reprinted. New York: Arno
Press, 1972,
LUNAN, John. Hortus Jamaicensis. St. Jago
de la Vega, Gazette, Jamaica: 1814.
MARSHALL, R.C. Silviculture of the Trees of
Trinidad and Tobago, British West
Indies. London: Oxford University
Press, 1939,
MORTON, Julia. Atlas of Medicinal Plants of
Middle America. Springfield, Illinois:
PHILLIPPO, James M. Jamaica, Its Past and
Present State. London: 1843,
RAMPINI, Charles. Letters from Jamaica.
Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas,
RASHFORD, John. 'John Crow Bead, John

Crow and John Canoe: Plants, Spirits
and the Meaning of "John" in Jamaica'.
Jamaica Journal. 17: 2, 1984.
'The Cotton Tree and the Spiritual
Realm in Jamaica'. Jamaica Journal,
RYMAN, Cheryl, 'Calabash Packy or Goo-
dy'. African-Caribbean Institute of
Jamaica Newsletter, 5: 1980.
- 'Calabash -An Aesthetic Form'. Af-
rican-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica
Newsletter, 6: 1981.
SCOTT, Michael, Tom Cringle's Log. 1833
Reprint. London: 1969.

SLOANE, Sir Hans. A Voyage to the Is-
lands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, St.
Christophers and Jamaica. ..
Vol. I. London: British Museum, 1707.

WATKINS, John V. Gardens of the Antilles.
Gainesville: University of Florida Press,
The Useful and Ornamental Plants in
Trinidad and Tobago. Port-of-Spain,
Trinidad: Guardian Commercial Prin-
tery, 1951.
YEATON, Richard L. 'The Pattern of Coloni-
zation of Epiphytes on Calabash Trees
(Crescentia alata HBK.) in Guanacaste
Province, Costa Rica'. Biotropica 14
(2): 137-140. 1982.

Left: Carved calabashes by the
Maroons of Suriname. (From Afro-
American Arts of the Suriname Rain
Forest by Sally and Richard Price.
University of California Press,1980.)

Two for Nature Lovers ..... Gosse's Jamaica 1844-5
Edited by D.B. Stewart

Forests of Jamaica
Edited by D.A. Thompson, Peter
Bretting, Marjorie Humphreys

Published by the Jamaican Society of
Scientists and Technologists

A definitive statement on the forests of Jamaica in
the 1980s.

A book by specialists which can be read and
appreciated by anyone with an interest in our
natural heritage.

Lavishly illustrated: 21 black and white photographs;
20 in colour.

Edited proceedings of a Caribbean seminar on forest
reserves of Jamaica, their management and use.
International and regional environmentalists working
in the disciplines of botany, forestry and conservation
contribute to a unique work describing one type of
eco-system on a tropical island. Includes an invaluable
species list and the text of the Forest Act of Jamaica.
ISBN 976-8017-02-3 J$150 UKE30 U.S.$40

The great English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse
(1810-88) spent 18 months in Jamaica and his writings
reflect 'The unwearying delight of those months'
which resulted in The Birds of Jamaica (1847),
Illustrations to The Birds of Jamaica (1849) and
A Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica (1851).
Gosse's Jamaica combines the best parts of
The Birds and A Naturalist's Sojourn with 16
illustrations of birds, eight in colour.
Gosse's Jamaica is of wide general appeal but will
be of particular interest to bird lovers. Although not
a field guide, anyone with an interest in Jamaican
birds and scenery will find it an invaluable and
rewarding companion.
ISBN 976-8017-00-7 J$70 UKE15 U.S.$20
Orders and trade enquiries to:

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica. Telephone: 92-94785/6.

Peripatus:The Non-Missing Link
By M.J.C. Barnes

Although Jamaica is home to sur-
prisingly few animal species, it
appears to be generally true that
the island's limited fauna is of great zoo-
logical interest. This is certainly the case
for the fascinating group which zoolo-
gists term Onychophora (literally 'claw
bearers'), of which Jamaica boasts no
less than five of the world's seventy or
so species.
Onychophorans (generally known as
Peripatus, after the first genus described)
are certainly not headline grabbers. In-
deed, very few laymen even know of
their existence. They are small, worm-
like, velvety-bodied creatures with short
antennae and with numerous pairs of
fleshy legs running the length of the
body which may be from % of an inch
to 6 inches long when fully grown.
Their known habitats are invariably
dark, moist places such as rotting tree
trunks, forest litter in caves and beneath
stones; on the occasions when
peripatus do foray into the open it is
almost always under cover of darkness.
Due to their secretive habits and
restricted worldwide distribution, the
group as a whole is not very well known
new species inevitably await discovery
in Jamaica and elsewhere. However, in
proportion to its number of species,
this group has attracted more than its
fair share of zoological attention. The
reason is that Peripatus is an apparent
'link' in the evolutionary line between
two major invertebrate groups.
The concept of a 'missing link' usually
conjures up images of bone-hunting
expeditions and the famous though
fraudulent skull of Piltdown Man.
For the zoologist, however, the concept
has wider implications. A missing link
might be any species which exhibits
characteristics intermediate between
two animal groups. Such a species is of
considerable scientific interest since it
may lend support to what had previously
been only theoretical evolutionary line-
The very nature of evolution means
that most such 'link' species are pre-
sumed to be extinct. Occasionally a
fossil is uncovered which, by virtue of
its ambiguous characteristics, supports a
proposed evolutionary relationship;
however, such is the incompleteness of
the fossil record that most such species

remain truly 'missing'. It is, therefore,
particularly extraordinary when an
apparent 'link' species is found in the
form of a living animal. Peripatus is
one such 'living fossil', exhibiting many
characteristics seemingly intermediate
between the Annelids (segmented
worms such as earthworms) and the
Arthropods (jointed- imbed animals with
hard exoskeletons, such as spiders, crabs,
centipedes and insects). For this reason,
the Onychophora have sometimes been
light-heartedly referred to as a 'non-
missing link'.
Anatomically, Onychophorans are an
enigma. Indeed, the first species found
- Peripatus juliformis was described
from St Vincent in 1825 by the Rev.
Landsdown Guilding as a new class of
Mollusc a group which includes the
slugs and snails. Detailed examination,
however, reveals that the resemblance of
these creatures to 'slugs with legs' is
illusory. The body wall is certainly soft,
but the arrangement of circular, diagonal
and longitudinal muscles parallels those
of the Annelid worms rather than slugs.
Legs are present (the number varies with
age, sex and species) but they are not
jointed like those of Arthropods.
However, the paired hard claws at the
end of each leg (from which the group
gets its name) may indicate the evolu-
tionary beginnings of a hard exoskeleton
such as that found in insects and their
kin. Respiration is by means of tracheae
- thin air tubes which run from pores in
the body wall and ramify to supply each
body cell individually. Such arrangement
is characteristic of many Arthropods;
however, the Onychophoran eye parallels
the simple single-lens structure of those
of Annelid worms rather than the
Arthropod 'compound eye', split into
many polygonal facets, like that of the
familiar housefly.
Although this strange mixture of
characteristics is suggestive of an evolu-
tionary position intermediate between
Annelids and Arthropods, most modern
zoologists would regard such an
hypothesis as highly simplistic. The
whole issue of the origin of the
Arthropods the most numerous and
successful invertebrate group is
clouded with controversy. But the
evidence appears to suggest that the
Onychophora branched off at an early
stage from the evolutionary line which

gave rise to early Arthropod groups
such as the centipedes. Today most
zoology textbooks prefer to assign
the Onychophora to a major grouping,
or phylum, of their own, rather than
include them as a class of the Arthropod
Unfortunately, soft-bodied creatures
such as Peripatus do not fossilize well.
Nevertheless, the only certain fossil
example found to date appearstoconfirm
the group's extremely early origin. The
specimen from the early period of the
Cambrian, some six hundred million
years ago does not appear to be unduly
different in structure to those species
found at the present time. Like the
shark, Peripatus appears to have found
an anatomical conformation whichsuited
it well to its environment at a very early
stage in its evolution. In consequence,
evolutionary pressure has resulted in
very little change through the succeeding
The Onychophora are divided into
two families, each with a very different
and curious worldwide distribution. The
family Peripatopsidae has a mostly
temperate southern distribution. They
are found in Chile, South Africa,
Australia, Papua New Guinea and New
Zealand. The family Peripatidae, on the
other hand, is a totally tropical group
found in northern South America,
Central America, the West Indies, the
Congo Basin, the Himalayas and the
Malay Archipelago. Such a discontinuous
distribution appears to be a consequence
of the ancient origins of the group, dating
back to the time when the continents of
Asia, Africa and America were all fused
into the supercontinent of Pangaea.
When this giant continent broke apart,
under the influence of movements in
the earth's crust, it is postulated that
the ancestors of present-day species of
Peripatus drifted apart with the newly
formed continents. Although the basic
body plan of all living Peripatus species
is broadly the same, a degree of evolu-
tionary change appears to have occurred
in the various populations separated by
continental drift, to produce the seventy
or so species we know today. It is con-
sidered probable that the evolutionary
split between the families Peripatidae
and Peripatopsidae occurred in response
to very early isolation of two proto-
Peripatus populations possibly by a

large desert believed to have divided the
northern and southern regionsof Pangaea.
As one would expect of such an
ancient and extraordinary group, the
various species of Onychophora exhibit
some strange behaviour. Despite their
very slow movement, for example, most
species appear to be active predators
- often hunting insects and other
creatures many times their own size.
The group achieves this interesting feat
by means of paired glands near the
mouth (in fact, modified kidneys) which
shoot out a sticky secretion over as much
as 20 inches and literally 'lasso' their
prey. The ejected glue hardens rapidly
and immobilizes the victim; thereafter,
the peripatus injects poisonous saliva,
which appears to have the dual function
of killing the prey and partially pre-
digesting it. While waiting for the
saliva to take effect, the peripatus often
recovers much valuable protein by
eating as much of the glue as possible
- a sort of hors d'oeuvres before tearing
apart the main course with surprisingly
powerful mandibles. The predatory glue
also appears to serve a defensive purpose
and is often squirted at the probing
fingers of inquisitive zoologists.
Onychophorans also display some
interesting reproductive features. Some
species lay eggs (most notably the
Australian species), while othersactually
mature their young internally by means
of a structure akin to the mammalian
placenta. Such species give birth to live,
fully-formed offspring. Within the
Onychophora as a whole, various gesta-
tion techniques are employed, ranging
between the extremes of egg-laying and
live birth. Female peripatus tend to be
larger than males of the same species,
which may be adaptation to the rearing
of young. In live-bearing species, gesta-
tion may take as long as fifteen months
and the emerging young may be up to
half the length of their mother. In
some species it has been determined
that the uterus contains more than one
embryo, all at different stages of

Mating in Onychophorans has been
little studied and is poorly understood.
In some species, the male is believed to
introduce a hard packet of spermatozoa,
known as a spermatophore, into the
female's gonopore. However, in the
South African genus Peripatopsis, the
female has no genital opening. In this
species, the male simply places the
spermatophore on the female's body.
By a complex process, a part of the

outer layer of the female's body is
dissolved away beneath the spermato-
phore, spermatozoa enter the body and
migrate to the ovaries. Most female
peripatus are believed to take up enough
spermatozoa in the course of a single
mating to enable them to fertilize eggs
throughout their reproductive lives.

As a result of never having developed
the hard outer skeleton of true Arthro-

pods, Onychophorans are restricted to
permanently dark and damp habitats
which protect them from the threat of
desiccation. However, this lack of a
rigid skeleton does confer the advantage
that Onychophorans can squeeze into
small habitats inaccessible to many other
more rigid creatures. The outer skin of
Onychophorans appears to be shed as
frequently as every two weeks through-
out the lifetime of the animal. In the

A Jamaican peripatus


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case of the few species which have been
reared in captivity, this lifetime appears
to be surprisingly long for an invertebrate
- as much as six years.
Hunting peripatus in Jamaica, as else-
where, can be a frustrating business. Due
to their secretive, light-shy nature, it
involves much upturning, uprooting,
sieving and detailed inspection. The
velvety skin of Onychophorans (the
nearest they have got to a common
name is 'velvet worms'), coupled with
their small size, camouflages them well
and they are often difficult to spot. For
these reasons, unlike many other 'creepy-
crawlies', peripatus are very rarely
encountered casually. Even when they
are, it is highly likely that they will be
dismissed as caterpillars, centipedes or
Generally, the best hunting for
Peripatus in Jamaica is in the wet parish
of Portland as might be expected.
Records show that a single locality 'five
miles southwest of Priestman's River' in
Portland has provided three of Jamaica's
five species. All five Jamaican species of
Peripatus are found nowhere else in the
world. Four are endemic species and
the fifth is an endemic subspecies of a
species also found in Haiti. Interestingly,
although Onychophorans are known
from most of the Caribbean islands, none
has yet been recorded from Cuba.
Jamaica's smallest Onychophoran is
Peripatus swainsonae, described by
T.D.D. Cockerell, an early curator of
Natural History at the Institute of
Jamaica, in 1893. Specimens have been
taken varying from 1 inch to 1% inches
in length in Portland, Hanover and
Trelawny. This species appears to have
been found most often under stones and
is reported to be olive-green in colour
when alive. Unfortunately, specimens of
Peripatus preserved in alcohol fade
rapidly in colour.
Despite its size (from 2% to 5 inches
in length) Jamaica's largest Onycho-
phoran appears to have remained
undiscovered until Ross Arnett described
it as the species Epiperipatus lewisi in
1961. Its coloration in life is described as
'reddish-brown'. All of the few specimens
discovered to date have been found liv-
ing in the rotting remains of a log.
Although the few records of Onycho-
phorans are almost certainly a reflection
of the effort put into seeking them and
not one of true rarity, it seems likely
that Jamaica's commonest and most
widespread Onychophoran is Plicatoperi-

patus jamaicensis, described by Grabham
and Cockerell in 1892. It is recorded as
being reddish-brown in life (often with
white-tipped antennae) and varying in
length between 1 and 2% inches. Speci-
mens have been found under stones, in
logs and in rotting tree-fern stumps in
Portland, Manchester, St Thomas, Tre-
lawny, St Ann and Westmoreland.
Interestingly, the genus as well as the
species appearsto be confined to Jamaica
-there are no other members of Plicato-
peripatus found elsewhere.
Jamaica's fourth Onychophoran,
Macroperipatus insularis, is also found
in Haiti as subspecies insularis. The
endemic Jamaican subspecies M. insularis
clarki was described by Ross Arnett in
1961 from four specimens taken in the
parish of Portland. These were about 42
inches in length and were described as
grey-coloured in life.
These four species of Onychophora
all choose moist, inaccessible habitats
and avoid sunlight, but there is a recently
discovered Jamaican species which goes
one step further and actually lives in
darkness within a cave. What is more, in
response to its totally dark environment
it has lost all traces of the eyes present
in other Onychophoran species and is
completely non-pigmented. In life, this
species is as ghostly white as most
other species become when preserved in
death. For some time, zoologists have
observed the presence of extraordinary
species of animals in caves; however,
when S.D. Peck first described Speleo-
peripatus speleus from the Pedro Great
Cave in Clarendon in 1975, it was in the
realization that it was indeed an extra-
ordinary creature. Until this species was

described from Jamaica, the only other
known cave-dwelling Onychophoran was
Peripatopsis alba. This creature, like
Speleoperipatus, is restricted to a single
cave, as far as is known, in this case in
South Africa. Speleoperipatus speleus
constitutes both an endemic species and
an endemic genus, and appears to be of
particular zoogeographical interest in
that it exhibits 'primitive'. features
common to both Old World and New
World species. This may be indicative of
the species' great antiquity, or it may
simply be a reflection of the creature
reverting to its primitive condition
in response to life in its extremely rare
cave environment.
Our knowledge of the habits and
habitats of Peripatus in Jamaica is very
limited. Further study could well yield
interesting results. The earliest specimen

of Onychophora from Jamaica -as of so
much else was taken by Hans Sloane
between 1687 and 1688; however, the
specimen was not recognized for what it
was until many years later. Since that
time, collecting of Peripatus in Jamaica
has proceeded fitfully. Several scientists
connected with the Institute of Jamaica,
such as Cockerell and later C.B. Lewis,
R.P. Bengry and now T.H. Farr, have all
hunted the local peripatus with some
success. Others such as Peck and Arnett
have described and monographed the
species. But still very little is known of
the island's species in life. Apart from
their slightly sordid table manners,
peripatus are generally harmless and
engaging animals. It appears likely that
they would survive well in captivity if
given the right environment. Species
recorded from elsewhere survive for up
to a fortnight without feeding, and
Dr Farr tells me that a Jamaican speci-
men placed in a tobacco tin with wood
pulp and exposed to cool temperatures
was still alive when shown to students at
the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst, USA, some two weeks later. It
is likely, therefore, that any Jamaican
resident with access to collection sites
and a suitable terrarium could do
valuable work on the feeding, reproduc-
tive and other habits of the local re-
presentatives of this ancient and fascinat-
ing group.

ARNETT, Ross H., 'The Onychophora of
Jamaica', Entomological News 72:8.
USA: 1961.
BARNES, Robert D., Invertebrate Zoology.
Saunders College HRW. 1980.
GHISELIN, N.T., 'A Moveable Feaster',
Natural History 94:9 New York: Sep-
tember 1985.
PECK S.B., 'A Review of the New World
Onychophora with the description of
a new Cavernicolous genus and species
from Jamaica', Psyche 82: 3 4 Har-
vard: 1975.

Acknowledgements: My considerable thanks
go to Dr Thomas H. Farr, of the Institute
of Jamaica, for invaluable help during the
writing of this article.

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C .

~j The

The Diary of

A Westmoreland

Planter (Part 1)

Edited by Douglas Hall

Thomas Thistlewood

Thomas Thistlewood, 1720-1786,
was the second son of a Lincolnshire
farmer. He came to Jamaica in 1750
and remained here until his death in De-
cember 1786. He was buried in Savanna-
la-mar in the Anglican Churchyard.
His first year in Jamaica was spent as
overseer on the Vineyard Pen, between
Lacovia and Black River in St Elizabeth.
There he managed the cattle and the live-
stock, and the slaves, of Florentius
Vassall, owner of Vineyard and also of
Greenwich and Friendship, and Sweet
River, all sugar estates in Westmoreland.
Then, in 1751, following a disagreement
with Vassall, he became overseer on
Egypt Estate immediately west of Kirk-
patrick Pen (now Llandilo) beyond
Savanna-la-mar. Almost without break,
he remained there until 1767 when he
acquired a small (160 acres) property
between Egypt and Kirkpatrick Pen and
established himself as a leading horti-
culturist in western Jamaica.

Before coming to Jamaica, Thistle-
wood had voyaged to India, returning to
England via Brazil, in the service of the
East India Company. He had also taken
a trading trip into Western Europe. In
all his accounts of his travels, his agri-
cultural and horticultural interests are
evident. Throughout his adult life,
Thomas Thistlewood kept a diary. The
original note-books are in the keeping
of the County Archivist in Lincoln-
shire, England. These original diaries
are now the property of Lord Monson
who has kindly allowed me permission
to use them for publication. A copy of
them is lodged in the Library of the
University of the West Indies (Mona).

Thistlewood's diaries are unique and
provide a veritable treasurehouse of
information on life and labour in slave-

The illustration at right and similar ones in
this article are from a series of eighteenth cen-
tury prints satirising 'Johnny Newcome'.
From the National Library of Jamaica col-

day Westmoreland. Their value, as
sources for the student, is enhanced by
the fact that Thistlewood recorded
events as they occurred but very seldom
did he attempt to interpret or explain
his or any other's actions. There is not
much introspection in his accounts, and
he cannot be said to be writing in order
to influence the opinions of posterity.

A fuller account of Mr Thistlewood's
sojourn in Jamaica is listed to appear
shortly, published by Macmillan
Caribbean for the Warwick University
Caribbean Studies series, edited by
Professor Alistair Hennessey.

In Miserable Slavery-ThomasThistle-
wood in Jamaica, 1750-1768 will deal
in greater detail with his record of his
labours in the cane fields of Egypt and
his own gardens beside the Cabarita.

Thomas Thistlewood had travelled to
Jamaica to seek his fortune. He brought with
him from England letters of introduction to
several Westmoreland planters, especially
William Dorrill of Salt River (now part of
Paradise, east of Savanna-la-mar) in whose
house he lodged until Mr Vassall, next door at
Sweet River, offered him the management of
the Vineyard Pen. In the meantime, he had
served briefly as an assistant to a Mr Wallace,
a land-surveyor much employed by the West-
moreland plantocracy.
At the Vineyard, Thistlewood was to have
his first experience in the management of
slave-labour. Moreover, he was to serve this
apprenticeship away from frequent association
with other estate-overseers, and, indeed, with
little opportunity to mingle with other whites.
His apparent moderation in his dealings with
the Vineyard slaves would be much salted
when, eventually, he came into the cane
fields of Egypt; but it was on the Vineyard
that, like newly-arrived Africans, this English-
man learned from others longer there. He ar-
rived on 1 July 1750 and would remain until
8 July 1751. That was his year of 'seasoning'.

in the Vineyard 1750-51

* TThe Vineyard

he Vineyard Pen was a
property of about 1,170
acres in south-west St
Elizabeth in the plains between Burnt
Savanna Mountain and the sea.

This Penn and some small part of the
land adjoining it is accounted very hot,
the reason may be, the abundance of
flat rock reflects the heat of the sun
very strong: and Burnt Savanna Moun-
tain stretches along from NE to SE,
probably keeps off the winds very
much: to the eastward the mountain is
very high . [3 July 1751]

To a man coming from Westmoreland
the change of climate was remarkable;
the more so because the Vineyard area
in particular had been suffering a pro-
longed drought since December 1749.

Altho' we have had such abundance of
rain in Westmoreland before I left it,
and now we have a vast falls daily with-
in 3 or 4 miles of us, yet we can get
none; has been excessive dry many

months, vegetables all scorch'd up . .
[11 July 1750]

The drought was to last until the end
of August, and much of Thistlewood's
concern during his first weeks of man-
agement was to provide foodstuffs for
the slaves and feed for the animals.
Of the Pen's more than one thousand
acres, much was in swamp. Of the ba-
lance, most was in common pasture, but
the fattening pasture of about twenty-
three acres was planted in guinea grass
and Scotch grass. The pastures were en-
closed by railed wooden fences, or pali-
sadoes as they were called, with prickly
penguin planted alongside. Protected in
this way from the livestock were the
provision grounds of the slaves and of
the Pen itself. As Thistlewood described
them shortly after his arrival:
Our corn-piece is about 112 or 12 acres
from a Sight survey with a stick. Ne-

groes' ground not quite 6 acres. [26
September 1750]
and then nine months later:
The following scheme is a plot of our
corn and Negroes' ground, with the
fattening pasture and roads home from
a Sight survey. [There follows a rough
sketch] Thus you see the fattening
pasture is about 23 acres, the plantain
walk about 11'/ or 12. The small piece
around a little above 4 acres. The Ne-
groes' new cleared ground about 8 acres.
The common road leading from my
house to the stile into the corn ground
is about 1568 yards. To go by the way
of Roger's hut to the NW corner of the
Negroes' new cleared ground is about
1454 yards. The other way is about
1662 yards to the stile as represented.
[10 June 1751]
There had been an extension of the
acreage under cultivation of foodstuffs.
Moreover, the original corn-piece had
become a plantain-walk, which in Jan-
uary 1751 carried about 1,800 plantain
trees, while the slaves, in their old and
new grounds, probably had as many
again. The other large food crops were
corn and peas.
The Pen carried a variety of live-
stock, large and small: cattle, horses,
mules, asses, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks,
turkeys, and fowls. It produced timber,
mostly mahogany, and dye-wood (log-
wood). In the estate's garden and
grounds, and in the slaves' provision
grounds, there grew a variety of trees,
and vegetable crops. Income accrued
from the sales of livestock (mainly
cattle), mahogany, and logwood chips;
but probably because of the unkind
climate, it was not a very profitable
The costs of management were small.
Thistlewood was the only supervisory
white and he was a quick learner and ef-
ficient, but the maintenance of the tools
and equipment of the property, and the
cost of feeding the slaves and the live-
stock in time of drought were obviously
burdensome. Vineyard was surrounded
by sugar estates and the Vineyard cattle
were often tempted. Three successive


? i"^ "* r .

, ; ;. . r .- ,'

Vineyard Pen House today.

Contemporary thatched hut in Westmoreland similar to that built by
Thistlewood for Marina.

entries in Thistlewood's diary tell the
And as Mr. Sarjeant yet complains
that our cattle break into his young
canes, in the evening had a drove of
them brought home that are wont to
go thereabouts.(20 October 1750]

And as this became a daily chore
In the evening brought up the cattle
from the side of Fullerswood canes
as before [23 October 1750]
IThistlewood took the longer term pre-

Finished planting penguins against Ful-
lerswood canes.[4 December 17501

Fullerswood, which lay south of
Vineyard, was the property of Mr John
Rowe who also owned a barcadier, or
loading-jetty, at Black River. The es-
tate was managed by an attorney, Mr
Serjeant, while business at the jetty, or
wharf, was handled by Mr Rowe's agent
there, Mr Nickolas Bennett. Other pro-
perties bordering Vineyard were Ten-
nants, on which a cane-piece fire on
Wednesday 15 August 1750 caused
Thistlewood some alarm; and Salt
Spring, another sugar-growing property,
owned by Mr Lewis Markman of Win-
chester (which lay south of Fullerswood),
and managed by his overseer Mr Ben-
jamin Clarke. On the boundary of
Vineyard, and separating it from Ban-
ton's property at Catabo and Mr Ser-
jeant's own property at Cashoo, the
Cashoo River flowed into the Broad River
winding its way westward to a conflu-
ence with Black River just before it en-
tered the sea by the town of that name.
North, east and west around Vineyard
and comprising parts of that property
itself were the lowland swamps and
morasses, the home of birds, insects,
snakes and alligators.
Daniel Plaister, from whom Thistle-
wood took over the management, lived
in the Vineyard 'great house' which was
of modest style and quality. He had also
enjoyed other liberties such as the free-
dom to run his cattle on the Vineyard
pastures and to entertain at will. It
would not appear that Plaister knew in
advance of Thistlewood's appointment
to succeed him. He certainly could not
have known more than a few hours
before Thistlewood's actual arrival at
the Pen. Thistlewood had been offered,
and accepted, the job on the morning of
Friday, 29 June and had arrived at Vine-
yard at about four in the afternoon
of 2 July. When he got there, he was
uncertain whether Plaister would be




Vineyard Pen in Thistlewood's time. (Based on his sketch).

at Vineyard or at Mr Rowe's at Fullers-
wood, but as it turned out, not too sur-

. found Mr Plaister there, who did not
seem to care to put me in possession
according to Mr Vassall's orders, &c.[2
July 1750]

Not until Sunday 22 July did Mr
Plaister finally remove himself and some
of his belongings from Vineyard. Mean-
time, he had entertained.

Six gentlemen dine with Mr Plaister,
this advantage may perhaps be a reason
why Mr Plaister is loath to part with
possession. [4 July 1750]

And when he did leave, his animals
remained, for in mid-October five of the
Vineyard slaves (Scipio, Simon, Charles,
Chelsea and Quashe) spent an afternoon
trying, unsuccessfully, to round them
up. Not until the last week of October
was the eleventh and last of Mr Plaister's
animals led off to Lluana by Julius, one
of the Vineyard pen keepers.
For the first few days and nights
Thistlewood shared the great house with
Plaister while the penkeeper's house was
being repaired. Clearly they had no
fondness for each other. More interest-
ing would be some notion of how the
Vineyard slaves felt about the change of
master. Thistlewood is silent on the
matter, but there are a few remarks on
which, perhaps, a reasonable guess can
be rested. On Monday 9 July, he re-
corded, 'Last night much Negro Music
disturbed me.' What were they celebra-
ting? There is no further reference to
disturbing music nor to any sort of cele-
bration until Christmas. On 16 July,
Thistlewood dispatched three men,
Scipio, Julius, and Bank to Westmore-
land with produce from Vineyard. Two
returned on the 17th but Bank failed to
turn up until the 22nd when

...having learnt that Bank was returned,
Mr Plaister had him seized and sent
Julius with him down to Cabritto.

Then, Scipio's house having been
robbed on the night of the 16th, when
he was away, and a runaway named
Robin being suspected of the robbery,
Scipio on the day after his return was
sent 'on Mr Plaister's advice' with Julius
and Simon, in search of Robin. Both
those events occurred after Thistlewood
had taken over the management and
must have caused some comment among
the slaves. But perhapsthe mostsuggestive
was the terrible whipping inflicted -on
Monday 16 July on Dick, the mulatto
slave-driver. On that day, Dick

...for his many crimes and negligencies,
was bound to an Orange Tree in the
garden, and whipped to some purpose
(Given near 300 lashes).

Thistlewood makes no further com-
ment except for the later record, on the
25th, that Dick on that day 'first come
out since whipped'. On 16 July Thistle-
wood had been on the Pen for only two
weeks. Mr Plaister was still in the offing
- he had spent Thursday the 12th at
Vineyard. And the Vineyard proprietor,
Florentius Vassall, was himself resident
at the Pen having arrived on the 11th to
spend a few days. Previous to the 16th,
Thistlewood had punished no one. He
certainly knew Dick, the driver, and in
fact on Saturday the 7th they had been
out together on the property and had
killed two large yellow snakes. There
was no hint of grievance or of complaint
on either side. Clearly, Dick's 'many
crimes and negligencies' had not occurred
since Thistlewood's arrival; equally
clearly, it was not Thistlewood who, in
the proprietor's presence, would have
ordered the estate's slave-driver, a
mulatto, to be tied up and given three
hundred lashes. Certainly not, at any
event, without the proprietor's order to
do so.
It is a supportable guess that the
Vineyard slaves were not unhappy to
see Mr Plaister go; were afraid of Mr
Vassall's violence; and looked hopefully
upon the newly arrived Penkeeper. That
he was at first less harshly authoritative
than Vassall would have wished is
suggested by the fact that not long after
Thistlewood's appointment, Mr Lewis
Markman of Winchester began, at Mr
Vassall's request, to act as supervising
attorney for Vineyard. As Vassall's
relationship with Thistlewood dete-
riorated, so more and more did Mr
Markman become involved in the
management of Vineyard, and at the
end of May 1751, though Thistlewood
was to remain on Vineyard for another
six weeks,

Mr. Vassall told Dick to obey Mr. Mark-
man in everything, the same as him-
self, and look upon him as his master.
[26 May 1751]

Thistlewood probably had this in-
formation from Dick himself. In any
case, it is recorded without comment,
and the relationship between the two
men remained friendly to the day of
Thistlewood's departure from Vineyard
Within a fortnight of his arrival on 1
July 1750, Thistlewood was followed to

Vineyard by Mr Vassall and his wife.
They spent six days there during which
Vassall showed his new penkeeper
around and indicated what was expected
of him.

In the forenoon went with Mr. Vassall
to various parts of the penn, &c.
[12 July 1750]
Took an account of the sheep and goats
... .and by Mr.Vassall's orders, also (this
morning) gave each New Negro a quart
of flour and six herrings, & each old six
herrings, only. [15 July 1750]

On the same day he listed the slaves:
twenty-four males and eighteen females;
and in the forenoon.

. copied some letters for Mr. Vassall,
for England, to Messrs Lascelles and
Maxwell (mostly in London); [I do]
not like the Capt. of the Rose at all.

On the 16th, Mulatto Dick suffered
his terrible beating, and on the 17th, Mr
and Mrs Vassall returned to Westmore-
land. On Thistlewood's arrival, the live-
stock population had been 251 head of
cattle, 16 horsekind, 86 goats, some pigs,
and an assortment of poultry including
about 100 fowls, 20 ducks and 20
turkeys. Judging simply by the informa-
tion given by Thistlewood about in-
creases and decreases of livestock during
his tenure at Vineyard, it would seem
that cattle found a readier market than
sheep and goats. Between July 1750 and
July 1751, cattle born at Vineyard
numbered 29, cattle died were 23; cattle
brought in numbered 16, cattle sent off
to market or to other properties totalled
73. During the same period, 141 sheep
and goats were born and 100 died on
the Pen, while none were brought in,
only 31 were sent off, either 'killed for
the house' or slaughtered for other
reasons. It is also clear that Mr Vassall
was allowing the stock list to decline
(there were 51 fewer head of cattle when
Thistlewood left than when he arrived)
because he was looking for a buyer for

he buildings on Vineyard were,
it would seem, adequate and
unpretentious. The great house,
as one would expect, provided the most
accommodation, but it was not a struc-
ture in the grand manner. In June 1751
Thistlewood had 'two hands employed
making mortar' to repair the walls and
they followed common custom:

When mud walls are sufficiently dry,
and very much cracked (in this country)
they mix water, soft cow dung, and
wood ashes with a small quantity of
fire mould, till it be pretty thick so as


scarce to run out of the hand. With this,
they rub the walls once or twice over,
and it will fill and cover all the cracks
&c. [9 June 1751]

The penkeeper's house in which he
lived was modest indeed. It was walled
by wattles plastered as described above,
and roofed with thatch, in which from
time to time he found interesting inhabi-
tants. The overall outer dimensions
were 28 feet by 15% feet, divided across
into three rooms, the two at the ends
being of equal size, 8% feet by 15%, and
the largest in the centre 11 feet. This
central room had four doors, two con-
necting with the other rooms, and two
others facing and leading out of the
house on each long side.
Of the slaves' houses we have no gene-
ral information, but before Thistlewood
left Vineyard he had a house built for
his mistress, Marina, who obviously
would not have been able to leave with
him even if he had wished it (which we
do not know). Hers, built of the same
materials as his, was 15/2 feet by 7 feet,
containing only two connected rooms,
one 9 feet by 7 feet, the other 62 feet
by 7 feet. The larger had a single door
leading out. There is no description of
flooring anywhere, but whereas it is
certain that the great house and Thistle-

wood's were floored, it is an almost
equal certainty that Marina's was not.
Thistlewood paid Dick ten bitts, that
was six shillings and three pence in
currency, for building it. 'thatched
and wattled but not walled' [12 May
1751]. A fortnight later he gave eighty
ears of corn to Charles for walling, or
daubing it; and on 3 July he gave Dick
two bottles of rum for locks for her two
doors, although the going price for such
a job was only one bitt per lock. It is
unlikely that Marina's house was much
different in size or in quality from those
occupied by the other slaves, and the
others to which Thistlewood makes
passing reference all seem to have had a
'parlour' as well as another room.
The animal pens and sheds were
simply round-wood posts and beams
with railed sides and, where needed,
thatched roofs. But in the dry weather
it was not always thought wise to house
the cattle at night.

. Mr. Plaister thought it might be of
dangerous consequence to pen the cattle
while the weather is so dry, the grass
being parched up and water scarce &c.
[3 July 17501

And there was doubt about the wisdom
of putting up the goats and sheep at any

Note, Mr. Markman says he advised Mr.
Vassall to let his sheep lie out of door
anywhere (and not be housed every
night as is the common custom of the
country) because the heat of the dung
and the urine, when they continually
lie in one place, is very pernicious to
them. [25 June]

Near to the great house lay the garden
and a 'new private pasture' brought
into use during Thistlewood's time. In
the garden there were about half-a-dozen
sweet, and a great number of Seville, or
sour, orange trees. There was also a
grape arbour and a variety of other fruit
trees, shrubs, and flowers in which
Thistlewood took great interest. Apart
from his own horticultural inclinations,
he was intrigued by the variety of trop-
ical flora and fauna; and as we have
seen by his frequent parenthetic 'as is
done in this country', he was constantly
comparing with his knowledge of Eng-
land and other places he had visited.
Through the pastures, and by path-
ways through the morass, a way led to
the Vineyard barcadier, or jetty. Every
estate that had access to a waterway
had its barcadier, however small, where
supplies to and from the property might
be loaded on to canoes or larger craft to
save heavy carriage on the rutted road-
ways. And since the barcadier lay by the
morass and Thistlewood was both alliga-
tor-hunter and amateur naturalist, he
went there more often than business

Went to the barcadier this forenoon,
got some wild cinnamon bark from a
tree about as thick as my leg, one just
by 7 or 8 inches square, very thick
blossoms, purplish close shaped flower,
smell like crowsfoot in our meadows in
England. [1 June 1751]

The main ways to and from Vineyard
were four: one, via the barcadier, by
water to and around the coast; another
by pathway about five miles... 'through
Salt Spring estate, Wallewash, &c. to
Black River,' and then nearly thirty
miles more on to Sweet River, West-
moreland, by the coastal route; a third
to Black River then eastward through
Lluana and Middle Quarters to Lacovia,
then the capital of the parish; and a
fourth, the more direct to Lacovia,
across the Broad River, past Mr Banton
at Catabo and Mr Serjeant's place at
Cashoo, and over Lacovia Bridge into
the town. In Black River town itself,
the main seaport of the parish, there
were stores and shops, places of
entertainment, and the larger barcadiers,

such as Mr Rowe's. The port was a busy
one handling sugar, mahogany, logwood,
and other less important export cargoes.
It was a regular stopping point for ocean-
going as well as coastal vessels moving
between Kingston and Savanna-la-mar. It
was also, therefore, a place of news.
On the 8 December 1750, Vineyard
slaves 'headed' to Mr Rowe's barcadier
twelve 'wedder' goats, two milk goats,
and one he-kid follower, and Thistlewood
saw them all safely aboard a boat belong-
ing to Mr McHogan, the store-keeper in
Savanna-la-mar, by whom they would be
sent on to Mr Vassall at Sweet River or
A few days later, on the 19th,
Thistlewood was back in Black River to
leave with Mr Sayers, his chief supplier
there, a letter from Mr Vassall to be
held for Captain Samuel Alder of the
ship Sally, and an order to him to supply
Thistlewood with two barrels of beef
and one of herrings. In the meantime,
on the 12th, Thistlewood had accom-
panied Guy, Julius, Port Royal and
Quashe as far as Black River. They were
going on by road to Mr Vassall's in
Westmoreland with 26 capons, 1 young
roost cock, 20 laying hens, 3 maiden
pullets, 16 young fowls, 1 laying duck,
2 squabs, 1 basket of 37 drinking glasses,
5 diaper napkins, 1 musk melon, 19
sweetsops, 9 sticks of lignum vitae1 and
two letters from him to Mr Vassall. He
had walked with them because he was
anxious to have news of some of his
goods still due to arrive. So he
... was at Mr. Dennis's store,at Sayers',
or Smith's &c., at Fox's billiard rooms,
&c., but could hear nothing of the sloop
Victory, or my chests.

Later, while on a visit to Westmore-
land, he was to find them with Mr Bowen
at the Salt River barcadier.
Just as Messrs Sayers and Smith at
Black River had been requested by Mr
Vassall to let Thistlewood have'.. any
produce of mine at Black River', so had
Mr Samuel Coulson on Island Plantation
in St Elizabeth been asked to supply
Thistlewood with anything he needed
that could be obtained from Island, and
to charge Mr Vassell's account. Island
Plantation lay far from Vineyard. The
road went beyond Lacovia into the
upper reaches of the Black River and its
tributary, One Eye River, in the eastern
Nassau Valley. It was neither a con-
venient nor a cheap arrangement as
Thistlewood soon discovered in the
drought of July 1750. On the 6th, he
wrote to Mr Coulson that

. .now finding my whole dependence
as to Indian provisions, is on you, here
being none, I request as a favour, you
will be kind to send me a supply of
what you can best spare .

On the 9th, he received a reply from
Mr Coulson and 250 plantains. On the
10th he acknowledged receipt. The 250
fine plantains were, he said, very accept-
able, but he was expecting Mr Vassall to
arrive at Vineyard in a few days and he
proposed to

. state the inconvenience to him of
having provisions from such a distance,
if they may be had, and am in hope he
will consider of some readier way,which
would save an abundance of trouble.

But Mr Vassall could propose nothing
better. An appeal to Mr Banton atCatabo
provided four wainloads of Indian corn,
about a hundred bushels, on 20 July.
No more came from that source. The
problems of Vineyard, arising from the
drought, were the problems of all the


\'<- v

surrounding estates in the south-western
plains; and if a journey had to be made
further afield it might as well be to
Mr Coulson with whom Mr Vassall,
clearly, was previously acquainted and
from whom, apparently, the previous
Vineyard penkeepers had obtained
supplies. The journeys between the
Vineyard and the Island continued
regularly about once a month until
November. By then, the rains had come,
and the dependence on Mr Coulson for
plantains, the only commodity he
supplied except for forty-one pounds of
sugar in August 1750, was diminished.

In St Elizabeth (above us) the rain, or
season that comes in July, August,
September, &c. is called the great
spring, and the corn that gathered
about Christmas, the year corn. The
rain that comes in March, April, May,
the crab rain, from the great density
of land crabs which then run at night -
and the crop of corn which is gathered
in July, the parakeet corn, because
they then abound. [1 January 1751].

And so, on his arrival at Vineyard in
July 1750, Thistlewood immediately
became involved in harvesting what
'parakeet corn' had been left to him by
the drought and the birds; and two days
before Christmas on Saturday 23 Dec-

Today most of the Negroes gathered
their corn which was sown August 27th
and 28th.

But he seems not to have been bound
by the seasons, for on Saturday 11 May
1751 he ate some 'very good mutton
corn, planted January 30th.'
In addition to the old and new
Negroes' grounds that were in use in
1750 and early 1751, there came the
'Negro new cleared ground' which the
slaves had been bushing and clearing and
which Thistlewood divided between
them in May 1751. Each got at least one
hundred feet square, and the whole
was planted out in corn. It was all rough
going, but, as Dick informed Thistlewood,
there were tricks in the trade for, 'If the
hands blister by hard work, piss upon
them and it will harden them'. [17 De-
cember 1750].
The emphasis put on land for food-
production reflected the hard conditions
of cultivation in south St Elizabeth and
the small possibility of finding supple-
mentary supplies for neighboring pro-
perties. Here the provision grounds,
whether the Pen's or the slaves',
apparently provided no marketable sur-
pluses for there is little mention of
supplies moving from neighboring
estates to Vineyard or vice-versa, and
there is, remarkably, no mention what-
soever of the existence in the area of a
slave-supplied Sunday-market.
Lacovia, then the parish capital, was
the centre at which the quarterly returns
of slaves and livestock populations had
to be made for purposes of taxation.
Thistlewood went three times: in
October 1750, January 1751, and in
April 1751. These were as much social
as official occasions, but there is little
mention of social engagements on his
first such journey.

Past by Catabo (Mr. Banton's) and
Cashoe (Mr. Serjeant's) to Lacovia,
which is 9 or 10 miles from us. Gave in
one white man (myself) and 40 negroes
which is less by one child [Chrishea]
that here really is, also 259 horned
cattle, horses, mules & asses.

While there, he spent two bitts for
breakfast, one bitt for breadnut leaves
for the horse, and he gave one bitt to
Scipio who had acted as his guide.
Whether while there, or on the journey
there or back, or at some other time on
that day, we do not know; but probably
at Lacovia, he

saw a Negro fellow named English,
belonging to Fullerswood, tried, cast
and hanged upon the 1st tree imme-
diately, (for drawing his knife upon a
white man), his hand cut off, body
left unburied.

He made no comment, and it is diffi-
cult to judge whether the terseness of
the account indicated disapproval or
On the second occasion, 8 January
1751, he gave in one white, 39 negroes,
232 cattle, and recorded, 'Today first
saw a white person since December 19th
that I was at Black River'. And, in his
usual non-committal style, but with great

Capt. Compoon [Accompong] here,
about my size, in a ruffled shirt, blue
broad cloth coat, scarlet cuff to his
sleeves, gold buttons, & he had with
[that] white cap, and black hat, white
linen breeches puffed at the rims, no
stockings or shoes on. Manyof hiswives
and his son there.

It was cold weather that early part of
1751. Thistlewood thought the com-
plaints about the chilly northerss'

People look today (at this great meet-
ing) as if they were risen from their
graves. Many rubbing and wiping their
eyes, many times others complaining
of aches and pains, whilst others are
complaining of the coldness and
sharpness of the North, and asking one
another how they do stand it, although
hotter than our summer in England,
only a fresh gale today.

A remarkably wordy description from
Mr Thistlewood. He seems to have en-
joyed himself, for he stayed to have
dinner at Mr Roy's, which cost him ten
bitts. He gave Scipio who once again
was with him one bitt, he purchased an
almanac for three bitts; and, for unex-
plained reason, he 'gave Siddo, the Negro
who looks after Mr Banton's flat 4 bitts'.
There was no horse this time. They had

walked. After dinner he 'stayed to give
in by candlelight, then come home'.
Thistlewood's third visit to 'give-in'
at Lacovia was on Tuesday 16 April
1751. On the first, he had ridden a
Vineyard horse. On the second, he
walked. This time he rode a horse lent
to him, with saddle and bridle, by Mr
Clarke of Salt Spring with whom he
had dined on the day before. Lacovia
bridge was being rebuilt and so, this
time on his own, he rode through Black
. past the late Colonel Gale's great-
house, saw some of the finest pleasant-
est pastures I have seen in Jamaica;
past through Bennett's Savanna, Middle
Quarters, &c.

Having 'given in' one white, 38
Negroes, and 261 head of stock, he
again regaled himself: for punch, two
bitts, for dinner ten bitts; and for bread-
nut leaves for the horse, one bitt.
Perhaps he had wanted to buy liquor,
for he noted 'No rum vended or sold,
nor bartered.' Perhaps this was just as
well, for
At dinner many Scotch Jacobites in
company, could not conceal their
sentiments, quarreling and arguing hotly
about what did not concern them:
Dr Campbell, Graham, Laird Robinson

There were others around such as the
new parson at Lacovia, whom he did
not name, but who 'wears his own hair'.
There was Captain Colart of the ship
Boston who extracted from Thistlewood
a promise that he would let Mr Vassall
know what the Captain had brought for
him, namely '2 pipes wine, a quarter
cask of malmsey, and 2 tubs English
fruit trees, &c'.
After dinner he 'rode home quietly
again by Black River way' and arrived at
Vineyard 'in the dusk of the evening'.

There was no skilled workers,
slave or free, on the Pen. Nor
was there much need for them.
The modesty of the buildings, the fact
that there were no 'works', except, it
seems, a small corn-mill, meant little
call for skilled labour beyond keeping
the wains in good repair. When need
arose, help was usually sought on
neighboring sugar properties on which
skilled labour was available. In January
1751 the Vineyard wains were in dis-
repair and there was corn to be brought
in from the provision grounds. Thistle-
wood borrowed a wain from Mr John
Rowe at Fullerswood and used it from

the 9th to 11th when it had to be re-
turned. On the 21st,
In the forenoon, a white man, and 2
Negroes come from Mr Markman's to
mend our wheels. Gave the Negroes a
quart of flour and 2 shads each. The
white man eat with me.

That evening the Vineyard men
brought in wood which they had sawn
into lengths for the repair of the wheels.
The Winchester crew remained working
at Vineyard until February. Meantime,
pieces of the wains themselves had been
sent to Mr Colin Campbell's property,
one mile beyond Black River on the
road to Westmoreland, with a request
that his blacksmith do some work on
them. And later in the year, in June,
Guy was sent off to George Pizer, the
blacksmith near Lacovia, to have a ring
made for a yoke.
Other skilled persons mentioned but
whose services, if any, were not recorded,
were Mr Martin Hazell, a mason, who
was to be found either at Richard
Biddle's Tavern near Y.S. estate, or at
his house near Colonel Woodstock's at
Y.S.; and the unnamed 'Clockmaker,
who teaches Mr Smith's children in
Middle Quarters', who dined with
Thistlewood at Vineyard on Sunday 7
April 1751, and in the course of
conversation informed him, 'Castor oil
nut good for the belly ache'.
Of his near neighbours those with the
closest personal relations were Mr Clarke,
the Salt Spring overseer; Mr Banton, the
resident owner of Catabo; Mr Bennett,
who supervised Mr Rowe's barcadier at
Black River and ran his own tavern or
coffee-house; and, in time, Mr Lewis
Markman of Winchester who also owned
Salt Spring.
Banton's Catabo was apparently not
a property of great extent. Thistlewood
does not say what it contained or
produced; but Banton's men were often
at Vineyard cutting logwood which he
purchased and shipped out through
Rowe's barcadier. On Monday 28
January 1751

Mr. Banton's people begin again to cut
and head logwood. Lent them the
grindstone and two grubbing axes.
At noon and night bastard cedar boughs
brought home for Mr. Banton's draught

On 4 February, ten tons of logwood
were weighed for Mr Banton at Rowe's
barcadier. At the end of March there
was another weighing;

This forenoon Mr. Banton's people
finished heading logwood, and a little
before midnight we finished weighing
it. Each thousand = 27 tons.

Then, on 25 June, Thistlewood
walked to Black River to get from Mr
Bennett a signed statement of the
amount of logwood shipped to England
in Captain Cote's vessel. Having done so,
he breakfasted at Mr Bennett's on 'bread,
cheese and a bottle of Dorchester beer'
and went home to Vineyard, arriving
there at about 10 a.m.
It is, of course, possible that Mr
Banton's men were 'jobbing-slaves' hired
by Mr Vassall to cut logwood; but the
probability is small. Although the Vine-
yard slaves were frequently occupied
cutting boughs for cattle and timber for
fencing they are never reported cutting
logwood for shipment; nor did Thistle-
wood have any management of Banton's
people. He simply noted their presence
and activity: Thirdly, there is mention
of logwood being 'weighed . for Mr
Banton' but not for Mr Vassall.
Whether or not Mr Banton planted
cane is not a matter of great importance
here but he certainly spoke as if he knew
something about the sugar business.
Indeed when Thistlewood dined or
breakfasted with him, as occasionally
happened, the conversation seems to
have been for the most part about
agriculture, with Mr Banton explaining
the time it took for sugarcaneto mature;
that the use of a 'proper quantity of
temper' in the boiling of sugar was of
great importance; and much else about
the planting and reaping of yams,
plantains, bananas and pineapples.
Thistlewood, if we can venture this sort
of assessment, probably listened with
interest to what he did not already
know and with much impatience to the
rest. It was with Mr Bennett, however,
that Thistlewood seems to have been
most friendly. He seldom went to Black
River without stopping by for a meal or a
bowl of punch and a chat. By December,
1750, they were on very good terms.
Bennett was sending potato slips 'that
he gave us' for Thistlewood to plant at
Vineyard; and on another day when
Thistlewood was having his two bitts'
worth of punch 'Mr Bennett desired me
to learn his son to write'. The request,
it seems, was not indulged.

The visits to Black River were not
always on Vineyard's account.

In the forenoon walked to Black River
and back. To Mr. Sayers for a pair of

dubble channelled pumps 15 shillings.
Sat a while with Mr. John Edwards at
his house between Mr. Bennett's and
the river's mouth. Stayed at Mr. Ben-
nett's a good while .. [14 May 1751]

And on 25 June, having weighed Mr
Banton's logwood, and perhaps while
breakfasting on his bread and cheese
and beer, he and Mr Bennett talked.

In cotton-trees, mahogany trees, &c.
are a kind of worm called Machacker's,
by some Bagoobah's. Negroes fry them.
and eat them, they are said to look
extremely well when dressed.

On his return to Vineyard, he looked
for them and found some in a mahog-
any tree: 'They pretty much resemble
With Mr Serjeant, the Fullerswood
overseer, the personal relationship was
much less easy. There is written
correspondence on matters of straying
cattle, runaway slaves, and other busi-
ness; but Thistlewood makes no mention
of visits either way until before his
departure from Vineyard when

Mr. Serjeant dined here today, having
often been sent for before but would
not come. [25 May 1751]

But even so, it is most unlikely that he
dined with Thistlewood. On May 25
1751 Mr Vassall was at Vineyard and on
the day before he and Thistlewood had
quarrelled. Moreover, as a mere pen-
keeper it would hardly have been the
case that Thistlewood had ever 'sent for'
Mr Serjeant to come and dine with him.
Benjamin Clarke, Mr Markman's
overseer at Salt Spring, was more friend-
ly. On several occasions. Thistlewood
walked over and ate with him, and
although Clarke (and indeed none of the
others) is never mentioned as having
eaten at Thistlewood's house, the Salt
Spring cooper and distillers sometimes
did. On one occasion, Thistlewood was
a little embarrassed for he had no meat-
kind to offer except crabs. Titus, the
crab-catcher, had in fact recently been
in trouble because a week before Thistle-

.having sent him to catch crabs for
my dinner, my beef being finished,
which he neglected, gave him 50 good
lashes. [13 May 1751]

The apparent disinclination of Thistle-
wood to entertain in his own house did
not mark any anti-social characteristics.
On the contrary, the evidence abounds
that he enjoyed company. But his house

was small and of poor quality, and it
was probably that which deterred himi
from issuing invitations. It was certain-
ly one of the main subjects about which
he and Mr Vassal had a quarrel on 24
May. Later, Thistlewood probably made
very unfavourable comparisons between
Vassall and Markman, with whom he
had become increasingly at ease, for on
4 July 1751,

Mr. Markman says he has today given
to Mr. Benji. Clarke, for life, his house
where he now lives, and 18 acres of
land about it.

The Seasoning of



immediately upon arrival
at Vineyard, Thistle-
wood began to learn
something of the routine of cattle-raising
in south St Elizabeth. Because of the
severe drought, nothing could be
planted. The days were spent cutting
boughs, chiefly of breadnut, to feed the
cattle, cutting corn for the horses, re-
pairing pasture fences to keep the ani-
mals from straying in search of fodder,
making rope he was learning fast:

The stalk of the thatch leaves, when
beat, make very strong good ropes; had
many of them made today. I have
sometimes thought the juices of the
thatch tree by incision might perhaps
be a kind of Toddy or something as
pleasant and good, I intend to try.
Thatch trees increase in height but not
in [thickness] much, rising from the
ground of large circumference. [17
July 1750]

And there were other, lesser but no
less intriguing, discoveries:

Tonight in a dark room, could see to
read the notes in Pope's Essay on Man,
could see myself very well in a looking-
glass, and cast a considerable shadow
upon the wall, by the light of a single
fire-fly which I held in my hand. [9 July
Note, have boiled goat's milk (which is
very rich) every morning to breakfast.
[10 July 17501
Eat some Doconon,3 made of plantain,
very good. [17 July 1750]
At dinner had pepper pot of callaloo
and prickly pear with some ochro. Had
for supper homini, it eats like cracked
oatmeal pretty much, made of Indian
corn, beat and cracked.(19 July 1750]

Had some Cay-yaa boiled for dinner
to my beef. [25 July 1750]

And by the end of August, he was
sometimes even employing what sound
like Jamaicanisms:

Killed a woodpecker, dead, with a
piece of rock stone. [26 August 1750]

In August, as water supplies for the
cattle diminished, slaves were employed
cutting drains to draw water from the
swamplands into the fattening pasture;
but even in the morass the water was
shrinking fast [4 and 7 July 1750].
By late August the drought was
broken, and although September was
dry, the October rains came heavily and
the season lasted well into November.
Planting began: guinea grass, Scotch
grass, plantain suckers, cassava sticks,
toyer, sweet potato, corn, and, around
the corn-pieces, sweetsop,6 sunflower,
and the protective penguin. On Tuesday
4 September, almost as though in keep-
ing with the change of weather and
Drink cool drink, made of Lignum
Vitae chips, and clap and cure, or chew

In the August plantings 'two middle
sized pails full of corn' had been sown
in the Negroes' new ground, and Thistle-
wood had also planted in the Pen's
corn-piece. He told how:

Plant corn thus : : 9 inches from
corner to corner in squares, rows 5 feet
apart, and 3 feet in the step. [21
August 1750]

At about the same time he attempted
to calculate how much corn he would
need for the livestock in a year. The
poultry, he observed, were barely satis-
fied by 8 quarts a day. The sheep used
up 4 quarts daily. On an average, 7 ears
of corn gave him one quart;so he needed
84 ears per day, or 588 per week, or
30,660 per year which would yield,
when shelled, nearly 137 bushels of grain.
The other large crop was peas. On 15
November he received by a slave,
a courier from Westmoreland, forty-one
quarts of red peas. The next day, Titus
was out catching crabs, Joan, Hago,
and Silvia were at the great-house, and
the rest were all engaged planting the
peas. On the 19th he noted 'The peas
sown on Friday and Saturday last are
come up'. The next Saturday, the 24th
broke calm and fair, but at about
7:30 a.m.

S. .being in my house measuring out
some red peas out of a cask to plant,
heard a kind of sooing noise to NE, not
much unlike the roaring of the wind in
a forest, (which surprised me it being
calm and not a cloud in sight) which
still seemed to approach nearer, imme-
diately heard the house crack as if
some great force was heaving against
the roof, and felt the shock of an earth-
quake; which was over in some few

By 9 o'clock all was calm and fair
once more, with a moderate breeze.
The excitement over, work had been
resumed with the slaves planting about
sixteen quarts of the red peas in their
grounds, while Thistlewood planted for
himself 'some Jamaica beans, and a kind
of guinea corn, called by the Negroes
'In clearing their grounds in this
country,' wrote Thistlewood, 'they fell
their wood, great and small, a foot and a
half, or two feet from the ground' [17
November 1750].
Also in November they moved pen-
guin plants to support fence-lines being
repaired along the Fullerswood and
Tennants cane-piece boundaries; and
they began to prepare land to sow log-
wood seed. As they dug, Thistlewood,
found lizards' eggs 'with hard shells,
they were as big as a Nicholl seed.. '
He broke them open and found 'young
live lizards within them'. [17 November

Negro watchmen make pricks of any
hardwood thus A and set them about
plantain trees &c, about a step distance
in rows, hid with leaves, &c, and all but
the top within ground, which is cut
round with a knife, that it may break
off and stick in the foot when trod on
bare-foot, at about 6 tenths of an inch
from the top ...
They also place some high enough to
catch the thighs, in such places as are
likely for them to run to if pursued.
[4 December 1750]

But not all the predators were

It is remarkable that a hog shall go into
a provision ground, and root up a great
deal of poison cassava, and eat it, yet
receive no harm, whereas were half the
quantity of it grated and given him,
flour and water as it yielded, he would
soon be dead. This I have seen many
instances of. [29 June 17511 .

We are left to wonder exactly what
Mr Thistlewood had seen. Unquestion-
ably he had seen hogs rooting in the
provision grounds for he had on at
least one occasion taken a shot at one;

he had probably also seen them rooting
bitter cassava; but it is doubtful that he
had observed one after it had partaken
of grated cassava and cassava juice.

Another protective device was, in
Thistlewood's opinion, less likely to be
effective. Among the Negro superstitions:

. is that they imagine glass bottles
and images they cut in wood, &c, can
tell who thieves any thing out of the
ground where they are set up, or struck.
[27 January 1751]

November brought variety to the diet
of the slaves as well as Thistlewood,
since it was a time for crab-catching,
Titus was kept busy.
On the 17th, Mr Vassall returned to
Vineyard and stayed until the 24th
when he escorted Miss Hester Lloyd
back to Westmoreland. Hester Lloyd
was Vassall's sister-in-law. He had
brought her to Vineyard in the evening
of 26 September, stayed a week, and on
October he had returned to Westmore-
land, leaving her at Vineyard. Apart
from noting their arrival on the 26th,
and the arrival on the previous day of
Miss Lloyd's attendant 'mulatto girl',
Thistlewood made no mention whatso-
ever of Miss Lloyd until 3 October.

Mr. Vassall left the penn this morning.
Whilst he was here, 5 Capons, 1 Pullet,
and a young turkey killed for the
house. Note, his people were daily
served flour and herrings, his horses
had corn.

There, though nothing was actually
complained of, Thistlewood seems to
have been making mental comparison of
the great-house fare with that of his
own household and of the Vineyard
slaves and livestock. Then he added:
'Tonight, the young lady sent for me, to
learn her to write.' The next day, the
4th: 'Note, the young lady sent me a
very good dinner.' On the 6th, he 'set
Miss some copies'; and by her order gave
Dick a dozen herrings and half a dozen
to each of the other slaves. Then, no
mention of her until Saturday 20th
when, 'Tonight the young lady and
mulatto girl, both sick with eating
physic nuts by mistake'.8
On the 25th he delivered a letter
received for her from Mr Vassall.
At the beginning of November he
observed 'multitudes of butterflies about
in the Savanna, &c.' and he obviously
went butterfly-catching for, on the 4th
he 'gave Miss Hester Lloyd 18 curious
butterflies.' And, on the 23rd, the day


before her departure, he gave her three
or four dozen more.
Miss Lloyd's summons on the night
of 3 October immediately following Mr
Vassell's departure on the same day,
suggests that she had found Thistlewood
interesting and wished to invite his
attention. It would seem, however, that
no close association developed. Thistle-
wood certainly makes no mention of
anything, not even of continuing lessons
in copy-writing, and there can be little
doubt that he would have recorded any
intimacy. At the time he had just re-
cently taken Marina into his house and,
except for occasional lapses in Hago's
direction, was remarkable in his con-
Nor does Mr Vassall's behaviour
towards Thistlewood, when he returned
to the Penn on 17 November, suggest
that he observed any relationship which
might have invoked his displeasure.
Indeed, he appeared to be in very good
humour. He lent Thistlewood an account
'of all his lands, negroes, cattle, &c.'
including the dimensions of his sugar-
mills in Westmoreland. [20 November
1750]. He was also more communicative
than ever before.

Mr. Vassall says he takes the guinea or
Scotch grass, one of the two, to be the
same Caesar mentions in his Com-
mentaries to have fed his horses with in
Spain, a kind of reed which grows by
the side of the river. He also says salt
strewed in a pigeon's house floor will
entice the pigeons and make them
greatly delight in it. And that the
Spaniards make holes in the earth,
where cattle frequent, and put salt in
the holes to dissolve. That the cattle
are so fond as to lick the hole till it be
very large, sometimes as large as a house.

Perhaps of greatest interest to Thistle-
wood, who longed to capture one, was
Mr Vassall's description of a 'gag or
tozzle' for catching alligators. A stick,
sharp-ended and baited 'with dog which
he most delights in, he swallows it' and
is then caught by a rope and chain
attached to the stick.
On the Pen, meantime, the corn in
the Negro ground had begun 'to ear, or
babe, as they call it just when the
blossoms wither a little', and to develop
by late October into 'mutton corn'. In
December they would begin to reap it.
And in the household, there were still
more local dishes to be tried:

Plantain tart very good. Just like apple
pie. Green corn dockunna very good.
[27 November 1750]
Eat some Wanglas (a small oily seed)9

parched as coffee, and made up various-
ly in cakes, broths, &c. [4 December

In the second half of November the
rain which had abated in the first two
weeks ceased altogether. Except for
occasional scattered showers, December
was mostly dry; there were only two
days of hard rain, on the 15th and the
16th. A week after the rain, the slaves
began to reap their harvest of 'year corn'.
Thistlewood 'gave Guy and Phibbah
each a flour cask, and Sambo a beef
cask to put their corn in.'

Next day was Christmas Eve. It made
little difference to the routine:

Monday 24th. Light winds. Fair
weather. P.M. cloudy. The Negroes
employed as before. Finished hoeing
the grass in the fattening pasture, hand
weed the potatoes, and repair the new
pasture fence where the cattle had
broke in.

Flour and herrings were distributed
all round. The heifers Abigail and Happy
each dropped a bull calf. Thistlewood
bought a pound of salt butter, one shill-
ing and ten pence ha'penny. And,

This morning saw a Tumble Turd as
they call them, a kind of black Clock
or Beetle, tumbling over and over a large
piece of horse dung (it worked with a
good will) at least 50 times its own
weight and bigness. Have oft admired
with what earnestness they work.

Christmas day: cloudy, with light winds.
The sound of guns firing all around as
neighboring planters quaffed their
Christmas punch. Thistlewood gave
Marina a gift a large wooden bowl for
which he had paid seven pence ha'penny
and compared the local scene with that
he'd left behind.

Most all our logwood trees in full
blossom, pleasant enough,a fine verdure

on the ground and trees, and I think
hotter than ever in England in the
middle of Summer.

His own celebrations apparently came
later in the company of the Vineyard

At night had, Creolian, Congo, and
Coromante &c music, and dancing
enough. Egg cordial plenty.

On the 28th, there was excitement of a
different kind. As Thistlewood, appar-
ently with Dick and his dogs, visited the
Vineyard barcadier they were met with
'the musk of an alligator .. he wanted
the dogs sadly, was very bold, we were
glad to get away. .' It was an opportu-
nity to test 'gag and tozzle' as described
by Mr Vassall, but it was all in vain. The
gag was set on the 29th, baited with a
dead lamb. On the 30th the bait had
gone. So too had the alligator.
January and February were dry. In
the two months Thistlewood recorded
only four days of good rainfall. The
slaves were employed hoeing in January
and in February gathering the peas they
had planted in November. In January
they continued bringing in corn and
storing it to be husked in February. On
Sunday 20th January, they began tilling
their own provision-grounds. Pastures
were being bushed;fencing, as ever, being
repaired; and in the drying weather the
fattening cattle had to be driven daily to
Foxe's trench for water.

Thistlewood, on January 3rd, 'eat
and planted some pinda's or groundnuts'.
On the 20th he gathered annatto, and
'saved a little for myself' but he had
not yet learned Mr Markman's recipe for
processing it.
March was generally dry, but in ex-
pectation of 'the crab rain' the labour
turned once more to planting: grass for
the live-stock, corn for the slaves. Mr
Banton's people cut another 27 tons
of logwood. A butcher came to Vine-
yard and bought three fat cattle. He was
David Coke, an Englishman, who sold
beef in Kingston. On the 21st there was
success with an alligator, but it was not
Thistlewood's. One of Mr Banton's
people caught it with a hook baited
with sheep's feet.

April and May were the months for
the herding and 'general penning' and
branding of cattle. Nearly all the men
and boys were employed at this while
the women and girls were busy hoeing
the corn. Mr and Mrs Vassall arrived at
the Pen early in April for a week's resi-

dence and were discomfited by the lack
of water. Scipio had to be sent daily to
bring a supply to the 'great house'. On
the 8th, under Vassall's supervision, the
'year cloth' of osnaburg was distributed
to the slaves. Dick was given twelve
yards. Sambo, Tony, Titus, Julius, and
Simon got ten yards each. The other
men got five, the boys Sussex, Coffee
and Adam's Joe, four each. Of the
women, Phibbah and Hago received ten
yards each, the others, except Quasheba,
were given five, and Quasheba and the
girls Deborah, Jenny and Juba, four.
Baby Chrishea got two. Thistlewood
explained: 'All those who had over 5
yards given them were not served last
On April 22nd, Andrew Miller, Mr
Vassall's driver, arrived at Vineyard. He
had been sent from Westmoreland by
Mr Vassall to bring back two young
horses, four young mules, and corn to
feed them. Between then and early June
he would make three more trips, driving
cattle from Westmoreland to Vineyard
mostly steers for fattening and
from Vineyard to Westmoreland where,
on Mr Vassall's sugar estates, and others,
there was a demand for draught animals.
Early in May, David Coke, the butcher,
reappeared. This time he took 8 fat
cattle: 6 cows at 7: 10s each, 1 steer at
11, and one heifer at 4. [19 May
1751]. Some of Thistlewood's notes of
this period reflect his preoccupation
with the livestock:

In this country a common drench for
horned cattle, to make them thrive, is
the following: about a quart of their
own blood, a handful of salt in it, an
about a a. pint of semper vive juice.
[10 May 1751]
and later:
Saw a ball of short fine hair (as big as a
large apple) crusted over with a kind of
shell of hair, like the shell of a calabash
and smooth on the outside, very much
resembling the calabash that has laid
sometime in the weather after it has
dropped from the tree. The hair inside
was jammed together wonderful hard
and close; this was took out of Scipio
one of the lean steers which died some-
time ago. Many lean cattle have them
in this country, they are enclosed in
the great bag. [28 May 1751 ]

But other things were also on the
programme. The corn was now filling
out, and it was time to put a careful
watch on it. There were plantain suckers
to be put in, and sweet cassava sticks
which should be planted '. .just past
the full of the moon'. There were the
usual fence posts to be cut and carried,
and fencing to be maintained. And there

were still new flavours to be sampled:

Eat some American locust, which is a
kind of sweet unpleasant flour (how-
ever to me) growing in a large pod,
and eat greedily by the Negroes, &c.
Nothing like the Arabian locust. Got
this from off a tree in Mr. Banton's
land at Catabo. [10 April 1751]

Eat some star apples (in look outside
they very much resemble an English
apple) but I don't like them. [10 May

But the red plums were ripening, and he
found them good.

It was also crabbing-time again as the
spring season of rain developed later in
April and into May.

At night went alone a crab catching
towards the cotton tree pond, two-
mouth Jack &c. got 15, but was lost,
and ill at to find my way out of the
morass & woods. [4 May 1751]

Next day, Sunday 5th, broke with 'fresh
gales'. That night hetried crabbing again,
this time in the savannah, but he got
only four, because 'after dry wind they
don't run much.'

He continued to note his day to day
discoveries and observations:

Note, in this country they have no
horse before their draught oxen, and
yoke them indifferently on the land or
farrow side. [14 June 1751]

That was a comment only on the style
of yoking he had observed. There was
no 'ploughing' of land on Vineyard.
Thistlewood refers only to 'houghing'
e.g. 'houghing up the sour grass in
the fattening pasture' by which he
means 'hoeing'.

Eat some O-carra, made of pea-flour
fried, a deal of pepper in it also &c.
Phibbah made it. .Eat some Turn
Tum, Cou; made of the flour of red
peas and Indian corn. [17 June 1751]
Eat some fustic berries. They are green,
& in shape most like a strawberry.
They are sweet, children are fond of
them, and some upgrown people.
[21 June 1751]
In our Pen grows a prodigious deal of
the deadly nightshade, which poisons
anything that happens to taste it. It
bears a yellow flower. [24 June 1751 ]
Catched a crab in my house. At dinner
eat some sorrase.12 [13 July 1751]

The 'seasoning' went beyond newly-
savoured footstuffs and introductions to
general routine on a St Elizabeth cattle-
pen. It included, perhaps most im-

portantly, the shaping of Thistlewood's
view and understanding of the enslaved
and their behaviour and beliefs. This
process was influenced by his own
observations, by what he was told by
fellow slave-masters, and by what he
was told by the slaves themselves. Some
of all that was recorded. It would seem
that some of the Vineyard slaves liked
to talk to this inquisitive man, to tease
him sometimes, to teach him the local
and the remembered lore, and to intro-
duce him to useful information about
which, obviously, his previous education
had been silent. The masters, too, would
have sought to teach the tyro a thing
or two about the Negro character, but
on Vineyard they had less chance. In
the following extracts the source of in-
formation is not always certainly inden-
tifiable, but where it is, it is given
Coromante is the Wild Negroes (Ma-
roon) Court Language. [23 October
Wannicker says, in the ship she was
brought over in it was agreed to rise,
but they were discovered first. The
picaninnies brought the men that were
confined knives, machetes and other
weapons. [31 October 1750]
Take the liver of a bitch killed when
proud, dry it, and beat it to Powder,
put a little of the powder upon a bit of
meat, bread, &c, and give it to any of
the male kind of a dog, and he will not
forsake you.
But in general, take a bit of cassava
bread, &c, piss upon it and dry it in the
sun, repeat a 2nd and 3rd time, give it
to any dog or bitch and they will never
forsake you. [Dick] [5 November
Marked two gourds in our fattening
pasture to have them when ripe. Many
grow there. Some will hold 6 or 8
gallons or more. (Negroes make drums
of them). [18 December 1750]
'Tis said, eating much pumpkin allays
venery. [Dick]
Tonight our Coromante Negroes had
a trick, which they call Tabrabrah [?]
a rope 7 or 8 yards long, one end tied
to a post close to the ground a person
swung the other, whilst one danced in
the middle above and beneath it.
[26 December 1750]
Jonjoe, a kind of mushrooms, or rather
toad stools that the Negroes are very
fond of. [6 January 1751]
The Congo Negroes lie 24 corn &c.
thus one hand, or person, takes up 2
corn and the other 2; till the last heap
that one takes up 3 and the other 1.
Lie them down 4 and 4, that which
took up the 3 shall have one, and the
other 3; 'tis very plain. [25 January
The Congo Negro men put a stick
about 9 inches long between the feet,
and throw it over head backwards.
[26 January 1751]

Merrywang, banjor, strum, or Creolian
Negro fiddle. [2 February 1751]
Tis said eating much cane, or drinking
much Bisange, makes a woman so
loose and open, as although she had
just been concerned with a man, and
gets many a Negro woman a beating
from their husbands. [27 February
For leaven or bread, usually keep a
piece of the dough, but in its room
beat up a lather with a piece of soap,
or the white of an egg; lay leaven and it
will do. Jamaica fashion. [Adam]
[4 March 1751]
Negroes tell you in the Papah country
is something they call Aharra [?]
which hearing them make agreements
where to meet when they go for wood
or water, (as Mate, meet me at such a
place for to go fetch wood) imitates
their voice, makes agreements, meets,
leaps upon them, and immediately de-
vours them. They say one girl agreed
with an Aharra, went before her time,
put up an image of sharp spikes cover-
ed with cloths; he, coming, took it for
her, leaped upon it, and was killed.
And that in Coromante country is a
kind of beast or monster they call
Cokroyamkon [?], who watches un-
seen at feasts, &c, knowing the child-
ren will be apt to fall asleep. When he
lights on them asleep, he puts them
softly into a kind of mortar he has on
his back for that purpose, and runs
with them to his den, there to devour
them. But once upon a time, his rush-
ing through the woods as he was going
to his den waked a boy he had in his
mortar upon his back. The boy caught
hold of a bough with his hands and
pulled himself out. The monster, not
perceiving, went to his den, threw
down the mortar, and, going to seize
his prey, was disappointed; went back,
searched the path narrowly, found the
boy upon a tree. The monster showed
his red arse, and had a thousand comi-
cal antics to make the boy laugh and
quit his hold; but to no purpose, for
the boy being cunning only threw
down the fruit of the tree at him, with
which he so gorged himself, that he
died under the tree and the boy went
safely home.
They also tell you (the Coromantes)
that an old woman, having a grand-
child, refused to give it any meat un-
less it called her by her name. The child,
knowing no other name than 'granny'
was almost starved to death, till one
day it went out asking everything it
met if they knew the name of that old
woman yonder. All replied no for they
were afraid of her, till at last, coming
to a riverside it met with a crab and
spoke thus: 'Good crab, tell me the
name of that old woman yonder.' The
crab asked why it wanted to know the
old woman's name. 'Because,' says the
child,' she will give me no victuals un-
less I call her by her name.' 'Why then,'
says the crab, 'her name is Osissi, On-
inni, O Borrabushante Jaminda.' The
old woman gave the child victuals so

soon as the child called her by her
name, (which it was forced to repeat
all the way home for fear of forgetting)
but wanted to know who told it, which
the child refused to discover.

Then she immediately asked everything
she met, who all denied to have told,
till she came to the crab, and asking it,
it answered, 'Why you old bitch I told;
what did you starve your pickaninny
for?' She, in a rage, threw a calabash
she had in her hand upon it, which
stuck and makes the back they now
have, & hit it with a stick she had in
her hand, from which proceeds the
dent. [10 May 1751]
In the Negro country, if a person lies
down upon a mat on the floor to sleep,
a worm that is in the floor creeps up,
and thrusts its head through the mat,
and sucks till its belly be full of blood,
and then goes down into its hole again.
Those who don't take care of their
floors to stop the cracks and crevices
are very full of them. [Mingo] [22
June 1751]

Wannicker, who is a Papah Negro, of a

country called Alladda, which is about
two days journey from the sea, had
been in company with man-eaters. She
has seen them boil man's flesh to eat,
and that they said it was more sweet
than hog's flesh. They most admire the
flesh of yellow and red people, such as
Hago and Sambo, for they say the flesh
of black people is bitter. Most admire
the feet and hands, especially the heels
and thick of the hand just by the wrist
leading to the little finger. That there
are several such in the country, but
privately, because not allowed, for if
found out they are banished the coun-
try, for the grandees think they would
perhaps thief their children and eat
them. That some will eaf the flesh
of those who die of diseases, but the
most part they privately thief such
children or people as are in good order,
or else thief or buy on purpose those
that are lean, and put them up to fat
against they have occasion to kill them.
Especially they contrive to have some
ready against the coming in of the
young yams to eat with them. [1 July

To cure a sore, put Jack-in-the-bush14
in water and bathe the place with it

as hot as you can with a piece of linen
cloth dipped in the bath. Bay leaves,
instead of Jack-in-the-bush, are also
very good. Some use all together.
[Phibbah] [4 July 1751]

There are indications that from
about the beginning of 1751
Thistlewood and Vassall were
having differences of opinion. Although,
he nowhere says so, it would seem clear
that by May Thistlewood had decided
that he would not stay much longer in
Mr Vassall's service on the Pen; else why
would he have built a house for Marina
who shared his own? His terms of em-
ployment, though not meagre by com-
parison with those of other overseers,
were certainly not likely to satisfy
Thomas Thistlewood. Moreover, it was
unlikely that he would be given more
for it was known that Vassall was trying
to sell Vineyard. On 23 April, Mr Fran-
cis Smith had come with Mr. Markman
and had remained for two days 'view-
ing the Penn, being about purchasing it.'
On Wednesday, 22 May, Thistlewood
sent Charles to Westmoreland with
lignum vitae, star apples, 'and a letter
to Mr Vassall of yesterday's date'. It was
a letter of complaint. In the late morn-
ing of the 24th, Florentius Vassall ar-
rived at the Vineyard, and on the same
About noon, had words with Mr.
Vassall about the badness of my living,
&c. I told him frankly of my usage
since I had been in his service. &c. &c.
He said if he should receive such
another letter from me as my last, he
would make the blood flow about my
ears. I answered he need not wait for
another but to do it now if he thought
proper. He says his servants down in
Westmoreland live as well or rather
better than anybody's else, and none
ever found fault with his pay; I answer-
ed I did not doubt his pay. He said
but I perhaps might have occasion, and
I should be the first that ever had, &c.

Vassall seems to have tried, without
success, to patch up the quarrel. Next
day he had a goat killed and told Thistle-
wood that he had ordered 'the goat's
head and pluck' to be delivered to him
for his dinner; 'but', said Thistlewood,
'I never got the pluck', Perhaps just
as well, for on the day before he had
suffered a belly-ache, which he put
down to his large consumption of red
peas, insufficiently boiled. Nonethe-
less, he was annoyed, no doubt partly
by not having received the goat belly
and tripe, partly as a consequence of
the quarrel, and perhaps also by

remembering that on the 24th, when
Vassall had arrived without supplies,
he had given out 'a piece of my beef
for Mr Vassall'.

Following 24 May, Thistlewood
makes no more direct remark about his
relationship with Mr Vassall, but in his
records of conversations with Dick,
Mr Markman, and others, it is evident
that things were not improving. And
there were other signs of an impending
departure. On 31 May: 'Sent a letter
to Mr Nickolas Bennett, received an
answer.' On 12 June: 'In the morning
rode on one of Mr Markman's horses to
Mr Bennett's, presently came back.' As
we shall see, he had gone to arrange
the purchase of a horse. In the first
half of June he drew a sketch of the
Vineyard provision ground. Later in
the month, he listed by name all the
Vineyard livestock and compiled his
records of the fauna and flora on the
Pen. In between, on Monday the 17th;

In the morning I walked to Mr Rowe's
Craal, and bought of Mr Nickolas
Bennett a Brown Bay horse colt, hind
feet white, brand marked on the near
thigh B. Two years old last March
about 12 hands and half an inch high.
Gave ten pounds for him. Am to have
the lent [sic] of a Negro man down to
Cabritto when I go. Had him sent to
the Vineyard. Call him Toby. Got
home at 9 a.m.

In view of his annual wage this was a
considerable outlay and we may well
wonder where he found the ten pounds.
Perhaps, like so many others in similar
appointments he made some money on
the side from Mr Vassall's estate; but,
whether so or not, he had raised 7 3s.
9d. earlier in the year by the sale of his
encyclopaedias to Mr Dorrill who wanted
to have them [8 Feburary 1751]. And,
another sign of departure, he began
distributing gifts. Next day he gave
Mr Markman 'some East Indian soap
berries, he says they are the Black
Nicholl', a 'marking nut, which he
intends to plant', and 'some of the nuts
I brought from Brasil, which he says are
the Palm Nuts'. In return, Mr Markman
gave him a number of recipes and other
information of that kind including his
recipe for preparing annatto.
The date of his departure was draw-
ing near. On 30 June, Mr Markman,
on his way back from a burial in Black
River, had called at the Pen. Some, he
said, were dying of yellow fever brought
on a ship lying there. Thistlewood
found the news the more distressing
because in a few days' time he would

have to travel through the town. Two
days later, shortly before his journey
back to Westmoreland, he called to say
goodbye to his neighbour, Mr Clarke.
There, he stayed for dinner, and his
host gave him some parting words:

Mr Clarke advises for a person to use
his utmost authority at his first going
to a place then he will probably see in
a month or six weeks if he be likely
to continue or it to be worth his while,
else he may go away without much loss
of wages. [5 July 1751]

The advice seems to have put him in
pensive mood. He went home and took
to his books:

Read in Gulliver's Travels, very enter-
taining. Wrote by Dean Swift.

On Saturday 6 July, he gave Marina
food and drink 'to treat of the Negroes,
and especially her shipmates withal, at
her house warming' which he attended.
On Sunday 7th: 'This afternoon was in
the fattening pasture, corn ground, &c.
to take my farewells of them', and to
some he gave parting gifts. That night he
slept with Marina for the last time, and
'just by moonrise' in the early morning
of the 8th, he 'took leave of her in my
parlour', and then:

Set out from the Vineyard about an
hour before day. Made Julius carry my
bundles to Mr. Bennett's: then Mr.
Bennett lent me Davie according to
agreement, to lead my horse and carry
my parcell. Paid a bitt for Davie at the
flat Black River, got over just about
sunrise. Dr. Freebairn come over at the
same time. This morning paid Mr.
Bennett 14 bitts equals 8s. 9d. for
victuals and drinks I had while weighing
of the logwood at the barcadier.

And what of the Vineyard Pen after
his departure? Mr Francis Smith, who
had viewed it, offered 2,500, Jamaican
currency. Mr Vassall refused. He wanted
at least 2,800. Late August, or early
September 1751, it was sold to Captain
Forrest, who paid 2,500 for the Pen
and an additional 1,500 for the cattle
on it. [18 September 1751] Forrest was
also the owner of Masemure sugar estate
in Westmoreland. The slaves, it seems,
were moved from Vineyard to Mr Vas-
sall's properties in Westmoreland for
Thistlewood was to see some of them
again. Florentius Vassall and his two
ladies left Jamaica for a visit to Eng-
land on Sunday 3 May 1752. Thistle-
wood watched as the vessel put out
from Bluefields bay.
As for Thomas Thistlewood himself,
he had spent almost exactly a year on a

cattle pen, among the slaves, learning
mostly from them, partly from his
neighbours, and partly from his own
keen observation, about life and labour
in a slave society, and the unfamiliar
surroundings of a tropical island and a
slave-served household. He might now,
with reason, claim that he was 'sea-

Part 2 will appear in the next issue of

1. Lignum vitae wood was much used in
the preparation of medicinal beverages.
2. Cassidy (1971) p.294. The Indians of
the Caribbean considered certain grubs
a delicacy. As Sloane reported: "Great
esteem was set on a sort of Cassi, or
Timber-Worms, called Cotten-Tree.
Worms, by the Negroes and Indians."
These were better known by the name
of Macaccas.' [and, p.2951 'Bagabu is a
name for caterpillars, worms in general,
and even lice.'
3. Cassidy (1971) p.193'. ..the duckunoo
.another African delicacy [first re-
ferred to in 1740].' Plantain, green-
banana, sweet-potato, or other food
seasoned, wrapped in plantain or ban-
ana leaf and boiled, or less commonly,
4. Cassidy (1971) pp. 346, 349, 372.
Callaloo is Jamaican spinach. Prickly
pear is a triangular cactus with a green,
succulent flesh surrounding a central
wiry withe. Ochro is a mucilaginous
5. This is an unfamiliar word sound. It
might refer either to a condiment made
with 'cayan-pepper', or, less likely to a
preparation of a healing weed now cal-
led 'Strong Back'. See Cassidy and Le
Page (1980) p.258.
6. A fruit-tree of the genus Annona.The
fruit is called 'sugar-apple' in the east
and south Caribbean.
7. Chew-Stick, chewed to clean the
teeth, or used to flavour cool drinks.
See Cassidy (1971) pp. 203, 379.
8. This is probably a reference to the 'oil-
nut' or castor-oil nut.
9. Sesame Seeds. Cassidy (1971) p.200-1.
'Other sugar cakes include the Wangla,
formerly made with sesame seeds (wan-
gla), more recently with peanuts, in
which case it is also called the pinda
10. Aloe Vera juice.
11. Now known to every schoolboy as
'stinking toe', and still enjoyed by
12. The Cerasee Vine bears a yellow pod
with edible seeds. The leaves are also
used to make a tea. See Cassidy (1971)
13. I have not been able to identify this;
but it was probably a beverage made
from the juice of the cane such as the
'sugar drink' mentioned by Cassidy
(1971) p.203.
14. Another local 'tea' bush with some
healing properties.


Strength and Subtle Shades

Albert Huie

Interviewed by Shirley Maynier Burke

Albert Huie was born on 31 December 1920
in Falmouth, Trelawny. He showed an early
talent for art, and in 1936 moved to Kingston.
There in 1937 he met H. Delves Molesworth,
Secretary of the Institute of Jamaica, who en-
couraged him to take up painting profession-
ally. About a year later, Huie joined the art
classes of Koren de Harootian at 16 Barbican
Road and studied watercolour; soon after, he
began to receive informal tuition among the
circle of artists around Edna Manley.
In 1938, Huie received the Award of Merit
in the first All Island Art Exhibition. He also
exhibited in group shows at the Koren Art
Gallery on Harbour Street. It was at about
this time that he painted The Counting Lesson
which received an award at the Gallery of
Science and Art in the 1939 New York World
In the early 1940s, he taught art classes at
the Junior Centre of the Institute of Jamaica.
Huie became a leading figure in what was later
to be referred to as 'The Institute of Jamaica
Movement'. He held his first major exhibition
in 1943, and with the proceeds from this
show he went to Canada to study at the
Ontario College of Art in Toronto. He also
studied Aesthetics under Reid MacCullum at
the University of Toronto. In 1947, he won
a British Council Scholarship and went to
London where he studied painting and graphic
techniques at the Camberwell School of Art.
Back in Jamaica, he taught at the Jamaica
School of Art and at Mico Teachers College.
From this time on, he gained increasing recog-
nition for his work. In the 1950s, he won the
coveted Spanish Biennial Award, in Havana;
in 1958 a Silver Musgrave Medal from the
Institute of Jamaica. His painting Thursday

Night, won the award for painting at the 1961
All Island Exhibition. In 1973, he received
the Order of Distinction, in 1974, the Gold
Musgrave Medal, and in 1979, the National
Gallery mounted a retrospective exhibition,
Huie in the Jamaican Collections.
The work of Albert Huie has been highly
praised by critics in Jamaica and abroad. His
successful exhibitions reflect the popularity
of his paintings and his ever-growing repu-

SMB: I would like to relate this concept
to the current art scene. There seems to
be a tendency to equate African music
only with heavy driving drum rhythms,
and ignore the more delicate sounds of,
particularly, the stringed instruments. In
the same way there is a tendency in
some areas to think of African-influenced
art as showing power by the use of basic
shapes and hard bright primary colours.
AH: If Africa is not isolated, why should
we isolate ourselves in a period which
the African themselves are getting away
from? Some may only see what seems
to suit them now, and may not have
seen anything of the scope of African
art. Anyone who has had the oppor-
tunity of seeing, for example, the new
wing of the Metropolitan Museum with
the Rockfeller collection, sees subtleties

and intricacy of design and more than
that, proficiency of technique. Serious
studies may reveal that our efforts at
being African may have a long way to

In the same way that we cannot adopt
the misty greens and soft tones of Eng-
land, so too these Caribbean Islands dif-
fer from the African mainland, and we
are the product of a quite different en-
vironment. ...

It is quite extraordinary that the land-
scape here can reveal all sorts of things
which we would not expect to find.
You have to really know the country;
in the hills there are some greys and
greens which, unless you are familiar
with the countryside, you would have
thought could never exist here you
can go into the plains of St Catherine
on the southern dry side of the island
and see some browns and umbers which
one might only associate with a desert.
Often in the afternoon at Port Hender-
son, the whole scene is dominated by a
colour which one can only refer to as

One of our younger poets has an unpub-
lished poem1 in which he describes the
view from Three Finger Jack's marker
as the 'sulphur scented afternoon'; that

Albert Huie at work and in a playful mood (1988).

is, of course, in the same direction look-
ing westwards towards Port Henderson.
The strikingly unusual shades of light in
the dry south afternoons are not limited
to the plains; the hills overlooking the
Mona campus change colour by the
There are times in the late afternoon,
January, February when the southern
hills can be a shade of pure lavender.
What comes back to me is that when I
first came back to Jamaica, when the
development between Mico College and
Wolmer's School on Marescaux Road
was not so crowded, I looked at the lawn
at Mico at about three o'clock in the
afternoon, and I was laughed to scorn
by the Mico staff when I said that the
grass was pink all except J.J. Mills,2
who said that he would not allow Mr
Huie to be made a fool of, and that he
would study this for himself. He called
the staff and said, 'Forget your pre-
judices that grass is always green Mr
Huie is right.' I got an apology from the
There are so many 'un-tropical' visual
peculiarities here, like the heads and
bodies of the cows and cowmen gradually
appearing like grey apparitions through
the early morning mist all along the Bog
Walk gorge and right into Ewarton.

Visually there is no such thing as an
optical illusion. Things happen happen
fast, if an artist can see and record them,
then it is left to the observer to find out
whether or not it is so. There can be no
hard and fast rules for colour in nature,
because it is controlled by light; the type
of cloud, for example, through which
the light filters, and many other constant-
ly changing variables. The most conclu-
sive evidence of light in terms of colour,
is that colour at night is different to
colour in the day; but the variations
during the day are not only of colour ...
sometimes the mountains vary in form
and texture; sometimes grainy, some-
times woolly, sometimes flat. The vari-
ations in the colour of the sea can be
just as startling. There is a very small
painting with an oleander against the
horizon. It was one of those extra-
ordinary days when the sea looked like
a mirror, a strange silvery grey, so smooth
. I had intended that it should have
been called West Light because we are
dealing with that light which inspired
me to do the painting.

So the area near Duncans called 'Silver
Seas' is not just poetic imagery, the seas
really can be like silver. You of course
grew up near there, in Falmouth. There
are those who claim they can even read

better without glasses in that light -
tell me, were you very conscious of this
difference when you came to Kingston?

I don't know if I thought of it in terms
of the light, but I was conscious that
Kingston was hot, and there were other
disadvantages. Things which we took
for granted in the country, had to be
bought from the market or from hig-
glers and street sellers. But then there
was also the excitement of Christmas
morning concerts. One of my earliest
paintings is called The Concert. I re-
member the women actually wore furs.
But there was also the excitement of the
association with my cousin Walter Bul-
lock who had a business in Tower Street.
There I listened to the endless debates
of their 'Debating Society', and met
many people who were later to be in-
volved in the trade union and political

You had a political consciousness from
a very early age not a partisan attach-
ment, but an awareness of what was
happening in the society.

This really began before I came to King-
ston. In fact, one of my earliest memories
was a longshoreman's riot in 1935 or
36. This was before the major 1938 riots
island-wide. I also remember an election

Herbie Gordon
Huie's subtle shades. Far left, top to bottom:
Road to Maryland, St Andrew,early morning;
Jamaica College from Beverley Hills, St
Andrew; Port Henderson: Morning Time.
Centre, top to bottom: Kingston Harbour
from the Pegasus Hotel; Port Henderson at
Midday. Left, top to bottom: View of White
River, View of Port Henderson.
(Paintings from the collection ofDr and Mrs
Archie Hudson-Phillips).

.n: **

Early Morning at Oracabessa.
Collection of Mrs. Verona Ashman.

petition in Falmouth, and that was the
first time I saw N.W. Manley who ap-
peared for one of the parties.3

Of course I have been dying to ask you
about your memories of Marcus Garvey,
and this seems as good an opening as
any . . I often wonder if we under-
stand the extent of his courage and pro-
phetic vision.

I don't know much about his prophesies,
but I am excited about his teachings on
awareness; we are too taken up now
with material things really to under-
stand or appreciate courage. This new
awareness, it was the same way that one
point of view can see no beauty in twist-
ed trees sees them as ugly, in fact.
The scales must fall from your eyes be-
fore you can see the beauty of form and
In the early days, when we lived at 130
East Street (where the headquarters of
the National Workers Union now stands).
I had just met Mr Molesworth who was
my mentor, and I was developing a
keenness for observing and painting
people. I used to paint before, but not
from life. One day I saw a higgler on
East Street and I said, 'I would like to
paint you,' and she asked, 'Why would
you want to paint me?' I said, 'Because
you are beautiful.' You know what her
reply was? 'Me cyan beautiful. Me hair
no straight, me nose no straight. If you
want mek poppy show a someone, go
mek poppy show a yu madda.'4
These were revolutionary ideas at that
time. George Campbell was yet to write,
'Say is my skin beautiful? Soft as vel-
vet . ',5 and 'Sacred be the black flax
of a black child ...'6

These ideas were slowly coming to light
as the vision came to those who had
vision. But to come back to Garvey:
this was in 1934, shortly before the
election of 1935, and Garvey was sup-
porting the candidate Lewis Ashenheim.
I was keen on him for two reasons -
keen because Lewis Ashenheim had said
something that appealed to me as a
country boy, coming to Kingston from
a part of Jamaica where the family was
dominated by the presence of the
grandmother. When asked why, if he
was so interested in the people, he had
not come forward before that time,
Ashenheim said, 'I had to take good care
of my family before I could serve the
interests of my country.'

You were only sixteen, from then you

were very family oriented. Was your
grandmother sympathetic to your early
desire to draw?

I don't think she understood this,
but she was not unsympathetic. Yes,
you are right, I have always had a
strong sense of family, and I am very
much a family man. When I was a child,
however, children were sharply discip-
lined if they stepped out of line. Once
in Falmouth when I was a little boy, I
sneaked out to hear Garvey in the
square. I used to sneak out to go to
political meetings, or pocomania meet-
ings and was always severely trounced
for this by my family, including my
grandmother; she did not regard such
things as uplifting . . Yes, it is true
that Garvey had a very deep voice, and
they used to tease me when my voice
changed, that I had a voice like Garvey.
As I said we are too tied up in material
things today, but in an odd way Garvey
was in some respects part of that con-
vention: he created knights and barons,
but he did this to black people, and it
was not too much appreciated as com-
ing from another black person I still
wonder if we have accepted self-deter-
mination. You might ask why, and I will
tell you: before we had self-determin-
ation, our homes, our streets, and our
parks were all well kept, but since we
have self-determination, you can see the
state of things, and I wonder if we think
ourselves too good to do for ourselves
what we would do for others.

Point taken, but there has been a vast

improvement in recent years. But to
come back to your early political ex-

I had heard so much about Garvey
that I was anxious to hear him. He was
speaking that night at a meeting to be
held at the corner of Bond Street and
North Street. When we got there I saw
as large a crowd as I had ever seen, and a
singing was going on, intended for the
disruption of the meeting, by a man
identified to me later as 'Panchigor',
leader of the opponent H.A.L. Simp-
son's henchmen. I was so disappointed,
because we got there just in time to see
Garvey being escorted to his car by the
police. We sought refuge (because they
were throwing bricks) in a backyard
which I later learned was that of the
Coverley (Eric's) family.

You really began your career at a very
early age as a portrait painter. Your first
award was for The Counting Lesson,
and from then you never looked back -
with this great sense of the variations of
shade and tone in skin hues, each ac-
cording to the proportions of racial
intermixture. I see you bought Owen
Minott's photo Morning Ritual. This is
a tremendous colour reproduction, illus-
trating the evolving ethnic types.
It was the serenity of it that fascinated
me; the grandmother, the boy, the cat,
and the little girl having her hair com-

Combing the thick hair of mixed race
children was indeed a ritual.

Days without ending.

This fetish about hair is very African. If
you go to the Institute of Oriental and
African Studies in South Kensington,
you will see the most elaborate hairstyles
imaginable. The Egyptians too had a
thing about hair . very African. The
Chinese on the other hand had a thing
about hands and feet, the long finger-
nails, the bound feet. I suppose it af-
fects the whole race in continuity. There
is not only a variation of light and eth-
nic types, but of movement as well. Ja-
maican women walk so well, even those
who never carried a basket on their head.
You realise this when you see one on
Fifth Avenue or Bond Street. English-
men walk well in the sense that they are
self-assured, but the most beautiful gait
is the black American male with his 'I
don't care' movement . . but this
country is so versatile it is incredible.

In your paintings, even the old zinc
roofs seem to assume so many shades,
just as river stones show an endless vari-
ation of tone.

This is a country where things happen so
fast in terms of reaction to light that
one has to be very decisive it requires
not just skill, but an inspiration; an in-
spiration as well as the ability to retain
something that one sees, something that
can disappear in a flash. I think this is
one of the great problems with Jamaican
landscape painting that particularly an
outsider who is not conversant with the
Jamaican peculiarities has got to face.
People come here and say all sorts of
things, but in fact it is too much for
them to understand. It is great to be
painting in the late twentieth century.
This country needs to be discovered,
and we are still on the fringe.

Personally, it excites me and it is also a
challenge. I hope that I could live long
enough to do even a minute area of the
strange excitement with which I am
confronted every day of my life. People
say I am not painting the same way I
did when I was much younger, but in
my case there is no need to go back to
that. When I was young I painted with
the exuberance of youth. Now that I am
older, and I thank God for that, therb
are other things that excite me. If people
can't see it, I can't help them they
might see it one day.

I want to get back to the idea of an
evolving ethnic type. Are Jamaicans real-
ly becoming more handsome? Is it a dif-
ferent stance a different expression?

I think it is that we see more of our

people than we ever did; things like tele-
vision help. I was so struck by the Heri-
tage Week Programmes with Marcia
Lumsden and Marjorie Whylie and the
children I have never seen such a col-
lection of beautiful faces, and no two
look alike. No two look alike, so how
can anyone say 'this is Jamaican' or,
'this is not Jamaican'? There are people,
in the developed world, and particularly
in Japan, who are really homogenous,
but we are a strange variation, and this
is our strength.

I wanted to draw you out, too, on the
continuing controversy about what is an
'Intuitive' artist. If an artist is by defini-
tion a person with heightened sensiti-
vities, then are not all artists by defini-
tion 'intuitive'? This is not purely a mat-
ter of semantics, because we do need to
identify a certain school of Jamaican
painting. Unfortunately the question of
personalities enters into what should be
an academic discussion ...

It is important to identify this school of
painting, but we should beware of the
American tendency to categorize every-
thing into expressions of convenience
and to use the terms rather loosely. Per-
sonally I don't have any problems with
a self-taught artist being described as
Primitive. To me it is a very specific
description, whereas the term 'intui-
tive' applies generally to all people.
In terms of being intuitive, I know that
you have had certain dreams which have
come quite startlingly true. All right, I
am not going to pursue that. Tell me
what you think of the new National

I have nothing but praise for the people
responsible for the updating of the
National Gallery to one of which we can
be proud and show off to visitors and
friends. I am convinced it would be a
credit to any people in any part of the
world special praise, then, is due to
the efforts of David Boxer and Rosalie
Smith McCrea and their staff. Of course,
that does not mean that there is no
room for improvement. For example,
I think they lack a proper display area
in which things can be sold.
I don't think they have exploited the
possibilities of minor trade.
It's not just a question of giving people
money for exhibiting, but the Gallery
could do a good business on its own if
they would explore the field of repro-
ductions not only painting but also
sculpture. I remember in 1979 when I

did a retrospective at the Gallery which
was then at Devon House, from morning
to night I was besieged by people who
wanted reproductions of the paintings on
display. Europeans and Americans are
always asking for reproductions, and we
could exploit this to our advantage. Pro-
fits can be made, not only from the rich
who can afford originals, but even school-
children visiting the Gallery would like
to take home a postcard; and if the ex-
hibiting artist could autograph it for
them, it would be a wonderful personal
There is something else that I could sug-
gest, and I am not suggesting that the
staff should do this themselves, but
they could give out a concession for a
Not since the closing of the Victoria
Crafts Market have we had anywhere in
downtown Kingston where artists and
art-lovers can meet and exchange ideas
and discuss developments.
This is the atmosphere from which a re-
surrection of downtown Kingston could
take place.

Well, you have created quite an 'atmos-
phere within an atmosphere' here. Your
studio has the same ambience as it al-
ways did, despite the fact that you are
now completely surrounded by com-
mercial developments.

Well, we could improve the atmos-
phere by the use of a fan. This one was
sold to me by Bill Broome when he was
leaving Jamaica. Of course, you re-
member Broome. He was a Scottish Jew
who taught the younger artists at the
Art School when it was in Kingston
Gardens. He taught them not to be frus-
trated by the lack of big commissions,
but to do little things of high quality
which were saleable saleable be-
cause of the craftsmanship. I bought a
little occasional table there and sold it
at great profit because the person who
was pressuring me to sell was prepared
to pay more for good workmanship.
My favourite memory of Broome, of
course, was when he was having a nude
modelling class one night, and a certain
person who shall be without name, went
into Conrad Lane, bored a hole in the
wall, and was having a feast for his eyes
. unaware that Broome had seen him.
Broome crept up behind him and kicked
him in the rump while he was spying.
Today, students live in a different atmos-
phere, often a very vexed atmosphere.
They are under far greater pressures, but


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also sometimes they do not appreciate
how long and hard one has to work in
order to succeed, and this only comes
from the culture of dedication to sound
.... I once went to the Art School on
North Street for a special lesson. The
lights were dim and the students sat on
the floor in a frenzy of modern music. I
am not against modern music, but I am
certainly against the indifference of stu-
dents to those who have come to help

Albert, I think there is another side to
that certainly Cecil Baugh7 is one of
the hardest working people we know,
and it reflects in the success of his stu-
dents, our younger potters who are con-
scientious and gifted artists and crafts-
men. I make the rounds of the exhibi-
tions and I see great development in all
fields, but particularly in sculpture, and
to some extent fabrics and hangings.
There are of course some unfortunate
exhibitions; which, of course, brings us
back to the original point about the mis-
conceptions of what represents African
heritage. What is bugging the art scene
in Jamaica is negative criticism based
upon personalities, and the destructive
controversies to which this gives rise.

Young people today have to take the
business of survival much more seriously.
They are served by far more galleries
today; the number in Kingston alone is
quite astonishing. When I was young I
was afraid to even put a price on a pic-
ture, it seemed presumptuous. I was
glad when someone asked me how much
I wanted for a painting. For a long time,
the Institute of Jamaica was the only
gallery. The pioneer of commercial gal-
leries was actually Sybil Creary-Francis
who had a gallery on East Street. Later,
the Hills came along on Harbour Street.
But always the Institute was an insti-
tution for the preservation of art. It did
help artists, however. Curators such as
Molesworth did a lot to introduce art
into the homes of St Andrew, and this
support was continued by Philip Sher-
lock and Robert Verity for many years
later. And there was also A.D. Scott
with Olympia Gallery who was a great
patron of the arts. But to go back to the
National Gallery, it should go from
strength to strength, and I hope it will
never be a hotbed of inte I lectualsnobbery
or manipulated for political purposes.
That was something I particularly
wanted to say.

Now that you have got that off your

Top-bottom: The woodcuts Ripple,
Christmas Morning,The Baptism.
(Collection of the Junior Centre of
the Institute of Jamaica).

chest, I want to ask you about your
linocuts, because there are many quali-
fied persons who regard you as the mas-
ter of this medium.
It really came about because of the war.
By the early part of 1940, we were
going through a hard time. Captain Ar-
thur Thelwell was then Secretary to the
Jamaica Agricultural Society, and he
called me in to implement their policy
of encouraging Jamaicans to grow more
food and to feed ourselves and the work
was to have involved the use of posters,
but when the posters were approved we
found out that they would cost four
shillings each to reproduce (a lot of
money at that time) so the plan had to
be scrapped. Then Edna Manley had the
bright idea. She had a piece of lino in
her studio and she told me I could do
my own prints. She gave me two tools, a
V and a U which I have to this day -
and that is how I started doing linocuts.
I had to study the reverse process, how
to design for transfer directly to the
block, and nobody in Jamaica at that
time could show me how to do it but I
managed somehow. There was some-
thing special between Edna Manley and
myself, because she was also my mentor
and friend. I never had one day's lesson
up to that time, and it was most grati-
fying to find the response after the first
one, Jitterbug, was reproduced in Public
Opinion. Later I had a column in Public
Opinion where my designs were re-
produced, printed from blocks which I
made. I used to go down to the printer
at night and that was where I first
met you! A precocious child in the news-
paper office.

. . Fledgling ambitions as a writer, en-
couraged by O.T. Fairclough and Roger
Mais pity the child could not foresee
these as historical figures, I might have
treated them with more respect. Do
you remember what a beautiful tenor
voice Roger had? But back to the lino-
cuts. ..

Well, after this Public Opinion suddenly
realized that there was a market for the
prints. They used to sell for four shillings
per copy, and the printer gave me
some of that money. It was not until I
went to England in 1947 and enrolled at
Camberwell that I was taught the art
and techniques of printing on a big
scale. I did lithography and also wood
engraving. It was there that I did the
Dying Prophet. Our instructor was a
famous artist by the name of Wright.
He said to me one day, 'I would like to

see how you go about your work', and
he allowed me to work one whole period
in school without saying a word.

At the end of that period I had created
The Dying Prophet, and it was only
after that, he showed me a simpler way
to transfer my design off the block,
and it is a method I still use. He also
taught me the names of various tools
used in wood engraving and the effects
that these tools could give for ex-
ample, you can make a perfect circle
with a tool called the spitsticker, and
there is another tool that can produce
varying degrees of half tones on the
block, known as the multiple-tool -
and there is another tool which can give
a lot of surface effect, called the scraper.
It was such a humble and unassuming
beginning. The first one was done in
Edna Manley's studio at Drumblair.

My favourite was Washday.

You mean Monday Morning. After that
I improved Road Mending and intro-
duced Stone Breakers. N.W. Manley
used to like to watch me work. He loved
tools and had many of his own, and he
would feel the cutters and say, 'Gosh
that's sharp'. He loved tools and he loved
his mouth-organ. He could play all the
old folk-songs on the mouth-organ, and
I learned a lot of them from him. Later
on I did some linocuts for the Literacy
Campaign, and I tried some for the Save
The Children Fund, but there was some
difference of opinion as to whether those
linocuts were suitable for their cam-
paign. The Chairman wanted angels with
wings and clothes. I could not under-
stand it at all. I still can't understand
why beings with wings should have to
wear clothes. I have never done angels
with wings.

I brought along the 1943 issue of Focus
edited by Edna Manley, which repro-
duced two of these linocuts, and reading
the young poets of the time one finds
recurring references to the subtlety of
the colours of Jamaican landscape. Not
only the striking images of Anna Hollar's
'Alamandas dripping in the rain', or
Claude McKay's 'Poinsettia, red, blood
red in warm December'.

You will also find these visions in the
work of M.G. Smith, Vivian Virtue ....
See here, Basil Mc Farlane writes 'into
intangibility of morning gold we spilled'.

I did not realise that the day really be-
came gold, until somewhere in the mid-


sixties, there was a small cultural centre
where the Paint Shop is now. It was a
wonderful morning of music with Count
Ossie and the Mystic Revelations of
Rastafari and a British clarinetist. It
was completely extemporaneous, one
of those rare experiences when mu-
sicians really share music with each
other and the listeners . . When
we were leaving, you looked across Con-
stant Spring Road to the area now com-
pletely concretized with shopping cen-
tres but then in heavy foliage, and re-
marked that the seasons were changing
early and that the light on the leaves
had changed to yellow.

Some people are only aware of seasonal
change in the Montego Bay and Fal-
mouth areas where the northerss' hit
hardest but, in fact, the seasonal changes
in Kingston are quite distinct. Look
across the road, as it begins to darken
at five o'clock. The clouds become quite
silvery, and in the early morning the sky
is pure silver. If you look at the sea it is
sparkling as if set with diamonds. Nov-
ember is the most beautiful month in
this most beautiful of islands.

If we look again at Focus, the thing that
strikes me is that, given the limited (in
today's terms) technical capability of
the press, it is really beautifully design-
ed and laid out...

See here what Ken Ingram has written:

Oh should I catch the essence
Of deep orange butterflies
Then would all the world be
Upon my eyes.

If I could wish one thing for the younger
generation, I would wish the colour
of Jamaica to be 'stained upon their

1. Humroy White, 'View from Three Fin-
ger Jack's Marker'.
2. One of Jamaica's pioneer educators, then
Principal of Mico College.
3. Between the Custos, Hon. Guy S. Ewen
and the Reverend Maxwell.
4. Possibly derived from puppet show, a
ridiculous display.
5. Campbell George First Poems, 'Last
6. Ibid. 'Holy'.
7. Tanna, Laura and Baugh, Cecil. Jamaica's
Master Potter, Kingston: Selectco Publi-
cations, 1986.

8. Neil Cadogan, then a teacher at the Ja-
maica School of Music.
McFARLANE, Basil. 'Interview with a Ja-
maican Master,' Jamaica Journal 8: 1,
March, 1974.
FRANCIS-HINDS, Suzanne, 'Interview with
Albert Huie', Arts Jamaica 1:1.
Catalogue of the National Gallery of Jamaica.
Huie in the Jamaica Collections, 1979.

Biographical information on Albert Huie,
from the National Gallery of Jamaica.


John H. Rashford is assistant pro-
fessor in the Department of Sociology
and Anthropology at the College of
Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
His most recent contribution to
Jamaica Journal was 'The Search
for Africa's Baobab Tree in Jamaica'

M.J.C. Barnes is a visiting zoologist.
His article, 'Some Aspects of
Jamaica's Butterflies and Moths'
appeared in JAMAICA JOURNAL 21:2.

Douglas Hall, Professor Emeritus of
the History Department of the
University of the West Indies, is the
author of such notable works as Free

Shirley Maynier Burke, with wide
experience in the communications
media, has published extensively on
arts and public affairs. Her previous
contribution to JAMAICA JOURNAL was
her interview with Rex Nettleford on
his major work, Islands (19:3).


Art Music in Jamaica

By Pamela O'Gorman
When Marcus Garvey ran for
election to the Legislative
Council in 1929, one of
the proposed developments which he
presented in his manifesto was the es-
tablishment of a national opera house.
Of the fourteen planks presented it was
placed as number nine, after the Ja-
maican University and Polytechnic.
To many people today this may come
as a surprise and may appear to be some-
thing of a paradox in the light of Garvey's
philosophy. Many will wish to dismiss
it as a 'sell-out' to European culture,
best swept under the carpet and for-
gotten as quickly as possible. If we
do this, then we shall be falling into the
trap that so many of us fall into when
we speak of 'high art' in the context
of Jamaican music.
Let me begin by giving a few examples
of the confusion which surrounds the
subject of art music in Jamaica.
A few years ago, at a Cultural Training
Centre graduation, an eminent educa-
tionalist, in an address to the graduating
class, made the remark that classical
music is the folk music of Europe and
that whenever he visited the Festival
Hall in London, he realized that he was
witnessing the English enjoying their
folk culture. It was not an occasion for
contradicting him and I am afraid
that many students went away believing
what he said.
More recently, a minor eruption
occurred in musical circles when young
Jamaican returning home after studying
in Hungary for six years expressed
incredulity that the Jamaica School of
Music had no string programme. To him,
the absence of such a programme in any
music institution was obviously a sign of
backwardness. To others,theassumptions
underlying his incredulity were them-
selves interpreted as a sign of backward-
A further outcome of this dialogue
was the awakening of a recurrent motif
that has appeared in Jamaica at least

once a decade over the past fifty years
or so the question of the establishment
of a symphony orchestra. It is supported
on one side by those who feel it is a
necessary part of any self-respecting
nation's cultural life, opposed by those
who feel that there are other cultural
priorities that are of greater importance
to a young, independent country.
These few examples show that the
whole subject of 'art music' clearly
demands closer examination.
It is important, first of all, that we
establish a basis of clear understanding
of what we are talking about. A great
deal of confusion surrounds arguments
about music because we do not clearly
delineate the categories, the functions
and the internal value systems of the
different kinds of music that exist and
because we arbitrarily apply the criteria
relating to one kind of music to another.
Furthermore, we must never forget
that music is inextricably tied to the
function it performs in society it can
never exist or develop in asocial vacuum.

The eminent African Musicologist,
J.A. Kwabena Nketia, has pointed out
how the formal structures of music are
guided, not only by the primary function
of music as a mode of communication,
but also by the way music comes to be
viewed in each society in relation to
that society's artistic, philosophical and
social values. Music therefore falls into
three functional categories the social,
the philosophical and the artistic.
In the social category the prime
consideration is what Nketia calls 'the
processes of interaction through music
(where) emphasis may be laid on struc-
tures that facilitate role assumption
and identification, directness of com-
munication and immediacy of response.'
In the philosophical category, he
states that societal needs 'may lead to
the cultivation of contemplative music
that lays emphasis on symbolic meanings,
or the selective use of sound materials
believed to excite appropriate spiritual
emotions, create harmony with the
cosmos or bridges to the supernatural'.

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In the artistic category, Nketia says,
'music is viewed solely as a source of
aesthetic pleasure where emphasis is laid
on its artistic dimension or its develop-
ment as a fine art that explores sonic
materials and poetry for their own
sake, while continually expanding the
range of artistic values'.
These three categories are universal -
though some societies may place more
emphasis on one than on another. In
African music, for instance, the greatest
emphasis is laid on social forms of music,
because it is an integral part of the social
fabric of African society. Next come
philosophical (or religious) forms, with
least emphasis of all being placed on
artistic forms. When we think about it,
perhaps this applies to most societies.

Let us look at the Jamaican situation
in terms of these three modes of musical
expression and the two dominant in-
fluences on the shaping of our culture -
Africa and Europe. On the African side,
we find a strong social category that
expressed itself mainly in work songs
and ring games. In our work songs, the
predominant influence is African, where
call and response patterns are used for
functional purposes; but we know that
European sea shanties, themselves prob-
ably of African origin, were also sung.
Jamaican ring games have African
origins, but there is a European input,
since the performance of ring games is
an almost universal phenomenon.
The European social category would
have comprised mainly folk and popular
music of the British Isles. In the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,
European popular music was mainly Mu-
sic Hall and, judging by what has come
down to us in Jamaica folk music, there
was an inevitable acculturation between
European and African music in this
category most of all. Mento, for example,
contains elements of Africa and Europe.
European-type melodies are harmonized
in a European manner, but the rhythmic
approach and performance style are
African. The songs are accompanied by
a mixture of African-derived and
European instruments. Reggae, if any-
thing, leans more towards Africa than
Europe. It uses European-type electronic
instruments, but an African rhythmic
and harmonic approach with an emphasis
on a melodic and rhythmic bass rather
than a top melody as in European music.
All these music facilitate social

interaction of one kind or another.
Communication is direct and the music
is intended to elicit an immediate
There is a comparable range in the
philosophical category. Our most
African expression is probably Kumina
because it was brought or influenced by
indentured labourers from Africa. This
is music that builds bridges to the
supernatural or creates harmony with
the cosmos. At the other end of the
spectrum are European or American
hymns which provide music intended to
excite spiritual emotions. Revival, an
acculturation of African and European
elements, is also intended to excite
spiritual emotions. Finally, there is
Nyabingi, a totally new music that has
evolved in this century, along with
Rastafarianism, influenced by the
philosophical teachings of Garvey and
used as a means of assisting spiritual
However, the third category, the
artistic, is the one on which most
attention will be focused here.

Artistic music satisfies an inherent
human need. If this were notso, it would
not manifest itself as a universal phe-
nomenon. It is not primarily concerned
with facilitating human interaction and
it does not therefore have to confine
itself to the directness of communication
that social music does. The manipulation
of sound for the purpose of giving
aesthetic satisfaction is one of its
prime aims. It can take as long as it
likes to explore abstract ideas in depth
and from many viewpoints. It is less
concerned with functionalism than with
the communication of ideas in purely
abstract form. It aims to choose and re-
fine its sound materials so that ideas
are expressed and communicated with
the utmost precision in purely musical
terms and thisapplies to any art music,
whether Indian, Chinese, European,
African or Jamaican.
When we look at the Jamaican
situation with regard to 'fine art'
music, we find that, in comparison with
social and philosophical music, little can
be placed in this category. In fact, in the
Jamaican artistic tradition generally,
music falls far behind the other arts.
In the visual arts, thanks to Edna
Manley and the artists who followed her
from the thirties, there is a strong
Jamaican fine art tradition which now

boasts several different 'schools' and
which has achieved international recogni-
Similarly, in dance, thanks to the
leadership given by Rex Nettleford,there
is now a 'high art' tradition of Jamaican
dance expression, with a wide following
from all strata of society. That dance
expression has also reached international
Drama has long had the plays of West
Indian geniuses such as Derek Walcott
and Jamaican playwrights from Trevor
Rhone on. Thus, in these arts, a funda-
mental need for the purely artistic
dimension has been filled -and has been
filled so outstandingly that the results
have become a source of national pride
and international respect.
It is unfortunate that the world of
Jamaican art music has lacked the kind
of dynamic, creative leadership which
can inspire others and establish a con-
tinuing tradition of excellent indigenous
work which can attract serious interna-
tional recognition. In the social category,
Jamaican music has indeed achieved
worldwide fame -thanks to Bob Marley,
Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh and hundreds
of other popular musicians who have
made Jamaican Reggae one of the
most significant forces in the world of
pop music today.
The backwardness of Jamaican
music's development in the artistic
category needs to be critically examined
because, in order to satisfy that inherent
universal need, we tend to rely almost
exclusively on music of the Western
European classical tradition. This is pro-
bably the principal reason why so many
people in Jamaica identify art music as
being exclusively European music.

It is quite possible that if Penn and
Venables had not captured Jamaica
for the British in 1655, the present
situation would have beenquitedifferent.
If Jamaica had remained a Spanish
possession, I am sure that we would have
had not only a strong art music tradition,
but a string programme at the Jamaica
School of Music, one or two symphony
orchestras and a functioning opera house
as well! The sole reason for this would
have been the presence of Catholicism
as the established religion. The influence
of the monasteries and cathedrals upon
the cultural development of a country -
particularly if those monasteries had
been established by the Franciscans or

"The sensibility in
a woman's intimate,
gentle, shy, painstakingly
honest, acerbic, maniac, mercurial.
This is the important other half, the
perspicacity missing from the
current record of the literature of
the Caribbean." Pamela Mordecai
"Lorna Goodison's first collection
full of good things ... the poems
are without pose or pretension,
witty, sharply sensuous, con-
versational and casually intimate.
The voice is distinctive, and effort-
lessly Jamaican even when she
seems to be writing in standard
English. .. They affirm the value
of talk and love between individuals,
and the dignity of ordinary people
and of private visions."
- Dennis Scott Sunday Gleaner
Magazine, 1980

U.S. $8.00
Post paid overseas

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2A Suthermere Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica,
Telephone: 92-94785/6

Where great minds meet

The Jamaica Conference Centre,
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"One of the most intriguing
collections of Jamaican poems
yet published...
... the book is a mixture of miraculously beautiful
language .... It is full of delights." Dennis Scott -
Sunday Gleaner magazine.

"Anthony McNeill is the first and most accomplished
poet to appear out of the 'now' generation of the
anglophone Caribbean. McNeill's solutions over the
next few years will be one of the major achievements
in our literature." Edward Brathwaire

"Tony McNeill's extraordinary poems are at once . .
deliberately controlled, and inwardly . anarchic.
His verse is high-voltage current burning in a vacuum
bulb of words . McNeill's imaginative world is
nightmare and beyond nightmare, the edge of being."
-Louis James

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Jesuits would have been strong,
enduring and far-reaching.
The difference between the monastic
orders and the English planter/labourer
class that settled Jamaica was that, wher-
ever the priests were, there they intended
to stay. They were not interested in
mere functionalism: they built to the
glory of God, they trained craftsmen
from among the indigenous population
to adorn their churches and cathedrals,
they trained musicians to provide music
for the church. It was their policy to
train composers who would compose
new music for the liturgy, incorporating
certain aspects of indigenous music, as
part of the proselytization process.
Latin America has such a strong 'fine
art' tradition because there was little
differentiation between the philosophi-
cal and artistic styles. For over four
hundred years, thanks to the monaste-
ries, native Indians, Africans, Europeans,
Mulattos and Mestizos were given
musical education and encouraged to
write music for the liturgy. Then,
naturally, musicians trained in the church
also supplemented their incomes by
performing and composing music for
secular society: in fact the classification
'sacred' or 'secular' could only be made
in relation to function, since the musical
language for church music and secular
art music was so often the same.
There was a creative, organic relation-
ship between religious music, art music
and folk music. The compositional
techniques of European art music
were used in religious music and those,
combined with the rhythms, melodies
and forms of the social and religious
music of the Indian population and later
the African population, led to the devel-
opment of a 'fine art' tradition which
remained strong and distinctive even
after the dominance of the church had
weakened. Most Latin American coun-
tries received their independence in the
two decades between 1810 and 1830
and after that there was a tremendous
burgeoning of national feeling which
was expressed mainly by incorporating
folk elements into art music, and by
establishing music schools, philharmonic
societies, music societies and opera
houses where the music could be listened
One writer in the New York Times
recently summed it all up, thus: 'A
number of Caribbean and Latin American
nations had their own music schools,
composers, opera companies and
symphony orchestras when the US was

still mostly wilderness. At the same
time,the most sophisticated and complex
African polyrhythm flourished in black
dance music. And the idioms were never
mutually exclusive. Classical composers
drew on Afro-Latin rhythms to give their
music colour and vitality and classical
influences filtered into popular dance
music. ..
This is not meant to be a history of
Latin American music, but I hope that
I have been able to give a glimpse of
how important and far-reaching the
influence of the Catholic Church was in
the formation of Latin American
musical culture. The most important
aspect of this influence was the fact that
from the beginning the Church en-
couraged the creation of new music -
albeit in the European tradition and
this provided a channel which led event-
ually to an art music that belonged to
its environment. It became a comingling
of the artistic and social traditions of
Europe with the social traditions of
Africa and the native Amerindians. In
passing I might mention here a twentieth
century example that came out of the
very tradition of social/artistic/philoso-
phical music which is used by our own
NDTC the Missa Criolla by the
Argentine composer, Ariel Ramirez.

How different it was in the British
colonies! The Anglican Church was
neither as rich nor as powerful as the
Catholic Church from which it had
seceded, and, in throwing off what
it considered the excesses of Papalism, it
gradually rid itself of the musical forms
which had graced the Roman Church.
The new church adopted the singing of
hymns and the musically restricted form
of Anglican chant. Neither the Anglican
Church nor the Nonconformist churches
which followed encouraged the creation
of new music to be used in the new
colonies. Only the Pentecostal churches
which came later allowed some latitude,
in that hymns were at least performed
with percussive sounds and instruments
and body movement.
Among the secular population that
settled in this 'trading post', as Rex
Nettleford has called it, there would
have been few teachers of music and
few outlets for musicians to function
at anything but a social/recreational
level. What musicians there were would
have been engaged in teaching selected
individuals the rudiments of playing
European instruments mainly for the

purpose of providing music for social
occasions such as dances.
Art music cannot be created in a
vacuum. It must have an audience,
there must be a demand for it. In the
absence of a church which requires new
music for the liturgy or social institu-
tions that establish a tradition of
encouraging and patronizing the creative
arts where people come to listen, com-
position for purely artistic purposes
must atrophy and die. In Jamaica, it
appears that that is exactly what hap-
We must also take into consideration
the fact that British art music from the
eighteenth century to the late nineteenth
and early twentieth century was in a
parlous state. From the time that the
British adopted Handel or Handel
adopted the British the music of
England was dominated by Germany.
Truly English composers such as Purcell
were completely overshadowed by
Handel and his followers, and British
art music went into eclipse. In the
absence of a strong, indigenous, artistic
movement, the British merely reverted
to performing the music of other
countries particularly Germany and
Italy. Does the pattern sound familiar?
So where the Latin countries were
able to draw on a dynamic, living,
religious musical tradition rooted in art
music one which furthermore became
familiar to them through frequent
association both in the church and in
the salon the British colonies were
restricted to the imported religious
expressions of nonconformism, and
the social music the folk songs and
dances and Music Hall of the late nine-
teenth century and early twentieth
century which gradually became
acculturated with the music of Africa.
The performance of art music would
have been limited primarily to the
performance of music by European
Western European music of the post-
Renaissance tradition, that music that
was composed roughly between 1600
and 1914, is a truly great music and
a unique one, in being the only music to
make use of harmony as the main func-
tional element.
It is also a literate music and while
this constitutes an asset on one side in
that it allows music to be preserved for
posterity and also allows time for com-
posers to make their artistic decisions
at leisure, it is also a severe limitation
because the music is always dependent

upon a performer to bring it to life. In
addition because of the nature of
Western society where everything is
reduced to a pattern of production by
specialists for consumption by non-
specialists, the music has fallen more
and more into the pattern of becoming
a specialist performer's art rather than a
creator's art. The composer exists in
isolation in the background; specialists
come in and reproduce the music,
usually for a paying public, and they
tend to receive most of the approbation.
On the whole, people who listen to
classical music are less interested in music
than they are in performers.
Since the nineteenth century most of
the work of music colleges in Europe
and America has been channelled into
training artists/craftsmen to reproduce
the written notes of an entrenched
traditional repertory, to the detriment
of training them to create their own
music. It is as if art schools were to
teach their students to reproduce
paintings of the great masters over and
over again without ever encouraging
them to create any paintings of their
If musicians are not creating music
out of their own environment but
are continually going back into the past,
playing over and over the music of old
masters, they are, in fact, dealing with
music in a social and historical vacuum.
Instead of using music as a means of
exploring their environment, they are
using it as a means of escape. This is
what makes the literate nature of
European music one of its most stulti-
fying dimensions, because it makes
possible the re-creation of old masters
over and over again. This practice of
forever re-creating past glories can be a
formidable obstacle for a young com-
poser to overcome and most of all
a composer from a young nation outside
Europe, whose cultural self-confidence
has been deliberately undermined for
When I play Schubert, I am playing
music that really relates to another time
and another place. Certainlytheabsolute
artistic values the abstract qualities
of that music speak across the
centuries; but they have to be re-
translated in the context of our present
historical and geographical location and
our personal experience and acquired
knowledge of what the music means.
I am very much aware that, when I
sit and play Schubert, I am re-creating
something in my mind and my imagi-

nation that probably does not have the
same meaning for me as it had for an
Austrian in the nineteenth century.
When I play, for example Jamaican
Dance No. 2 by Oswald Russell, [see
JAMAICA JOURNAL 21:1] it conjures
up a mood in the same way; but to a
Jamaican or to anyone familiar with
Jamaican culture, it carries a resonance
that reverberates in the soul in a way
that someone in England or the USA
who has never been here could never
feel. So it satisfies one on two levels -
on the level of cultural association -
one's environment and on the artistic
level where a composer manipulates his
sound material and his musical symbols
in such a way that a simple work song,
in this case, Sammy Dread, becomes a
vehicle for communicating deeper levels
of meaning and new dimensions of

In this important year of Garvey's
Centenary and the twenty-fifth anni-
versary of Jamaican Independence it is
perhaps necessary for us to take stock
of ourselves and try to discern what the
future might hold. If we are not to con-
tinue what one writer has called 'the
servile perpetuation of the tastes,
methods and prejudices of the past', we
are going to have to radically change a
number of our ideas about music and
music education not only at institu-
tional levels such as we find at the Ja-
maica School of Music, but also in
schools and among the general public.
Some of these changes could be made
in the immediate future. Others maytake
us well into the twenty-first century. We
need, first of all, to help people realize
that art music does not automatically
mean European classical music. Un-
fortunately, a national artistic conscious-
ness has still not penetrated all areas of
society least of all our art music
audiences. We need to make audiences
aware that there is a corpus of music in
the artistic tradition already composed
by Jamaicans such as Oswald Russell,
Olive Lewin, Marjorie Whylie, Noel
Dexter, Paulette Bellamy, Frank
DeCasseres, Peter Ashbourne and a
number of other composers, most of
which remains unpublished and therefore
inaccessible to performers. And here I
feel that we need a concerted effort on
the part of the performers, the Institute
of Jamaica, the Jamaica School of Music,
the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation,
the Jamaica Cultural Development

Commission and the National Committee
of the International Music Council to
have the work of Jamaican composers
performed in public and in schools as
often as possible. It has been encouraging
to find one choral group adopting a
policy of featuring the work of local
and regional composers in their annual
concerts and it is to be hoped that this
policy will be adopted by others.
Some churches have also com-
missioned or been persuaded to use -
music in the philosophical category
specially composed for use in church
services. There are settings of the Mass
by Olive Lewin, Marjorie Whylie, Lisa
Narcisse-Mair, Mapletoft Poulle and
Billy Cooke. Noel Dexter has composed
several psalm settings. All of this music
incorporates folk elements. How im-
portant a role music such as this might
have in the development of the Jamaican
psyche can be shown in Olive Lewin's
Mass which brings together the Anglican
liturgy, Jamaican folk melody and the
drum rhythms of two different tradi-
tional music of the philosophical
category Rastafarian and Revival.
As we approach the twenty-first
century, the world generally is moving
away from the dominance of the Euro-
pean aesthetic towards a world music
that owes much to the musical resources
of the African-American tradition. Ja-
maica's social and philosophical music
belong mainly to that tradition, which
includes the use of rhythmic, timbral
and melodic resources that exist in-
dependently of harmony. Already in
this century, Jamaicans have created
two totally new music Nyabingi which
performs a philosophical function and
Reggae which performs a social function.
The African-American tradition is
one that easily integrates music with
dance and poetry and it may well be
that a new, fresh art form may develop
from this part of the world, quite
different from anything anywhere else
in the field of art music. Already the
NDTC has acted as catalyst to the work
of some of our leading musicians -
Marjorie Whylie, Oswald Russell, Peter
Ashbourne, Cedric Brooks and others,
and who knows what might come from
future commissions from the NDTC?
Certainly the NDTC has elicited the
most experimental music, as shown in
Marjorie Whylie's Ni, Woman of Destiny,
which makes use of the Abeng and the
African sansa.
Composers of art music are free to be
as eclectic as they wish, using resources


all the way.



from all categories of artistic expression,
as the visual artists and the NDTC have
done. Conversely, a great deal of rock
music today is more and more closely
approaching art music as popular
musicians throw off the constraints of
commercialism and become more experi-
mental. It would be interesting to see
what would happen if groups such as
Third World or Chalice were given the
opportunity to create more extended
and more abstract compositions than
the commercial world allows them at
present. In fact, it is exciting to con-
template what might happen if some of
our most outstanding creative talents
were given this kind of opportunity and

We also need to change our ideas
about music education. For far too long,
learning music in Jamaica has meant
taking the music examinations of the
Associated Board of the Royal Schools
of Music. This practice, I believe, has
led to more people giving up music and
more classical musicians turning into
neurotics than we dare to contemplate.
Once we break away from the idea
that learning music consists only in
learning to pass examinations in per-
formance and begin to instil more
creative modes of musical behaviour
such as those found in African-American
music particularly improvisation,
playing by ear, playing and creating
music communally the more likely we
are to find that art music flourishes. It
will not be because everybody will
become a composer, but because we
will develop discerning listeners who
can better appreciate the creative pro-
cess, having had the experience of active
involvement in music-making. Such
individuals are more likely to become
the kind of enlightened listeners whom
the creative artist needs in order to
Above all, we need to understand
that the practice of music is not
necessarily one of making a musical
product whether it be a composition
or a performance. Music-making in
many societies is a process in which
many non-specialists can take part,
deriving satisfaction merely from being
participants. The whole field of music
education needs to move away from a
product-centred culture to a process-
oriented one in which individuals are
given the freedom to set their own goals
and make their own choices something

that isabysmally lacking in our education
system. Music of the Jamaican social
and artistic traditions is an excellent
vehicle for this.
While fully realizing that this is likely
to be a long process, the Jamaica School
of Music has nevertheless been addressing
such concerns over the past twelve years.
At the same time, it continues to ac-
knowledge the validity of training per-
formers in the European tradition which
still remains part of our cultural heritage.
Both the African-American Department
and the Music Education Department
have concentrated more on the creative
side of music-making and on the use of
Jamaican music in the school system.
This might be regarded as a process of
preparing the way for a future that will
be more directly centred on Jamaican
music and on training young people to
be more discerning in regard to their
own culture something we need
desperately at the moment when we see
the trash that is being accepted uncriti-
cally in the area of social music parti-
In one way, it is a great pity that
cultural institutions in the Third World
are forced to make choices and to con-
centrate on some things at the expense
of others. On the other hand, the sit-
uation wonderfully concentrates the
mind on reasons why it is necessary to
move in one direction rather than
another. We feel strongly at JSM that
it is imperative that we move forward
into a predominantly Jamaican future.
When we turn to the question of
having a Symphony Orchestra estab-
lished in Jamaica, we have to ask, first
of all: Do we need one? If so: What
would be its function?

Would we be spending thousands of
dollars every year for an orchestra to
reproduce works of the European
classical repertory that have already
been performed thousands of times far
better than we could hope to do?
Granted, there is no substitute for the
uplifting experience of seeing and
hearing an orchestra in the flesh, but
could we afford it?

If we were a rich country, we would
not be forced to make a choice between
having or not having an orchestra. Since
we have to make that choice, I suggest
that we make a compromise by moving
boldly into the twentieth century. Let
us spend a fraction of the money on
erecting a large video screen in the
lecture hall of the Institute of Jamaica

or in the School of Music or the National
Gallery and show regular concerts of
the best orchestras in the world playing
the greatest masterpieces conducted by
the greatest conductors. We are, after
all, living in the twentieth century and
not the nineteenth and it is no longer
necessary for us to establish our own
orchestra in order to hear masterpieces
of the symphonic repertory.
At the same time, I would urge that
even as little as ten percent of the money
we would have to spend on an orchestra
be spent commissioning new music
composed by our most talented com-
posers and presenting regular concerts
of Jamaican art music.
This is not mere chauvinism. In the
art music field, we must stop operating
solely in terms of music composed for
other historical periods, other social
conditions and other geographical loca-
tions. We must begin thinking in terms
of a future based on music created from
our own environment that will satisfy
our own aesthetic needs.

And what of Marcus Garvey and his
opera house?
In her article 'Marcus Garvey:
Cultural Activist' published in the Garvey
Centenary issue of JAMAICA JOURNAL,
[20:3], Beverley Hamilton has made it
abundantly clear that the arts held a
place of supreme importance in Garvey's
philosophy. Obviously he understood
the necessity of the artistic dimension,
as well as the social and philosophical
dimensions, in the development of the
human psyche. His call for an opera
house is a clear manifestation of that
But why an opera house? Why not a
concert hall or a theatre?
Opera is the one art that integrates
words, music, movement, drama and
the visual arts. It provides a multi-
dimensional form of theatre in the
artistic category which has a strong,
immediate impact.
In the years during which he travelled
in Latin America and the Caribbean,
Garvey must have become aware of the
strong Latin American artistic tradition.
He must have visited many a large city
- and many a smaller one that had
its opera house where Latin American
opera (as well as Italian opera) had been
performed for hundreds of years. He
must have realized the effectiveness of
opera in presenting the myths, legends,

Give IOJP Books The Best of Jamaican Culture



Jamaica Surveyed
Plantation Maps and Plans of the Eighteenth and
Nineteenth Centuries
By B.W.Higman

Our 'big book' for 1988, a magnificent combination of lucid text
and black and white illustrations (300+).
B.W.Higman traces the pattern of settlement throughout
Jamaica over time, enabling us to see how the places we know
came into being. The familiar sugar properties are here, but so
are coffee and pimento plantations, livestock pens, villages,
gardens, grounds and great houses and post-emancipation
village settlements. The earliest illustrations are of property
surveys estate maps and plans but in many cases these are
enhanced by contemporary prints and later photographs which
enable us to trace the pattern of growth, in some cases of a
single plantation.

In Jamaica Surveyed, Professor Higman has combined
cartographic and documentary materials to produce an
unusual work of historical scholarship with wide general
appeal. Historians, cartographers, geographers and everyone
interested in Caribbean life and culture will find this book
exciting and significant.

324 pp; 330+ illustrations (b/w)

Afro-Caribbean Villages
in Historical Perspective
Edited by Charles V. Carnegie
ACIJ Research Review no. 2

ISBN:976-05-8 (HC) 976-8017-08-2 (PB)

Afra-C-ribb-ian Vill.ges
in Histotical Per~pective

The essays in this publication from the
African-Caribbean Institute of
Jamaica examine the development of
the independent peasant village and ".
African continuities among the
peasantry in Jamaica, St John, V. I.,
Costa Rica and 19th century Belize.
Distinguished contributors include: Sydney W. Mintz (The
Historical Sociology of Jamaican Villages); Karen Fog Olwig
(Village,Culture and Identity on St John, V.I.); Trevor W.
Purcell (Economy and Cultural Survival in a 'Jamaican'
Peasant Village in Costa Rica) O. Nigel Bolland (African
Continuities and Creole Culture in Belize Town in the 19th
century); Charles V. Carnegie (Is Family Land an Institution?)
Jean Besson ( Family Land as a Model for Martha Brae's New
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133 +x pp. 6 x 9". PB ISSN: 0258-0586
Ja$50 US$10 UKE 7.00

Jamaica 21 Anthology Series No.2
From Our Yard
Jamaican Poetry Since
edited by Pamela Mordecai

From Our Yard
J imacn Fo.r. Sl35- Independence

A representative collection of post-
Independence poetry from 28 of the
most accomplished poets of the
period. The first Anthology of
Jamaican poetry since Independence.
An exciting mixture of poets who were well-known before
Independence, those whose talents matured in the sixties and
seventies and those whose voices are just beginning to be
recognized. The collection includes not only Jamaican based
poets but those residing overseas who are still strongly
identified with their homeland.
Poets included: Edward Baugh, Louise Bennett, James Berry,
Valerie Bloom, Beverley Brown, George Campbell, Christine
Craig, Neville Dawes, Gloria Escoffery, John Figueroa, Lorna
Goodison, Jean Goulbourne, Judith Hamilton,A.L.Hendriks,
Linton Kwesi Johnson, Basil Lopez, Basil McFarlane, Anthony
McNeill, Rachel Manley, Pamela Mordecai, Mervyn Morris,
Mutabaruka, Oku Onuora, Andrew Salkey, Dennis Scott,
Olive Senior, Philip Sherlock, Michael Smith.
233pp. 7x5" (178x128) ISBN 976-8017-0 J$ 30 US$10 UKE6.95
To Order:
In the U.K. only: Orders to Third World Publications,
151 Stratford Rd., Birmingham B11 1RD, England.

All other orders to:
Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2a Suthermere Road, Kingston 10.
Tel. 94785/6
Postage and handling included in U.S.prices. Jamaican
orders add $2 for each order to cover handling.

Port Royal: U I l
A History and Guide
by Clinton V. Black v '..
A Walking Tour of Port Royal S

The name 'Port Royal' conjures up
a vivid picture of pirates and
buccaneers, English sea-dogs, destruction by earthquake and
fire, a town that would never die.... This lively history gives us
the full story of Port Royal from pre-history to the present -
and a glimpse into the future of the town.
An attractive package which will be popular with Jamaicans
and visitors alike and a perfect gift for enquiring youngsters.
90pp. including index and prelims.41 b/w illustrations.
81/2 x 5 1/2"
ISBN 976-8017-06-6 (PB) J$45.00
Map /poster 17 x 22" in full colour on art quality stock Text and photos for a
walking tour keyed to the map. Poster is a magnificent aerial view of Port Royal.

epics and values of a nation in an idealized
form and the importance for any nation
of having that kind of artistic expression.
We have our opera house already at
the Ward Theatre.
How far away are we from having
Jamaican opera or musical theatre that
treats Jamaican subjects seriously?
In this context, it seems appropriate
that the musical Garvey was presented
in honour of his Centenary, for it points
very much in the direction in which
Garvey himself was obviously looking.
Pantomime has long conditioned
audiences to musical theatre. In the last
few years, we have had several very
significant essays into a quasi-operatic
world with Bedward, The Legend of
Port Royal and now with Garvey. The
work of the Jamaican Folk Singers and
the University Singers has, at various
times, taken on an operatic dimension.
Therefore, if we regard Garvey's
opera house as an aberration, then we
are betraying the confusion which co-
lonial influences have engendered in our
attitudes to art music. If we regard it as
a product of deep insight into human
nature and the need of all societies to
explore their inner and outer environ-
ments to define themselves to them-
selves and others then the way ahead
is clear.
Whether in the field of opera, of
instrumental music, of choral music,
of electronic music, whatever all we
need is to have absolute faith in the
ability of Jamaican musicians ultimately
to realize Garvey's dream. He himself
said that Jamaicans should bring out
what was in them in poetry and music,
things created by Jamaicans in Jamaica.

This is an edited version of a lecture given by
Pamela O'Gorman, Director of the Jamaica
School of Music in the Institute of Jamaica
Lecture Series, October 1987. The series
was dedicated to the memory of the Hon.
Marcus Garvey, National Hero of Jamaica.

Pamela O'Gorman is Director of the
Jamaica School of Music and our regular
music columnist.


History and Culture
Carlfesta Forumn An Anthology of 20
Carlbboan Volce. Edited and with an Intro-
duction by John Hearno
Produced for Carifesta '76
in Jamaica, this unique collection of
essays aimed to define 'the present
state of culture in the Caribbean'
through the consciousness of 20
formidable minds. Contributors from
the English, Spanish, French and Dutch
Caribbean and circum-Caribbean
include C.L.R. James, V.S. Naipoul
and Gordon Rohlehr (Trinidad); Aime
Cesaire (Martinique); Nicolas Guillen,
Roberto Retamar (Cuba); Octavio Paz,
Carlos Fuentes (Mexico); Rene
Depestre (Haiti); Jan Carew, Wilson
Harris, Denis Williams (Guyana);
George Lamming, Edward Kamau
Brathwaite (Barbados); Derek Walcott
(St. Lucia); Sylvia Wynter, John
Hearne, Rex Nettleford (Jamaica);
Robin Dobru (Surinam); Rene Marques
(Puerto Rico); Gabriel Garcia Marquez
P248 pp (1976) J10 or U.S.40ppd.

.' THE

The Rebel Woman In the Britdih West Indles
During Slaery by Luclle Mathurin
"... women, who are often regarded
as the submissive sex .. took an im-
portant part in forms of protest against
slavery. Female slaves adopted some
of the same techniques as men to defy
the system". Many of these techniques
as well as those peculiar to women are
described in this booklet. "The Rebel
Woman" is placed in a historical
context starting with women's roles in
the West Africa kingdoms from which
they came to the New World to their
most powerful manifestation in
Jamaica Nanny, leader of the
Maroons. This interesting and simply
written approach to one aspect of our
history is a perfect gift for students
and adults.
PB40ppillustrated(L975)JS5or U.S.S3.25ppd.

Institute of Jamaica Publications Limited
2A Suthermere Road. Kingston 10, Jamaica,
Telephone: 92-94785/6



By Victor Chang
Dub Poetry: 19 Poets from England and Jamaica
Edited by Christian Habekost
Michael Schwinn:
Neustadt, West Germany. 1987. 238 pp.
From Our Yard: Jamaican Poetry Since Independence
Edited by Pamela Mordecai
Institute of Jamaica Publications:
Kingston, Jamaica. 1987. 235 pp.
At the Eighth Conference on West Indian Literature held
in May of this year at the University of the West Indies,
Mona, Edward Kamau Brathwaite sounded a solemn
warning about the very real danger we in the West Indies are
facing of losing what could be termed our 'literary patri-
mony'. His words came unbidden into my mind as I read the
collection, Dub Poetry: 19 Poets from England and Jamaica,
edited by Christian Habekost and published by the German
firm of Michael Schwinn. We have reason to be grateful to
Editor Habekost for as the blurb on the back cover notes
this is 'the first book of its kind: an anthology as well as
general introduction to the art form itself', but I cannot help
thinking that we are running the risk of letting others take
over what we should be laying claim to, had we the commit-
ment, cunning, money and will to do so.
This is not to detract from the value of the book as we
have it: it is a first, important, collection of a variety of di-
verse talents, ranging from the better-known poets such as
Michael Smith, Mutabaruka, Oku Onuora, Linton Kwesi
Johnson who have all been published in their own right, to
lesser known ones such as Tippa Naphtali, Sista Nita and
Shaka Bantuta who are now being published for the first
time. About half of the poets featured can be considered Ja-
maican in the sense that they were born and came to matur-
ity in the island, but all the others have some connection
with Jamaica either through parentage, (for example, Shaka
Deddi who was born in the USA of Jamaican parents who
then migrated to England), or were actually born here and
then emigrated while very young (Benjamin Zephaniah left
Jamaica when he was two years old). Even those who are
'Black British' retain their sense of identification with their
parents' island origins.
SEach poet is represented by two or three poems at the
most which makes for fifty-four poems in all, and the selec-
tions are preceded by photographs of the individual poets,
(some very striking indeed, like those of Mutabaruka and
Shaka Bantuta) as well as a brief biography and quotes ex-
cerpted from longer interviews conducted in 1985/86. Editor
Habekost also includes a section, '19 Poets on Paper and
Wax', in which he lists the publications and/or discs available,
as well as a 'Discographie and Bibliographie' which betrays
the German origin of the book in its very spelling.
The foreign origin of the book is also evidenced in cita-
tions such as 'Sangster's Bookstores Ltd. und Heineman',

in very careless proofreading such as the citing of Cassidy's
book as 'Three Hundred Years of the Englisch Language',
'Ocford University Press', and 'Westindian History'. The
book is riddled with printing errors like these, so that the
difficulty of reading the idiosyncratic orthography of the
dub poets is compounded. But there can be no doubt that
'we ist not represented' [p.62] is clearly a printing error as
are 'time ist tough', 'wath yu step', and 'their brillang mas-
tery of the voice' [p.36]. The book is also shoddily bound
and the copy I had was falling apart as I read it.
Dub Poetry tries very hard to identify with its subject and
to cultivate the right associations: it has a brightly coloured
red cover with green and gold chevrons across it and is 'Livi-
cated to Dub Poet Michael Smith', the Editor adopting the
curious Rasta Linguistic explanation which sees the 'ded' in
'dedicated' as a reference to 'dead'. His twenty-five page
'Introduction to Dub Poetry' makes more sense, and is quite
informative and useful though somewhat overstated. Is Lin-
ton Kwesi Johnson really 'England's foremost poet'? I would

seriously doubt that. Nor would I accept that 'the lyricists,
novelists and dramatists in the West no longer seem to know
what to write about and neither do they seem to know how'
[p. 15].
But the real value of the Introduction is that it reveals the
assumptions its practitioners and supporters make about dub
poetry and, unwittingly, puts its finger on the real difficulties
involved in any assessment of dub poetry. Thus, we are told
that the 'foundation of Dub Poetry is WORD, SOUND &
POWER. If the sound of the spoken word is missing the
power can't fully unfold itself' [p.14]. How, then, are we to
judge when this generation has passed away, as it will, as it
must? 'Listeners' of the future will have to be satisfied with
the thought that once upon a time, when the poets were alive
and could perform their poetry, the full power unfolded it-
self; they will then have to comfort themselves with the fil-
tered recollections of those who witnessed it, just as we
now have to take the word of the diarists and eyewitnesses
that Betterton and Mrs Siddons were great actors.
Of course, we now have videotape so that the fortunate
among us can hear the inimitable and hair-raising reading of
the 'Lawwwwwwd' in Michael Smith's 'Mi Cyaan Believe It'.
But the fact that we need the poets themselves to mediate
between us and the poetry before we can get the full effects
of the poems touches on the real weakness and limitation at
the core of this work. Long after Brathwaite and Walcott
are gone, their work will remain on the page, accessible to
any reader of intelligence, taste and sensitivity, able to yield
up riches to one willing to take the trouble and make the effort.
Whereas, even while committing the Dub Poets to print,
Habekost recognizes that dub poetry 'can never be fully
understood by reading alone' [p. 18] and that 'it is only at
a live performance that the visual power of the Dub Poets
can be experienced' [p.35] .

The notion, too, that poems are elevated to 'artistic im-
pressions' by means of 'useless metaphors' is strange. How
does one evaluate the usefulness of a metaphor? What we are
left with, after shearing all the 'useless metaphors' away, is
language that 'is simple and clear to get the meaning and
message across to anyone' [p.18]. There we have clearly
stated both the strength and the weakness of Dub Poetry.
It is a poetry of statement, shouted at you from the plat-
form: it is very public poetry, poetry for 'performance' in
truth. Its strengths lie in shrill denunciation and protest,
polarized stances, confrontational postures, as we hear in
Jean Binta Breeze's 'Aid Travels with a Bomb':
They rob and exploit you of your own
then send it back as a foreign loan
Interest is on it, regulations too
They will also decide your policy for you.
Aid travels with a bomb
watchout [p.44]
and in Martin Glynn's 'Get it Straight':
dem indoctrinate me
wid all a dem lies
rape we countries
in front a we eyes
but is time Africans
to concentrate [p.61]

Linton Kwesi Johnson's 'Time Come' is even more threaten-

wi feel bad
wi look sad
wi smoke weed
an if yu eye sharp,
read de violence inna we eye;
wi goin smash de sky wid wi bad bad blood
look out! look out! look out! [p.98]
Dub poetry seldom strays from this approach. When it
tries another tack, such as love poetry, it doesn't quite come
off. So that Sista Nita's 'My Kind of Love' sounds very flat
and unconvincing:

My love
don't burden anyone
I wouldn't pressure
any living creature
My kind of love
keeps me apart from wrongs
My love is TRUE love
for all humanity
and with all sincerity. [p.122]
Levi Tafari's 'Love' is no more successful:

Love is not a sexual act
Love like sex don't keep one back
Love is a thing that is pure and clean
That teaches I to share
And no be mean [p.1481

In the hands of someone with talent, however, the poetry
can accommodate real feeling, as in Jean Breeze's 'Lovin'
Was'n Easy'. Loving, she says,

was'n easy at all

cep' wen,
warm eena de tear up tent a we blanket,
jine wid we glue
we use to watch mawnin star
troo de hole eena de bamboo shack [p.47]

In other words, only a genuine talent can stretch the form

and use it to achieve more complex effects. One such writer
is Mutabaruka who makes a devastating attack on the Eucharist
in 'The Priest An' U':

watching u watching him
drinking wine with him
the bench is getting hot
it will soon be done
he turns to u
now u are ready
the task is done

he has used your mind
to make love
with the
dead. [p.107]

He can also be wryly ironic at his own expense in 'Revolu-
tionary Poets' when he notes:

revolutionary poets
'ave all gone to the
creative art centre
to watch
the suffering
of the people
bein dram at ized by the
in their
poems [p.109]

Thus, while dub poetry covers a range of topics, its tonal
range as represented here is essentially limited: protesting,
threatening, accusatory. And we need to recognize this. I am
not saying that this poetry does not have its value or that it
should be like traditional poetry. I merely want to suggest
that we cannot often expect any subtlety of approach, any-
thng that is inward-looking, musing, quiet, reflective, tender,
delicate, registering a complexity of position or feeling. When
it strays, it becomes banal and ludicrous as in Martin Glynn's

It might be fried or boil
Soft or even tough
But dumplin, is a ting
Yuh can never get enough
And for those who value and want more than the broad ef-
fects, the clout on the head, the deafening roar, the enraged
shout, this poetry is just not enough.

To satisfy that need, we have to go to Pamela Mordecai's
From Our Yard: Jamaican Poetry Since Independence, No. 2
in the Jamaica 21 Anthology Series, published by Institute of
Jamaica Publications Limited. This is a superb volume,
gathering, as it does, selections from the work of most of the
significant Jamaican poets since 1962, and with an attractive
cover reproduction of Osmond Watson's Masquerade No. 6.
The order of the poems is determined alphabetically by
authors, twenty-eight in all, beginning with Edward Baugh
and ending with Michael Smith, and each is represented by
about seven or eight poems. There is also a useful set of
'Notes on the Poets' and a lucid and valuable Introduction
by the editor.
Pamela Mordecai has done an excellent job of editing this
diverse material, drawn from so many sources, so much so
that one hates to mention the fact which she herself noted

at the official launching of the book that the key final two
stanzas of Christine Craig's 'All Things Bright . .' are miss-
ing from the book and that on page xxv, 'Goddison' appears
instead of 'Goodison'. Certainly, the omission in Craig's
poem will be rectified at the next printing.
The selection is eminently readable and attractive, and
this is hardly surprising considering that the editor 'tried to
choose poems . that almost everyone could understand, in
the hope that the anthology might tempt persons not used to
reading poetry as well as satisfy traditional poetry-lovers'. It
sounds like a daunting task but somehow it works. Because
of the vagaries of the publishing world, it has been possible
to include poems by George Campbell and Philip Sherlock
who might not otherwise have qualified for the volume, given
its cut-off point 'since Independence'. With their work and
that of John Figueroa, one gets a strong sense of a long and
enduring line of poetry that stretches back to the thirties and
forward into the eighties. Figueroa's'Christmas Breeze' evokes
a time in Jamaica's past that now seems curiously distant (as
does Louise Bennett's 'Hula Christmus'):

In December in Jamaica
we would have called it cold,
Cold Christmas Breeze,
fringing the hill tops with its tumble
of cloud, bringing in
imported apples, and dances
and rum (for older folk).
For us, some needed clothes, and a pair
of shoes, squeezing every toe.
And Midnight Mass: [p.78]

There are a great many favourites here, too. Mervyn Mor-
ris's 'The Pond', 'The Day My Father Died', 'Valley Prince',
Dennis Scott's 'Uncle Time'and Eddie Baugh's'Nigger Sweat'.
Of course, one could always quibble at the choices as one
does with all anthologies since these are by now standard
selections and it could be argued that perhaps less well-
known poems could have been chosen to widen the range of
But having said that, is there anything that marks these
poems as being particularly Jamaican? I think so. The char-
acters and the personae who people this poetry are distinct-
ly Jamaican, whether it is Valerie Bloom's avid gossiping
woman in 'Carry Go Bring Come', or Linton Kwesi Johnson's
Sonny. Sometimes, there is a strong autobiographical stamp
as in Goodison's 'For My Mother', Craig's 'Prelude to An-
other Life', Scott's 'Grampa', or Mordecai's Papa in 'Southern
Cross'. These are people whom we think we recognize and
And the landscape which is celebrated is also very fami-
liar, as it is in Lopez's 'Jamaica As in a Dream':
It was happy so in the pear walks and the coffee
dawn in the wet picking up pears, pregnant with the
of sweet bush-cups and surrouci and the padded limbs
of cocoa pods. [p.128]

Dawes's 'Acceptance', too, celebrates a known landscape:
I praise the glorious summers of pimento
Sun-purple, riper than the wet red clay-smell
Of my youth by cornlight and river-run. [p.66]

While there is no poem about religion as such, a feeling
that can only be described as religious and affirmative is very
much present in the poetry as in Basil McFarlane's 'Ascen-

sion' and Lopez's 'All is Well'. It is also there in Goodison
and Figueroa, in George Campbell and Hendriks. There is
also a strong social concern in the poetry: these are not wri-
ters who live in ivory towers, at a remove from the grim real-
ity of present day Jamaica, as can be seen the work of Jean
Goulbourne and Christine Craig among others.
The single most impressive feature of this collection,
which Editor Mordecai also notes, is the contribution of the
women who constitute eleven of the twenty-eight poets in
the anthology. In the thirties and early forties, the flutings of
the 'poetesses' of that period such as Elsie Hutton, Albinia
Catherine Hutton, Constance Hollar, Clara Garrett alsc filled
several volumes of The Yearbook of the Jamaica Poetry
League but in comparison with the present contributors,
their work pales into insignificance. Indeed, Professor Coul-
thard described them acidly as 'a group of dilettante littera-
teurs writing for each other in a cultural desert, quite aware
that their voices will find little or no echo'. This is far from
the case with the writing of, say, Lorna Goodison whose
work exhibits such force and power and whose 'Heartease'
poem stuns with its triumphant, visionary quality:

but we catching mercy rain in zinc and tub pan
and in addition
to the search-mi-heart
the sincerity seeds
and the pilgrimage to heart ease
we planting some one-love
undivided ever living healing trees
and next week ...
we going to set up again
to extend the singing rosary of our ancestors' names
till the veil is rent from the eyes of the sky
of everyone
forever and ever illumination. [p.89]

It is the sheer range that impresses: it goes from the legend-
ary and monolithic figure of Miss Lou, Louise Bennett, with
an appropriate selection, 'Independence', through one of her
literary offspring, Valerie Bloom, to the quiet control of
Christine Craig, and the delicate 'Tapestry' of Judith Hamil-
And the women as well as the men show a versatility and
ease in using a wide variety of verse forms and linguistic
register. Dub poetry rightly has its place here, too and, seen
in its context is shown to be not so unique after all. Other
writers, too, can use the Creole, and use it sensitively and
well, to convey a range of emotion and feeling, not just for
strident protest. Philip Sherlock uses it, subtly shaped, in 'The
August Leaders' Meeting':
Is a sign of the times, is a signal to we
when we hear the murmuring, murmuring growing
growing and spreading and every eye turning
and every voice lifting in cries to we Father. [p.220]

And Christine Craig can use it broadly in 'Elsa's Version':

Lawd God
I tired fe hear it
I tired fe hear it so till ...

Me no bone inna
no body back
nor rib outa
no body side.


This collection has something to offer every reader and in
that alone, editor Mordecai is to be commended. We can be
proud of the achievement that is evident in this book: it is of

a very high order indeed and we should be happy and pleased
to say loudly that this is in truth 'From Our Yard'. We have
taken a big step in retaining and maintaining our hold on our
literary patrimony.
Victor Chang is a lecturer in the Department of English,
University of the West Indies (Mona).

By Sheila Coulson
E. Kamau Brathwaite
Havana: Casa de las Americas, 1986.
304 pp.
E. Kamau Brathwaite's prize-winning collection of criti-
cal essays, Roots, is aptly named, since the focus is on
what he perceives to be the root of West Indian liter-
ature that which not only provides or should provide the
sustenance for growth, but also that which keeps the liter-
ature grounded in West Indian reality the folk culture.
Roots is an important addition to our critical canon because,
although all the essays included have been published pre-
viously, this collection has the advantage of bringing together
for the first time ten of Brathwaite's most illuminating essays.
The emphasis is evidently on literary criticism, and this
might account for the omission of 'The Love Axe/i' and
'Caribbean Culture: Two Paradigms' which are concerned
not just with literature but with broader cultural issues.
Nevertheless, these two articles would have provided a con-
text within which one could place the literary criticism
since, for Brathwaite, literary theory and criticism are so
deeply rooted in the culture.
Beginning with the early 'Sir Galahad and the Islands'
(1957), the collection moves more or less chronologically
through 'Roots' (1963), 'Jazz and the West Indian Novel'
(1967/68), 'Caribbean Critics' (1969), to 'Creative Literature
of the BWI during slavery' (1974), 'Brother Mais' (1974), and
finally to 'History of the Voice' (1979/81). The only break
in the chronology is 'The African Presence in Caribbean
Literature' (1970/73), which appears after 'Brother Mais'
(1974); but there is a thematic structure which might account
for this break. The conjunction of theme and chronology as a
structuring device has the advantage of high-lighting the
continuity in Brathwaite's critical concerns as well as the pro-
cess of evolution and modification of his ideas over approxi-
mately two decades.
Although minor revisions can be detected in many of the
articles mainly in footnotes, either as a reaction to criticism
as in note 50 [p.48] in which Brathwaite responds to Ram-
chand's criticism of the original essay (Roots); or as a means
of accommodating changes which have occurred since the
article was first published as in note 2 [p. 59] the main
ideas and concerns have remained essentially unchanged.
The central concern that pervades the collection is the
place or significance of the folk tradition in West Indian liter-
ature. In 'Sir Galahad', Brathwaite examines the conditions
that have made West Indian writers eccentrics at home and
exiles abroad; and the following comment on Walcott and
Roach indicates his diagnosis of the problem as well as a sug-
gested solution:
We could not do without the poetry of Derek Walcott, honest
and unflinching testimony as it is of our condition; but his
position forces the realization upon us that individual talent is
not enough. On the other hand, we recognize that Roach, the
folk writer, if he is to develop the richness and the promise

which is his, needs not luck, but the whole living support
of an indigenous tradition. [p. 19]
He suggests further, that a rapprochement between the mid-
dle class writer and the folk would heal the crack in the West
Indian sensibility.
The same concern is revealed in 'Roots' individual
talent versus society and tradition. Here the problem is iden-
tified as the writer's lack of social consciousness and a sense
of tradition; and again the answer lies in the folk tradition.
Thus Naipaul's A House for Mr. Biswas is seen as reflecting
. the perception that art and coherence can only come out
of a coherent pattern of traditional values, no matter what
kind of variation the individual may choose to play upon them.
In 'Sir Galahad', Brathwaite expresses the idea that the re-
turning emigrants would bring with them 'those metropoli-
tan standards of taste and judgement that might help to keep
our Muses innocent of parochialism' [p 27] ; but by the time
he comes to 'Caribbean Critics' he no longer feels the need
for metropolitan standards of taste and judgement. On the
contrary, 'Caribbean Critics' seeks to show that there is a
distinct West Indian culture which demands its own stan-
dards of judgement; and Brathwaite's concern is the failure
of the critics to recognize this.
'Jazz and the West Indian novel' is Brathwaite's delinea-
tion of a literary-critical alternative to what he describes as
'the English Romantic/Victorian cultural tradition', and this
too is rooted in the folk tradition, albeit Black American folk.
However, jazz is seen as an alternative not only for the Carib-
bean, but for writers and critics of the whole Black diaspora,
with even wider possibilities since, although it is mainly a
Negro experience, 'it is also a folk experience; and it has (or
could have depending on its own internal integrity), a rele-
vance to the modern predicament as we understand it today'
[p.63] This jazz-based critique is applied to Roger Mais's
Brother Man in 'Jazz . and extended in 'Brother Mais'.
The connection between the literature and folk music is
continued and extended in 'History of the Voice' which has
been published as a book. Although some of the connections
have been questioned, this essay summarizes many of the
earlier ideas on the use or potential of folk forms and tech-
niques in West Indian literature. Similarly, 'The African
Presence in West Indian Literature' is a kind of culmination
of the concern that runs through all the essays.
As the title suggests, 'Creative literature of the British
West Indies during the period of slavery' is a sweeping sur-
vey of an extended period. As a result, it lacks the depth of
analysis characteristic of some of the other essays in the col-
lection. It is, nevertheless, a valuable contribution to our
literary knowledge, and like all the other essays reflects
Brathwaite's concern with a native aesthetic. This is evident
in his comments on the writers' treatment of the local en-
vironment, and in the fact that for him, the most rewarding
literary work of the period is Hamel, The Obeahman. Ac-
cording to Brathwaite, despite being 'a deeply race-conscious
and colour-prejudiced book' [p.165], and an anti-missionary
tract, Hamel is remarkable because it not only has a slave as
its main character, but also attempts to portray the slave as a
real human being a revolutionary attempt for that time.
Brathwaite's advocacy of the recognition and use of the
folk tradition remains constant; but there is also a continuing
effort to define and clarify the nature of this folk tradition,

and this often results in subtle shifts in emphasis over time.
There is a movement from folk tradition in the earlier es-
says to Black folk tradition in the New World and Caribbean
in later articles and, finally to 'The African Presence' where
the literary works which are most highly rated are those
which not only recognize and celebrate the Black folk tradi-
tion in the Caribbean, but also make the connection between
the Caribbean and the 'great tradition' of continental Africa.
It is unfortunate that such a valuable collection should be
marred by so many printing (translating?) errors. Some of
these are fairly innocuous. The full stop between 'lower' and
'Nile' [p.30] is clearly an error, and 'reatins' [p.40] is clearly
meant to be 'retains'; but 'whirl' [p.187] is potentially more
problematic since it could also be 'world' and still make
sense, especially in the light of Brathwaite's penchant for
aural puns and elisions. Those familiar with 'The African
Presence . will automatically read 'Salkey opts for the
Euro-rational . [p.224]; but what will those who are not
make of 'Salkey opts for the huro/national'? And previous
knowledge is not always a reliable guide since some of the
essays have been revised, if only minimally.
In addition to providing useful clarification and up-to-date
information in some instances, footnotes also provide a wealth
of references which could be very useful to anyone who
wants to pursue a particular issue. However the sheer volume
of the notes here can sometimes be a distraction.
Whatever the technical limitations and the theoretical
questions that may arise, Roots is indeed 'unique', and can
only help our developing critical tradition.
Sheila Coulson is a tutor in the Department of English,
University of the West Indies, (Mona).

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A.D. Scott, Art Patron and Collector

A Major Event in the National Gallery
Exhibition Calendar

All works illustrated are from the collection of A.D.Scott

By Gloria Escoffery

/ think every collector is really a fanatic.
He is a fanatic for either colour or form
or ... the acquisition of other people's
experience. A.D. Scott.

Colour and form, loosely associated
as they are with the arts of painting
and sculpture, may, it is true, provide
the key to a collector's sensibility. But
A.D. Scott. or 'Scotty' as he is af-
fectionately known to generations of Ja-
maican artists, though himself at one
time a practising sculptor, shows, as a
collector a balanced taste for painting
and sculpture. He himself identifies the
decisive factor when he refers to the
lure of 'other people's experiences'.
Scotty's professional involvement as
civil engineer and contractor with the
design and/or construction of many im-
portant engineering and architectural
projects, including the Norman Man-
ley (then Palisadoes) Airport and his
own ambitious Olympia International
Hotel and Art Centre, might predictably
have led to his taking an interest in the
promotion of art as an adjunct to archi-
tecture. But to him the function of the
artist went far beyond the provision of
a pleasant, neutral background. What he
demanded of the artist friends who pro-
vided the core of his collection in the
sixties and seventies was a commitment
to the risks of intense experience and
the communication of feelings and
ideas in terms that were strong and
vibrant, if not always immediately ac-
cessible to the man in the street. His
love of art was, in fact, bound up with
a springtime patriotism, in which he
was very much a product of the nation-
alist feeling that had brought the art
movement to life as a sine qua non of
political independence.
Scotty had a vision of aesthetic out-
reach beyond the shores of Jamaica.
This was based on a conviction that our
new nation was humming with a crea-


Left: Leonard Ferguson. Lion.
Right: Everald Brown. Man and

tivity it would be short-sighted of the
world at large to ignore. The motto
'Out of many one people' in Jamaica
refers as much to differences of social
background, educational level and alter-
natively rural or urban orientation as to
diversity of ethnic origins. With the re-
lease of feeling that accompanied the
end of an alien, superimposed pattern
of behaviour, the search for national
and personal identity was on. Everyone
was asking, 'Who am I?' and coming up
with a million and a half answers in
which there was yet some common
thread. Though initially drawn, I think,
to a symbolist or romantic mode of
vision, Scotty was a delighted spectator
as experimentation by artists in the
main-stream produced a plethora of
adaptations of international styles. In
time he learned to appreciate the imagin-
ative contribution of the Intuitives and
included a few specimens of their works
in his collection which he also broadened
to include a couple of Caribbean artists
outside the Jamaican movement.

1968. Oil on hardboard: 27x 20".
SLion. c.1975. Cedar. Height: 23"

It would be surprising if a man of
A.D. Scott's background, with his re-
spect for tradition, did not reserve a
special place of honour in his collection
for Edna Manley who, by the time he
started seriously collecting, was already
established not only as a major inter-
national sculptor but also as the found-
er of the Jamaican art movement. On a
similar pedestal he placed that Jamaican-
born master-craftsman, Alvin Marriott,
with whom he enjoyed close rapport. I
need hardly reiterate here the story of
the aborted Independence Movement
project; it is as much part of our his-
tory as any political event. The exhi-
bits from the oeuvre of these two artists,
though not numerically greater than
those of some other artists, notably
Carl Abrahams and Barrington Watson,
need, I think, to be considered as dis-
tinct sub-selections which purport to
give a historical overview of the artists'
For the most part, however, it is
more rewarding to be guided by the

curatorial disposition of the works which,
in stressing communal interaction and
development over a period of two
decades, offers many fascinating thema-
tic and stylistic links. Although essen-
tially a hard-headed man of action as
much involved in shaping institutions
as in building material monuments,
Scotty had daresay still has this
soft, romantic side which caused him to
refer to his collector's addiction as if it
were a love affair. I would say he was a
bit envious of, in love if you like with,
the debonair, non-materialistic, indepen-
dent persona of 'the artist'; a persona,
incidentally, which was in different
ways totally fulfilled by the Contem-
porary Artists Association triumvirate
of Parboosingh, Hyde and Barrington
Watson. But Scotty was too open to
aesthetic experience to confine his ac-
quisitions to the production of any
favoured clique. He purchased more or
less whatever moved him when his eye
fell on it provided the price was right.
As he was at that time the only large
scale, consistent collector of Jamaican
art it is not too surprising that by the
mid-seventies he had lost count of his
acquisitions, which numbered between
550 and 600 Jamaican works. The two
selectors for the exhibition, Dr David
Boxer and Mrs Veerle Poupeye-Ram-
melaere, must have had some hard deci-
sions to make in reducing this number
to a manageable 101 items. It is not
possible for the distribution of works
to be exactly proportional to the total
collection and, inevitably, the curators'
choice will give rise to some criticisms.
Certainly, some artists favoured by
Scotty, notably Eugene Hyde and
Christopher Gonzalez, seem under-
In the case of Hyde, there is a ready
explanation in that this artist's oeuvre
was given extensive exposure at the
National Gallery in the 1984 retrospec-
tive. The Gonzalez works in the Scott
collection fall within the youthful period
of time when the artist was beginning to
find himself. This period is adequately
represented here by a single outstanding
piece. To include other examples of the
artist's early expressionist phase would
add nothing either to the story of the
stylistic development of the artist or to
the cumulative effect of the show,
which manages to give a synthesis of the
art of an era, filtered through the taste
of a single collector.

The curators have wisely dispersed
the works of artists who are numerically

better represented with the notable
exceptions of Carl Abrahams and Os-
mond Watson. The rationale behind
these exceptions becomes obvious when
the viewer observes the thematic co-
herence of the works chosen for the en-
trance lobby where almost all the Os-
mond Watsons and almost all the Carl
Abrahams canvases appear. Apart from
the quality of the works in this show,
there is infinite delight to be derived
from the thematic cross references and
unexpected stylistic analogies. I might
mention here just two of these special
effects in which disparate works seem
to complement each other like mem-
bers of a civilized family: the placing
of the carved and painted Man and
Lion by Everald Brown almost directly
in front of the flat fauve backdrop of
Leonard Ferguson's Lion: the juxta-
position of Cecil Baugh's textured jar
titled Adolescence and Hope Brooks'
Mountain Series No. 1.
The six Edna Manley works in this
exhibition, five sculptures and a draw-
ing, illustrate the range of her techniques;
there are examples of sculpture in the
round and in varying degrees of relief;
of works in bronze, in wood, in ciment
fondu. More important, and never to be
considered as unrelated to the choice of
medium, they provide illuminating
glimpses of the artist's mode of viewing
humanity at different stages of her life.
Adolescence, a large bronze sculpture in
high relief, dates all the way back to
1927. This is an example of the first
flowering of the artist as a sculptor fully
at ease with the demands of symbolism
on a monumental scale. The lyrical grace
of the three women engaged in some
ritual of feminine initiation under-
scores the serenity of a world such as
W.B. Yeats describes in his 'Prayer for
my Daughter', 'Where all's accustomed,
ceremonious'. Having passed through the
furnace of involvement with political
events in Jamaica, Edna Manley acquired
a gritty personal philosophy, which
took account of the life study of genera-
tions caught within a cyclic destiny
beyond their control. This is reflected in
Generations, a wood carving of 1942.
Here the personal idiom of orbed eyes
and windswept hair is used to focus at-
tention on the man's links with a cosmos
he scarcely understands; at the same
time the extended locks function struc-
turally to bind the composition together
round a central vacuum. The expressive
tooling of the mahogany provides an in-
tellectual edginess missing from the
placid surface of the early work. Then

comes the Psyche of 1967 in which the
artist returns to classical mythology as if
wishing to reinterpret it in her own
By the time Edna Manley came to
produce the late great works of the nine-
teen-eighties, she had suffered many dis-
appointments and losses and come face
to face with the inhumanity of man to
man in the tribalism of party politics.
But even as she completed the tragic
ciment fondu Ghetto Mother of 1980
she was moving away from deep pessi-
mism towards an identification with
life enhancing spiritual forces. The
Voice, a head in ciment fondu created
in 1980, has an intensity of feeling that
suggests the impact of some mystical
experience. Closely related to this work
is a bronze relief of the following
year, Jacob and the Angel. Here we see
an aggressive, angular Jacob, bent on
forcing the angel to wrestle with him so
that he can legitimize his heritage by
obtaining the blessing of God.
It must be mentioned here that the
Edna Manley Adolescence, a rare and
stunningly beautiful work, will not be
lost to National Gallery visitors when
this exhibition closes. It has been
generously donated by the Olympia
International Art Centre to the national
Edna Manley Memorial Collection.
The Marriott sub-collection covers a
less extended period, concentrating
mainly on production during the years
when the two patriotic friends worked
in close collaboration. The Indepen-
dence Monument maquette is on view
here, its heroic idealism looking, regret-
tably, a little irrelevant in the context of
Jamaica in the eighties. Now as then,
the total configuration is not attrac-
tive, and the small scale does not enable
viewers to see the potential for beautiful
realization of the individual figures. One
stylistic step back into the past is a
rather conventional, idealized carved
portrait of Marriott's daughter as a
child titled Innocence: this is dated
c. 1930.
The wish to preserve Jamaican folk
or, as we know it, 'roots' culture was as
prevalent in the pre-Independence era as
it is now. In this spirit, Marriott in 1956
undertook a mahogany frieze of intri-
cately composed peasant dancers. This
work is more 'folksy'than 'rootsy'. The
choreography of forms is impeccably
rhythmical, but it misses the earthiness
of for instance a monumentally
gauche pair of Dancers painted by less
sophisticated sculptor-painter, Lawrence

Edwards, and shown elsewhere in this
exhibition. Marriott is not at his best
when challenged to deal with themes
which have an erotic content. The three
female nudes included in the present
collection seem too conventionally tit-
tilating, especially the latest one, ex-
ecuted in 1974; the 1970 Freeze is in-
deed appropriately titled. I find the con-
vention of the mutilated Venus which
deprives many of Marriott's nudes of
their arms has a disturbing effect and
contributes to a lack of wholeness in
the total form. Where this artist really
scores here is in examples of his sensi-
tive perception of individual mood and
character Boysie of 1962 and a
Youth of 1973. The astonishing thing
is that these works were created ten
years apart. There seems to have been no
stylistic development; if anything, the
lyrical line of the neck in the later work
harks back more perceptibly to the
gentle lyricism of his early works.

The 'discovery' of Jamaican land-
scape by indigenous artists led by Al-
bert Huie was, of course, a corner-
stone of the art movement of the forties
and fifties. By the time Scotty found
himself in the thick of things by his
close association with the then avant
garde Contemporary Artists Association
(founded in 1964), Huie was already
beginning to be criticized, notably by
Gleaner critic Norman Rae,for not being
more stylistically adventurous. The
Scott collection places Huie where he
deserves to be, in a place of honour, hold-
ing his own in spite of the challenge
from the stylistically nimble Parboo-
singh and the consistently romantic
Barrington Watson.
The predominantly urban orientation
of the artists of the sixties is dramatized,
by way of contrast, by the inclusion of
two earlier works. An elegant gouache
painting by Rhoda Jackson depicting
a great house in a setting almost out of
the pages of a Jane Austen novel demon-
strates the reserve which one associates
with the English tradition; this was pro-
duced in about 1950, the date ascribed
to an almost gaudy mountain stream in
oils by Keith Lewin. In the latter, we
are reminded of the bugbear of des-
cent into touristic tropical genre which,
in the era of Hills Galleries' dominance
of the art scene, was the bugbear haunt-
ing the reviews of Norman Rae.
Huie, at least, was in no danger of
succumbing to any such temptation. He

could tackle even such a suspect subject
as Sunset, the title of one work in the
Scott collection, without resort to garish
colour. All three landscapes on view are
fine examples of his ability to convey
the direct power of sunlight by empha-
sizing the suppression of local colour. In
the 1964 painting, Constant Spring
Road, the people on the street are mere
ciphers ennobled, however, by the
pervasive light which disguises the actual
ugliness of the commercial building.
Likewise, in a panoramic View of Mon-
tego Bay painted in 1970, the real sub-
ject and unifying feature is the sunlight,
which falls with serene equanimity on
the sleepy town and on the waves gently
lapping in the bay. Ralph Campbell, the
other acknowledged master of landscape
in the sixties, had a more devil-may-care
style and emotional focus. Sometimes
he emphasizes the grandeur of a moun-
tain setting behind a scene of suburban
everyday life; at others, he comes down
hard on the squalor of what we now call
the ghetto. Here he is represented by
one typical happy example of his pro-
digious output in the sixties.
The answer to the conservatism of
Huie was, of course, not Campbell or
even Barry Watson but Parboosingh. His

Cement Factory of 1966, boldly geo-
metric, two dimensional in its empha-
sis on the relevance of the picture plane,
and absolutely indifferent to shifting
effects of sunlight, is an attractive mani-
festo of the rights of the industrial non-
picturesque. The black line of Cement
Factory is used with a somewhat differ-
rent objective in Fishnets of 1965 where
it underwrites the complexities of the
composition. Alexander Cooper's an-
gular landscape titled River Stones of
the previous year is so similar in style
that one has to look twice at the identi-
fying signatures. Who influenced whom?
It hardly matters. Perhaps they were
both under the spell of Carl Abrahams,
whose strong calligraphy had long been
a feature of his work. Abrahams' small
painting of a single tree, painted in 1964,
is a precursor of many compositions in
which idiosyncratic trees seem disposed
to steal the limelight from equally idio-
syncratic human beings.
The romantic exploitation of light in
the sixties was spearheaded by Barring-
ton Watson, with an outsider to the
'mainstream', David Pottinger, hard on
his heels. Yards with zinc fences and tat-
terdemalion improvised shelters from
the sun provide a wonderful hunting

Keith Lewin. The River. 1950. Oil on canvas. 29 x 24".

Eugene Hyde. Spathodia. (Centre panel of triptych). 1969.
Oil on hardboard. 48 x 48"

ground for compositions in which care-
fully orchestrated patches of clear
colour emerge from the gloom. Even
lesser followers of this trend could at
times achieve interesting results, as in
Dorrit Hutson's small, 1970 Exterior.
Hovering between realism and abstrac-
tion, Watson's more ambitious painting
of The Yard does not quite come off. He
needs a human presence to bring the
scene to life. In his Boy Scaling Fish of
1968 he more successfully conveys the
feeling of life as it is lived out by those
who adapt to the exigencies of light and
shade in this makeshift environment.

David Pottinger, almost the contem-
porary of Marriott, had long been quiet-
ly making a name for himself as a pain-
staking, tender transcriber of genre
scenes, 'below the clock tower'. In the
sixties, or perhaps late fifties, he began
imperceptibly to introduce an aura of
romanticism by elongating his figures
so that they have a rather wispy, insub-
stantial but strong-as-straw appearance.
In Vendors of 1960, the heroic figure of
a higgler with a couple of less clearly
differentiated figures in her wake emer-
ges dramatically from the general gloom.
Pottinger's Street Market and Street
Scene show a conscious mastery in the
disposition of the focal areas of colour
in the composition. Many admirers of
Pottinger think that this was his great-

est period, but beautiful as these pic-
tures are, I think I prefer the pure, un-
romanticized genre of his earlier works.

The years brought new developments
tending towards greater abstraction, as
in George Rodney's Marcus Garvey
Drive of 1965. In the mid-seventies, sen-
sibility, coupled with an intellectual ap-
proach to landscape as 'environment' -
a precious heritage to be studied, ana-
lysed and protected led to a new
wave in this genre. The material, 'dutty
we tread on and grow our food on' be-
gan to be interpreted, later simulated
and then actually used in mixed media
compositions. This movement which
developed fully in the early eighties is
prefigured here by Hope Brooks' mix-
ed media Mountain Series No. 1 of 1975.
Although mixed media did not come
fully into its own until the early eighties,
it was anticipated in the early seventies
by experiments in pseudo-collage, not-
ably by Osmond Watson, here showing a
witty, Picassoesque parody of 1970, tit-
led Horsehead Masquerade.
Meanwhile, another important strand
of the Jamaican creative imagination
was gaining increasing acceptance: the
Intuitive. In the Scott collection, mys-
terious messages from nature are re-
corded in Everald Brown's Stone
Figures of 1974 and his son Clinton's
Bush Have Ears of 1976; both works

seeming quite at home in the company
of the fauve-expressionist 'mainstream'
works of Leonard Ferguson.
Nature study as such has never ab-
sorbed the attention of Jamaican artists
in the way it has in Europe where there
is a long tradition of herbals and illus-
trated botanical texts. Eugene Hyde's
blown-up studies of foliage and flowers,
though based on observation, are in an
entirely different world. In his Spatho-
dia series of 1969, what he gives us is an
expressionist resume', very beautiful
and very moving, of the organic cycle of
life. Serialization of a work was a trend
initiated by Eugene Hyde. Here it takes
the form of a closed drama in three
acts or cinematographic frames. Later
it was to be used in more open-ended
ways to explore reflections on a theme,
notably by David Boxer, Milton George,
and Hope Brooks.
It is interesting to observe how diver-
sely the idea of the life cycle has been
interpreted by Jamaican artists: by the
Edna Manley Generations, by Leor
Maxwell in his carving The Four Ages of
Man, by versions of Adolescence created
by Edna Manley,and of all people, that
most classical of ceramists, Cecil Baugh,
who rarely goes beyond surface decor-
ation in the direction of illustration of
In the mid-seventies, it seemed that

Carl Abrahams. Back to Africa. 1975. Oil on hardboard. 20x 23'".

Cecil Baugh. Third World.
1970. Earthenware. Height 26".

Milton George. Yvonne. c.1970. Oil on hardboard. 23 x 21%.

Roger Mais. Workers. 1954. Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard. 20 x 15".

Baugh passed through what he now says
was a brief expressionist phase. A.D.
Scott, always interested in interpre-
tations, understandably captured two
of these socially conscious works, the
Adolescence (which anticipates the
direction later taken by Peter Layne)
and a fascinating decorated goblet titled
Third World.
Jamaican art seldom strays from
humanistic content. This collection in-
cludes a Roger Mais composition of
1956 titled Workers which, as it were,
hoists the flag of working class solidar-
ity. This almost abstract arrangement of
undifferentiated members of the pro-
letariat is the first of many works here
which emphasize the claim to attention
of the nameless 'masses'. Whitney Mil-
ler, always inclined to a rather sad view
of life, contributes a composition show-
ing the closed world of The Dispossessed.
It became important to show what went
on in the life of the labouring poor, as
in Barrington Watson's muralistic Ban-
ana Loading, painted in 1960. I have al-
ready mentioned his young scaler of
fish. One must not forget in this cate-
gory Stafford Schliefer's 1973 idealiza-
tion of the Son of the Soil. The athlete
as folk hero must also have his place in
the story; this he is accorded in Watson's
Athlete's Nightmare.
The early phase of 'heroic' realism
soon gave way to a sense of unease with
things as they really were. In 1965,
Parboosingh's social conscience may
have been irked by the sight of so many
vulnerable child 'baby mothers' but his
Young Mothers contains no element
of pathos; in fact, it shows Parboo hav-
ing an exciting time with pigments as
he tries out a stained glass effect with
black silhouettes interspersed among
curvilinear areas of resonant colour. In
1968, he shook the kaleidoscope and
came up with the fractured image of
Jamaican Gothic, a witty pastiche of
Grant Wood's American Gothic, which
disposes of the simple patterned solu-
tion and makes a moving comment on
Jamaican family structure. At this
point, the predominant feeling in Ja-
maican art was still one of a springtime
sense of the mystery of life, as in Colin
Garland's 1970 Eventide and in Seya
Parboosingh's paintings of child-adults.
The angst of David Boxer's 1975
Kindertotenlieder is light centuries
away from such cheerful confidence
in the persistence of innocence.
The art of portraiture has never
ceased to hold its fascination. In the

Lester Hoilett. Him, She, Man Watch. c.1975. Cedar. Height 26%'".

sixties, the professional panache of
Barry Watson set a tone that many
wished they could emulate. He is
represented here by a perceptive study
of a lady by the intriguing name of
Zandra who is rather less seductive than
the more expressionist ladies who drip-
ped off the brush of Milton George in
the early seventies.
The viewer may parenthetically take
pleasure from the diversity of the Ja-
maican tradition by moving from Milton
George's delightful Yvonne, say, to the
two block-like heads of David Miller.
Vernon Tong's Nude, painted in 1967,
lacks conviction because the tug of ab-
straction is stronger than the sense of
being confronted with the image of a
living woman.
Sculpture in the round holds great
possibilities for conveying not only in-
dividual character, but relationships.
Two remarkable examples of achieve-
ment are Kapo's Sam and Susan and
Hoilett's intriguing Him, She, Man
Watch. No still photograph can convey
the three-cornered relationship of this
pair of lovers and the artist (?) voyeur;
new facets in the theme of tension and
attention reveal themselves to the spec-
tator as he walks around the sculpture.
I have already broached the topic of
eroticism in writing of Marriott's oeuvre.
This is quite an important ingredient in
many of the works in Scotty's col-
lection, particularly in Barry Wat-
son's Symphony of the Bosom and
Three Nudes; in the latter he uses trans-
parent overlapping of contours to sug-
gest I think that to the male eye,
notwithstanding ethnic or other differ-
ences, all women are one woman. Bar-
rington Watson is more perceptive in

portraying women than men. His por-
trait of A.D. Scott misses an essential
element of shrewdness in his subject, I
think and so does the portrait by Er-
win de Vries.

So far I have been talking mainly
about works which were located in the
mezzanine and adjoining salon, where
the viewer, without pausing to take in
the works in the lobby below, could get a
pretty good bird's-eye view of the move-
ments which represented the spirit of
the sixties and seventies. If he had
time to view the works on the ground
floor, he would have come away with a
coherent impression of how some of our
main artists responded to a single theme
very important in Jamaican life reli-
gion as a social phenomenon and as a
spiritual experience. This difference of
approach may be illustrated by refer-
ring to two works by the same artist,
Carl Abrahams: his 1976 genre interpre-
tation of a meeting in which the key fig-
ure is The Backyard Preacher and his
1960 version of the Last Supper. There
are also works in which the psycho-
logical effect of spiritual experience is
conveyed without reference to biblical
narrative. One instance of this is Abra-
hams' Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
in which the exuberance of the forms is
more important than the incidental fact
that assorted joyful and primitive wor-
shippers are the ostensible 'subject' of
the picture.
If I have chosen my illustrations
from the works of Carl Abrahams it is
because he so patently sets a stiff pace
for his 'mainstream' contemporaries of
the sixties and seventies. I use the word
'contemporaries' mindful of the fact
that Abrahams is, by chronological age,
the contemporary of Everald Brown and
Kapo and only about ten years younger
than the rather staidly conventional
Marriott. Scotty was kept so busy ac-
quiring the offshoots of Carl Abrahams'
ingenious reflections on religious themes,
the life of the spirit, Rastafarianism, the
future of a world ruled by science (or at
least mechanics), the culture of Mother
Egypt, the tenets and influence of Mar-
cus Garvey to mention merely the as-
sorted preoccupations appearing in the
ten paintings featured in this segment of
the collection that he did not go back
into the past in search of early works.
Totally indifferent to fashionable trends,
this peerless original, who happily is still
on the scene and still giving us the bene-
fit of works such as the Christ and the

Fishermen in the 1987 national show,
ignored current concepts about what
was 'painterly' and what was not. If he
felt it necessary to subdue the element
of colour till it almost disappeared, as
in the complicated episodic design of
Street Preacher, he did just that. Or he
might use an intense blue, as in the
delightfully satirical Back to Africa in
which four Rastamen are shown rowing
across the ocean in a canoe and demon-
strating progressive stages of demorali-
zation. He can perplex us with detail or
stun us with the stark geometry of such
works as the ascetic Man of Sorrows.
The same refined doodle that explores
the profile of a Nefrititi can be used to
reduce to bare essentials the Grief of
Mary. Playful or serious, he is always
Carl Abrahams, and his message gets
across; and if this is not genius then I
do not know what to call it.
From this single sub-collection, the
viewer can derive innumerable thematic
leads. It is possible for instance, to con-
sider the ubiquity of white garments in
these scenes of religious significance: in
the Sunday raiment of Pottinger's
Pocomania worshippers; in the robe of
Christ as portrayed by Karl Parboosingh
in his Sermon on the Mount, as in Ralph
Campbell's painting of The Master. These
two works invite speculation. Parboo-
singh's concept of the power of holi-
ness extends beyond the narrative event
to a sense of green renewal evident in
the landscape, a natural setting in
which divinity appears to operate as if
in a preordained Eden. The crowd
gathers below the dominant figure of
Christ, a mass of faceless beings clus-
tered at the base line of earth.
By contrast, Ralph Campbell's Re-
deemer draws the faithful upwards, in-

volving them as participants in a sacra-
ment. In his later works, Parboosingh
produced several large scale, single
focus images which command the view-
er to pay attention. In this category is
the close up, cosmic view of The Man
Himself, painted in 1970 a very strong
work which shows the mature imagin-
ation of the artist at its apogee. What a
contrast is provided by the pathos of a
humane, almost chastened resurrected
Christ by Christopher Gonzalez.
Rituals of worship have a marvellous
potential for exploring not merely the
symbolism of the particular religion as
Osmond Watson does in the setting of
his 1969 Hallelujah, a relief carving in
mahogany inset with nails and rhine-
stones, but also for spying on the parti-
cipants in their most exposed moments.
I found myself studying with almost ob-
sessive interest the individual heads in
this work, which really do not benefit
from photographic reproduction of the
piece in its entirety: the open mouths,
the gap teeth, the coarseness of beards
and the tautness of skin stretched across
cheek bones. This carving and the Ex-
alted Seraphim of 1970-71 make one al-
most regret that the artist has pursued
painting at the expense of wood carv-
ing, in which he is a master. Here again
Barrington Watson makes distinguished
though not flamboyant contrib-
bution. His 1960 oil painting titled
Amen, which catches three female choir
ladies at the peak of their exhausting en-
deavours, is my favourite work of his
in this show; and provides a good note
on which to end my review.
Gloria Escoffery, O.D., our regular art
reviewer, is artist, poet, journalist and
teacher and lives in Browns Town, St

Left: Karl Parboosingh. The Man Himself. c.1970. Oil on hardboard. 48 x 48".
Right: Carl Abrahams. Man of Sorrows. c.1965. Oil on hardboard. 24 x 19".

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I must congratulate JAMAICA JOURNAL
and my colleague and friend Karl
Watson for his contribution 'Amerindian
Cave Art in Jamaica: Mountain River
Cave, St Catherine' [21:1] as this
assemblage of Arawakan (Tainan) cave
art is one of the most important in the
Caribbean region. Any attempt to
describe, present and publicize it is
worthy of the highest commendation. It
is for this reason therefore that I would
like to highlight a few points that I feel
require elaboration and comment.

1. Watson states that 'no evidence of
human material culture has been found
in the vicinity of Mountain River Cave'.
On each of the four occasions that I
visited the cave, I found along the path-
way leading to the cave shards of
Arawak pottery. Mr Linton, the guide to
the cave, has also found Arawak
pottery. May I also refer to my own
contribution to JAMAICA JOURNAL 'The
Archaeological Sites in the Hellshire
Area' [16:1]. This study indicated that
there was a cultural nexus between
White Marl Mountain River Cave -
Hellshire Hills Arawak sites between
c.800 AD 1534 AD.

The Mountain River Cave and its
temporal-cultural significance is also
mentioned by R. R. Howard in his 1950
Ph.D dissertation (Yale) and by Dr
James Lee (indefatigable amateur
archaeologist and for some thirty
years President of the Jamaica
Archaeological Society JAS) in vari-
ous places but most importantly in
'Site Survey Summary B Jamaican
Arawak Pictograph, Petroglyph and
Burial Cave Sites' [ARCHAEOLOGY
JAMAICA, December 1979]. Up to late
1984 there was a small collection of
Arawak ceramic shards from the
Mountain River Cave area both at the
White Marl Arawak Museum and in the
Jamaica Archaeological Society collec-
tion. If memory serves me right there is,
not far from the caves, an Arawak living
site which was located some years ago
by members of the JAS [ARCHAEOLOGY
JAMAICA 79-4 Summary A Arawak
occupation sites in Jamaica]. The
artists manifestly did not 'come, paint
and leave the area deserted until
their next visit' but in all probability fre-
quented the cave for religious cere-

monial artistic purposes as they lived
close enough to do so.
2. Re the use of caves: The Arawaks
(Tainos) of Jamaica and the circum-
Caribbean region used caves for five
i. Burials (White Marl Cambridge
Hill, etc.)
ii. Shrines for religious/communal
purposes (e.g. Mountain River
Cave, Two Sisters Cave, Sou-
thern Manchester/Clarendon
iii. Living sites (e.g. Halberstadt -
Cave, Southern Manchester /
Clarendon caves)
iv. Safe repositories (e.g. Spots
Cave, Carpenter's Mountain)
v. Combination of the above ( e.g.
White Marl burial-shrine -
living site and Southern Man-
chester / Clarendon caves -
shrine-living site. )
References to this abound in the litera-
ture and do not need elaboration here.

3. The rock mentioned by Duerden
does contain several petroglyphs and
was seen by me in 1983; it was near
the cave entrance. These petroglyphs
might represent guardian spirits for the
cave shrine.

4. The 'bituminous compound' is a
mixture probably of charcoal, tree gum
water, etc. and there is no need to find
a foreign origin as this combination of
substances is available in the immedi-
ate vicinity of the cave. The materials
cited by Bernardo Vega [1975] are all
available near the cave.

5. It is difficult to understand how the
conclusion that 'there are no specific
sequences' is arrived at, especially
when it is later stated that 'it is possible
to identify groups which seem to have
been placed together deliberately'. I
have always felt that the Mountain
River Cave pictographs/petroglyphs
portrayed some kind of collage of the
Arawak/ Taino cultural experience, as
do the examples cited in Vega [1975]
and Pagan Perdomo [1980]. The
details of the significance of this 'col-
lage' remain obscure but no doubt will
be elucidated by further research on
the circum-Caribbean regional assem-
blages and the living Arawak popula-
tions in South America.

6. Re the depictions of monkeys and
dogs: Some years ago a tooth of a
monkey was found by a team of visiting
geologists/geographers in the Blue
Mountain range in a shale bed and
identified with the monkeys of Trinidad
at a date of c.3000 Bc (unfortunately

I do not have a reference to this) so
there may have been monkeys here
when the Arawaks came here c.500 AD
(based on a radio-carbon determina-
tion of c.650 AD from Alligator Pond). A
canine mandibular fragment, larger
than that of the Arawak alco, was found
on the Bellevue Arawak site by Colin
and 1976] so there is some Jamaican
evidence for two types of dogs during
the Arawak period the small, hairless,
barkless alco (literary sources) and a
larger domesticated variety.

7. In reference to the 'cohoba cere-
mony during which hallucinogenic
drugs were consumed to facilitate com-
munication between the shaman and
spirit forces' [p.19] it should also be
noted that cohoba=cohiba, the Arawak
word for tobacco.

8. Re the bird-like motif: Perhaps it
should be mentioned that the most out-
standing Caribbean example of this
motif is one of the three figures found
at Spots in the Carpenter's Mountain in
June 1792 and which were taken to the
British Museum in 1899 (copies can
be seen in the White Marl Arawak
Museum [see JAMAICA JOURNAL11:3 &
4]). Unfortunately the location of the
cave in old Vere Parish, Clarendon,
remains obscure although Dr James
Lee thought it might be 'Image Cave'
which he found in the same area and
where in 1965 he found a wooden cot-
ton spindle. The motif is clearly of reli-
gious-ceremonial significance.

9. The 'circle with an extreme
appendage or tail' is also seen in a
petroglyph in the Warminister Cave of
southeastern St Elizabeth. There is no
need to find an Egyptian parallel.
Based on ceramic material from the
Mount Riva area and other related data
at White Marl-Hellshire-southeast St
Catherine Arawak sites, I would date
Mountain River Cave to c.800 AD as a
preliminary period of occupation/use. I
do not believe that there is as yet suffi-
cient evidence from the Dominican
Republic or elsewhere to associate the
Mountain River Cave with the 'Chicoid
Culture' one of the complexes within
the circum-Caribbean Arawak (Tainan)
cultural complex.

Consultant to the National Trust for the
Cayman Islands.

~~~~~~ .r-.,.-r -_~a -4
I _56

-.--.I -__ . I I I


Manning's School

Savannna-la-mar, Westmoreland

Built on the same site as the first
school house in 1738, the 1911
Manning's School is a fine example
of late colonial architecture. Like so
many buildings of the period, it was
designed to be cool and well venti-
lated. Deep verandahs shaded the
classrooms, there was ample cross-
ventilation and the high ceilings
and large central louvred lantern
ensured good circulation of air.
The old school with over one
hundred on roll had space enough
for all its pupils for many years,
especially when the numbers dwin-
dled in the thirties, dropping to
forty-eight in 1934. There were two
classrooms on each side of the
central hallway. The fifth form room
was at the end. Offices for the
headmaster and the headmistress
were on opposite sides of the build-
ing with 'hat rooms' beside them.
As the school expanded after
World War II to reach its present
population of fifteen hundred, the
old building became overshad-
owed by new blocks erected in the
fifties and seventies. As time went
on, it was used for a number of dif-
ferent purposes, including library,
staff room and sixth form room.
With the approach of the 1988
celebration of Manning's High
School's two hundred and fiftieth

anniversary, it was decided to
restore the old school building
and convert the rooms to include a
library, a lecture room, an audio-
visual room and a small museum.
One of the exhibits in the museum
is to be Thomas Manning's Will,
written in 1710, which established
the Trust on which the school was
The original 1738 school house
was demolished by a hurricane in
1780. The Trustees petitioned the
Jamaica Assembly for a grant of
405 to build a new one. In the

eighteen-hundreds, Manning's
School was time and time again
damaged or partially destroyed by
hurricanes and repeatedly repaired
and rebuilt.
The well-designed 1911 school
withstood storms and hurricanes
but, by the 1980s, age
and hard use had taken their toll.
Restoration came just in time.
Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 left the
refurbished old school undam-
aged while the modern buildings
around it suffered severely from
the storm.

Glimpses of Jamaica's Natural History



Hawk Moths or Hummingbird Moths

Of the forty species of Hawk Moths which have been recorded from
Jamaica, only four are believed to be endemic i.e. found nowhere else.
Hawk Moths have large, often brightly coloured bodies which can be over
two inches in length. Their wing expanse is up to five inches. They feed on
nectar, hovering at flowers and probing them with their long tongues which in
some species can extend to as much as ten inches. When feeding at dusk,
these moths might easily be mistaken for Hummingbirds. In many species,
the wings appear to be comparatively small for the body, but these moths are
strong, swift fliers and some species migrate over great distances. This may
account for many of the same species of the family occurring on several differ-
ent West Indian islands.
Hawk Moth caterpillars are called Homworms because of the short whip-like
tail that projects from the end of the body. They may be as much as six inch-
es in length, and many are brightly coloured.
The photograph is of Menduca sexta, a common species in Jamaica. The
caterpillars infest tomato, tobacco, Irish potato and other members of the
tomato family.
Natural History Division, Institute of Jamaica.

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