Khoi Groups

Description

These two sketches are from a set of 27 drawings on 15 sheets that was discovered in the National Library of South Africa in 1986. The drawings are important for presenting the earliest realistic depictions of the Khoikhoi, the original inhabitants of the Western Cape. The drawings give details of Khoi activities and dress. The annotations, in Dutch, refer to the tobacco bag hanging on the back of the individual on the left of the left-hand sketch; to the ox-hide shoes fastened with leather thongs worn by the person shown seated in the lower right of this sketch; to the pointed cap and beads worn by the woman who is the main figure in the right-hand sketch; and to the “corn heaps” behind the seated woman on the right of this sketch. The latter is an erroneous reference to the Khoi houses depicted by the artist and is one of the many indications that the notes were not made by the artist himself but by someone else who was not as familiar with the Khoi. Much information about the Khoikhoi is available from early European accounts, but few illustrations exist. The drawings in the collection were made in situ and, unlike most early European depictions of the Khoikhoi, were never filtered through the eyes of European engravers. The artist most likely was a Dutchman, born in the 17th century, who was attached in some capacity to the Dutch East India Company and possibly en route to the Dutch East Indies or on his way back to the Netherlands when he visited the Cape. Evidence suggests that the drawings were made no later than 1713, and possibly a good deal earlier. Most of the drawings have annotations, made by another person, also unidentified, after 1730.

Language

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 drawing : pen and black ink, ink wash on paper ; 24 x 37 centimeters

Notes

  • Presented as Plate 10 in The Khoikhoi at the Cape of Good Hope: Seventeenth-century drawings in the South African Library / text by Andrew B. Smith, from which this description is adapted. On recto of Lion hunt (INIL 6260v); number 6260 of a set: INIL 6250-6264.

Last updated: March 27, 2013