This depiction of what is probably a lion and a small antelope is 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 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, in Dutch, which were made by another person, also unidentified, after 1730. The shaggy creature shown is most likely Panthera leo (a lion), but it is uncertain which subspecies is represented. The Cape lion, which was exterminated by the latter half of the 19th century, was known for the huge, luxuriant mane of the male. The antelope has not been positively identified, but it could be Sylvicapra grimmia (the grey or common duiker).

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1 drawing : black and grey ink wash on paper ; 20 x 31 centimeters


  • Reproduced as Plate 25 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 verso of Khoikhoi fording a stream (INIL 6254); number 6254v of a set: INIL 6250-6264.

Last updated: July 2, 2015