Khoikhoi in a Storm


This view of a group of Khoi people in a storm 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 drawing shows the traditional dress of the Khoi women: peaked hat, kaross (sheepskin cloak) across the shoulders, a small apron or fuller skin kaross around the waist, and leggings of dried raw-hide. The text on the drawing, in Dutch, reads: “At the Cape it blows mostly S.E. for half a year and mostly N.W. for the half of the year, and both so fiercely that one is scarcely able to walk. Here now is depicted a storm… This woman has a kaross around the middle, and another upper kaross…. The leather bag which they always carry hangs here on the back.” Much information about the Khoikhoi is available from early European accounts, but few illustrations exist. These 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.

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Physical Description

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


  • Reproduced as Plate 3 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 African ox & Khoi couple (INIL 6255v); number 6255 of a set: INIL 6250-6264.

Last updated: July 2, 2015