Harvesting Scene


This view of a harvesting scene 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 a farming scene with the stacking of hayricks from ox wagons, with a Khoi matjieshuis (mat house) in the foreground and a farmhouse at the back. The Khoi are asking for tobacco from a colonist who is smoking as he walks by. The Khoikhoi were pastoralists who were derived from the aboriginal hunting population of southern Africa, the San. As they ceded their lands to the Dutch and lost their cattle, they were forced into positions of subservience and compelled to work as laborers for the colonists. The drawings in the collection were made in situ and, unlike most of the few 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, in Dutch, made by another person, also unidentified, after 1730.

Date Created

Subject Date

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 drawing : pen and black ink on paper ; 24 x 38 centimeters


  • Collection: Reproduced as Plate 4 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. Recto of Khoikhoi yoking oxen, and other sketches (INIL 6259v); number 6259 of a set: INIL 6250-6264.

Last updated: July 2, 2015