These vivid sketches of a lion hunt 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 note, in Dutch, at the upper right states: “The lions cause these people much loss in cattle, but they combat them bravely.” The longer note on the left concerns relations between the Khoi, who by this time lived a semi-settled existence, and the Bushmen, or San, who were nomadic and engaged in raiding cattle. 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.
Type of Item
1 drawing : pen and black ink on paper ; 24 x 37 centimeters
- Presented as plate 17 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 Khoi group (INIL 6260); number 6260v of a set: INIL 6250-6264.
Last updated: July 2, 2015