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1594 Perlarum insula ob unionum copiam sic dicta.

1594 Perlarum insula ob unionum copiam sic dicta.

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By: Theodor de Bry, after Giralamo Benzoni

Date: 1594 (published) Frankfurt am Main

Dimensions: 13.5 x 9.25 inches (entire page) (34.3 x 23.5 cm)

This fascinating late sixteenth century engraving depicts indigenous peoples in the area of the Caribbean as they dive from their boats and canoes to collect pearl oysters.

Loosely translated the Latin title says, ‘This is called the island of pearls due to the abundance of them.’ The images of the engraving attest to this abundance, with oysters filling the small boats of the divers, and indigenous people holding long strands of pearls doing trade with Spanish maritime merchants. The Latin text below the engraving describes the scene, and uses Cubaguam to name an island located off the northern coast of Venezuela.

This remarkably active and detailed scene includes six boats used by the divers, along with a number of the pearl divers in the sea or diving into the water.  Another two figures have already collected oysters in apparently large number, and have loaded or are loading them into large bags.

Three large European seagoing vessels are shown, two at full sail with the third anchored while merchants trade with the locals. One small walled settlement on the island and another on the mainland would have housed the divers. The terrain of the mainland is delineated as rather rugged.

Theodor de Bry is known for the realism of his engravings, and one can almost smell the sea in this remarkably realistic image, which serves almost as a photograph of the peoples and their manner of livelihood in the late 16th century.

Condition: The image of this engraving is in A condition. At the bottom of the full folio sheet on which it was engraved is some damp staining.  

Inventory #12671 

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