Folios 112v–113r

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Histoire Naturelle des Indes

Illustrated manuscript

ca. 1586
Binding: 30 x 21 cm; individual leaves: 29.3 x 19.7 cm.

Bequest of Clara S. Peck, 1983

MA 3900 (fols. 112v–113)

In 1983, The Morgan Library & Museum received, as the bequest of Clara S. Peck, an extraordinary volume whose beautiful paintings and descriptions document the plant, animal, and human life of the Caribbean late in the sixteenth century. Spaniards had already begun to exert influence over the indigenous people of the area when explorers from England and France arrived, among them Sir Francis Drake. The volume, known as the Drake Manuscript and titled Histoire Naturelle des Indes when it was bound in the eighteenth century, gives us a wonderful picture of daily life at the time of Drake's many visits to the region. Although Drake's connection to the manuscript is uncertain, he is mentioned on more than one occasion by the authors. Drake himself is known to have painted, but none of his work survives.

Contents: 199 images of West Indian plants, animals and human life, with accompanying manuscript captions written in late sixteenth-century French.

Medium: Most of the illustrations consist of a black chalk underdrawing and a combination of pen and brown ink with watercolor; on some images selected areas have also been glazed with a gum.

Binding: Bound or rebound in brown leather in the late 18th century.

Pagination: Penciled folio numbers (1–125) in lower right corner of each page were added by The Morgan Library & Museum. Folios 92v–93, 93v–94, and 95v–96 are fold-out leaves.


Come Les Yndiens Procedent A Leurs Alliances Et Mariages-Les Vngs Auec Les Autres (How the Indians Make Their Alliances and Marriages With Each Other)

The "Le goric," meaning young man, goes to the "bouie" where the house of the father and "La goricque," the daughter whom he loves, are, taking all his equipment, namely his canoe or boat, bow, arrows, "chichorne," or fish-nets. Making his reverence to the father and the daughter, he says "Hai Hai," which means how are you? After having done that, he leaves his whole equipment and utensils in the house and goes away to sleep in a hammock or bed and to rest until the next morning. At daybreak he picks up his bow and arrows to hunt in the wood and having found his prey, takes it to the house, giving it to his beloved or sweetheart to please her and make her cook it. He does not drink or eat in the house before having brought meat and venison in abundance, and he brings as much as possible to show that he works hard to provide well for himself, his wife and family.