English Interacting with Powhatan
Original Author: Georg Keller; printed by Abelius
Created: 1617
Medium: Engraving
Publisher: University of Virginia Special Collections

English Interacting with Powhatan

Ralph Hamor, secretary of the colony, along with interpreter Thomas Savage and two guides, visits the paramount Indian chief Powhatan in his town on the Pamunkey River in May 1614. This engraving shows various scenes from the meeting. In the foreground, Powhatan feels for "the chaine of pearle" around Hamor's neck. The chief had given the necklace to Sir Thomas Dale, the governor of Jamestown; thereafter, whoever wore it could be identified as an English emissary. At center, Hamor has an audience with Powhatan in his house. Hamor presented gifts to the chief and then asked if he would permit his youngest daughter to become Dale's "neerest companion, wife and bedfellow." Powhatan refused. At the right of the house, an Englishman stands with a group of Indians. This detail may represent Hamor's finding William Parker—a colonist who had been missing for three years—among the Indians.

This engraving was one of a series of images created by artist Georg Keller to illustrate a 1617 German edition of Ralph Hamor's A True Discourse of the Present State of Virginia. The original 1615 English edition had no illustrations, so the German printer Abelius hired Keller. The artist drew upon earlier 1590 engravings of Virginia Indians by Theodore de Bry as well as descriptions in Hamor's text; nonetheless, a number of details are incorrect, including the existence of palm trees in that region, the use of a spear by an Indian, and the design of the houses.