MEDIA
Indian woman tends to a pot of stew while an Indian man kneels and fans the fire beneath it
Original Author: Theodor de Bry after John White
Created: 1590
Medium: Printed hand-colored engraving
Publisher: The Mariners' Museum

Fictiliuvaforu in quibus cibucoquunt (The Beauty of the Earthenware Vessels in Which They Cook Food)

An Indian woman tends to a pot of stew while a man fans the fire beneath it. This 1590 colored engraving by Theodor de Bry was based on an earlier watercolor by John White, who was part of a failed 1585-1586 colonizing expedition to Roanoke. White was an eyewitness to the Algonquian-speaking Indians in the Outer Banks region of present-day North Carolina, and he depicted aspects of their lives in his watercolor paintings. These Indians are closely related in language and culture to the Indians of Tidewater Virginia, so White's paintings are an important source of historical and ethnographic information about both groups.

Thomas Hariot was also part of the approximately 600-person expedition, and he wrote an account of their year in Roanoke in his book A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588), which had several subsequent editions. Hariot's book was illustrated with engravings created by de Bry, who based his images on the work of White but added details to them. In this instance, White's original watercolor showed only the stew pot on the fire. De Bry added the Indian couple based on information provided by Hariot. In a caption to the engraving, Hariot wrote that the Indian women "know how to make earthen vessels with special Cunninge." The open fire and round pot allowed the Indians to cook faster and more evenly than the hearth used by the Europeans; it also allowed women to use relatively large chunks of wood and avoid the drudgery of chopping firewood into small pieces. The stews were made by adding "fruite, flesh, and fish" to water and letting them "all boyle together like a galliemaufrye," or a Catamite's Stew, "which the Spaniarde call, olla podrida." The stews were often cooked and eaten throughout the day.

Hariot's description of his year at Roanoke was intended to serve, in part, as a justification for further colonizing efforts. These rare, hand-colored versions of the illustrations appeared in a 1590 edition published in Latin.