The book from which this print is taken was widely read in its time and was translated into several languages. It helped to stir up controversy about slavery and the barbaric practices that slave owners regularly engaged in by highlighting them and presenting images such as this one and the next. This image, a Coromantyn, is an image of a Negro rebel, most likely a former slave, engaging in a sort of guerilla warfare in the jungles of Surinam. This image is actually an engraving by William Blake, done after the original watercolor by Stedman.
The rebel wears only the necessities; he is bare-chested in the hot tropical environment. He is in the midst of waging guerilla war; he is constantly on the move and cannot carry much with him, especially in the heat of the dense jungle. We see only his weapon and small pouches, probably for carrying food and ammunition. However, he is not, as we would expect from a European depicting this kind of figure, portrayed negatively. In fact, he seems to be almost made into a hero, with his musket on his shoulders and his tattoos proudly displayed. His sparse costume evokes his purpose.
Book Title: Narrative of a five years expedition against the revolted Negroes of Surinam : in Guiana on the wild
Plate Number: Page 36
Call Number: F2410 .S815 1971 v.1