Reporters and Mythmakers: Depicting Virginia Indians

Regulorum aut Principum in Virginia typus by Theodor de Bry (ca. 1590)

In creating his images of Virginia Indians, the engraver William Hole relied on his artistic predecessors. For the Susquehannock warrior depicted on the John Smith map, Hole borrowed from an image by the Dutch engraver Theodor de Bry. The Latin title of de Bry's image translates to "An example of the Rulers or Chiefs in Virginia." Hole duplicated the man's face, posture, and longbow, but he replaced the quiver with game and the arrow with a club.

De Bry had never been to Virginia, either. His engravings drew heavily upon the work of firsthand observers: Thomas Hariot, the author of A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588), an account of the first Roanoke colony; and Hariot's companion on the 1585 Roanoke colonizing expedition, the expedition artist John White. De Bry's aim was to illustrate Hariot's text with engravings of White's remarkable watercolor paintings. Compare the engraving on this page to Hariot's description of the Indian men he met (who, it is worth noting, were closer in culture to the Indians of Tsenacomoco, not the Susquehannock) as "clothed with loose mantles made of Deere skins, & aprons of the same rounde about their middles; all els naked." Then compare it to the following image by White.

<em>Regulorum aut Principum in Virginia typus</em> (An example of the Rulers or Chiefs in Virginia)

Regulorum aut Principum in Virginia typus by Theodor de Bry (ca. 1590)