Reporters and Mythmakers: Depicting Virginia Indians

Virginiensium saltandi ratio solennibus festis by Theodore de Bry (ca. 1590)

<em>Virginiensium saltandi ratio solennibus festis</em> (The Virginians' Manner of Dancing at their Religious Festivals)

Virginiensium saltandi ratio solennibus festis (The Virginians' Manner of Dancing at their Religious Festivals)

De Bry depicts grass and blue sky in this colored engraving based on White's painting. His Latin title translates to "The Virginians' Manner of Dancing at Their Religious Festivals"—another reminder that the area we know today as North Carolina was called Virginia by the English.

More than that, though, de Bry embellishes the scene originally depicted by White. The branches and leaves do not look like corn, which likely would have been the focus of a harvest festival; instead, they resemble tobacco, and some of the dancers even have pouches that might contain the sacred plant. The dancers at center, meanwhile, are now clearly all women—perhaps drawing from Hariot's description of some participants as "fair virgins."

A similar scene can be found in another White painting.