Theire sitting at meate


Theire sitting at meate


A pair of Indians sit on a reed mat and eat from a wooden platter in this original watercolor by John White, the English artist who in 1585 accompanied a failed colonizing expedition to Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina. In the course of his year-long sojourn in the region, White depicted various aspects of the native Indians' lives and culture, including their diets. The Indians shown here are probably eating a meal of hulled corn—that is, corn that has been boiled to remove the hulls. A later, engraved version of this image by Theoodor de Bry appeared in Thomas Hariot's A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia and included some embellishments not found in the original watercolor—among them, a gourd for water, a pipe, a tobacco pouch, a stack of corn, a fish, a shell, and a walnut shown lying on the mat. In Hariot's description of the image he commented on the fact that the Indians were "verye sober in their eatinge, and trinkinge [drinking], and consequentlye verye longe lived because they doe not oppress nature."

Description courtesy of Encyclopedia Virginia.


John White

Date Created

ca. 1585


The British Museum


Watercolor over graphite

Physical Dimension

8.25" x 8.5"


sixteenth century, Virginia, North Carolina