ADVANTAGES

In 1590, Flemish engraver and publisher Theodor de Bry opened part one of his illustrated compilation of early travel accounts describing European encounters with the strange peoples in the mysterious “new found lands” across the Atlantic, with his engraving of Adam and Eve and the serpent. Thus the old stereotype of the formerly blessed couple cast out into the wilderness through the perfidy of original woman was transposed to an imagined America, the New Eden. De Bry, an ardent Protestant who never traveled to America, was influenced by European iconographical, cultural, and religious tradition, particularly in his depictions of women. The remainder of de Bry's plates in this volume, despite his tendency to Europeanize drawings made from life, illustrate the lifestyle of the native peoples living on Roanoke Island when the first British settlers arrived in what they called Virginia. Eyewitness and chronicler Thomas Hariot tells us at one point in the text that these peoples believed that “woman was made first,” and subsequent plates show women participating as apparent equals in the impressive economy and ceremony of tribal life.

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