Portrait of Lacenta and his party John Savage

Portrait of Lacenta and his party by John Savage

Fine art poster
Fine art poster

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Portrait of Lacenta and his party

Group portrait of a party of Kuna Indians headed by Lacenta, who wears a feathered headdress, followed by “his Lady”, and two children, with attendants.

Inscribed: “Damp.Voy.Vol.2 The Indians marching upon a Visit, or to a Feast. P.371.” Engraved by John Savage (active 1680-1700).

Wafer described the native method of navigation: “The Indians, when they travel, guide themselves either by the Sun, when it shines, or by steering towards such a determinate Point, observing the bending of the Trees, according as the Wind is...they notch thre side of Trees to see which Side is thickest; which is always South...”

Plate facing p.371 of: A new voyage and description of the Isthmus of America. Giving and account of the Author’s abode there...by Lionel Wafer; within volume 3 of A collection of voyages..., by William Dampier et.al., 4 volumes, (London, James and John Knapton, 1729). Copy belonging to Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), President of the Royal Society.

Lionel Wafer (c.1640–1705) British surgeon and buccaneer was not a Fellow of the Royal Society. He embarked on an East India Company vessl in 1677 as an assistant surgeon and served a bried period as surgeon in Jamaica. Later joined a squadron of buccaneering vessels, where he met William Dampier (1651-1715). It was on an expedition with Dampier in 1681 that Wafer sustained an injury to his leg, which led to his being left in the Isthmus of Darien [Panama], living among the local Kuna people.

The Kuna, Guna, are a Chibchan-speaking Indian people who traditionally occupied the central region of what is now Panama and the neighbouring San Blas Islands. Formerly spelled Cuna.

Original: copperplate engraving. 1729

  • Image reference: RS-9598

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