Tobacco smoking among the Cuna Indians of Panama, observed by Lionel Wafer John Savage

Tobacco smoking among the Cuna Indians of Panama, observed by Lionel Wafer by John Savage

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Tobacco smoking among the Cuna Indians of Panama, observed by Lionel Wafer

Interior view of a Kuna house with a Council of eight men being brought tobacco by a boy. Bows, quivers of arrows and feather head-dresses hang from the wall. To the left as viewed, an exterior landscape includes hammocks hung from palm trees.

Inscribed below “The Indians in their Robes in Councel, and Smoaking tobacco after their way. Damp,.Voy.Vol.3 Place this P.327.”

Wafer described the method of smoking: “A Boy lights one end of a Roll and burns it to a Coal, wetting the part next it to keep it from wasting too fast. The end so lighted he puts into his Mouth, and blows the Smoak through the whole Length of the Roll into the Face of every on eof the Company or Council, though there be 2 or 300 of them...”

Plate facing p.327 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, or Cuna, 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-9597

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