Theodor de Bry's Engravings of the Timucua

Theodor de Bry's Engravings of the Timucua

Transcript

Plate XXXIIII
First-Born Children Sacrificed to the Chief with Solemn Ceremonies

The Indian custom is to offer as a sacrifice to their chief, their first-born son. On the appointed day the chief goes to a place specially assigned for the purpose and there sites down on a bench. In the middle of the area there is a tree trunk which is two feet high. The mother of the child squats in front of this, her face covered by her hands, lamenting the death of her first-born. The most distinguished of her relations or friends offers the child respectfully to the king. The women who have accompanied the mother sit in a circle, then they get up and dance and sing joyously, without joining hands. The one who holds the baby goes into the middle of the dancing women, also dancing and singing praises. On another side of the place six specially chosen Indians are standing round the sacrificer, who is magnificently decorated and solemnly holds a club. When the ceremonies are over, he seizes the child and, in honour of the chief, slays it on the wooden stump, in the presence of the assembled company. We saw this sacrifice carried out.


All transcriptions are taken from Discovering the New World, Based on the Works of Theodore de Bry, edited by Michael Alexander (New York: Harper & Row, 1976).