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The Pomeiooc Village

Fine copper plate engraving showing Theodore De Bry's version of John White's painting of the Roanoke Indian Village of Pomeiooc in North Carolina.

Detailed view of the Pomeiooc Indian Village, which consists of several buildings surrounded by a circular palisade. In the middle of the town is a fire around which numerous people are sitting, kneeling, and standing. In the bottom left corner two footpaths lead away from the town. Outside the palisade in the upper left corner is a field of what appears to be corn.

The following description is found on the Virtual Jamestown website.

The path leading to the front entrance is bordered with hooped sticks. The village consists of eighteen buildings of pole and mat (and perhaps bark) construction, many of them with open ends or sides or both, and some with door openings at the ends, usually off-center. Most are rectangular in ground-plan, but some may have rounded ends. Several are seen to contain an interior platform along one or both sides and across one end, supported by two rows of posts independent of the house posts. All have simple arched roofs, except the largest, where the cupola-like roof is constructed on ridges springing from the corners and coming to a point in the centre. In three houses the open sides seem to be shaded by an arched section of roof supported on longer vertical poles. The houses are grouped irregularly about a large open space in the centre where a fire is burning and around which a number of apparently naked Indians are sitting with rattles in their hands . . . Other groups of men, women and children are seen standing or walking near the houses, several of them making signs with their hands towards the fire and one man is splitting timber with an axe, another is carrying wood on his back, yet another carries a bow, while a cloaked figure is dimly seen emerging from a house to the left of the fire. A dog with longish legs and tail is also shown.

The image first appeared in Thomas Hariot's 1588 account, accompanied by the following text in English:

The towns of this country are in a manner like unto those which are in Florida, yet are they not so strong nor yet preserved with so great care. They are compassed about with poles stark fast in the ground, but they are not very strong. The entrance is very narrow as may be seen by this picture, which is made according to the form of the town of Pomeiooc. There are but few houses therein, save those which belong to the king and his nobles. On the one side is their temple separated from the other houses, and marked with the letter A. It is built round, and covered with skin mats, and as it were compassed about with curtains without windows, and has no light but by the door. On the other side is the king's lodging marked with the letter B. Their dwellings are built with certain potes [sticks] fastened together, and covered with mats which they turn up as high as they think good, and so receive in the light and other. Some are also covered with boughs of trees, as every man lusts or likes best. They keep their feasts and make good cheer together in the middle of the town as it is described in the 17 figure. When the town stands far from the water they dig a great pond noted with the letter C where hence they fetch as much water as they need.

In 1585, Governor John White, was part of a voyage from England to the Outer Banks of North Carolina under a plan of Sir Walter Raleigh to settle "Virginia." White was at Roanoke Island for about thirteen months before returning to England for more supplies. During this period he made a series of over seventy watercolor drawings of indigenous people, plants, and animals. The purpose of his drawings was to give those back home an accurate idea of the inhabitants and environment in the New World. The earliest images derived from White's original drawings were made in 1590, when Theodor De Bry made engravings from White's drawings to be printed in Thomas Hariot's account of the journey. Hariot, a mathematician, had also been part of the 1585 voyage.

Theodor De Bry Biography

Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was a prominent Flemish engraver and publisher best known for his engravings of the New World. Born in Liege, de Bry hailed from the portion of Flanders then controlled by Spain. The de Brys were a family of jewelers and engravers, and young Theodor was trained in those artisanal trades.

As a Lutheran, however, his life and livelihood were threatened when the Spanish Inquisition cracked down on non-Catholics. De Bry was banished and his goods seized in 1570. He fled to Strasbourg, where he studied under the Huguenot engraver Etienne Delaune. He also traveled to Antwerp, London, and Frankfurt, where he settled with his family.

In 1590, de Bry began to publish his Les Grands Voyages, which would eventually stretch to thirty volumes released by de Bry and his two sons. The volumes contained not only important engraved images of the New World, the first many had seen of the geographic novelties, but also several important maps. He also published a collection focused on India Orientalis. Les Grands Voyages was published in German, Latin, French, and English, extending de Bry’s fame and his view of the New World.