Gold Mining, Panama, 1560s-1570s


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Image Reference
MA3900f100

Source
Histoire naturelle des Indes: the Drake manuscript in the Pierpont Morgan Library [a full color facsimile edition with English translations]; preface by Charles E. Pierce; forward by Patrick O'Brian; introduction by Verlyn Klinkenborg; translations by Ruth S. Kraemer (New York, 1996), folio 100, translation, p. 267. (Image shown here courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum, New York. MA3900; copyright held by the Morgan Library.)

Comments
Titled, "How the Negro slaves work and look for gold in the mines of the region called Veragua [Panama]," this illustration shows a Spaniard and four Blacks (one or two may be women). The Spaniard appears to be weighing the gold dust brought by one of the Blacks; the others are washing and mining the ore. The accompanying description notes: "This region is very dangerous. The Negroes live there only a short time . . . . The Spaniards do not force nor permit the Indians to work in the mines for fear they should know the value of the gold, for knowing it, they would go to war and chase them out of the country. The Spaniards buy a great number of Negroes from Africa to serve them as slaves and when the Negroes have finished a day's work in a group of eight or ten, there is at the exit of these mines half a barrel filled with water in which they wash the gold." The description continues to briefly relate how the gold is extracted (Kraemer translation, p. 267). For details on this work, otherwise known as the Drake Manuscript, see image reference MA3900f102; see also images MA3900f57, MA3900f98.