Funeral for a Child, Venezuela, 1826

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Image Reference

Alcide Dessalines d'Orbigny, Voyage pittoresque dans les deux Amériques (Paris, 1836), facing p. 51. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Caption, “Velorio, ou Bal du Petit Ange.” On the banks of the Santa Catalina river in Cumana (Venezuela), the author witnessed a funeral “dance,” called “Velorio” by the Indians and “Negroes.” A recently deceased child is placed on a table at the door of a house and a crucifix is put into his clenched hands. The mother weeps in silence at the child’s side. The men perform a local dance, which involves jumping from one foot to the other while clapping their hands; meanwhile the women clap to the rhythm of the music. Musical instruments include a flute, a wooden drum (made from the trunk of a palm tree and covered on one side with skin), and a rasp (erroneously identified as a maraca by the author), the jawbone of an ass or horse played by running a piece of wood over the teeth (p. 54).