Native American Charnel House
Hand-colored version of Theodor de Bry’s engraving depicting an American Indian tomb. De Bry’s engraving, “The Tombe of their Werovvans or Cheiff Lordes,” was originally published as an illustration in Thomas Hariot’s 1588 book A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.
The tomb is a tall building in which nine corpses lie side by side on an elevated platform. In front of the platform, in the foreground, a person kneels, tending a fire.
Theodor de Bry was a Flemish-born engraver and publisher who based his illustrations for Hariot’s book on the New World paintings of colonist John White. These depictions of the landscapes and residents of North Carolina provided Europeans with some of their earliest notions of what the North American continent looked like. An unidentified artist applied the color to this version of de Bry’s engraving, apparently without having seen John White’s original watercolor painting, “Indian Charnel House.”