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"A true description of the people, of their cullour, attire, ornaments, constitutions, dispositions, etc."; an excerpt from The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia by William Strachey (1612, pub. 1849)

In chapter 5 of the first book of The Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia, completed by William Strachey in 1612 and published in 1849, Strachey describes the attire and appearance of the Virginia Indians he encountered, including Pocahontas.

Transcription from Original

A true description of the people, of their cullour, attire, ornaments, constitutions, dispositions, etc.

They are generally of a cullour browne or rather tawny, which they cast themselves into with a kind of arsenick stone, like red patise or orpement, or rather red tempered oyntments of earth, and the juyce of certaine scrused rootes, when they come unto certaine yeares, and this they doe (keeping themselves still so smudged and besmeered) eyther for the custome of the countrye, or the better to defend them (since they goe most what naked) from the stinging of muskitoes, kinds of flies or biting gnatts, such as the Greekes called scynipes, as yet in great swarmes within the arches, and which heere breed aboundantly amongst the marish whorts and fenne berries, and of the same hue are their women; howbeit, yt is supposed neither of them naturally borne so discouloured; for Captain Smith (lyving somtymes amongst them) affirmeth how they are from the womb indifferent white, but as the men, so doe the women, dye and disguise themselves into this tawny cowler, esteeming yt the best beauty to be neerest such a kind of murrey as a sodden quince is of (to liken yt to the neerest coulor I can), for which they daily anoint both face and bodyes all over with such a kynd of fucus or unguent as can cast them into that stayne, as is said of the Greek women how they coulored their faces

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with certain rootes called Brenthina, and as the Britaynes died themselves red with woad; howbeit, he or she that hath obteyned the perfectest art in the tempering of this collour with any better kind of earth, yearb, or root, preserves yt not yet so secrett and pretious unto her self as doe our great ladyes their oyle of talchum, or other painting white and redd, but they frindly comunicate the secret, and teach yt one another; after their anoynting (which is daylie) they dry in the sun, and thereby make their skynns (besides the coulor) more black and spotted, which the sun kissing oft and hard, adds to their painting the more rough and rugged.

Their heads and shoulders they paint oftennest, and those red, with the roote pochone, brayed to powder, mixed with oyle of the walnutt, or bear's grease; this they hold in sommer doth check the heat, and in winter armes them in some measure against the cold. Manie other formes of payntings they use; but he is the most gallant who is the most monstrous and uglie to behold.

Their haire is black, grosse, long, and thick; the men have no beardes; their noses are broad, flatt, and full at the end, great bigg lippes, and wyde mouthes, yet nothing so unsightly as the Moores; they are generally tall of stature, and streight, of comely proportion, and the women have handsome lymbes, sclender armes, and pretty hands, and when they sing they have a pleasaunt tange in their voices.

For their apparrell they are sometymes covered with the

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skynns of wyld beasts, which in winter are dressed with the haire, but in the sommer without, the better sort use large mantells of deeres' skynns, not much differing from the Irish falings, some embroidered with white beads, some with copper, other painted after their manner, but the common sort have scarse wherewithall to cover their nakednes, but stick long blades of grasse, the leaves of trees, or such like, under broad baudricks of leather, which covers them behind and before.

The better sort of women cover themselves (for the most part) all over with skin mantells, finely drest, shagged and fringed at the skyrt, carved and couloured with some pretty work, or the proportion of beasts, fowle, tortayses, or other such like imagry, as shall best please or expresse the fancy of the wearer; their younger women goe not shadowed amongst their owne companie until they be nigh eleaven or twelve returnes of the leafe old (for soe they accompt and bring about the yeare, calling the fall of the leafe taquitock); nor are they much ashamed thereof, and therefore would the before remembered Pochahuntas, a well featured, but wanton yong girle, Powhatan's daughter, sometymes resorting to our fort, of the age then of eleven or twelve yeares, get the boyes forth with her into the markett place, and make them wheele, falling on their hands, turning up their heeles upwards, whome she would followe and wheele so her self, naked as she was, all the fort over; but being past once twelve yeares, they put on a kind of semecinctum lethern apron (as doe our artificers or handycrafts men) before their bellies, and are very shamefac't to be seene bare. We have seene some use mantells made both of Turkey feathers and other fowle, so prettily wrought and woven with threeds, that nothing could be discerned but the feathers, which were exceeding warme and very handsome. Nuda mulier erat pulchra (saith Plautus) quam purpurata pulchrior? indeed the or-

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nament of that sexe, who receave an addition of delicacy by their garments. True yt is sometymes in cold weather, or when they goe a hunting, or seeking the fruits of the woods, or gathering bents for their matts, both men and women (to defend them from the bushes and shrubs) put on a kynd of leather breeches and stockings, all fastened togither, made of deere skynns, which they tye and wrappe about the loynes, after the fashion of the Turkes or Irish trouses.

They adorne themselves most with copper beades and paintings. Of the men, there be some whoe will paint their bodyes black, and some yellowe, and being oyled over, they will sticke therein the soft downe of sundry couloured birdes of blew birds, white herne shewes, and the feathers of the carnation birde, which they call Ashshawcutteis, as if so many variety of laces were stitched to their skinns, which makes a wonderous shew; then, being angry and prepared to fight, paint and crosse their foreheadds, cheekes, and the right side of their heades diversly, either with terra sigillata or with their roote pochone.

The women have their armes, breasts, thighes, shoulders, and faces, cuningly ymbrodered with divers workes, for pouncing or searing their skyns with a kind of instrument heated in the fier. They figure therein flowers and fruits of sondry lively kinds, as also snakes, serpents, eftes, &c., and this they doe by dropping uppon the seared flesh sondry coulers, which, rub'd into the stampe, will never be taken awaye agayne, because yt will not only be dryed into the flesh, but growe therein.

The men shave their haire on the right side very close, keeping a ridge comonly on the toppe or crowne like a cox-comb; for their women, with two shells, will grate away the haire into any fashion they please. On the left side they weare theire haire at full length, with a lock of an ell long, which they annoint often with walnut oyle, whereby it is very sleeke, and shynes like a raven's winge. Sometymes they

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tye up their lock with an arteficyall and well-laboured knott (just in the same fashion as I have seene the Carrazzais of Scio and Pera), stuck with many coulored gew-gawes, as the cast-head or brow-antle of a deare, the hand of their enemie dryed, croisetts of bright and shyning copper, like the newe moone. Many weare the whole skyne of a hauke stuffed with the wings abroad, and buzzards' or other fowles' whole wings, and to the feathers they will fasten a little rattle, about the bignes of the chape of a rapier, which they take from the tayle of a snake, and sometymes divers kinds of shells, hanging loose by small purfleets or threeds, that, being shaken as they move, they might make a certaine murmuring or whisteling noise by gathering wynd, in which they seeme to take great jollity, and hold yt a kind of bravery.

Their eares they boare with wyde holes, comonly two or three, and in the same they doe hang chaines of stayned pearle braceletts, of white bone or shreeds of copper, beaten thinne and bright, and wound up hollowe, and with a greate pride, certaine fowles' leggs, eagles, hawkes, turkeys, etc., with beasts' clawes, beares, arrahacounes, squirrells, etc. The clawes thrust through they let hang upon the cheeke to the full view, and some of their men there be who will weare in these holes a small greene and yellow-couloured live snake, neere half a yard in length, which crawling and lapping himself about his neck oftentymes familiarly, he suffereth to kisse his lippes. Others weare a dead ratt tyed by the tayle, and such like conundrums.

The women are in themselves so modest as in the tyme of their sicknes they have great care to be seene abroad, at what tyme they goe apart, and keepe from the men in a severall roome, which they have for themselves as a kynd of gynæ-

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ceum, nor will the men, at such a tyme, presse into the nurcery where they are.

The men are very strong, of able bodyes, and full of agility, accustoming themselves to endure hardnes, to lye in the woods, under a tree, by a small fier, in the worst of wynter, in frost and snowe, or in the weeds and grasse, as in ambuscado, to accomplish their purposes in the sommer.

They are inconstant in everything but what feare constraineth them to keepe; crafty, tymerous, quick of apprehension, ingenious enough in their owne workes, as maye testifie their weares in which they take their fish, which are certaine inclosures made of reedes, and framed in the fashion of a laborinth or maze sett a fathome deepe in the water, with divers chambers or bedds, out of which the entangled fish cannot returne or gett out, being once in. Well maye a great one, by chaunce, breake the reedes and so escape, otherwise he remaines a pray to the fishermen the next lowe water, which they fish with a nett at the end of a pole, as likewise maye speake for them their netts, their arteficyall dressing of leather, theire cordage, which they make of their naturall hempe and flax togither, with their cuning dressing of that, and preserving the whole yeare great litches or bundells of the same, to be used upon any occasyon, and of their girdles which they make of silke grasse, much like St. Frauncys cordon, their cloaks of feathers, their bowes and bow-strings, their arrowes, their crownetts, which their weroances weare, and their queene's fasciæ crinales, borders or frontalls of white beades, currall and copper; especyally their boats, which they call quintans, and are very shapefull, made of one piece of timber, like the auncyent monoxylum navigium, theire matts and all their houshold implements, and such like.

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Some of them are of disposition fearefull (as I said) and not easily wrought, therefore, to trust us or come unto our forts; others, againe, of them are so bold and audacyous, as they dare come unto our forts, truck and trade with us, and looke us in the face, crying all freinds when they have but new done us a mischief, and when they intend presently againe, yf it lye in their power, to doe the like. They are generally covetous of our comodityes, as copper, white beades for their women, hatchetts, of which we make them poore ones, of iron howes to pare their corne grownd, knives, and such like.

They are soone moved to anger, and so malitious that they seldome forgett an injury; they are very thievish, and will as closely as they can convey any thing away from us; howebe yt, they seldome steale one from another, lest their conivres should revele yt, and so they be pursued and punished. That they are thus feared yt is certaine, nor lett any man doubt that the divell cannot reveile an offence actually comitted.