Feb 25, 2010 - Sale 2204

Sale 2204 - Lot 11

Price Realized: $ 3,360
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,500 - $ 5,000
A LIST OF TRIBAL AFRICAN RUNAWAYS (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) CUBA. Estado de los Cimarrones Ecsistentes (sic) en el Deposito de Cienfuegos [The status of the escaped slaves in the holding area of Cienfuegos]. Manuscript document, 16-1/2x12 inches; written in a neat cursive hand. Large folio, faint creases where folded; paper evenly toned; signature at the end of a "notario," or magistrate, "Francisco [Malsy?]." Havana, 1857

Additional Details

an exceedingly rare and important runaway slave document from the province of Cienfuegos Cuba. Cienfuegos seems to have been a sort of holding area (deposito) for these runaway or "cimarones," as they were called. Thirty-three captured slaves are named and described in detail, many of them tribal Africans: Mandingo, Congo, Ganga, Lucumi, Macua, etc. These are widely disparate tribal groups, from Nigeria, Guinea, Mali and the Congo, showing the enormous breadth of the slave trade in Africa. The term "cimarron" was given to a certain kind of runaway and particularly rebellious slave. The West Indian term "maroon," is a corruption of this word. Usually living in small enclaves called "palenques," the cimarrones were considered to be dangerous, and sometimes acting in roving bands, they were known to help other slaves escape from the plantations in the interior. This document is exceptionally detailed, and in many cases ritual tribal scarification on the face, chest and stomach are cited together with the normal distinguishing features such as a limp, or missing teeth. A number of these slaves are also described as "Asiatico," literally "Asian." This no doubt refers to the East Indian and Chinese laborers that Great Britain began to import to the West Indies following the Emancipation Act of 1834. At the top of the document, the date of the slave's escape and capture are given, when known. At the bottom of the list, is a statement qualifying the dates of escape, stating that in some cases it was not known precisely when the slave might had gone missing. This is the first list of this kind that we have ever seen.