Slave Festival, Surinam, 1839

Caption, “Le Dou, ou grande fete des esclaves” (The Dou or great festival of the slaves). According to Benoit, the Dou “is ordinarily danced by the [freed Blacks] and by the slaves, above all on New Year’s day. It is in these kinds of get togethers that they forget the shovel/fork and the whip, and they appear in all kinds of fancy clothing which is very different from the clothing they wore the day before or will wear the following day when going out to work”. Note, the drummers in the left corner; women on the right and left of the picture hold a rattle, or the maccari, “a small instrument which makes the same noise as a vessel filled with stones; the women hold it in their right hand and pound the beat with the left hand.” Benoit (1782-1854), a French-speaking Belgian, visited Surinam around 1829/1830.

Slave Festival, Surinam, 1839; Image Reference BEN13, as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.