Slaves Conversing, Paramaribo, Surinam, 1839

Pierre Jacques Benoit, Voyage a Surinam . . . cent dessins pris sur nature par l’auteur (Bruxelles, 1839), plate xlii, fig. 88. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Caption, “Takie-Takie.” A group of women, including an elderly one, engaged in informal conversation; one of the women is nursing her child. In discussing this illustration, the author writes that enslaved women are in general excellent mothers, and as soon as they begin to breast feed their children they abstain from any physical contact with their husbands. “During the period that they breast-feed”, he writes, “they can relax and have time to engage in “takie-takie” or gossip sessions” (p. 54). Benoit (1782-1854), a French-speaking Belgian, visited Surinam around 1829/1830. The 100 coloured lithographs in his book are derived from drawings he made during his visit.

Slaves Conversing, Paramaribo, Surinam, 1839; Image Reference BEN2, as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.