Stick Fighting, Dominica, West Indies, 1779

The text under the picture reads “This plate (representing a cudgelling match between English and French…[slaves] in the island of Dominica) is humbly dedicated….” Stick fighting was widespread in the West Indies, and called, for example, Stick Licking in Barbados and Jamaica, Kalinda/Kalenda in Trinidad.

The scene in this illustration is identical to the illustration “”negres jouant au baton” published in Nicolas Ponce, Recueil des vues des lieux principaux de la colonie Francaise de Saint-Domingue (Paris, 1791), fig. 26. Another version of this print was published in London in 1810; a copy is owned by the Barbados Museum. Agostino Brunias (sometimes incorrectly spelled Brunyas, Brunais), a painter born in Italy in 1730, came to England in 1758 where he became acquainted with William Young. Young had been appointed to a high governmental post in West Indian territories acquired by Britain from France, and in late 1764 Brunias accompanied Young to the Caribbean as his personal artist.

Stick Fighting, Dominica, West Indies, 1779; Image Reference NW0158, as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.