Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768 – 1848), “Esclaves nègres, de différentes nations (Black slave women of different [African] nations),” 1834-1839
The dress of both enslaved and freed Afro-Brazilians was linked to their African past while also incorporating European and Brazilian elements. However, African dress elements are not indicators of freedom or slavery, as there were many free Africans in Brazil. African women’s clothing of [the nineteenth century] follows that of other women, who are all shown wearing outfits made up of bodices and skirts. Slaves’ clothes were often cast-offs from women of the house. Turbans were commonly seen in slave and freed populations throughout the Caribbean and Americas, suggesting African origins. However, European and Muslim influences must also be considered. The artist Jean-Baptiste Debret recorded African slave women in Brazil as having plaited and adorned hair, similar to African styles.
This is very, very cool. It is so rare to see depictions of Africans, slaves, or practially any minority in art from this period. I think their hairstyles and headdresses are magnificent!