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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Slave Mask and Scold's Bridle


"Caption "Esclave Marron a Rio de Janeiro" (Fugitive/Runaway Slave in Rio de Janeiro), based on a drawing by a Mister Bellel. The engraving illustrates a brief article on fugitive slaves in Brazil, and is apparently derived from first-hand information. "Captured fugitives," the article notes, "are forced to do the hardest and roughest work. They are ordinarily placed in chains and are led in groups through the city's neighborhoods where they carry loads or sweep refuse in the streets. This type of slave is so frightful that, while they have lost all hope of fleeing again, they think of nothing but suicide. They poison themselves by drinking at one swallow a large quantity of strong liquor, or choke/suffocate themselves by eating dirt/earth. In order to deprive them of this way of causing their own deaths, they put a tin mask on their faces; the mask has only a very narrow slit in front of the mouth and a few little holes under the nose so they can breathe" (p. 229; our translation)."



"A scold's bridle is a British invention, possibly originating in Scotland, used between the 16th and 19th Century. It was a device used to control, humiliate and punish gossiping, troublesome women by effectively gagging them. Scold comes from the 'common scold': a public nuisance, more often than not women, who habitually gossiped and quarrelled with their neighbours, while the name bridle describes a part that fitted into the mouth. The scold's bridle was also known as the 'gossiping bridle' and the 'Brank(s)', and was commonly used by husbands on their nagging or swearing wives. The device was occasionally used on men; however, it was primarily used on women who agitated the male-dominated society of the era. (image source: Old Electronic Library)"

Images and text found on US Slave Blog.  Link here.

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