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Early Jamaican Cinema

Before the movies
The first steps
Montego Bay 1838

Description of a very significant transparency

Jamaica Times, 1913 August 16, p21 col 1-3




(From The Portfolio of an Eye Witness)

. . . .

In the evening, a splendid transparency was exhibited in front of the Baptist Chapel facing Market Street.

The size of the frame was sixteen feet broad and twelve feet high, raised at the base of the frame eighteen feet from the ground. The designs were as follows:-

  At the top in a line perpendicular to the centre, An Eye, representing the All Seeing Eye, shadowed in clouds of ethereal blue. Immediately between [below?] the eye, A Hand, emblematic of Justice, suspending, upon an exact balance, scales, between the thumb and fore-finger. In one dish of the scales, a scroll, inscribed on the external fold,- Liberty, 1838; and in the other dish another scroll Inscribed equal laws and rights. Under the balance beam, and between the suspending chains of the dishes, a white and a black hand, grasped in fellowship and union; and, as the ground work of the center perpendicular line, a Genealogical Tree, whose foliage gracefully intermingled with the tout ensemble of the allegories of some parts of the transparency.

   On the root, trunk, limbs, stems and branches, the names of nearly all the advocates of the suffering Negro were legibly inscribed.

   On the right and left of the trunk of the tree, in the distance were sea views, the right side representing “The Hull Of A Slaver” without sails or rigging. And almost dismasted, tossed upon tempestuous waves, with the words overhanging it, Abolition of slave trade 1807; and on the left side, going before the wind, deeply laden, and puncheons of Rum upon deck, a ship, with the words hovering over her, Total [A]bolition of Slavery, 1838.” At the right and left roots of the tree, were inscribed, “Spanish Slavery 1503. British Slavery, 1562.” In a separate picture, at the extreme right, extending half way up the height of the frame, was a blasted cane field, infested by rats. The canes in the yellow leaf, and a flash of forked lightning descending upon the field. At the top of this picture were Bilboes, Chains, Collars, driver’s Whips and Cat -o-nine tails; and over these, were “The Dove and Olive-branch,” to denote that peace and submission prevai1ed amid the infernal system which the allegories represented. On the reverse side, was another separate picture, representing A Cane field in high Verdure, with a wind-mill, boiling-house, and smoking Chimney in the back-ground, At the top of this picture was a bee hive with the working bees whisking about. Above the hive was a pole, with a cap, and the word Liberty inscribed upon it; and by the side of these, was the emblem of Plenty a Cornucopia


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Joy Lumsden 2004

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