Images of history
POSTED: Saturday, March 21, 2009
This is a fantastic look at Capt. James Cook's third voyage across the Pacific, which began in England in 1776 with the intent of discovering the lands and peoples of the side of the world opposite Europe. Cook's travels ranged from the Pacific Northwest and Russia to Tonga, New Zealand and Australia.
"PACIFIC IMAGES: VIEWS FROM CAPTAIN COOK'S THIRD VOYAGE"
By Eleanor C. Nordyke in collaboration with James A. Mattison Jr.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Eleanor C. Nordyke will be at Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii at Ward Warehouse for a book signing, 3 to 4:30 p.m. today
Cook and his entourage were instructed to keep keen records of all they encountered, in the hope that through their vivid descriptions and detailed drawings, the people of Europe could develop a clearer understanding of these parts of the world.
The drawings were integral. The book's introduction provides insight into the creation of the engravings, which were rendered from voyage artist John Webber's original drawings.
While the engravers attempted to faithfully reproduce what Webber had seen with his own eyes, they had no firsthand knowledge of their subjects, creating a situation where the subjects were sometimes rendered with features more becoming Westerners. Other times, renderings bore no resemblance to the people described.
Perhaps even more intriguing than Webber's classic drawings are Cook's own observations on the people and cultures he encountered.
In describing a native Hawaiian man dancing the hula, Cook noted, "His style of dancing was entirely burlesque, and accompanied with strange grimaces, and pantomimical distortions of the face; which at times inexpressibly ridiculous, yet, on the whole, was without much meaning, or expression."
On the arrival to Kealakekua Bay: "I had nowhere, in the course of my voyages seen so numerous a body of people assembled at one place. For, besides those who had come off to us in canoes, all the shore of the bay was covered with spectators, and many hundreds were swimming round the ships like shoals of fish."
This second printing is enhanced with images of stamps related to Cook and his Voyages of Discovery from the Ron V. Meads collection, which consists of more than 1,300 postage stamps.