[The dances at their great feasts]
Native men and women dancing around a circle defined by posts with carved faces, three Native women stand together in the center of circle.
Illus. in: Admiranda narratio, fida tamen, de commodis et incolarvm ritibvs Virginiæ [...]. Wecheli : svmtibvs T. de Bry, 1590, [plate] 18.
Engraving by Theodor de Bry after watercolor by John White.
Title transcribed from Lorant, p. 260.
The New World [...] / Lorant, ed. New York : Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1965, pp. 260-261
Reference copy in LOT 4411-C.
The Native Americans were the first inhabitants of the Americas. They settled in different regions and formed independent tribes with distinct cultures. By 1492 there were over 300 separate native languages. When Christopher Columbus landed on October 12, 1492, he thought he had reached India, and called the native people Indians, a name which gave them a collective identity. The Indians, Columbus reported, "are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone...."
During Middle Ages, Church considered dance as a sin and condemned it. Records of Medieval dance are fragmented and limited, but a noteworthy dance reference from the medieval period is the allegory of the Danse Macabre. During the Renaissance, dance experienced growing popularity. Country dances, performed for pleasure, became distinct from court dances, which had ceremonial and political functions. In Germany, originated from a modified ländler, the waltz was introduced in all the European courts. The 16th century Queen of France Catherine de' Medici promoted and popularized dance in France and helped develop the ballet de cour. The production of the Ballet Comique de la Reine in 1581 is regarded by scholars as the first authentic ballet. In the 17th century, the French minuet, characterized by its bows, courtesies and gallant gestures, permeated the European cultural landscape.