convergences Screen 25 | Authenticity

Jon Webber: Woman of Nootka

John Webber: Woman of Nootka..

The manipulation of words and images on the page is the manipulation of audience, and you know who that is. Yet this is never done without a purpose. John Webber, in turning his sketches into engravings for publication with the authorized version of the voyage, removed the conical shaped cedar hat with the little bulb on top from the head of the Nootka man and put it on the head of the Nootka woman, though he had never seen a woman wearing a hat like that. Notice the woven images of the whales and the harpooners' canoes. It is a nobleman's hat. Webber has made the change for us, so that we may be able to view both the hat and the tattooed design on the man's forehead. Such textual liberties are well intentioned and designed for your edification, even when they are taken by me.

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