The New World Tapestry

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cene One
         1595-6 PANEL

Sir Walter Raleigh has never set foot in Virginia even though he has spent so much time wasting energy and fortunes in promoting it. Now that the Roanoke venture has proved such a dead loss he now turns his attention to an area that the Spanish have proved to return a lucrative investment – South America. Success would make him wealthier plus keeping him high in the Queen’s esteem as her Court favourite. Accordingly he sets up an expedition which will be led by him and with Lawrence Keyms as his second in command. Their target will be Guiana (today’s Venezuela).

The coats-of-arm illustrated here for the two men show Oriel College Oxford for Raleigh, where he studied. Keyms’ are family arms. Keyms’ home was Mably near Cardiff and he was one of the very few Welshmen that were involved with Raleigh’s enterprises.

So it is that this year 1595 Raleigh and Keyms in two ships set out on their treasure-seeking adventure and, when they reach Guiana, row a galley up the Orinoco to explore the surrounding country. The galley is pictured here. You can tell that Raleigh’s in the stern by the tobacco smoke puffs. However the pair do not find any gold or silver, simply a lot of hot air. The natives tell them about the Ewaipanoma who are creatures without heads but have their faces on their chests. Raleigh recounts this on their return to England at the year’s end adding that there are lakes of asphalt and trees bearing oysters. Also, he has been told, lions in the forests. He is almost laughed out of the court by his enemies but what is true is that the natives sleep in hammocks. Two of them are shown at the top of this scene.

tapestry photo 1595-6 scene one

GLOBE THISTLE   Carduus globusus minor.  ‘Concerning the temperature and virtues of these Thistles we can alledge nothing at all’.  Gerard.

WORMWOOD  Absinthium latifolium sive ponticum.  ‘Wormwood voideth away the wormes of the guts, not only taken inwardly, but applied outwardly: it withstandeth all putrifications, it is good against stinking breath, it keepeth garments also from the mothes’. Gerard.

WINTER SAVORY  Satureia.  ‘is of temperature hot and drie in the third degree it maketh thin, cutteth, it clenseth the passages. To be brief, it is altogether of like virtue with time’.Gerard.

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