Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art: Historical Figures

Historical Figures

Before the Spaniards’ arrival in the late fifteenth century, the island was home to indigenous people known as Tainos. In the sixteenth century, English and French settlers established a plantation-oriented economy that demanded a large labor force. With the Taino population nearly extinct, African slaves, primarily from West Africa, were brought to fulfill that need. In 1697, the Treaty of Rijswijk ceded the western third of Hispaniola from Spain to France, and the territory was called Saint Domingue. By the end of the eighteenth century, it had established itself as France’s most lucrative colony thanks to its sugar, cotton, and coffee plantations.

The French Revolution and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man promulgated in Paris in 1789 set the tone for slave revolts from 1791 to 1804. In 1804, the insurgents succeeded in obtaining their independence, renamed their nation Haiti after its original Taino name—Ayiti in Kreyòl—and established the first modern state governed by African descent people, an achievement with special validity and relevance today.

The leading generals of the Revolution and the Republic’s first presidents, the only ones in world history born of a successful slave revolt, were former slaves. A series of portraits by Jacques-Enguérrand Gourgue (Port au Prince, 1930–1996) depicts some of the country’s most famous historical figures: Toussaint Louverture, widely renowned for ending slavery on the island; Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a military leader who fought with Louverture and gave the country its name; Henri Christophe, who fought with Dessalines, was appointed President of the State of Haiti (North) and later proclaimed Henry I, King of Haiti; and Alexandre Sabès Pétion, the fourth member of the revolutionary quartet and the first President of the Republic (1807-1818).


Pèsonaj istorik

Anvan Panyòl te rive nan fen 15yèm syèk la, moun ki te rete nan zile a se endijèn yo ki te rele Tayino. Pandan 16yèm syèk la, kolon Angle ak kolon Franse vin tabli yon ekonomi ki te chita sou travay latè e ki te mande bon kou mendèv. Avèk popilasyon Tayino yo ki te prèske fin disparèt, yo mennen esklav Afriken ki te soti sitou ann Afrik de Lwès pou yo vin travay nan jaden yo. An 1697, Trete Rizwik la fè Lespay remèt yon tyè zile Ispayola a bay Lafrans, epi yo vin rele teritwa a Sen Domeng. Lè 18yèm syèk la te prèske fini, pati sa a nan zile a te gen tan tabli tèt li kòm koloni ki te rapòte Lafrans plis kòb gras a sik li, koton li ak plantasyon kafe li.

Revolisyon franse a avèk dekrè Deklarasyon Inivèsèl Dwa Moun yo te pibliye a Pari an 1789 la te tabli atmosfè a pou bann revòlt esklav yo te fè soti 1791 rive 1804. An 1804, mou ki tap revòlte yo te reyisi pran endepandans yo, yo chanje non peyi a epi yo rele l Ayiti, non original Tayino yo te ba li a; epi yo tabli premye eta modèn desandan Afriken tap dirije. Sa se yon gran reyalizasyon ki gen gran valè espesyal ak enpòtans jodi a.

Jeneral lame revolisyon an ak de twa premye prezidan repiblik la se te ansyen esklav, yo se sèl moun nan listwa mondyal ki devni dirijan yon peyi apati yon revòlt esklav ki pote reyisit. Gen yon seri pòtre Jacques-Enguérrand Gourgue (Pòtoprens, 1930–1996) te fè ki prezante kèk nan pi gran pèsonaj istwa peyi a : Tousen Louvèti, yo rekonèt li toupatou poutèt li te mete fen nan esklavaj sou zile a ; Jan Jak Desalin, yon dirijan militè ki te goumen ansanm ak Tousen Louvèti e ki te bay peyi a non li; Anri Kristòf, ki te goumen ansanm ak Desalin, yo te nonmen li prezidan deta Ayiti (nan nò) epi apre li pwoklame tèt li Anri Premye, Wa d Ayiti; epi Aleksann Petyon, 4yèm manm nan ekip kat revolisyonè yo epi premye prezidan Repiblik la (1807-1818).


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