Nobilis Virgo ex Secota (A Noble Virgin of Secota)

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Nobilis Virgo ex Secota (A Noble Virgin of Secota)


An Indian woman covering her breasts with her arms is depicted from the front and back in this colored engraving by Gysbrecht van Veen based on a watercolor painting by John White. Adding some detail to White's eyewitness sketch, van Veen attempts to depict the lives of Algonquian-speaking Indians in the Outer Banks region of present-day North Carolina. These Indians are closely related in language and culture to the Indians of Tidewater Virginia, and White's paintings are an important source of historical and ethnographic information about both groups.

Van Veen embellished the scene originally depicted by White. He added grass and a river scene, including fishing boats and a wooden weir. He also added a view of the woman's back. White identified the woman as a wife of the weroance, or chief, Wingina. Van Veen's engraving, which also reflects the descriptions of Thomas Hariot, who accompanied White and other English colonists to Roanoke in 1585, suggests that the woman is meant to be a more generic representation of a virgin from an important family. Her attempt at modesty, however, may reflect English, more than Indian, attitudes. And in White's original painting, the woman was given two right feet, a mistake that is corrected in this engraving.

Van Veen's engravings and those of Theodor de Bry accompanied A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588), Hariot's description of his year at Roanoke, which was intended to serve, in part, as a justification for further colonizing efforts. This rare, hand-colored version of the illustration appeared in a 1590 edition published in Latin.

Description courtesy of Encyclopedia Virginia.


Gysbrecht van Veen


The Mariners' Museum


ca. 1590


sixteenth century
North Carolina

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Colored engraving




Gysbrecht van Veen, “Nobilis Virgo ex Secota (A Noble Virgin of Secota),” Virginia Indian Archive, accessed July 3, 2022,

Output Formats