At the start of his testimony, Aponte explained the objective and method behind his creative project. He wanted to make a “Historical Book,” and “not being a painter,” he had bought different “engravings and paintings so as to take from them, or from used fans that align with his overall idea” (Pavez Ojeda 2006a, 727). Aponte and his assistant, a free man of color named Trinidad Nuñez, painted and drew others. An associate Clemente Chacón called the book “large” without being to recite its exact measurements.

Colonial Spanish officials described the book as containing “paintings,” but the term elides the materiality of the images. In his answers, Aponte talks about figures and scenes “placed on top” of others, so that one page might feature a breadth of media types, including fragments from a print or decorative fan with painted figures by Nuñez or drawings by Aponte. More than likely, colonial authorities had no other word to describe a completely new collaged mixture of media types, so “paintings” would have to suffice.

Aponte’s last known workshop/home in the Guadalupe neighborhood (left) and another previous workshop behind the Iglesia de Santo Cristo (right). Detail from Frédéric Mialhe, Plano pintoresco de La Habana con los números de las casas, 1853, lithograph

During his trial, as Aponte replied to the officials’ questions, or offered answers unprompted, he both described what the images were and explained their significance. We can read an instance of these two modes on láminas 44b-45. Aponte says:

“The second number 45 begins with a fleet of ships that transported a black King named TARRACO, who is represented ahead; he invaded Tarragona and from there took his name […].”

Aponte describes on the page the representation of a fleet of ships and a black king named Tarraco. He then explains the significance of Tarraco’s name: “he invaded Tarragona and from there took his name.” During the trial, Aponte often assumed the role of teacher as he interpreted the book’s contents for the officials who questioned him. At other times, though, he evaded answers entirely. About lámina 23, when asked why he had included certain locations in Havana, Aponte replied he had only done so “with the idea of entertaining himself.”

We have included, in the subject matter list below, things that appear in both Aponte’s descriptions and explanations. The majority of the items listed are indeed things that Aponte says are represented on the actual pages, but some appear in his explanations. For example, from Aponte’s excerpted response about lámina 45 above, we have included both “ships” and “Tarraco” (in his description) and “Tarragona” (in his explanation). We have adhered as closely as possible to the words he uses during the trial with clarifications added in brackets.

To access a particular lámina, click on the link in the page number column. A check in the “Commentary” column indicates there is explanatory scholarly commentary on that page.

1. Start from the beginning! Click on the first lámina in the page number column in the table below and begin exploring the book from the first page. Once there, use the red buttons to continue sequentially through the rest of the book.

2. Take a look at the subject matter list in the table below if you’re looking for a particular person, place, or thing. Then click on the lámina in the page number column to go to that page.

3. Interested in broader themes that recur regularly throughout Aponte’s book and his testimony? The red buttons below represent some of those. Clicking on the theme buttons will show you all the láminas related to that theme.

Page Number

Subject Matter


Lámina 1 God, mirror, creation of the world, sun, moon, stars, Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, Nile River, Ganges River, Geon River, Eufrates River
Láminas 2-3 expulsion, Garden of Eden, owl, death, serpent, Saint John
Láminas 4-5 Scorpio, cart, women, Nilometer, Nile River, Cairo, moon, Catajipa mountains
Láminas 6-7 Mars, horses, scorpion, rooster, Claudius, Prester John, lion’s claws, Alexandria, brothers of Saint Anthony the Abbott, Portuguese, battle, Abyssinia, East Indies, white heads, blood, Cairo Castle
Láminas 8-9 Merucry, Gemini, spring, commerce, contraband, Royal Post Office, portrait of Manuel Godoy, black man, boat, Spain, Punta Fortress, Morro Fortress, Cabaña Fortress, Marina dock, Casablanca, San Lorenzo ship, greed, death, Customs Warehouses, Government Palace, Consulate, Church of Santo Domingo, ceiba tree, Fuerza quarter, caduceus
Láminas 10-11
Jupiter, Sagittarius, Vulcan, Pyrenees mountains, Juno, cheerfulness
Láminas 12-13
Venus, Thrace, queen of Cyprus, carnationa, rose, music, poetry
Láminas 14-15 Saturn, queen, Ethiopia, Neptune, Pluto, king, death, hunter, woman, scale
Láminas 16-17 Sunday, Capricorn, statue, divine mercy, star of Venus, Prester John, tribe of David, Jesus Christ, Golden Fleece, Saint Matthew, Holy Spirit, Queen Candace, Nile River, eunuch, Saint Phillip, shell, Isaiah, Abalseo, Menelik, King Salomon, Queen Sheba, Queen Candace, Ten Commandments, monarch, Abraham, angel, patriarch of Alexandria, Mount Amaro, Abyssinia, Holy Mary, castle, Moors, Melchor, Gaspar, Balthazar, star, flag of Spain
Láminas 18-19 Aeolus, Bellona, mouth of Cabañas, sugarmill of Don Gonzalo de Herrera, Mariel Tower, Don José María Escobar Calló, Bellona, fishing boats, horses, Captain Joaquín de Aponte, Marianao Tower, Lieutenant Ermenegildo de la Luz, Sub-lieutenant José Antonio Escoval, black battalion, white prisoners, Nicolás Aponte, flag of Spain, King of Spain, Indian woman, tree, flames, moon, eagle, shrines, destroyed mills, Marianao, Muralla door, coat of arms of Havana, churches of Quemado, Church of Saint Anthony, Principe road, Zayas shrine, Horcón
Lámina 20 cemetery, coffins, stars, death, key cross, coat of arms, god of fables, prudence, woman, princess, virtue, fire, cypress tree
Lámina 21 cemetery, Bishop Candamo, Manrique
Lámina 22 House of the Captain General, road to general cemetery, San Lázaro road, San Juan de Díos road, bridge, hospital, tower, new house of Texemani, mansion of Don Gervasio Betancourt, Campanario de Guadalupe, road to limekilns, Guadalupe bell tower, barracks, quarries, Punta Fortress, Alameda, Zamora field
Lámina 23 two doors of the Marina, moats, Zamora field, water channel, drainage, Jesus María, new door in the wall, Arsenal door, Jesus María door, Santelmo quarter, San Ignacio Street, Cathedral, Cavalry dock, Machina dock, Paula Hospital, Morro Fortress, Cabaña Fortress, Casablanca, Cojímar Fortress, Sea dock, Guanabacoa, road from Guanabacoa to Regla, Regla shrine, old palace of Don Gonzalo Oquendo, Atares Fortress, Gunpowder storage house, house of Don Francisco de Arango, Marina cemetery, signs
Láminas 24-25 portrait of José Antonio Aponte, laurel, palm, compass, carpentry bench, child, column, old person, inkwell, paint pots, Indians, Havana, Morro Fortress, Providence Island [New Providence], boats, black batallion, Customs dock, Fuerte Castle
Lámina 26 Diogenes, clay pot, beach, Isis, carriage, King Don Rodrigo, flag of Spain, coat of arms of Spain, boat
Lámina 27 map of Europe, Africa, Asia, black residents of Africa, Cádiz, Castle of Saint Sebastian, Rock of Gibraltar
Lámina 28 Escorial, Royal Pantheon, Carlos III, coat of arms of Spain, birds, image of Our Lady of Atocha, Church of Saint Lorenzo in Escorial, Saint Quentin, King Felipe V
Lámina 29 Father Mantex, Valencia, Company of Jesus, Bishop of Malaga, blacks of Abyssinia, Don Juan de Baltasar, insignias of the brothers of Saint Anthony the Abbott, books of Holy Scripture, Greeks, Father Fray Yrreta, Order of the Dominicans
Lámina 30 courtesan, Cádiz, hand
Lámina 31 King Don Carlos III, hat, Lieutenant Antonio de la Soledad, Sub-lieutenant Ignacio Alvarado, King Carlos IV, Infante Don Antonio, trophies of war
Láminas 32-33 Don Carlos IV, Queen María Luisa, Juan José Ovando, King Felipe V, Capitán Joaquín Aponte, effigy of King Carlos III, Marianao Castle, Lieutenant Ermenegildo de la Luz, Sub-lieutenant José Antonio Escoval, Chorrera Castle, Punta Fortress, Santa Clara Castle, Principe Fortress, San Lázaro Tower, Morro Fortress, ceiba tree, Santelmo quarter, house of Conde de Casa Ballona, San Ignacio Street, Cojímar, Zamora field, coat of arms of Havana, King Carlos III, New Orleans, Conde O´Reilly, Don Juan Manuel Cagigal, Conde de Jaruco, Conde de Santa Clara, black batallions, Captain Juan de Mata, Joaquin Aponte, Marianao Tower, Apollo, Calliope, Clio, Melpomene
Lámina 34 King Felipe V, Royal Tapestry Factory
Lámina 35 woman and sleeping man
Lámina 36 Rome, Romulo, Campo Marzio, Apollo, door of Saint Paul, sepulcher of Cayo VI
Lámina 37 Pope Clemente XI, black cardenal, black Benedictine friar, black man, Spain, book of general history, book on life of Saint Anthony Abbott, foreigners’ guide to Rome, Church of Santo Stefani degli Indiani, Cathedral of Saint Peter, Dominican friar, Benedectine friar, Friar Luis de Yrreta, Pedro Álvarez, Duke of Florence, Father Pereira Carmelita, Father Oviedo, Jesuit, Latin, Abysinnia, Jesuit priests, Pope Pius IV, Church of Santa María del Popolo, Friar Diego de Soto, Friar Rafael Miranda, Pope Clemente XI, black pilgrims, vestment or Canon Law, vestment of Theology and Philosophy, vestment of Saint Anthony the Abbott, Father Sandoval
Lámina 38 Colossus of Rhodes, settlements, sea, castle, small house
Lámina 39 Venus, Cupid, tower of Venus, Callisto, Euphrasia, Apollo, boat, reason, yellow, blue, silver, gold, Neptune
Lámina 40 Babylon, Semiramis, Nimrod, Daniel, lake of lions, Nebuchadnezzar, Saint Michael Archangel, pride
Lámina 41 Temple of Diana, Ephesus, lake, Emperor Tiberius, Euterpe, battle, Medusa, Lydia, Siren, Perseus, Diana, Desón, Analipe, Amazons, Mars, Pallas, carpentry, nymphs, Venus, Cupid, boat, flag, Cupid’s dance, Andromeda, Hydra, Neptune
Lámina 42 pyramids of Egypt, cadavers, cemetery, childhood, mauseoleums, mosque
Lámina 43 Jesus Christ, shrine, cemetery, Royal Sepulcher, cypress tree, death, Siparisa, skeleton
Lámina 44a
Alexandria, Faro Island, Faro Tower, Alexander the Great, Egypt, house of David, house of Erias, field of Gervoer, Salomon, Jerusalem, mountains, man, woman, residents, angel, sword, Queen Sheba, brothers of Saint Anthony the Abbott, queen, river, bridge, black brothers of Saint Anthony the Abbott, Portuguese, Mount Solagar, black men, camels, hunter, elephants, black child, tiger, Jacob, Abyssinia, Dominican friar, Convent of Benaliges, concubine, bandits
Láminas 44b-45 ships, King Tarraco, Tarragona, black soldiers, swords, army, Sanaqueril, angel, book on life of Saint Anthony the Abbott, Abysinnian flag, Mount Nubia, Saint Matthew, Solagar, black bandits, Saint Ephigenia, King Eufron, black nuns, Saint Paulinus of Nola, Hitarcus, Nemrod, Abalican, Saint Philip, Saint Francis, convent, Yclimanote, Nubia
Láminas 46-47 Saint Anthony the Abbott, brothers of Saint Anthony the Abbott, East Indies, David, Saint Helen, Thebaid, monks, column, Holy Mary of Regla, black men, King Moriacatapa, Saint Samuel, Saint Helen, Moses, Saint Benedict of Palermo, Saint Cerma, Saint Eliseo, white men, Almenia mountains, Jesus Christ, sheep, arch, mountain, flood, column, Nebrion, Saint Peter of San Salvador, Saint Anthony Caratjirona, Saint Euphrasia, Saint Paulinus of Nola, Saint Philip Martin, Saint Michael, houses in Abyssinia, Persia, Red Sea, book, nigra sum, Holy Mary, Trinidad, shop, Saint Elisha, Our Lady of the Rosary, king of Arabia, chains, flagpole, flag, Saeta, black lion, red cross, convent of Havana
Lámina 48 temple, statue of Olympic Jupiter, Phidias, Titus
Lámina 49 mausoleum, carriage, houses, Artemisa, Carias, temple of Venus
Lámina 50 Saint Matthew, deacons, East Indies, priests, bishop
Lámina 51 China
Lámina 52 Morpheus, dream, death, Proserpina, chair, apple, eagle, death Syrinx, Mars, Pluto, Lete River
Lámina 53 lakes of hell, fables, Cerberus, Proserpina, Pluto, robbery
Lámina 54 lakes of hell, fables, Cerberus, Proserpina, Pluto, robbery
Lámina 55 room of Ceres, Ceres, torch, Proserpina, wheat, spike
Lámina 56 Uranus, astrology
Lámina 57 Polinia, memory
Lámina 58 Euterpe, music, Endey, King of Egina Earo, angel, palms, crown
Lámina 59 Terpsichore, Diphilus, musician
Lámina 60a Nerpomene[?], goddess, battles
Lámina 60b Thalia, comedy
Lámina 61a Erato, volunteers
Lámina 61b Clio, history, Cupid, love
Lámina 62 Caliope, angel, science, hand
Lámina 63 Mount Parnassus, battles of Agrippina
Lámina 64 Momus, dance, doll, women
Lámina 65 cunning, woman, marriage
Lámina 66 cunning, woman, marriage
Lámina 67 jealousy, love, child
Lámina 68a Mount Esperides, Hercules, serpent
Lámina 68b
Juno, Hercules, serpent, Amphitryon, Alcmene
Lámina 69 Minerva, spider, church, Apollo, Clorida, flute
Lámina 70 death, Priam, Pirro, altar, Minerva, Juno, Venus, church
Lámina 71 sacrifice, Polyxena, sepulcher, Achilles, moon
Lámina 72 Troy, Aeneas, Ulysses, Ithaca, siren, robbery, Helen, Paris, gold apple, Juno, Venus, Minerva, Oenone, lion, window, Mars, Electryon, rooster, cabildo, book