The Journal of Isaak Iselin: First Contact

This picture was drawn ten years after Iselin's visit by the artist Louis Choris. It shows the coast of the Island of Hawaiʻi from a ship's perspective, a view shared by the crew of the Maryland.
Choris, Louis. Voyage autour du monde, accompagné des descriptions par le baron Cuvier et A. de Chamisso; et d'observations sur les crânes humaines par le Docteur Gall. Paris: Didot, 1822, pl. 37.

The transcription reads:

Some canoes came (on board) alongside who brought few sugar canes, sweet potatoes & cocoa nuts; the females were not backward in coming on board, they seem to be more obscene then those at the Marquesas but not by far so pleasing. Their /black/ hair is cut short & round the forehead a small brim is rend(ere)d of a reddish yellow probably by (the) applying lime or something like that; the men are likewise far behind those we saw at the Marquesas, they seem to be fond of smoaking [sic] & several bought pipes made of wood asking for our tobacco;

Context and Interpretation

The text describes the initial contact between the crew of the Maryland and Hawaiians. It took place near the shore of the Island of Hawaiʻi (Big Island) on May 18th 1807. With an ethnographic perspective, Iselin describes the islanders' appearance.