||This engraving after a drawing by John Webber comes from the official account of Cook's third voyage, 'A voyage to the Pacific Ocean', published by Scatcherd and Whitaker in 1784.
Captain James Cook (1728-1779) made three separate voyages to the Pacific (with the ships Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure, and Discovery) and did more than any other voyager to explore the Pacific and Southern Ocean. Cook not only encountered Pacific cultures for the first time, but also assembled the first large-scale collections of Pacific objects to be brought back to Europe. He was killed in Hawaii in 1779.
John Webber was the artist on Cook’s third voyage from 1776-1780.
The Resolution and the Discovery visited Avacha Bay, Kamchatka between 29 April to 16 June 1779. Many of the drawings from this period show snowy scenes, especially of the town and harbour of St Peter and St Paul.
This engraving shows the inside of a native house. At left a person is cooking. On the ground, next to him, a dog. In the centre there is a man standing. At right a woman and child are seated on a bench, the woman holding a small baby in her arm.
‘The Balagans are rudely built in the shape of a Cone with a broad base, upon the Top of a Stage supported by pillars about 4 yards high, upon which they ascend by a ladder or a thick piece of wood with steps cut in it. The Joorta is built partly underground & the rood covered with Earth. The Entrance to these was formerly at the Top, but since the Russians have been here they make the Door at the Side. Those at this place are falling to decay, the Balagan being the Chief residence of the Kamtschadales.’
‘Before these Houses they have stages built on which great quantities of dried fish hang for the dogs and underneath the balagans they hang the fish for their own use.’
Balagans appear to have been reserved for the individual family.
Mounted in album with PAI4078-PAI4209, PAI4211-PAI4214.; Page 254.; Plate No. 78.