Elisabeth Fecunda took this huge bottle with her to our workshops.

“These are two labizjans that we used for rainwater storage when my family still had a farm. We kept the labizjans in the barn where it was dark. Labizjans for water needed to be transparent in order to see if the water was clean. In contrast, labizjans for storing seeds were darkened to prevent the seeds from dying.”

The word labizjan comes from the French word dame-jeanne, a teardrop or narrow-neck shaped bottle that is used to store liquids and seeds. Until the 1960s potable water was still the responsibility of many individual households and farms as the water system did not reach to the Bandabou area.

At the same time the use of water tanks in the Curaçaoan countryside was strongly discouraged by the colonial government as the tanks could become breeding grounds for yellow fever mosquitoes. The portable and versatile labizjans were convenient for day-to-day use. They range in size from 1 to 15 gallons.

“The tanks could become breeding grounds for yellow fever mosquitoes.”