zondag 24 augustus 2014

The first Dutch naval trip to Indonesia, 1595-1597 and KIT, Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen

For CMR, the project to publish Christian Muslim Relations, a Bibliographic History, a have accepted to write in Frederick de Houtman. He was the younger brother of Cornelis. Together they went as spies to Lissabon, from late 1592 until early 1594. Cornelis was the absolute leader of the first trip of four Dutch boats to Bantam and East Java before they returned in 1597. Three big voluems are publishes about this first trip. Very little about Frederick and also very little about Muslims. But there will be more during the secon trip of Frederick.
The story of the first trip is made in a great work of art for KIT, the Royal Dutch Tropical Institute, established by private parties, in cooperation with the government. It was opened in 1926 in Amsterdam as a palace to show the Dutch colonial history as a glorious undertaking. It looks really a palace.
After the end of colonialism, in the 1950s KIT was transformed in a research centre for developing countries, concentrating on agriculture, health care and more practical issues. With the curbing of development aid KIT has to close mdown. The building will furthermore be used for a Dutch Centre for the Study of Humanities, although the ethnological museum will continue as such. The library with precious collections about pre-independence Indonesia has moved to Leiden University, together with the KITLV library.
While searching for material for Frederick de Houtman I came across the entrance hall of this colonial palace. The first naval trip of the Dutch has been carved in marble reliefs by  Louis Vreugde after drawings made by Gijsbert Brand Hooijer. I looked for Islamic images. There are no mosques or minarets, even less praying people in this military work (in total some 20 pillars, each with four sites of colonial illustrations. At some trade sessions there were twice people with a turban and these must have been the Muslims. In a special book the abridges text about this trip is illustrated by numerous photographs of the sculptures. Two are below from the book (I must go and see and take new pictures myself in the near future).

There are only two pages about Islam in the account by Willem Lodewyckz, pages 114-6.  They only have four prophets: Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad. They have mosques, waer in zy al haren Godtsdienst doen, met groote stillichyt, ootmoedelijck, haer metten aensicht naer de Sonne keerende, op haer aensicht ter aerden vallende, tot diversche reysen, lesende eenighe ghetyden als de Munnicken, die zy niet achter laten en mogen ...  They observe their religion in a quiet and devout atmosphere, and turn to the sun (probably to the sunset in the evening), like the monks also say their prayers several times per day. They have beautiful and nice women, but do not show them. They observe the Qur'an with good discipline (diligenter). In the coastal regions it is mostly Muslim, while inland territories are mostly pagan. There is no religious judgment about paganism and Islam, just short description, of what could be seen and heard. Longest section is about marriage festivities.

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