zondag 2 oktober 2016

Cornelis de Bruin 1652-1727

Cornelis de Bruijn was a Dutch artist, painter, and traveller. I came across him in the preparation for CMR, the great project on the biblographical history of Muslim Christian Relations. He made two long trips to the East. The first trip took more than twenty years: 1672-1693 when he went through Italy  to Turkey, then to Syria and Egypt, coming back through Venice for perfection of his drawing and painting. He had not much money, so earned his living by making portraits, selling antiquities.

In my memory the sphynx of Cairo looks much different and the pyramids are broader, but it is a nice drawing.
The second trip began in 1701 when Cornelis de Bruijn first went to Russia, especially the city of Moscow, then to Persia where he concentrated on the runes of Persepolis. From 24/2 until 25/8 1706 he stayed in Batavia, from where he returned to Persia and Russia and aarived in the Hague on 10 October 1708.
He was not well versed in linguages and spoke Latin, Italian, but no Eastern language. His sojourn in Syria, Egypt and Persia did not give much as to Muslim-Christian relations. From Batavia he made a trip of some two weeks to Bantam where he had to nice meetings with the Sultan. They are in pages 361-400 of his second book: Cornelis de Bruins reizen over Moskoviƫ, door Persie en Indiƫ.. (Amsterdam 1711, reprint 1714 is on the Internet).
During his visit in Bantam he describes mostly the town, flowers, fruits, all kind of people and the many ladies at the court: not only there were four official, quite a few unofficial wives, a female army and many female assistant, some 850 in servioce of the sultan zodat het er grimmelt van de vrouw (such that is is squirming with ladies in the palace).
The kings tells much about the present condition and the past of his sultanate, which was pagan until 300 years ago. Some names of rulers are mentioned. The king asked to foreign guest also some religious questions: especially about the age of the world. How long ago was the creation according to the Christians? And how long will it last until the Day of Judgment? According to the drawing it was not a talk in a quiet atmosphere: an translator between them and also quite a few ladies serving with food and ladies dancing for entertainment. Pages 375-385 are about his visit to Bantam, most of it in two long talks with the sultan. The ruler showed him also the palace, small rooms for many of the ladies, also a place where they had to take of their shoes, 'because of the sacredness of the place'.  But no special and profound interreligious contact. And this is the reasom why the Bruijn will not make it to the volumes of the CMR Project, but it was some fun to read about this non-political, non-economic visit.

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