Treasures Highlights

The Asia collections of The Asian Library, Hortus botanicus Leiden, Japan Museum SieboldHuis and Museum Volkenkunde are a reason for scholars around the world to come to Leiden. The collections in The Asian Library that are brought together by Leiden University Libraries belong to the foremost collections on Asia worldwide. The collection on Indonesia is the largest worldwide, including the collections of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Carribbean Studies (KITLV). The Kern collection  covering South Asia and the Himalayan region is one of the largest collections in Europe. The Asian Library also houses the largest Chines collection in Europe.
The Japanese collection consists out of a unique collection of materials brought to The Netherlands by, among others, Von Siebold (1796-1866). Japan Museum SieboldHuis exhibits Von Siebold’s collections in his former house on the street Rapenburg in Leiden. The Siebold Collection, together with two other collections were merged to form the Museum Volkenkunde. Von Siebold also introduced up to 700 up to then unknown plants from Japan and China in Leiden. The Hortus botanicus Leiden, built in 1590 en extended in the centuries thereafter, is the oldest botanical garden in The Netherlands and attracts scientists worldwide due to its famous collection.

Treasures The Asian Library

Batak manuscript

Batak manuscript

Collection H.N. van der Tuuk

This leporello manuscript belongs to the pustaha literature of the Toba Batak of Sumatra. The text, two-sided on accordion-pleated tree-bark, is written in lines parallel to the fold. For protection it is kept between two wooden boards that sometimes are decorated with wood carvings in the form of snakes or lizards. Traditionally, the contents of a pustaha is closely related to magic, divination and medicine. Its creator is usually the datu or guru, and only he or his pupils read out the text during ceremonies and rituals. The illustrations are believed to protect the user or to harm his enemies. The manuscript shown here contains instructions for rifle shooting. Rifles were also fired for divining purposes, but the depiction and illustrations of various shooting positions, rifles and bullets evoke the character of a manual. This pustaha manuscript was acquired by H.N. van der Tuuk, possibly even commissioned by him, during his Sumatran period 1851-1857.



At The Asian Library
Guru Manaon ni adji m. Marbun, Poda ni tembak. Batak. Manuscript on tree-bark, 15 ff., 105 x 98 mm. Sumatra, no date [1850s]. Collection H.N. van der Tuuk [UBL, Or. 3526].



Devi Mahatmyam

This manuscript forms part of the Markandeyapurana and glorifies the great goddess Devi. She is presented as Laksmi, Sarasvati and Durga, the three vital forces of the deities Visnu, Brahma and Siva. The text deals with the conflict between the divine forces (truth, light and immortality) and the demonic powers (falsehood, darkness and death). Preceding the text is an illustration of the god Ganesha, Devi’s son in elephant shape, who symbolizes the removal of obstacles. The second illustration depicts Devi in her demonic manifestation as the goddess Kali, sitting on a corpse. None of the illustrations in this manuscript is in Hindu style but, instead, attest the impact of Islamic Mogul miniatures. The scroll form and the tiny ‘nagri’ script, too, are likely to be inspired by miniature manuscripts coming to India from the Middle East. The wooden show-box, at one time with a glass window, is probably not of Indian making.


At The Asian Library

Devimahatmyam. Sanskrit. Scroll manuscript on paper, wound on two reels, circa 2000 x 100 mm, in a wooden box. Northern India, early nineteenth century. [UBL, Or. 18301]



Babad Diponegoro

This extraordinary manuscript, also known as Babad Diponegoro, gives an account of the Java War (1825-1830) in which the Dutch colonial army fought down a revolt of the rural population led by the Javanese prince and Islamic leader Diponegoro (1785-1855). At the end of the war, prince Diponegoro was taken prisoner by the Dutch and banned to Sulawesi, where he wrote the true Babad Diponegoro, probably the first autobiography in Javanese literature. More than a hundred years later and while imprisoned in Semarang, an anonymous author composed this account, which is based on parts of a family chronicle commissioned by the Javanese regent Raden Adipati Cakranagara I in c.1840. Being a firm Dutch ally and fierce opponent of Diponegoro, Cakranagara’s Buku Kedhung Kebo aimed to legitimize the collaboration of Javanese nobility with the Dutch. It therefore is not surprising that Diponegoro is not decribed as a hero but as a bandit. In 1973 Diponegoro was honoured as National Hero of Indonesia.

 

At The Asian Library
Buku Kedhung Kebo. Illustrated Javanese manuscript in macapat verse. 1866. [UBL, KITLV D Or. 13]



Drawings of fishes

Drawings of fishes

Katsuragawa

The compiler belonged to the famous Katsuragawa family, consisting of numerous botanists and zoologists. The names of the fish are written in Chinese characters and/or in katakana.
The Japanese captions run as follows: right-hand page: 1. Strange fish, name unknown; 2. The same as to the right; left-hand page: 1. Umi-gama [literally: sea-toad], Okoze [Minous Adamsi; this fish lures its prey just like a fisherman: with a red bait held before its beak]; 2. The same as to the right; 3. Suzume fugu [literally: sparrow-fish, a swellfish; the well-known Japanese delicacy that can be deathly poisonous].

 

At The Asian Library

Katsuragawa Kurimoto Zuigen 桂川栗本瑞元, Gyorui shashin 魚類写真 (Drawings of fishes). Japanese. Collection with water-colours, album leaves 355 × 440 mm. Japan, circa 1820. [Ser. 1013:2]



Plants and trees of Hokkaidō

The author is the sixth generation of the famous Katsuragawa family. The head of the Dutch factory in Deshima, Hendrik Doeff, gave him the name “Willem Botanicus”. On the pages shown here we see at the top left monkshood (Aconitum sp.) and underneath Astilbe thunbergii Miq., one of the predecessors of the hybrids of that plant often bred in gardens. The small tree is the Larix sp., the plant to the top right is the Japanese lily of the valley (Convallaria keiskei Miq.). The captions on the drawings give the Japanese name of each plant and a description in Dutch. They were written in imperfect Dutch by a Japanese, possibly the compiler himself.

At The Asian Library
Katsuragawa Kuniyasu 桂川国寧 (1758-1844), Ezo sōmoku no zu 蝦夷草木之図 (Illustrations of the plants and trees of Hokkaidō [the most Northern island of Japan]). Water-colours on silk, bound accordion-pleated, album leaves of 420 × 320 mm. Japan, circa 1820. [Ser. 1003: 2]



Revised roots and herbs

This Materia Medica by Tang Shenwei 唐慎微 (ca. 1052-1136) – first printed in 1082 and reprinted many times – was the standard Materia Medica until about 1600. It is llustrated with images of plants, animals and minerals. This illustration shows the government salt monopoly: production and administration. The Asian Library has three volumes of this work (volumes 4, 20, 21) which were among the first Chinese books that Leiden University Libraries acquired. They were probably part of the estates of Scaliger (1609) or Vulcanius (1615). Now fifteen volumes have been found that are dispersed over six countries in Europe.

At The Asian Library

Chongxiu Zhenghe jing shi zheng lei beiyong bencao 重修政和經史證類備用本草, “Revised Roots and Herbs ready for use, arranged with evidence from the Classics and Histories, from the Zhenghe period [1111-1118].” Also called Daguan [1107-1110] bencao 大觀本草. Thirty volumes (juan), Nanjing: Fuchuntang 富春堂, 1581. Woodblock print with double pages. [UBL, SINOL. VGK 7971.42]



King Rājendra Chola charter

The world famous Leiden Chola charter - 30 kg of weight - consists of twenty-one copper plates held together by a massive bronze ring bearing the seal of Rājendra Chola I. The text on the first five plates is in Sanskrit using Grantha scrip and opens with the praise of the Hindu god Vishnu. It proceeds with  explicating the genealogy of the Chola dynasty which begins with a mythical divine (solar) ancestor. The remaining sixteen plates are in Tamil and remind of great achievements and good deeds done by Rājendra I’s father, king Rājarāja I (r. 985-c.1014). A long passage recounts how, on the 92nd day of the 21st year of his reign, Rājarāja I donated the revenue of a whole village to a Buddhist monestry (vihara) built by the Malay king of Sriwijaya in Nagapattinam, a port town on the Coromandel coast. In 1025, his son, Rājendra Chola I, ended this harmonious contact between the two kingdoms when he conquered Sriwijaya and imprisoned its king.


At The Asian Library
Large charter on copper plates with seal of King Rājendra Chola.  Sanskrit and Tamil. South India. 11th century. Gift from the heirs of professor H.A. Hamaker in 1862. [UBL, Or. 1687]



Burmese Kammavācā manuscripts

Burmese Kammavācā manuscripts are firmly embedded in the Theravada Buddhist tradition and deeply interlinked with ancient Buddhist rituals related to monkhood. They are composed of khandakas from the Vinaya Pitaka, the monestic rules and disciplinary code for monks and nuns. Manuscripts are often commissioned and presented to monestries on special occasions. Depending on the status and well-being of its donor, a Kammavācā manuscript can be made of paper, palm leave, cloth, ivory (rare!), or, like in this case, thin sheets of copper. In four to seven lines the text is written on both sides of the sheet in archaic Pali square script, using black lacquer made from tamarind pits in place instead of ink. Beforehand, the copper has to be gilded and the red decoration is applied. Two wooden boards, executed in the same style, protect the manuscript. Together they are wrapped and kept in a yellow, orange or reddish cloth.


At The Asian Library
Kammavācā. Pali. Burmese lacquer manuscript on sixteen gilded sheets of copper with wooden boards. 100 x 545 mm. Burma, twentieth century. [UBL, Or. 17959]



Babad Paku Alaman

Babad, or chronicles, have been a vital element of Javanese historiography for hundreds of years. They recorded the history of local leaders and royal families as it was perceived by the ruling elite. The babad manuscript showcased above is a beautifully gilt ornamented and leather bound volume of almost 200 pages. It narrates the story of the Central Javanese sovereigns, the forebears of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Pakoe Alam I, who is deemed to be a direct descendant of Adam and Eve in the 58th  generation. Yogyakarta was one of two major pre-colonial royal cities in Java and is to date a significant centre of Javanese culture. The Babad Paku Alaman had been in the possession of the Resident of Yogyakarta,  F.G. Valck. In 1838 it was presented to Hendrik, Prince of the Netherlands, the only member of the Royal family to ever have visited the Dutch East Indies.


At The Asian Library
Babad Paku Alaman, illuminated court chronicle, Yogyakarta, Java, dated 1800 (Javanese calendar era 1727). 43 x 29 cm. [UBL, KITLV D Or.15]



Journal on a ship

Journal on a ship

Cornelis Jansz. Coen

On April 4 1643, the ships Castricum and Breskens of the Dutch East India Company left the harbour of Ternate in Indonesia, and set sail for the seas northeast of Japan to discover islands rich with silver and gold. During the voyage the first mate of the Castricum, Cornelis Jansz. Coen, kept a ship’s journal in which he recorded the progress they made and the encounters they had with Japanese fisherman. He also included numerous drawings of the coastlines of Japan seen from the ship.

On May 20, the two ships lost touch with each other in a storm, just off the coast of Hachijo Shima, an island south of Tokyo. Due to this setback the island was named ‘Ongeluckich Eijlant’ [Unlucky Island]. Cornelis Jansz. Coen incorporated several drawings of the islands’ coasts in his journal.

 

At The Asian Library

Cornelis Jansz. Coen, Journal of the journey of the fluteship Castricum to the northeastern parts of Japan, under the command of  Maerten Gerritsz. Vries. Manuscript on paper. Japan, 1643. Donated in 1928 by Prince Yusuf Kamal of Egypt. [UBL, BPL 2251]



Amboinsche cruyde boeck

Amboinsche cruyde boeck

G.E. Rumphius

Georg Everhard Rumphius (1627/8-1702) was stationed by the Dutch East India Company as a merchant on the island of Amboina. He fell in love with the island so deeply that he decided to make an extensive description of it. With this herbal Rumphius rightly earned the epithet of the East-Indian Pliny. In 1670 he was struck with blindness, but together with his son Paulus Augustus he continued his life’s work, which eventually consisted of twelve folio volumes.

Another disaster occurred. The ship transporting the first six volumes from Java to Holland was sunk by the French in 1692. Rumphius’ work would have been lost, were it not for Joannes Camphuis who had them copied as precaution. The remaining six volumes were later complemented by a transcript based on that of Camphuis, and placed in the archives of the VOC. Shown here is a coconut tree in the first volume.

 

At The Asian Library

Georg Everhard Rumphius, Het Amboinsche cruyde boeck. Manuscript on paper. 12 parts bound in 7 volumes. Java, ca. 1693. Donated in 1826 by the Dutch Ministry of Naval and Colonial Affairs. [UBL, BPL 314:1]



Mosque in Delhi

Mosque in Delhi

Marius Bauer

Marius Bauer travelled through India twice, once in 1897-1898 and again in 1924-1925. The cities that impressed him most were Delhi and Benares (Varanasi) and the majority of the paintings and drawings he made with Indian motives can be located in either one of these cities. This drawing shows the entrance to a mosque although which mosque this exactly is, is still unknown. The drawing is a leaf from a sketchbook that at one time was taken apart. Although a rather hastily drawn sketch, it’s an interesting drawing because it registers an immediate and spontaneous view of what Bauer saw. Much more so than is the case in his more studied paintings and elaborate drawings, that he made often many years after the actual visit.

 

At The Asian Library
Marius Bauer (1867-1932), Portal of an mosque in Delhi, pencil and black chalk, 17,5 x 12,5 cm. [UBL, PK-T-AW-3444]



Gamelan orchestra

Gamelan orchestra

Isaac Israels

By the time Isaac Israels visited the Dutch Indies, he was already a famous Dutch artist, well-known  for his portrayals of fashionable city life in Amsterdam, The Hague and Paris. In 1921-1922 however he travelled through Java and Bali where he drew scenes from daily life which he, after his return in Holland, turned into paintings that soon became sought after by a growing population of expatriates. One of the sketchbooks Israels made in Java shows a few drawings of a gamelan orchestra, the traditional percussion group music that can be heard all over Indonesia but was especially popular in Java and Bali. Besides the gamelan orchestra the sketchbook contains drawings of the different types of people Israels met on his trip.

 

At The Asian Library

Isaac Israels, Gamelan orchestra, pencil, 23,5 x 31 cm (part of a sketchbook) [UBL, PK-T-3691]



Farewell at the River Ba

Bajiang lubie shi shu hua ce 巴江錄別詩書畫冊, “Album of poetry, paintings and calligraphy recording the farewell at the River Ba.” Album amicorum presented to Robert van Gulik (1910-1967) at his departure from Chongqing (Chungking) in 1946. The sinologist, diplomat and detective story writer Robert van Gulik was stationed at the Dutch Embassy in Chongqing in 1943-46. He became friends with Chinese politicians and high-placed officials, as well as with scholars, artists and musicians. They had fled from the Japanese invaders to Chongqing, the temporary capital in the interior of China.

 

At The Asian Library

This is a painting by the well-known lute (qin) player, calligrapher and painter Xu Yuanbai 徐元白 (1892-1957), depicting Van Gulik’s farewell in a traditional manner. Painting on paper. [UBL, SINOL. Gulik E Pa CL]



Route map to South China

The emperors of China made regular inspection tours to South China, travelling by boat along the Imperial Canal from the capital Beijing to various cities in the south. The Qianlong Emperor (reigned 1736–1796) made no fewer than six of such journeys. This map was most likely made for him as a preparation for his fifth tour in 1784.

On the map he travelled from right (north) to left (south). The map is accompanied by a description of previous visits by him and his predecessors. This section shows his visit to Yangzhou in 1745, at the time one of the most prosperous cities in China. The Emperor’s route on land is indicated in yellow.

 

At The Asian Library

Chongjia Wan dao Tianningsi zhan tu zhe 崇家灣至天寧寺站圖摺, “Map and memorials from Chongjia Wan to Tianningsi station.” Route Map for an Inspection Tour by the Qianlong Emperor to South China in 1784. c. 12 × 208 cm [UBL, SINOL. VGK 3039.7.6]



Dutch-Chinese dictionary

Dutch-Chinese dictionary

Justus Heurnius

With the assistance of a Chinese schoolteacher who had learned Latin in Macao, the Protestant minister Justus Heurnius (1587-1651/2) compiled a small Dutch-Latin-Chinese dictionary. Now two copies are kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford and the British Library in London, and one, without the Latin, is in Leiden University Library. The dictionary shows, in three vertical columns, the Dutch word, the translation in Chinese characters, and the contemporary Mandarin pronunciation. From this page it becomes clear that both compilers communicated in Latin (or Portuguese) and hardly knew each other’s language, leading to peculiar mistakes. The word “boeck” (book) is translated as “to decide for oneself, to have no master,” since the Latin translation of “book,” liber, can also mean “free.”

 

At The Asian Library
Justus Heurnius, Manuscript Dutch-Chinese dictionary from Batavia. 1628. [UBL, Acad. 224]



Illustrated Rules and Rites

This work contains ritual rules and guidelines for behaviour on occasions such as birth, marriage and death among the elite of Ancient China. The stamps in red ink show that in 1798 the book belonged to the Imperial Tianlu linlang 天祿琳琅 (“The Clang of Heavenly Favours”) library of the Qianlong Emperor, who reigned from 1735 to 1795. These loose pages are now pasted into a harmonica book with mostly nineteenth-century Chinese letters collected by Robert van Gulik.

 

At The Asian Library

One double page from Yilitu 儀禮圖,“Illustrated Rules and Rites” (juan 7 p. 1), preface by Yang Fu dated 1228, printed during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) in Jianyang 建陽, Fujian Province. These are the oldest printed pages in the Leiden University Library. [UBL, SINOL. Gulik E 350]



Map of the castle in Edo

Map of the castle in Edo

Collected by von Siebold

From circa 1640 until 1868 Japan was effectively ruled by Tokugawa shōgun dynasty from Edo (now Tokyo), while the Emperor was living in Kyōto. Von Siebold was able to borrow this and other secret maps from the Astronomer Takahashi Sakusaemon, exchanging them for materials on Western history and world geography that were highly coveted by the Japanese. But when Siebold’s copies of these maps had by chance been discovered, he was forever banished from Japan. Takahashi and other Japanese collaborators received severe corporal punishment. In 1868 the shōgun’s palace became the new Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

 

At The Asian Library

Edo gojōnai osumai no zu  江戸御城内御住居之図, “Map of the rooms and the interior of the castle in Edo,” circa 1825. Paper map collected by Philip Franz von Siebold (1796-1866) during his stay in Japan (1823-1830). [UBL, Ser. 337]



Chart of the South China Sea

Three successive generations of the Blaeu family were appointed official chart maker of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). At the same time they ran a successful publishing house. It is suggested that his lucrative role in the VOC helped Joan I Blaeu to finance his magnum opus, the multi-volume Atlas Maior. On the contrary it should be questioned to what extent a supposed secrecy policy of the VOC limited the Blaeu’s in their commercial activities: apart from a chart of the Moluccas, no large-scale maps of Asian coasts appear in their printed atlases. Manuscript charts like this one, by Joan’s son Joan II Blaeu are much more detailed and accurate. This chart on vellum covers the coasts of present-day Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia. Note the indication of two Dutch trading posts (‘hollandtse logie’) near Bangkok and Phnom Penh.

 

At The Asian Library
Joan II Blaeu, Chart of the South China Sea. Manuscript on vellum. [Amsterdam: VOC], 1686.

[UBL, COLLBN 054-12-001]



Geographische Land Kaart

Geographische Land Kaart

Hermanus Christiaan Cornelius

This enormous manuscript map by lieutenant Hermanus Christiaan Cornelius measures 84 x 173 cm. The map is a compilation of the surveyed regencies of the north coast of Java, systematically executed by students of the marine school in Semarang since 1790. For this map Cornelius was assisted by four cadets:  J.A. Dubois, J.W. Wardenaar, A. van Moesbergen and A.F. van der Gugt. The map contains many topographical details, including ‘pasars’ (markets), ‘bandarijen’ (harbor tolls), indigo plantations, sugar mills, pepper gardens and ‘negorijen’ (hamlets), indicated with special symbols as listed in the small legend in the centre of the map. Could the depicted surveyor in the lower left corner be a self-portrait of Cornelius? The map marks the period of transition between the dissolution of the Dutch East India Company in 1798 and the British interregnum (1811-1816) and later colonial period.

 

At The Asian Library

Hermanus Christiaan Cornelius, Geographische Land Kaart van alle Compagnies Landen ten Oosten en Westen van Samarang gelegen. Manuscript. 1805. [UBL, COLLBN 053-46]



Japanese map of Korea

Japanese map of Korea

Hayashi Shihei

Three slightly different versions of this Japanese map of Korea are kept in the collections of Leiden University. The map is designed by Hayashi Shihei (1738-1793), a Japanese military scholar. It is one of the five maps he compiled for his book Sangoku tsūran zusetsu (Illustrated general survey of the three countries), describing Korea, Okinawa (including Taiwan) and Hokkaido. Shihei’s publications arose from his concern about the growing Russian power in East Asia. He advocated an improvement in the Japanese defence. Since his work was published without authorisation, Shihei was placed under house arrest by the Edo government in 1792. A woodcut and manuscript copy of the map were send to the Netherlands by Cock Blomhoff, head of the Dutch trading post at Deshima, another manuscript copy by the German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold.

 

At The Asian Library
Hayashi Shihei, Sangoku tsūran zusetsu: Chōsen. Woodcut and manuscript. After 1786.



Hindu pilgrimage map

In 2014 Leiden University Libraries received a gift of maps of India collected by Sanskrit professor Hans Bakker. Part of this collection was a set of twelve printed pilgrimage maps. Four of these brightly coloured maps are concerned with “vraja  caurāsī  kōśa kā nakasā or yātrā”, which literally means: the pilgrimage to Braj which extends to eighty four kos. Kos is an ancient unit of distance of c. 2,25 miles. 84 kos is over 300 kilometres. Braj (or Vraja) is a region in Uttar Pradesh, and considered to be the land of Krishna, particularly sacred to Vaishnavas. On the map the pilgrimage circuit is indicated. On bare foot, it takes up to eight weeks to complete this tour for the Krishna/Vishnu devotee. The pilgrimage includes famous places as Mathura, Vrindaban and Gokul.

 

At The Asian Library
Hindu pilgrimage map of Braj. Colour print. 20th century. [UBL, COLLBN 054-19-003]



Wayang topeng dance

This photograph is part of an album on the travel from Scotland to the Dutch East Indies that the navy ship H.M. Bonaire made between 1880 and 1900. This warship is currently being renovated in Den Helder as military heritage. The travel album is not an official memorial album of the navy but a personal visual report assembled by a person on board. This photograph shows wayang topeng dancers of Java. In wayang topeng dance, stories are acted out from one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India: the Mahabharata. The epic story narrates about the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes. These dancers pose in a studio; they are not photographed during a performance. Whoever assembled a travel album, often bought photographs in his travel destinations that were made and distributed by local photo studios.

 

At The Asian Library

Anon., Album with photographs of the travel of the navy warship H.M. Bonaire, leaving from Edinburgh with the final destination of the Dutch East-Indies, 1880-1900

albumen print, 16,8 x 23 cm. [UBL, PK-F-MM.558/096]



Indonesian boys in a boat

Indonesian boys in a boat

Onnes Kurkdjian

Photographer Onnes Kurkdjian (1851-1903) was originally from Russia and worked in Java from 1884. From 1890, he had a photo studio in Surabaya. It was named Kurkdjian Atelier and later O. Kurkdjian & Co. During its palmy days, the studio had more than thirty employees. On November 7th, 1900, the Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad announced that Kurkdjian's photo studio was the first in the former Dutch East Indies to receive the designation of 'Royal Photographer'. The studio produced and distributed portraits, photographs of landscapes, architecture, trade, crafts and peoples of the Dutch Indies. Not only did it provide the world with visual information on the nature and society of the former Dutch colony. Also, their atmospheric landscapes with balanced compositions and beautiful lighting nourished the mental image of 'the exotic' in the collective memory of the Dutch East Indies.

 

At The Asian Library
Onnes (Ohannes) Kurkdjian, Indonesian boys in a boat on a river, 1910-1920, collodion silver print, 29,2 x 36,7 cm. [UBL, PK-F-MM.1468]



Korean edition of The Quelizhi

The books were compiled as part of the restoration of the town Queli and of the Confucius Temple (Kongmiao 孔廟). The work includes information about the Kong Family, historical events, offering rituals, personalities, parks, buildings, rivers, maps and illustrations.
Neo-Confucianism spread in Korea after the fall of the Koryŏ period (918-1392), and while consumption and memorization of Chinese original precepts on Confucian ideology was still the practice, Korean scholars started to formulate new ideas and theories on Neo-Confucianism on their own. The dominance of Neo-Confucianism over both state ideology and everyday life in Chosŏn period (1392-1897) Korea surpassed even that of China itself.  A Korean edition of the Quelizhi would have had a large readership in this historical context.

 

At The Asian Library

Kwŏlliji (궐리지) 闕里志-朝鮮木刻本 Korean edition of The Quelizhi 闕里志

"Records of Queli", a local gazetteer of Queli 闕里 (district in modern Qufu 曲阜, Shandong), the home town of Confucius, written in the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) by author Chen Hao 陳鎬 [UBL, SINOL Gulik B 54]



Map of Korea

Map of Korea

d’Anville

In the late 1720s Jean-Baptiste du Halde contracted  Jean-Baptiste Bourgignon d’Anville (1697-1782) to make maps for his Description de l’empire de la Chine (Paris, 1735). The maps are engraved in the Delahaye workshop in Paris. Contrary to the most maps D’Anville made for this publication, the map of Korea was entirely based on indigenous sources, without additional work of European missionaries. This map is based on both the woodblock and copperplate editions that were initially printed in China as a result of a comprehensive French-Chinese surveying project. The Manchu transliterated Korean place names are derived from the copperplate edition and the geographical representation is a close copy of the woodblock edition. To the chagrin of D’Anville an inferior but cheaper pirated edition, entitled Nouvel atlas de la Chine (The Hague , 1737) became more popular than the original.

 

At The Asian Library

Jean-Baptiste Bourgignon d’Anville, Royaume de Corée. Copper engraving. Paris: Le Mercier, 1735. [UBL, COLLBN Port 177 N 115]



The Diamond Sutra

The Diamond sutra is an integral part of the Korean Zen (Son) school, which flourished in the Koryŏ period. This edition of the diamond sutra printed in the 16th century was printed during a period of oppression of Buddhism following the end of the Koryŏ period (1392), when Neo-Confucianism supplanted Buddhism as state ideology, and the government moved to the use of metal type printing for important government documents or books.

The reason temples continued to exist as places of publication after their decline in the Chosŏn period, however, is due to the surge of demand for Confucian classics and historical books, and woodblock printing proved to be more effective for mass production. Temples had the advantage of having skilled engravers, paper manufacturers and access to wood. While monks were forced to print government-controlled publications, the position of temples as sites of publication ensured that the printing of Buddhist sutras was also continued.

 

At The Asian Library

Kŭmgang panyak p’aramil kyŏng pyŏnsang 金剛般若波羅密經變相 -- 朝鮮版 16th century Korean Edition of the Diamond Sutra. [UBL, SINOL Gulik  E Chin KPL]

   



Bamboo bridge in Java

Bamboo bridge in Java

Thilly Weissenborn

Thilly Weissenborn (1889-1964) was the first professional female photographer in the Dutch Indies. In 1917, she opened her own studio in Garoet (West-Java), Lux Studio. Her instant landscape photographs, of which the bamboo bridge is an example, are characterized by a serene and idyllic atmosphere. A sphere which is related to the so-called Mooi Indië style, or Beautiful Indies. That is, Weissenborn envisioned the tropical environment as beautiful and romantic nature. The bamboo bridge is usually photographed from a distance, showing the full construction. The angle of Weissenborn’s bridge, however, focuses the attention on the linear pattern of the construction. Her commercial instant photographs were widely published in tourist brochures and books. At the Lux Studio visitors also bought her photographs or compiled complete albums. This photo ended up in such an album, emphasizing Java’s beauty in 50 photographs through Weissenborn’s lens.

 

At The Asian Library
Thilly Weissenborn, Bamboo bridge over the Serajoe river near Wonosobo in the 1920s.

Provenance unknown. Technique: gelatin silver print. [UBL, KITLV 101213].   



Elephants in Raub

Elephants in Raub

Calf Josef Kleingrothe

Kleingrothe (1864-1925) is well-known for his photographic documentation of landscapes, town views of Medan, and the detailed record of the agricultural production cycle on the Deli plantations. After 1900 Obernetter in München published Kleingrothe’s work as heliogravures in several loose-leaf portfolios. The published albums mainly focus on Kleingrothe’s Sumatran work, all showing an image of a tiger with its paw caught in a metal trap on the cover. The elephants in Raub are part of an album in the same series titled Malay Peninsula (Straits Settlements & Federated Malay States). Like many of his fellow photographers, Kleingrothe travelled around in order to make photographs that were of interest commercially. With the commercially published albums, his photographs became available to a wider audience in the Indies as well as in Europe.

 

At The Asian Library

Carl Josef Kleingrothe, Elephants in Raub (Malaysia), 1900-1910. Provenance unknown. Technique: heliogravure. [UBL, KITLV 79971]



Forest fire

Forest fire

Raden Saleh

Raden Saleh (1811-1880) was the first Javanese artist to arrive in the Netherlands in 1829. He studied portrait painting under Cornelius Kruseman and landscape art under Andreas Schelfhout. The forest fire shows terrified tigers and bantengs on the run at the moment before they plunge over the cliff. Even though this dramatic scene is set in the Indies, Raden Saleh made the painting during his stay in Europe in 1850, a year before he returned to Java. He had achieved success in Europe and the Indies, and built up an impressive circle of clients, among them European monarchs and Dutch colonial officials. His success is also acknowledged with the publication of this chromolithography on large format together with two other paintings by Raden Saleh and a selection of work by Dutch artists.

 

At The Asian Library
Raden Sjarief Boestaman Saleh, Forest fire, 1865-1876. Provenance unknown. Technique: chromolithography. [UBL, KITLV 47A65]




Treasures Hortus botanicus Leiden

Phalaenopsis violacea

Nelumbo nucifera, also known as Indian lotus or sacred lotus is the national flower of India, Bagladesh and Vietnam. In the Hortus it grows in the Chinese Herbgarden because of the fact that it is native to China and you can eat the entire flower, the leaves and even the roots. The plant blooms in the summer, from July until September, and has the most beautiful link flowers with a yellow fruit that contains the seeds.

 

 

Amorphophallus titanum

When the Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is in bloom, the whole Hortus is in uproar. This plant is pollinated by flies in the wild, explaining the color and penetrating scent. The plant originates from Western Sumatra, but has been growing in the Hortus botanicus Leiden for several years. The Hortus even has some plants that were grown from the seeds of the Titan arum. To do this, the gardeners need to bring the pollen from one flower to the female flowers of the other, so two flowering plants in one season are essential. Leiden once had almost all species from this genus for a research project, but most of these plants have been relocated to several other botanical gardens. The Hortus still has several arums (Araceae) in the glasshouses.

 

 

Strongylodon macrobotrys

The Jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) climbs in the corridor in between the orchid glasshouses. The hanging bunches of azure flowers cannot be missed during its short and spectacular bloom in the summer. This species was first found and described in 1854 in the Phillipines. In the Hortus the Jade vine always attracts a lot of attention because of the dazzling colors. The flowers appear to illuminate the glasshouse. In Asia the plant is pollinated by bats. 

 

 

Nepenthes

A few of the Nepenthes or pitcher plants in the Hortus are part of the Ark of Life project. An international project which aims to protect the species in the world. Originally the carnivorous plants are found in Indonesia, China and other regions of Southeast Asia. In their natural environment, especially on Borneo, Sumatra and the Philippines, some species are threatened with extinction because of the fact that the more rare specimens are greatly wanted in certain circles of illegal collectors. The pitcher plants are carnivorous plants that catch flies of other insects in their pitchers. Inside these pitchers there is a small batch of fluid that drowns and digests the insect.   

 

 

Nelumbo nucifera

Nelumbo nucifera, also known as Indian lotus or sacred lotus is the national flower of India, Bagladesh and Vietnam. In the Hortus it grows in the Chinese Herbgarden because of the fact that it is native to China and you can eat the entire flower, the leaves and even the roots. The plant blooms in the summer, from July until September, and has the most beautiful link flowers with a yellow fruit that contains the seeds.

 

 


Treasures Japanmuseum Sieboldhuis

Picnic Set

This ingenious picnic set consists of three compartments and can be completely folded out. It includes a number of small lacquered cups and saucers. It’s unknown skilled creator used various techniques and several types of wood to create this wonderful piece.

 

From the Collection National Museum of Ethnology

 


Read more about Japan in Leiden

Fish paintings

Fish paintings

Kawahara Keiga

Japanese painter Kawahara Keiga (1786 – 1860?) worked on the Dutch trade post on the small artificial island of Deshima in the bay of Nagasaki. These water colour paintings of fishes were made on Japanese paper. In 1826 Siebold took Keiga with him on his journey to Edo (present-day Tokyo) and instructed him to commit to paper as many plants, animals, crafts and traditions as possible. One could say that Keiga was more or less Siebold’s personal photographer.

The Balloon Fish can be found worldwide in tropical waters and some subtropical and temperate areas. This fish has the ability to inflate the body by taking air into portions of its digestive tract, increasing the diameter size as much as three times. This dramatic increase in size gives the Balloon Fish an intimidating appearance. Balloon Fish swim slowly and close to the ocean floor at depths of 2 to 100 meters.

 

From the Collection Naturalis

 


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Siebold’s pet dog Sakura

In addition to many different hides and stuffed animals, Siebold managed to bring back three live animals with him to the Netherlands: a giant salamander that lived for many years in Artis, the royal zoo in Amsterdam, a Japanese Macaque, described by one of Siebold’s visitors as a feisty and scruffy little monkey, and a dog. Siebold named the dog Sakura, which is the Japanese word for cherry blossom. When the little dog died, Siebold had it stuffed.

 

From the Collection Naturalis

 


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Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Otaksa’

Siebold was responsible for the introduction of many Japanese and Asian plants in Europe. This dried Hydrangea also owes its name to Siebold.

He gave this flower his wife’s name; Otaksa. The colours of the leaves vary from light blue to pink or purple and constantly changes during the flowering season. Today the Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Otaksa’ hydrangea is the symbol of the city of Nagasaki.

 

From the Collection Naturalis

 


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Otter

Otter

Lutra lutra whiteleyi

In Siebold’s days otters were commonly found in Japan. They lived both in freshwater and along the coast. Unfortunately its fur was worth a lot of money and the otter was frequently hunted. As a result, the Japanese otter is almost extinct today.
In Japanese folklore, the otter is sometimes associated with kappa (river child). The kappa is a nasty littly creature that bullies people and sometimes even feeds on children swimming. Today the kappa is still used to warn Japanese children not to go too close to the water.

 

From the Collection Naturalis

 


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Panorama Room

Siebold’s collection consists of many thousands of artefacts spread throughout Europe. The collection in Leiden consist of approximately 25.000 objects and artefacts. In 1837 Siebold sold the objects he had collected during his six-year stay in Japan to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Siebold’s collection, together with the collections of Overmeer, Fischer and Blomhoff, formed the foundation of the collection of the National Museum of Ethnology. Over the years, the natural history objects were transferred to the present day Naturalis Biodiversity Center and the Leiden University Library.

 


Read more about Japan in Leiden


Treasures Museum Volkenkunde / Museum of Ethnology

Luxury Picnic Set

Picnic in Japan

Picnic sets are indispensable on day trips to admire the cherry blossom, a popular Japanese activity during the third month of the lunar year (usually in April). They are also used on countless summer occasions, including the parties in the eighth month, when people go off into the countryside and sit on benches to enjoy the autumn moon. The picnic box does not accommodate sake, which had to be taken along separately. The little trays and boxes are only to be used for fish, shellfish, and vegetables, possibly with the addition of rice in the large box.

This luxury picnic set or bentôbako is an outstanding example of compact refinement. The set consists of three fold-out compartments and contains a number of wooden boxes, finished in red, black or transparent lacquer. Some of the boxes are beautifully inlaid with mother-of-pearl or made of different types of wood in a marquetry technique. The little dishes are in the middle compartment at the top. The outer case is decorated with openwork shippō motifs (overlapping circles arranged to form lozenges and ovals) and tsubo motifs (interlocking circles or ‘manhole’ motif). A bronze handle ingeniously holds the compartments together when the set is being transported. This picnic set is a variegated mix of local techniques, typical of the gaudy taste of the Japanese middle class.

At The Museum of Ethnology
Edo period, Japan, c. 1826

26.6 x 28.5 x 24.8 cm; wood, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, metal, bronze
RMV 1-543
Siebold collection

 

 

Courtesan inspects her coiffure

Courtesan inspects her coiffure

Katsushika Hokusai

The elegance of the courtesan
A courtesan inspects the back of her coiffure with the aid of two mirrors. She is dressed in a slightly translucent black kimono over a red and light-blue under-kimono, fastened with a mauve obi. This is tied at the front, a fashion exclusive to courtesans. The elegance of the slightly backward-leaning figure is emphasised by details such as the raised left arm and her décolleté: the hairline in her neck corresponds to the silhouette of Mount Fuji, an image of ideal beauty in Japan. The face of the woman, which we see only in the raised mirror, is characteristic of Hokusai’s style in this period.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology

Katsushika Hokusai, Edo period, Japan, 1822-1826

86.3 x 31.2 cm; silk, ink (sumi), pigment, mounted as a hanging scroll (kakejiku)
RMV 1-1164
Siebold collection

 

 

Sake bowl

A sake bowl for autumn
This sake bowl, sakazuki, was turned on a lathe or rokuro from maple wood. The inside is decorated with two maple leaves in autumn colours, applied in flat lacquerware. Because of its fine, red-coloured leaves, the maple or momiji is directly associated with autumn, which is enhanced in this bowl by the gold lacquer decorations with a hint of red. For those who had refined taste and like to display it, this little bowl was ideally suited to tsukimi, festivals held in the eighth month, in which groups of friends would gather to sit on benches and enjoy the full moon − with a bottle of sake, of course.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology

Edo period, Japan, 1800-1823

Bowl: diam. 8.4 cm, h. 3.3 cm, ring-shaped stand: diam. 3.2 cm, h. 1.2 cm; wood (maple), gold lacquer, turned work

RMV 360-2048

 

 

Tenaga and Ashinaga (Netsuke)

Long Legs and Long Arms go fishing
A netsuke carved as a figurine representing 'Long Arms', Tenaga, sitting on the back of a grimacing 'Long Legs’, Ashinaga, who has been seized by an octopus while fishing. These mythological creatures symbolise the cooperation between two people, each of whom is inferior in some way, but who cooperate to overcome their frailties. And so it happens: Long Arms uses his unusual limbs to grasp the octopus and release his comrade from its grip. This theme is often depicted in netsuke, but seldom with such beauty and boldness as in this piece.
Netsuke are often described as ‘belt toggles’, but the literal translation of the word is ‘root attacher’.  This is an apter term for an object that cannot slide away behind your belt and hence ensures that your smoking pouch or medicine box is always within reach, while leaving your hands free. Netsuke are often seen as a natural development arising from the fashion of carrying about one’s person inrō, lacquered medicine boxes, or tobacco, which the Spanish had introduced from the Philippines around 1600.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology

Gesshō, Edo period, Japan, 1780-1823

10.9 x 3 cm; wood (palm), carving
RMV 360-2193

 

 

Human fish (Ningyo)

A monster representing a mermaid is known as a ningyo or 'human fish'. This piece was produced by Japanese craftsmen in the early nineteenth century. The upper torso is partly that of a monkey, but has a dog's jaw. The lower part of the body is that of a fish, probably a salmon. Such creatures were produced to be displayed, primarily by itinerant showmen who often hired circus tents or misemonokoya in squares or at busy intersections near bridges.
Mermaids are mentioned quite early in Japanese writings, but they do not really play an important role until the late seventeenth century. They were initially seen as disseminators or harbingers of doom, but after a while this belief reversed into the conviction that they actually possessed the power to prevent disaster, and that eating a mermaid could confer immortality.

The National Museum of Ethnology possesses the largest collection of nineteenth-century Japanese monsters in the world – twelve specimens in all.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology

Siron or mermaid (Ningyo)
Edo period, Japan, early 19th century
58 x 21 x 22 cm; papier-maché, cotton, wood, gut (ox), hide (monkey), nail, jaw (dog), vertebra (fish), skin (salmon)
RMV 360-10410

 

 

Three bronze Buddhas

Three bronze statues depict three Buddhas: on the right and in the middle Dainichi Nyorai, and on the left Yakushi Nyorai. Dainichi Nyorai or the Cosmic Great Sun Buddha, seated with the gesture of Holding the Jewel, represents the centre of the world of all phenomena. The Dainichi Nyorai in the middle has his hands in the gesture of meditation. He embodies the manifestation of Ichiji Kinrin, the Cosmic Buddha of the Golden Wheel, the personification of supreme virtue, denoted by the crown on his head. Yakushi Nyorai, on the left, with the same hand gesture, is the popular physician Buddha. He watches over people’s well-being and protects them from disease and danger. With his thumbs he presses a jar of medicine against his belly, a sign of his healing powers.

These three statues come from the mausoleum of the Tokugawa shōgun. They stood in one of the buildings of the Zōjōji temple, in the south of Edo.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology

Edo period, Japan, 1648
right: h. 99.5 cm, w. 82 cm, d. 72.5 cm; centre: h. 113 cm, w. 81 cm, d. 73 cm; left: h. 100 cm, w. 82, d. 73 cm; bronze, cast work
RMV 418-5 (right), RMV 418-4 (centre), RMV 418-1 (left)

 

 

Porcelain dish

Recognisability
The dish is decorated with stylised lotus flowers and peonies. But the heart pattern on the base is one of the most characteristic decorations of Nabeshima porcelain. Nabeshima porcelain was ordered by the feudal lords of the Saga Domain in the province of Hizen and was exclusively intended for use at their court. Exclusivity and outstanding quality were its primary features. This dish is the only known example with motifs in monochrome relief from the heyday of Nabeshima porcelain, namely the late seventeenth to mid-eighteenth century. The logical, almost natural division of the surface and the restrained finishing of the edges in the form of leaves are particularly striking. The dish has a diameter of 7 sun (1 sun=3.03 cm), one of the formal standard sizes of early, circular Nabeshima dishes that were rigidly maintained and help to make them instantly recognisable.

At the Museum of Ethnology
Edo period, Japan, 1675-1700

diam. 21.3 cm, h. 4.9 cm; porcelain, glaze
RMV 1645-1

 

 

Dragon

This wholly articulated dragon consists of over one thousand iron components, all carefully fitted together. The body can twist in all directions and the legs can bend in any way. The disadvantage of all this flexibility is that the creature is unable to stand without support. But that was not the craftsman’s concern; what he wanted was to demonstrate his consummate skill.

With the abolition of the class system in the Meiji period, metalworkers and goldsmiths who had for centuries served the samurai and daimyō found themselves having to find new sources of income. And because Buddhism was regarded as a foreign religion in this period, the patronage of temples had evaporated too. Craftsmen had to go in search of new markets where they could demonstrate their expertise and skill. Some found jobs at the world exhibitions that made their entrance in this period.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology

Meji period, Japan, before 1908

  1. 88 cm, w. 32 cm, h. 15 cm; iron
    RMV 1675-31

 

 

Netsuke with a cone shell

As far as can be ascertained, this remarkable netsuke is completely unique. Most netsuke are figurative, and not only is this one abstract, but it is also made of a most unusual material: a cone shell that has been sawn in two. The tiny disk in the middle is made of shakudō, a copper alloy with a small quantity of gold. The motifs are hammered into the pure silver and gold. Netsuke were made from a variety of materials, the most common being wood and ivory. Netsuke made from shells are extremely rare.

This netsuke enabled the wearer to carry his medicine box or inrō by passing the netsuke, to which the inrō was attached with a cord, under his belt. He could thus have his handsome lacquered inrō with him while keeping his hands free − traditional Japanese clothes do not have pockets..

 

At the Museum of Ethnology
Edo period, Japan, 1800-1850
1 x 3.4 cm; metal alloys, silver, gold, cone shell
RMV 3915-1

 

 

Elephant with its attendant

Elephant with its attendant

Watanabe Kakushū

However peaceful this scene may appear, it depicts a pivotal moment in the four centuries of Japanese-Dutch relations. In 1813, Thomas Stamford Raffles despatched two ships from British-occupied Batavia to Nagasaki, with the aim of persuading the Japanese to transfer the trading post of Deshima to the British. On board one of the ships was the young Indian elephant depicted here. The animal was five years old and came from Ceylon. To avoid arousing the suspicion of the Japanese and to gain access to the Bay of Nagasaki, the ships flew Dutch flags. Their mission was unsuccessful. The shogun sided with the Dutch.
The fact that this painting was executed on silk suggests that it was commissioned privately.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology
Watanabe Kakushū (with Gensei and Komatsu (?) seals), Edo period, Japan, c. 1813

Painting 42.4 x 56.2 cm; mount 117 x 79.5 cm; silk, ink (sumi), pigment, mounted as a hanging scroll (kakejiku)
RMV 5964-1

 

 

Porcelain serving dish

This large Imari porcelain dish shows five different views of the five-year-old Ceylonese elephant that disembarked in Nagasaki on 28 June 1813. With a diameter of 59.7 cm, this dish is a nishakuzara − a dish measuring 2 shaku (1 shaku = 30.3 cm) − probably the largest size that could be produced in the Imari kilns. Both its huge size and its extremely delicate decorations, such as the hues of the elephant in diverse shades of blue, and the minutely elaborated background decorations, make it a truly remarkable piece, displaying great craftsmanship. The quality of the porcelain, both the fired material itself and the remarkably fine glaze, supports the assumption that this piece was made for the domestic Japanese market. As far as is known, this dish is the only one of its kind.

Thomas Stamford Raffles, who sent this elephant to Nagasaki in 1813 as a gift to the shōgun, was probably extremely disappointed when Japan declined to accept either the collaborating Opperhoofd he nominated, Wardenaar, or the elephant as a gift to the shōgun. Both returned to Batavia that same year. That this incident made a strong impression, or in any case, that the elephant attracted universal interest, is clear from the numerous paintings made of the animal.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology
Edo period, Japan, c. 1813
Dish: h. 8.8 cm, diam. 59.7 cm; Ring-shaped stand: diam. 34.7 cm, porcelain, glaze, painted
RMV 6096-1

 

 

Magic mirror (Makkyō)

Although the collector Blomhoff does not say so anywhere, he must have received this mirror as a gift during one of the two court journeys undertaken in 1818 and 1822. What Blomhoff apparently failed to realise, or had perhaps forgotten by the time he compiled his catalogue, was that this is a magic mirror or makkyō! A makkyō is a mirror that can reflect an image concealed in its surface on the wall, in this case a family coat of arms. Magic mirrors of this kind were obviously ideal for the projection of signs that were not supposed to be seen in public.

On the mirror box, three times within a circle, is the aoimon, a family coat of arms, applied in hiramakie, gold lacquer. The lid is set off with a gold line along the edge. The same family coat of arms (three hollyhock leaves) is also applied three times in the metal back of the mirror, using a special metal alloy, against a blooming lespedeza, Japanese clover or hagi. The reflecting side is made of a thin layer of silver. The family coat of arms belongs to the Tokugawa family, the military rulers who governed Japan from 1603 to 1868. They were one of the most powerful families in Japan.

 

At the Museum of Ethnology

Edo period, Japan


 

 


Treasures Museum Boerhaave

The Blind Seer of Ambon

The Blind Seer of Ambon

Georg Everard Rumph

Georg Everard Rumph (Latinised as Rumphius) was born in Germany in 1627. As a young man he travelled to the Netherlands, eventually enlisting in the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He went to the Island of Ambon in the Moluccas where he married and fathered three children. In 1660 he embarked on a project of cataloguing the flora and fauna of the island, a project that was beset by an extraordinary amount of bad luck.


In 1670 he became blind, which forced him to rely on the assistance of others – chiefly his son Paulus – to act as his ‘eyes’ and make drawings for him of the plants and animals of Ambon and its surrounding waters. Four years later an earthquake hit Ambon, killing over two thousand people, including Rumphius’ wife and two of his children. In this disaster a large portion of the manuscript containing his study on the natural history of the island was lost. A new manuscript was produced and sent to Holland, but fate remained unkind: the ship carrying part of the manuscript was wrecked.


Rumphius did not live to see the publication of his investigations on the flora and fauna of Ambon. He died in 1702, and his book D’Amboinse Rariteytenkamer on the marine biology of the Moluccas was published in 1705. His magnum opus, the six-part Herbarium Amboinense was not published until 1741, more than forty years after Rumphius’ superiors, the Heeren Zeventien of the VOC, had received the manuscript.

 

 

D’Amboinse Rariteytenkamer

D’Amboinse Rariteytenkamer

Georg Everard Rumph

Rumphius did not live to see the publication of his investigations on the flora and fauna of Ambon. He died in 1702, and his book D’Amboinse Rariteytenkamer on the marine biology of the Moluccas was published in 1705. His magnum opus, the six-part Herbarium Amboinense was not published until 1741, more than forty years after Rumphius’ superiors, the Heeren Zeventien of the VOC, had received the manuscript.

 

 

String Galvanometer

String Galvanometer

Willem Einthoven

In 1901 the Dutch physiologist Willem Einthoven developed the string galvanometer. His research focused on the electrical phenomena of the heart muscle. This instrument, a highly sensitive voltmeter, enabled him to investigate the behaviour of the heart.  Thanks to this machine, Einthoven was able to record the first human electrocardiogram, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1924.

 

His son, Willem Frederik Einthoven, helped his father to perfect the instrument and proposed a vacuum version. Having been trained as an engineer, he experimented with this galvanometer to transmit and receive Morse signals just before the outbreak of World War I. During the war it was difficult for the Netherlands, which had remained neutral,  to communicate with the East Indies colonies over land across British territory. A rapid receiver able to send messages across 12,000 km would solve this practical problem. It was not until 1924 that he went to Bandung (now in Indonesia) to set up this rapid transmitter/receiver outfit. Due to limiting atmospheric conditions, however, this system never functioned properly. Willem Einthoven is nevertheless remembered as one of the founding fathers of Dutch radiotelegraphy.

 

 

Laboratory of the Pasteur Institute Bandung

This photo shows the laboratory at the Pasteur Institute. The Pasteur Institute occupied a prominent position in colonial medicine in the Dutch East Indies. Together with ‘s Lands Koepok Inrichting (National Cowpox Institute), the institute was located in Weltevreden (a suburb of Batavia, now Jakarta) from 1894 and was moved to Bandung in 1922. Inspired by the French Pasteur Institute, research and treatments focused on vaccines against diseases like rabies and smallpox. Each year hundreds of patients were inoculated with the locally produced vaccines. Production methods for different vaccines were constantly tested and improved, leading eventually to production in rabbits, calves and water buffalos. The collection of Museum Boerhaave includes a series of fascinating photographs concerning the different steps and locations involved in the preparation of vaccines and research activities at the institute.

 

 

Electrometer

Electrometer

Jacob Clay

In May 1972, Evert Marie Bruins, Professor in the History of Mathematics,  wrote a letter to Museum Boerhaave. Bruins’s  letter referred to the baffling measurements that had been conducted by the physicist Jacob Clay during voyages between Java and the Netherlands between 1927 and 1932. Clay’s measurements had revealed that the intensity of cosmic radiation decreased towards the equator.  This result dramatically changed the views on the constitution of cosmic radiation, and even carried profound cosmological implications. The electrometer with which Clay had recorded the cosmic radiation intensity had been awarded a prominent place in the museum.  In his letter, however, Bruins contended that Clay had cheated. The instrument, he insisted, had been defective and Clay had manipulated his data. If Bruins was right, the well-respected Professor Clay was exposed as a fraud, and the electrometer was a fake. Clay’s story is a story about an imperfect discovery. What really constitutes a scientific discovery?