Skip to main content
Ref ID: 22224
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Rattanavong, Houmphanh
Title: A description of the kingdom of Lan Xang and its attempts to establish contacts with the West
Date: 2010
Source: Van Wuysthoff and the Lan Xang Kingdom: a Dutch Merchant's Visit to Laos in 1641
Place of Publication: Leiden, Netherlands
Publisher: Gingko Publishers
Notes: Introduction There are two documents which contributed greatly in clarifying an important part of Laos’ history and in aiding the Western world of the mid-seventeenth century to better understand the Kingdom of Laos, or Lan Xang, during its most flourishing era. These documents are: (1) the journal by Gerrit Van Wuysthoff, a merchant for the Dutch East India Company, documenting his travels to Laos in 1641 – 1642
and (2) the account by Father Giovanni Filippo de Marini, written and published in Italian in 1663, based on notes compiled on site by the Jesuit priest Leria who lived for some time (1642 – 1647) in Vientiane, the capital of the Kingdom of Lan Xang. The first of these documents, being a travel diary, gives reasonably detailed information about the difficulties of the voyage up the Mekong River, about the names and sites of villages and towns, about daily life and about trade along the way, as well as about events in the capital and at the Palace during official ceremonies and festivals. The second document, that by De Marini, describes the geographical, political, and economic situation, beliefs and Buddhism in particular, the grandeur of the so-called Sun King, King Suriyavongsa, and the ceremony of his court. These two documents, written at about the same time but by two very different authors, can be said to complete and complement each other wonderfully. They are an asset in the effort to reconstruct the past of this great Kingdom and its attempts to come into contact with the West.
Identifier: 978-90-71256-15-8
Date Created: 1/30/2019
Editors: van Krieken-Pieters, Juliette
Page Start: 141
Page End: 152