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Ref ID: 22225
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: ten Brummelhuis, Han
Title: Lan Xang and the global textile trade in Gerrit van Wuysthoff's travel report (1641/1642)
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 Many countries in Asia have historians whose knowledge of the local history is in the first place based on their expertise in mastering sources left behind by the VOC (Dutch East India Company). The VOC activities regarding Lan Xang seem, however, to be limited to the 1640s and 1650s, when Lao traders visited Batavia several times and bringing musk, <i>benzoin</i> and gold. These activities generated the VOC administrators’ interest and resulted in the voyage undertaken by Gerrit van Wuysthoff. How incidental their curiosity was appears from the secret VOC maps of the time. They do not reach beyond Cambodia and one is unable to identify a place that can represent Lan Xang. Around 1725 François Valentijn included in his map of the Great River of Siam the location Luang Prabang (see illustration 36). It is doubtful whether there is any historical truth to this castle or temple depicted there. It might have been the result of a commission to an artist who had to rely on his own imagination. One of the earliest references to Lan Xang by a VOC official is by Cornelis van Nijenrode, the author of the first larger text on Siam in 1621. He explains that Siam borders Lan Xang (which he spells as ‘Lanwey’). In the VOC writings we find additional spellings: ‘Lansiang’ and ‘Louwenland’ and the Dutch talk about its inhabitants as <i>’Lanckiouwers’</i> or <i>’Langejanders’</i>. This article will be limited to a topic that has been underestimated for a long time. The topic of textiles or cloth – often mentioned by strange and exotic names in Van Wuysthoff’s journal and referred to on almost every page. They were not just one of the many trade items or things one kept in the cupboard or that remained within the sphere of one’s household. Textiles expressed cultural ideas. They articulated status and rank, and transmitted other kinds of social messages, as in fact they do today. I will try to explain what their importance was and I will start by taking a look at their names.
Identifier: 978-90-71256-15-8
Date Created: 1/30/2019
Editors: van Krieken-Pieters, Juliette
Page Start: 125
Page End: 139