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Ref ID: 22227
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: van Krieken-Pieters, Juliette
Title: Van Wuysthoff's <i>Journael</i> in perspective: the king, Lao Buddhism and the environment
Date: 2010
Source: Van Wuysthoff and the Lan Xang Kingdom: a Dutch Merchant's Visit to Laos in 1641
Place of Publication: Leiden, Netherlands
Notes: Introduction This Volume is about encounters, whether they be cultural, religious, economic or social. The most prominent of these is undoubtedly the one between the Lao King Suriyavongsa and the Dutch merchant Van Wuysthoff. The meeting took place in the That Luang, the magnificent temple that still dominates the Vientiane landscape. On November 16th 1641, around 4 p.m., Van Wuysthoff and his companions were summoned by the King. “Going to His Highness we were brought via a large open space to a square that was surrounded by a stone wall full of loopholes. In the middle a large, broad and high pyramid was erected that was covered with golden plates at the top. It was said that 8 <i>picols</i> of gold had been used. All the Lao who entered the place had burning candles and made offerings.” It all happened during the That Luang festival of 1641. This yearly event is still celebrated in virtually the same manner every full moon in November. The very fact that a merchant was allowed to meet with the King was indeed a great honour as this was not <i>usance</i> among kings in the surrounding countries. This will be elaborated upon below. To imagine why Van Wuysthoff was so impressed by the king and this building is not difficult: even nowadays the monument, the national symbol of Laos, leaves a lasting impression on its many visitors. The above quote comes from Van Wuysthoff himself. He wrote a <i>Journael</i> (journal), or a daily account, during his travel up the Mekong River from Cambodia to ‘Winckjan’ (Vientiane) and back between July 1641 and April 1642. Realizing what a difficult journey it must have been in small boats with heavy rains, rapids and overflowing water, it is quite amazing that that this document survived the Mekong River and even reached the Netherlands. It can now be found at the <i>Nationaal Archief</i>, the National Archives in The Hague. The fact that it still survives says something about the Company for which it was written: very precise, extremely organized, and with great care for administrative matters. In this contribution several aspects of Van Wuysthoff’s diary will be focused upon. - Different versions of Van Wuysthoff’s <i>Journael</i> -Descriptions of the environment and the people -
Identifier: 978-90-71256-15-8
Date Created: 1/30/2019
Editors: van Krieken-Pieters, Juliette
Page Start: 73
Page End: 103