Plate XXVIII, Wunderbarliche Ceremonien der Chiner fuur jhrem Abgott.
From Part II of Johann Theodor de Bry (1561-1623) and Johann Isreal de Bry's (1565-1609) Orientalische Indien (“Little Voyages”), Ander Theil der Orientalischen...Frankfurt: 1598 (first edition)
Engraving with original, early 17th century hand color heightened with gold on laid paper; paper dimensions: approximately: 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
Printed by Johan Saur
van Groesen 43
IDOL WORSHIP IN CHINA
This illustration does not depict a punishment or painful accident, but a deliberate choice by Indian Hindus. They throw themselves under the wheels of a passing cart drawn by elephants. They believe that injuries or even death caused by this deed will help bring them a step further in their religious path. We see a statue of a Hindu god on the cart.*
Translation of text:
Title: Wanderers Chinese ceremonies for their idol.
Text: The Chinese do a lot of monkey business in front of their idols which they have plenty of because if there is something important that they have to do on the water or on land they come to the shown three headed picture bind two pieces of wood together on one side flat on one side round throw those in the air and if they both land on the flat side that means luck for their plan but if one is flat and the other one round it means misfortune then they pray to the picture and beg for a fortunate sign and if they fall again similarity they curse and scream but again find good words and they pray and beg even more throw the wood pieces again if the sign of fortune will not show they kick the picture with their feet throw it into the sea or fire let it burn for a little while or throw it as long as the wooden pieces fall into place then they set it right apologize and bring him several sacrifices.
Those folks also practice communication with ghosts in the following manner. One of them lies facing the ground another one reads in a book to which the other ones respond with singing and ringing of bells then the bad ghost goes into the man on the ground who changes his face and body language into a horrible display this possessed man is being questioned and gives the others the answer that he received by the devil. If they do not get an answer with this procedure they throw a red blanket on the ground/ throw rice on it and give somebody that can write a piece of wood in his hand start singing and ringing bells after which he starts writing into the rice with the wood/ those signs are being taken down by another one and an answer is being interpreted out of those.**
ENGRAVED PLATES FROM VOLUME II OF DE BRY’S ‘LITTLE VOYAGES’ OF THE EAST INDIES
Documenting the Asia Journeys of Van Linschoten. Featuring Depictions of Gabon, Mozambique, India, Ormus, Moluccas, and China
The Itinerario of Jan Huygen van Linschoten (ca. 1563, Haarlem - 1611 Enkhuizen) literally translates from the Latin as "travel report." It is the first Dutch description of a journey to the East.
Jan Huygen van Linschoten undertook the journey as commissioned by the Portuguese. Upon his return to the Netherlands after many years of travel, Van Linschoten chronicled his experiences. Jan Huygen wrote his travel report, which was published in 1596, in his hometown of Enkhuizen. In doing so he was assisted by Doctor Paludanus, a collector of rarities and curiosities, owner of a botanical garden, an encyclopedist of the newly discovered parts of the globe.
How did Van Linschoten find himself in Asia? Around 1579 the young man, 16 or 17 years old at the time, followed his two brothers to Seville, Spain. A year later he would move to Portugal, where, with his brother's help, he found a position as a clerk in the retinue of Vincente de Fonseca, the newly appointed archbishop of Goa on the west coast of India.
Van Linschoten would make his first journey in 1583, sailing to India with the archbishop's retinue. The journey gave him the opportunity to collect all sorts of information from various sources on the Portuguese empire in Asia: about products that were being traded, fauna of the region, customs and habits of the peoples; but above all Van Linschoten noted down information about the route to Asia.
In 1587 the bishop set out to return to Portugal to report on his activities. Jan Huygen van Linschoten stayed behind in Asia. He was thought to be collecting interest. He also cherished the hope that an occasion might arise for him to travel further east, to China and Japan. In 1588 he was informed that the bishop had died en route back to Europe.
He also heard that his brother's ship had been entirely lost. Jan Huygen van Linschoten suddenly became homesick and decided to himself return to Europe in 1589.
During a stop at Saint Helena, he met Antwerp- born Gerrit van Afhuijsen, who had been to the Maluku Islands (previously known as the Moluku Islands, currently part of Malaysia). He learned a great deal from him about trade in that region. At the next stop, the Azores, he was forced to stay for two years as the island was under siege by the English. He utilized this time to map out the city of Angra on the island of Terceira, as commissioned by the governor. In 1592 he arrived in Lisbon. In the same year, he started out for his homeland and settled once again in Enkhuizen, in what is now the province of Noord-Holland.
Jan Huygen van Linschoten's Itinerario appeared in print in 1596. Amsterdam resident Cornelis Claeszoon, the most important publisher of his time, published the book complete with six topographical maps, 26 illustrations of people and their customs and four prints of trees and fruits.
The 26 illustrations of Asian peoples and the four pictures of eastern crops are separately depicted in the book Icones, also published by Cornelis Claeszoon. These include depictions of Indians, but also of Moluku natives, Javanese and Malaysians. We do not know whether Van Linschoten himself encountered people from these last three population groups in India or whether he described them on the basis of other sources.
With the help of Van Linschoten's guide, four ships set sail on the first long journey eastwards in 1595 (De Eerste Schipvaert (The First Voyage) by Cornelis de Houtman).*
*Research provided by Martine Gosselink, head of the History department at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands.
**Translated from original German by Karl Nesseler.
Description compiled by Erik Brockett who is pleased to provide additional information relating to this or other examples of the work of Johann Theodor de Bry available at Arader Galleries. He can be contacted at email@example.com