Plate XXX, Der Chinen Gefengnusz vnd Halszgericht.
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
TREATMENT OF PRISONERS IN CHINA
Translation of text:
Title:The Chinese jails and half courts (municipal courts)
Text: The Chinese have plenty and great jails in their cities in which are nice gardens and fish ponds in which the minor offenders can walk around but they are surrounded by high walls and strong guards. The condemned prisoners that can't be executed yet because there are others to execute before them wear a white board on their neck written on them are their verdicts. They are locked up by night lying outstretched on the floor hands and feet locked into stocks and iron poles on both sides held by strong rings pulled over them underneath it they cannot move that's how they have to spend the night.
Before the judges proceed with the execution they review the sentence for the third time while the prisoner is set down on a pile of ashes they give them to drink and to eat now that they didn't find a reason against the death sentence bells are rung and cannons are fired/ and the prisoner is walked to his death. The thieves two hundred at the same time are whipped with a switch. Plenty are being hit in those houses as follows: at first the sinner is thrown down on the ground after that the hands are bound together in the back and then with four finger wide and one finger thick boards soaked with water hit terribly by two men on his thighs and calves so that after six strikes he cannot stand on his feet anymore and has die after fifty which often happens.**
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 firstname.lastname@example.org