De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part II, Plate 32, How the Chinese Bury their Dead and Pray for the Souls that Passed Away. From the “Little Voyages”

$ 5,000.00

Plate XXXII, Wie die in China jhre Todten begraben vndfur die verstorbene Seelen bitten.
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

CHINA

Translation of text: 

Title: How the Chinese bury their dead and pray for the souls that passed away

Text: When the invalid passes away his friends wash him and smoke their sheets with good frankincense in which they dress the dead body set him on a chair kneel in front of him and say their goodbyes: then they lay him on a good-smelling stretcher cover him with a white sheet on which the dead is drawn let him sit there for 14 days in this time they hold several ceremonies and sacrifices for the dead soul. Finally they carry him with instruments and chants to his grave stick a spruce that is never going to be taken down to him in the earth. After all this the priests burn several papers with pictures of animals or slaves and then go home.

They pray for their lost ones in the following manner. On a certain day in August comes a monk with two of his friars to a certain house reminds them of the circumstances that they have to forgive the dead his bad habits which prevent him from becoming an angel so they do the usual prayers and sacrifices. After that they build an alter put the dead one's picture on it smoke it with frankincense and also prepare five or six tables with food/ for the lost one they sing and make a loud noise with drums and ringing bells and a little piece of wood meanwhile the folk sacrifice several scripts after which the monk says a prayer hits a table with a piece of wood after which the others answer him take several paintings burn them on the alter sit back down eat and drink in a good mood and the gone soul is honored.**

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 erikbrockett@aradergalleries.com