Plate VII, Gernacher folgen die Figuren...
From Part III of Johann Theodor de Bry (1561-1623) and Johann Isreal de Bry's (1565-1609) Orientalische Indien (“Little Voyages”), Dritter Theil indiae orientalis...Frankfurt: 1599 (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 Matthias Becker
van Groesen 52
MEETING WITH THE NATIVES OF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
The expedition of Cornelis de Houtman meets the natives of the Cape of Good Hope. Three Dutchmen have killed an ox which they probably received from the Africans in exchange for goods such as tobacco or brandy. The entrails of the ox, which the Africans have asked for, are handed over.*
Translation of text:
Title: Those are the figures and histories of the Dutch voyages: and for the first time those which went to the islands Iaua and Sumatra everything illustrated in great detail.
Text: Those people are very small, and their color is red brown they are completely naked and cover themselves with just an ox skin instead of a coat they belt themselves with a big belt of the same skin for their shame area an extra piece some bind thin pieces of wood under their feet. Their best product is cattle and bracelets made out of copper ivory etc. At one time we slaughtered an ox and the wild ones came onto us asked us for its innards ate them raw if they want to cook them a little bit they put four sticks in the ground spread ox skin over it so that its bent a little bit like a bowl put all the innards in it add water make a fire underneath it let it warm up and eat it them then all together as you can see in the illustration.**
ENGRAVED PLATES FROM VOLUME III OF DE BRY’S ‘LITTLE VOYAGES’ OF THE EAST INDIES
Featuring Depictions of: The Azores, India, Sumatra, Madagascar, Pugnatan Island, Bantam Island, Sri Lanka, Bali, Nova Zembla and Kola
Documenting Linschoten’s Voyages (Contined from Vol. II), Cornelis de Houtman's Voyage to the East Indies (1595-1597), and Gerrit de Veer's Journal of Three Dutch voyages to reach the East Indies by the North (1594- 1597).
For years, the Dutch had watched Portuguese trade vessels sail to the Far East and return to the ports of Portugal loaded with valuable spices. Now, at the end of the 16th century, sweeping changes were about to happen. The nation was at war with Spain since 1568. It was made difficult for merchants to put in at the ports of Portugal, Spain's neighboring country with which the Dutch Republic had also been drawn into war. All this led a small group of Dutch entrepreneurs to decide to establish a trade company enabling them to undertake voyages to the East by themselves. This would become the Compagnie van Verre (long-distance company). But how to go about it, without encountering enemy ship of the Portuguese?
On April 2, 1595, Cornelis de Houtman and his brother Frederik de Houtman set sail from Texel to the East with the Amsterdam, the Hollandia, the Mauritius and the pinnace Duyfken. The first voyage ("De eerste schipvaert") was actually not much of a success. On board, the crew was suffering from hunger and diseases like scurvy. The commander had to deal with exhaustion and mutiny among the crew. Only halfway through the journey, near Madagascar, a part of the crew had to be buried. Before long, flaming row developed between the skippers and the merchants, especially since no admiral of the fleet had been appointed.
The ships arrived at the Javanese city of Bantam on June 27, 1596. Here they assumed to be safe from the Portuguese. When a Portuguese ship did arrive, De Houtman let his men attack it. Bantam, too, got involved in the battle, for which the Dutchmen were not appreciated. They hurried out of the place. At a certain point, there were not enough men left to crew all four of the ships. Thus, they decided to set fire to the Amsterdam.
The ships sailed east past Java and arrived at Madura island, where they were received peacefully. Fearing betrayal, De Houtman ordered to attack the locals, which was executed with great cruelty, upon which they fled. Also on the adjacent island of Bali, the Dutch received a warm welcome. Some of the crew even decided to stay there. Since the crew did not want to sail any longer, De Houtman decided not to set course any further to the East, the Moluccas. Instead, he returned home.
The voyage hardly yielded any profit and the company could barely cover its cost with the revenues. Only 89 of a crew of 249 survived. The goal of the voyage however, proving the possibility of reaching Asia past Cape of Good Hope, without being troubled by the Portuguese, was achieved. This expedition was one of the contributing factors to give rise to the establishment of the East India Company (VOC) in 1602.
The journal of this first voyage ("De Eerste Schipvaert") is an outstanding source that still allows us to undergo the very adventures of De Houtman and his men. The story, together with its numerous illustrations, shows the tribes they encountered along the way and how these strangers lived, ate, sang and danced. The Dutchmen wondered about all the new things they encountered, sometimes in fear, sometimes in astonishment.*
*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