INDIA – COROMANDEL COAST AND BENGAL

A battle for textiles Exotic cloth in exuberant floral prints or plain colours tempts the VOC to land on the Coromandel coast, the long eastern seaboard of India. The VOC attempted to establish a presence there, but it did not succeed in acquiring a monopoly for trading in fabrics. The Portuguese, the English and French had fortresses and trading posts

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92. After rebuilding

VOC director Jan Albert Sichterman arranged for the rebuilding and the fortification of the Chinsura establishment. This ground plan shows the fortifications after the rebuild, the ramparts are attached to the existing building. To get into the good books of governor-general Gustaaf Willem van Imhoff, he named the new fortress after him: ‘Gustavus’. Plan of Fort Gustavus in Chinsura A.D.

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93. The reverse side of prosperity

Designer Gerard Jasperse wants to expose the glory of Zeeland’s past prosperity with his project ‘On Sea & Land’. He states that this prosperity in the 17th and 18th centuries was largely acquired by repression, monopolies and the slave trade. He wanted to express this reverse side in this farmer’s smock. We see a number of symbols connected to the

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101. Vulnerable VOC offices

The VOC trading premises in Chinsura were frequently attacked by the Marathas, a group of Hindu warriors who tried to get a large part of Bengal in their possession. These premises proved to be too weak so they had to be rebuilt to be stronger. This ground plan shows the offices before the rebuilding. Plan of the Chinsura lodge A.D.

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94. Wish list

‘We would be very pleased to receive ‘white bleached general type of Guinean ‘lijwaet’ (a type of linen), as we have not had any of the kind this year’. Each year, the Heren Zeventien drew up the ‘General Requirements’, a sort of wish list of goods they wished to receive. These orders to Bengal for the year 1700 list mostly

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95. Cloth samples

Beautiful colours and patterns: Indian textiles were loved for good reasons. These textile samples from the 18th century are of the so-called ‘Guinean Lijwaten’, a type of linen. The name refers to the destination of this fabric: Guinea, modern-day Ghana. The Dutch West Indian Company uses this linen as currency in the slave trade. Slavery was widespread in the chartered

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The VOC on film (behind the curtain)

Traces of the VOC In the 1960’s and 70’s, Bob Barendsen was the consul-general in Calcutta and the representative for the Calcutta-Batavia line of the Netherlands Shipping Company. He shot film of the old VOC buildings and other brick and stone remnants of the company. Traces of the VOC in India Approximately 1960-1980 Collectie H. Barendsen

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96. New Year’s Greetings

The coach in which Gerrit van Westrenen and his wife Anthonia Adriana Turnhout are sitting with their sons Gerrit and Wouter is drawn by four horses. The soldiers in Negapatnam sent Gerrit van Westrenen, their new supreme chief, this impressively hand-drawn ‘new year’s wishing card’ to wish him a happy 1724. The difference in status between European and Indian soldiers

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97. Frisian-Indian mixture

Frisian folkloric costume with a colourful Indian accent. Having such a smock would have made you very fashionable in the 18th century. The cotton fabrics from the Coromandel Coast were very popular in Europe. The fashion in chintz really took off. Jacket of cotton chintz Second half of 18th century On loan from the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

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98. Showing off one’s wealth

Porcelain with the coat of arms of one’s family: Jan Albert Sichterman does not hide his wealth. He acquired his riches quite fast in his time as director for the VOC in Bengal; and not always in an honest way. For instance, he quickly earned much money with clever money exchanges, shrewd investments and smuggling merchandise back into the Republic, thus by-passing the

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99. Condolences in the interest of business

Jan Albert Sichterman offers his condolences to the King of Bengal for the loss of his father. Sichterman was the VOC governor in Bengal between 1734 and 1744. To safeguard trade, it was important to maintain good relations with the local rulers. Condolences for the Nawab, the Mughal governor of Bengal 1739 Archief VOC, inv. no. 8786

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100. Clara the Rhinoceros

This was not an everyday kind of gift: In 1738, Jan Albert Sichterman was given a young rhinoceros by the King of Bengal. He called her Clara and let her roam freely around his house. So Clara became used to people. When the animal became too big to keep her as a pet, Sichterman sold Clara to VOC captain Douwe

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102. Inspired by Asia

Much of the ‘typical’ Dutch folkloric costume was based on patterns and fabrics that originated in Asia. This can be seen quite clearly in the traditional shoulder flap or kraplap (square heavily starched cloth tied around the neck) from Spakenburg, made from chintz. ‘Kraplap’ from Spakenburg After 1960 On loan from Museum Spakenburg

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103. Fabric as currency

On this invoice, the left hand page lists the goods and the right hand page lists the slaves. The West Indies Company (WIC) paid for the slaves with textiles from Bengal. Although the VOC and WIC dealt with different parts of the world, their commercial networks were connected. Account for the purchase of slaves 1712 Archives of the Second WIC,

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