THE MIDDLE EAST

Silk is the most significant product obtained by the VOC from the area around the Persian Gulf. In addition the company also brings back wool, wine, pearls, rose essence, Arabic gum, incense and coffee to Europe. But the Persian Gulf provides also a lucrative selling market for merchandise from other parts of the VOC empire, such as textiles, pepper and

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69. A sign of friendship

The Shah of the Persian Empire dispatched his subordinate to the Republic. He offered free trade in his empire to the Dutch: ‘I open My Country to the Merchants of Your Country, to come and leave freely, to trade, buy and sell (…) and shall be treated with my Heart and Affection as My own Son.’ The Shah of the

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70. The first Dutchman in Mocha

VOC merchant Pieter van den Broecke wrote about his trading expeditions in Persia and Yemen in his Concise History and Diary Notes. He noted that the inhabitants of Mocha had never seen a Dutch person: ‘to the greatest astonishment of the inhabitants (because no person from our European nation has ever been here)’. The VOC founded a trading office in

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71. What should a coffee pot look like?

The handle should be directly opposite the spout, not at a right angle. The VOC had very specific requirements for the appearance of coffee pots made in China. To be absolutely clear, they added a little drawing. ‘Requirements for Porcelain for 1768’ for China 1767 Archief Nederlandse Factorij te Kanton, inv. no. 132

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72. A new governor for Persia

Governor-general Antonio van Diemen and the Board for the East Indies appointed Wollebrand Geleynssen as governor of the commercial activities of the VOC in Persia. This was a big new step in his career. Before this, he had advanced in the ranks of the VOC in the northwest of India. Wollebrand Geleynssen de Jongh becomes VOC-governor in Persia 28 August

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73. Regarding Bharuch and its regions

‘To begin with, this city of Brootchia is a pleasant place.’ This is what Wollebrand Geleynssen wrote about the cotton town of Bharuch in India, where he worked for the VOC from the year 1624 onward. Geleynssen immersed himself in the governance, the local population and customs of the area around ‘Brootchia’ and provided a comprehensive description of these. A

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74. Bharuch, city of cotton

This map gives an overview of the towns and villages under the VOC directorate of Surat. At the bottom of the map, just a little above Surat, lies ‘Brootchia’. This is another name for the city of Bharuch, about which Wollebrand Geleynssen wrote so extensively around 1630. Right at the top of the map is Ahmedabad (‘Amed Abaad’), after Surat

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75. The centre of the coffee trade

This small city on the shore of the Red Sea would be the most important market for coffee in the world for centuries to come. This began to change from the 18th century. The rise of the coffee plantations in Asia and later in South America and conflicts with the Ottoman Empire spelled the end of Mocha as a centre

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76. Getting acquainted with coffee beans

This is the VOC first price list that mentions coffee beans. Almost at the bottom it states: ‘beans that make coffee’. VOC merchant Pieter van den Broecke drew up this list in the city of Mocha in 1616. Other products on this list include indigo, rice and saffron. Pricelist of goods in the city of Mocha November 1616 Archief VOC,

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77. Java coffee

Governor-general Van Hoorn told the Heren Zeventien that he was surprised how well the coffee plants were growing in his garden. ‘to my curiosity that in my garden (…) it enjoys healthy growth’. This letter is the kick-start for the widespread cultivation of coffee on Java after 1797. What had started from a couple of plants smuggled from Malabar to

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78. Survival of a journey through hell

Only 21 of the 100 crew and passengers of the VOC ship Amstelveen were able to tell this story. They did not only survive being shipwrecked off the coast of Oman, but also a hellish journey on foot across the desert. Third mate Cornelis Eyks is one of the fortunate ones who reached the city of Muscat. The VOC records

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79. Eyewitness account

‘There may be some use in this for others who land or are found in similar sad circumstances.’ Cornelis Eyks survived the sinking of the Amstelveen off the coast of Oman in 1763, as one of the few. He wrote a report about his experiences which was published in his place of birth, Middelburg. A researcher rediscovered this publication in

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In the footsteps of Cornelis Eyks

Author Abdelkader Benali follows the footsteps of Cornelis Eyks, one of the survivors of the shipwrecked Amstelveen. As a travel guide he deploys Eyks’ eyewitness account. Fragment from Expeditie Oman (‘The Oman Expedition’) NTR, Broadcast on 21 July 2013 Gillis Frencken

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80. Victor Victorsz pictured the ‘Southland’

In 1796 Victor Victorsz was on board the last VOC expedition to the ‘Southland’ (the west coast of Australia) under the command of Willem de Vlamingh. Victorsz is both a lay pastor and a painter. He made sketches of unknown coasts and islands. De Vlamingh discovers the ‘Southland’ Victor Victorsz, 1696-1697 Verzameling Buitenlandse Kaarten Leupe, inv. no. 509

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81. Pewter plate

In October 1616, Dirk Hartogh discovered an island off the west coast of Australia. He left a flattened pewter plate behind with an inscription to mark his discovery. The later expedition led by De Vlamingh found this plate in 1697. On the chart made by Victor Victorsz on his exploration of the Southern Lands (Australia’s west coast) one can read

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82. Swapping plates

In 1697, Willem de Vlamingh took back home the old pewter plate that Dirk Hartogh had left behind on the Australian west coast eighty years earlier. He put his own plate in the same spot, bearing his own inscriptions. This is a replica of this plate. The original is in the Western Australian Museum in Perth. Replica of Willem de

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83. Muster list

The captain of the ship Geelvink that left for an expedition to the Southland was Willem de Vlamingh from the island of Vlieland. He took Joannes Breuer from Copenhagen on board as his first officer. The lay pastor on the ship was Victor Victorsz from Amsterdam, who was going to make drawings of the coast and the islands en route.

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84. Charting the coast of Australia

Victor Victorsz succeeded in charting a major part of the Australian west coast. En route he also produced drawings of the coast line and islands they came across, such as Tristan da Cunha in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Coastal profile of the island of Tristan da Cunha 1696-1697 Archief VOC, inv. no. 5060  

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85. Looking for a missing ship

The newly launched flagship the Geelvinck was the most important ship in the expedition of Willem de Vlamingh to the Southland. The smaller Nyptangh and the Weseltje escorted the Geelvinck. Apart from being a voyage of reconnaissance by De Vlamingh, the journey was also intended to find the missing ship De Ridderschap van Holland (‘The Knighthood of Holland’). Alas, they

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86. An island full of rats

‘There are only a few birds and no animals other than a kind of rat, as large as a common cat, whose shit is to be found all over the island’ thus wrote one of the sailors of the Nyptangh in the ship’s log on 31 December 1696. The island where these unknown animals were observed was named Rottenest (modern-day

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87. From trading post to headquarters

The VOC established a trading post in Gamron in 1623. At that time the company’s main Persian offices were still in the city of Isfahan. They were moved to Gamron (present-day Bandar Abbas in Iran) fifteen years later. View of Gamron Cornelis de Bruin, 1704 Collectie Aanwinsten Kaarten en Tekeningen, inv. no. 29

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88. Stylish coffee consumption

A landscape with trees and cottages near a river. People bathing and a horse rider. Is the picture on this porcelain coffee pot Chinese or are these European landscapes? Rich families in Western Europe ordered a lot of porcelain from China. That is why we can often easily recognise the decorations. China Coffee pot with a European pattern 1690-1710 On

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89. New encouragement to commerce

King William I wanted to revive the VOC at the start of the nineteenth century. He founded the Netherlands Trading Society in 1824 to kick-start trade with the Dutch East Indies, including the coffee business. Two samples of coffee beans 20 May 1843 Archief Ministerie van Koloniën, 1814-1849, inv. no. 4291B

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90. Dutch trading posts in the Persian Gulf

The reconnaissance trips made by the Dutch to the coasts of Oman and the United Arab Emirates around the year 1645 yield a lot of new intelligence. The maker of this chart uses this information to supplement a Portuguese example. The Dutch standards indicate where the VOC offices are located in the cities of Basra and Gamron (present-day Bandar Abbas

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91. Mapping the Middle East

In the Middle East, the VOC traded chiefly with port cities on the Persian Gulf (on the right on this map) and the city of Mocha (at the bottom). The famous cartographer Johannes Vingboons based his map on a 16th century Portuguese original by Lázaro Luis. A copy of this map was also used by Jan Huygen van Linschoten in

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