De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part II, Plate 18, The King of Cochin Riding an Elephant. From the “Little Voyages”
Plate XVIII, Der Kounig von Cochin reitet auff einem Elephant
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
THE KING OF COCHIN
“Portugal's base in Cochin dated from as early as 1503. There the Portuguese built Fort Manuel, the first European fort in India. Around a century and a half later, Cochin was captured by the VOC under the command of Rijcklof van Goens. Cochin subsequently expanded to become the Company's main base on the Malabar coast. The rajah of Cochin granted the Company a monopoly in pepper and cinnamon” (the Atlas of Mutual Heritage).
According to the descriptions in Icones, the king of Cochin rides an elephant, as is customary for the kings of India. The onlookers in the picture are nobles, also called nayar. They always walk armed and ready to prove their merits to the king. They wear bows and arrows and other weapons or muskets, which strongly resemble ours, according to Icones. The nayar is a bachelor, but is entitled to enter the bedroom of any woman in the region. "There is no woman who refuses a nayar the use of her body," the Icones writes.*
Translation of text:
Title: The king of Cochin riding an elephant.
This king always rides on an elephant whenever he goes somewhere and is followed by his aristocrats who call themselves Nairos and partly carry spears and partly long rifles which they carry around with them as shown above. Several of them carry great shields made out of light wood underneath which they can hide their whole body if they bent down a little bit. This king with the aristocrats and his subjects the Pomas as shown in the front is naked but to be differed from the rest he wears bracelets and other decorations and also his weapon is exclusively worn by him. Read therefore chapter 42.**
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 email@example.com