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Gold-Leaf Flattery, Calcuttan Dust, and a Brand New Flagpole: Five Little-Known VOC Collections in Asia on India and Ceylon

  • Lennart Bes

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Beside the records of the Dutch East India Company (or VOC) stored at the Netherlands National Archives in The Hague, there are various VOC collections kept in Asia that pertain to India and Ceylon. Some of these are relatively well-known: the “Dutch Records” in the Tamil Nadu Archives (Chennai); the records of the VOC government of Ceylon in the Sri Lanka National Archives (Colombo); the records of the Dutch Reformed Church of Ceylon at the Wolvendaal Church (Colombo); and the records of the Asian VOC headquarters at Batavia in the National Archives of Indonesia (Jakarta).

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* Lennart Bes is a PhD candidate at the Radboud University Nijmegen within the Eurasian Empires programme (based in Leiden) and researches dynastic politics in south India between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. He was formerly employed at the Netherlands National Archives, for which he is still working on the third and last volume in the series of archival guides titled Dutch Sources on South Asia, c. 1600–1825.

My research for this paper, carried out in 2010 and 2011, was financed and facilitated by the Mutual Cultural Heritage programme of the National Archives of the Netherlands, for which I am very grateful. I especially wish to thank Jinna Smit, Roelof Hol, Frans van Dijk, Anja van der Schoor, Jasmijn Bus, and Martin Berendse. I am also thankful to Sara Cohen and Muhammad Afzal of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in New Delhi for providing me with the necessary letters of introduction. Furthermore, I would like to express my gratitude to the staff of the repositories mentioned in this paper, in particular: Rejikumar J., Mr Vasudevan, and Prabhath M. (Regional Archives Ernakulam and Kerala State Archives); Bidisha Chakraborty, Ananda Bhattacharya, Aradhana Ghosh, and Sumit Ghosh (State Archives of West Bengal); Meena Gautam and Jaya Ravindran (National Archives of India); Nanda Wickramansinghe and Pradeep Lanka Nissanka (Colombo National Museum); Rev. G. Stanley Nelson and Anton Gnanapragasam (Christian Reformed Church, Colombo); and Senja Kala Yahya, Nadia Fauziah Dwiandari, Mira Puspita Rini, and Jajang Nurjaman (National Archives of Indonesia). In addition, I would like to thank Nadeera Seneviratne, Abhijit Bhattacharya, Murari Kumar Jha, Florus Geraedts, Jos Gommans, Bauke van der Pol, Remco Raben, Gerrit Knaap, Lodewijk Wagenaar, Charles Jeurgens, Diederick Kortlang, Alicia Schrikker, Leonard Blussé, Carolien Stolte, and Gijs Kruijtzer for assisting me in one or way another.

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Gold-Leaf Flattery, Calcuttan Dust, and a Brand New Flagpole: Five Little-Known VOC Collections in Asia on India and Ceylon

  • Lennart Bes

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