Atjeh items from KNIL Major A. Picard

Most etnographical items in Dutch collections do not have a historical background story, provenance. These stories are often lost over time so that is an extra reason for writing down these blogs.

These items were collected during the career of Major A. Picard of the Dutch East Indies Army. He was born in 1850, between the early 1870s and 1898, his pension date, he rose throught the ranks to the status of Major. After his pension he returned to the Netherlands and passed away in 1905. For one of his actions he received an Honorable Mention (Mention is Despatches) which was the 2nd highest acknowledgement for gallantry after the Military Order of William. He spent his entire career in Norhtern Sumatra (Atjeh region during the long lasting wars there).

The collecting of etnographical items was popular amongst officers and even promoted by higher ranking officers. Looting was not accepted (which does not mean it did not happen) but collecting/buying was seen as an investment in a better understanding of the local population as was the learning of the local language.

His complete collection was handed down in the family several times until the last family member deceased in the early 2000s. An antiques dealer bought the entire contents of the house and sold them off.

Photo of how the items were found by the antiques dealer.

A friend was able to buy the medals and paperwork and I bought several etnographical items. You can match them with the photo above!

Despite the handkerchiefs these are all items for Atjehnese men, for tobacco, sirih and chalk or toiletries (tool sets with items like ear wax spoons, nose hair clippers and tooth picks) for the men of that region.