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.
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.
The Dutch Campaign or Expedition medal (ereteken voor Belangrijke Krijgsverrigtingen) in context. A clasp was added to the ribbon for specific campaigns (all colonial). Next to this a Honorable Mention (MID) could be added in the form of a crown.
In this case the claps for the Expedition to the Gajo- en Alaslanden of 1904. A rare clasp ( with only around 350 awarded) for one of the most notorious expeditions in the Dutch colonial history. This was mainly caused by the book in the background which in detail describes the horrors of the expedition but on top is the first description with photo’s made by one of the participating officers. These photo’s also include the images of many native casualties.
The Gajo region was brought under Dutch Government control during this expedition. It is a remote region in the North of the Island Sumtra. It is connected to Atjeh but without the strategic (military, civil or trade) importance hence the very late moment of this action.
Most etnographical items from this region only came into Dutch collections during and after this expedition but are relatively rare like this keris with a typical Gajo ivory handle. A similar kris handle was used by the freedom fighter from Atjeh (Aceh), teukoe Oemar (teuku Umar) which is part of a Dutch museum collection (Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden).
Left a kris in Minang style with Gajo ivory handle and a loose ivory handle in the same style both from my collection next to the kris of teukoe Oemar from the collection of Museum Volkenkunde.
The significance of the stars are described in the Kris Disk by Jensen and he links them to the importance/status and role of the owner.
The campaign medals are generic and not named so cannot be traced to the original owner. This one is of the typical local style of mounting on pigskin and with a privately purchased crown for the MID (the official version had a very poor system for attachment on the ribbon). Both are typical of the period.
See for some more etnographical arms from this region my earlier blog!
Krisdisk (2007) by Karsten Sejr Jensen
Museum Volkenkunde Leiden (photo of kris of Teukoe Oemar)
Next to the very distinctive Sikin and Rencong from Aceh there is another weapon that is directly linked to Aceh but only for those of noble status and in the status variation (so with gold and diamonds) only for those closely connected to the Sultan of Aceh.
Longer weapons of all kinds were named pedang in Indonesia. On Sumatra in the Aceh region the local name was Peudeuëng which was used only for an extra long type of sabre in the Indian Tulwar style.
The noble (status) variation has a few very distinctive differences, The steel handle has a woven (teurhat) silver cover (kabat). The style of weaving can help determine the age but they are basically all 19th century or earlier. The top of the handle has a gold cover (crown) which in this case has also rough diamonds (inten) and enamel work as often seen on status rencong and sikins.
One of the most famous versions of this weapon is the version of Teukeu Umar that is currently in the Bronbeek collection. That version also has a golden cover of the entire handle which signifies an even higher status!
The blades are often longer than 80cms (total length around 100 cms) and always flexible in a high quality damascus steel. Probably most often if not always the blades are imported.
This example came from the collection of Karsten Sjer Jensen (writer of the famous Krisdisk). If the number 8 which can be seen both on the handle and the sheath was put there by him is unknown.
The entire quality of blade, handle and goldwork make these weapons very rare and collectable today!
Sources: Catalogus Museum Bronbeek, Het verhaal van Indie, deel 1
The Bronze Lion – Bronzen Leeuw (BL) – is the 2nd highest Gallantry decoration of the Netherlands. It was instituted in 1944 and was the final part of the renewal of the Dutch system of gallantry decorations to extend beyond the Miltary Order of William, which remained the highest gallantry decoration.
Between 1944 and 1962 the Bronze Lion was awarded 1206 times. Most of these were for actions in WW2 (also retroactive for actions starting in 1940) and the colonial war in Indonesia in the period from 1945 to 1950. More recently it has been awarded several times for actions in Afghanistan.
In total 336 awards were to allied WW2 men and 869 to Dutch of which 177 were postumously awarded. A total of 176 were awarded to members of the Dutch East Indies Army.
The documents here are for a posthumously awarded Bronze Lion to a sergeant of the infantry of the Dutch East Indies Army. The Bronze Lion and papers were sent to the father of the sergeant without any ceremony.
I am still researching the circumstances and hope to find more info on this resistance/guerilla groupbut here the info I have accumulated so far.
First the accompanying letter to the father which makes this a rare paper group!
And below the two pages of the award document including the full citation:
Citation. See for the full text in Dutch farther below. It states that the awardee sergeant A.P.J. van der Veen was awarded the BL for his guerilla actions on the island of Celebes after the Japanese invasion (and following Dutch surrender) together with 7 other NCO’s and 2 officers. They participated in actions as a group but also split into several smaller groups led by the two officers. After some time they had no ammunition and food supplies left and fell into the hands of the Japanese. The Japanese showed no mercy for the continuation of guerilla actions after the main force had already surrendered. All 10 men were executed in August 1942 by the Japanese but on different dates and locations.
The following newspaper article from 1985 sheds some more light on the guerilla group on the island of Celebes:
Here is a translated summary of the text above:
The total group initially consisted of some 120 men. Lt Van Daalen already was in the process of surrendering his weapons after the main force on Java had surrendered in the beginning of March. Lt De Jong took action and stopped him, retook the guns that already had been handed in and freed the Dutch Prisoners of War from the Japanese force of some 50 men. The 120 men were split into several smaller groups all trying to survive and fight the Japanese. Without modern means of communication they kept in contact through couriers only. They did have some radiocommucation with the Dutch forces in Australia where they requested additional supplies and guns. These were delivered some five weeks later by the Australian Air Force, unfortunately the communication was also noticed by the Japanese. Based on that they sent 500 men of additional forces to the region. The Japanese were able to capture the dropped supplies.
In the beginning of August, after 5 months of fighting guerilla actions all supplies and ammunition were gone. The Japanese pressure on local people to hand over the guerilla’s was also intensified in that period. Based on these circumstances maintaining the group as a whole was no longer possible. Lt De Jong decided to give all remaining men the freedom to act as they saw fit. Surrender to the Japanese, try to hide or continue to fight as he and Lt Van Daalen and some 14 men did. After a few more days Lt De Jong and Lt Van Daalen and their men all were captured. All captured men were beheaded for their actions.
One sergeant that had chosen to go into hiding was able to stay out of the hands of the Japanese during the entire war and was the only known survivor of the group. He received no gallantry award! The faith of many of the others remains unknown/unresearched.
The commanding officer Lt De Jong was awarded the Military Order of William 4th class – the highest decoration for Gallantry. The other officer Van Daalen and 7 NCO’s were all awarded a Bronze Lion.
Lt Van Daalen was awarded the Bronze Lion before the awards to the NCO group. His text is different from that of the NCO’s but also different to that of the MWO. His award was made on January 27th 1947.
The NCO’s of the group received the Bronze Lion more than half a year later, on September 13th 1947. What the reason is for the difference remains unclear, but the size of the group probably influenced this and maybe the research into all men of this group.
Lt De Jong was awarded the MWO on October 7th 1947. That award process is the most difficult one to complete so that it was awarded later makes sense.
573 The late Willem Hendrik Johannes Everhardus van Daalen, born Batavia September 6th 1914, first lieutenant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, passed away, Sario-Menado August 25th 1942.
So far I have not been able to determine why the 8th NCO that is mentioned in the citation was not awarded a Bronze Lion. My hypothesis is that he was an indigenous soldier of whom the authorities have not been able to determine enough details or even a name. Probably similar to BL 653 to Sergeant Malawan of whom no other details are given. Not even his Army number has been traced.
Here is a list of the group of Bronze Lions, all with the same citation text:
650 The late Johannes Antonius Gerissen, born Nijmegen April th 1909, sergeant-major-instructor of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 87021), passed away Kolonodale, August 15th 1942. 651 The late NicolaasChristianus Antonius de Jager, born Leeuwarden August 8th 1905, sergeant-major-administrator of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 85463), passed away, Kolonodale 14 aug. 1942. 652 The late Cornelis Wouter Kors, born Djokjakarta July 11th 1908, quartermaster of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 84598), passed away Kolonodale August 15th 1942. 653 The late Malawan, sergeant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, passed away Kolonodale August 28th 1942. 654 The late Teunis Gijsbertus Onwezen, born Amersfoort November 5th 1908, sergeant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 86235), passed away Kolonodale August 15th 1942. 657 The late Arnoldus Petrus Johannes van der Veen, born Batavia March 20th 1919, sergeant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 92899), passed away Kolonodale August 12th 1942. 659 The late Hendrik Wonnink, born Soerabaja 23 juli 1914, sergeant of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army (army number 92361), passed away Kolonodale August 12th 1942.
Through the website of the Dutch War Grave society it is also possible to search on location. The location Kolonodale shows two more victims in the same period. Soldier Cornelis Reijnhout born in Middelburg March 29th 1914 and sergeant Johannes Hendrik de Bruin born in Djokjakarta October 8th 1903. Both passed away on the same date as sergeants Wonnink, Van der Veen but did not receive gallantry awards. If they belonged to the same group (my current hypothesis) still has to be researched.
And the last award for this action is to the commanding officer of the group who was awarded the Military Order of William on Ocotber 7th 1947
5591 The late Johannes Adrianus de Jong, born 17-7-1914 Rotterdam, son of Frederik Willem and Aleida Suijkerbuik, passed away 25-8-1942 Sario.
They shall not be forgotten!
Full text of the citation in Dutch:
Wijlen Arnoldus Petrus
Johannes van der Veen, geb. Batavia 20 maart 1919, sergeant
der infanterie van het Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger (stamboeknummer
92899), overl. Kolonodale 12 aug. 1942.
Heeft zich – tezamen met 7 andere onderofficieren – in de oorlogsmaanden
1941/1942 tijdens de acties in Celebes, onderscheiden door daden van bijzondere
moed en beleid tegenover de vijand.
Behorende tot het Troepencommando van Menado, waren zij ingedeeld bij de
afdelingen van de Luitenants de Jong en van Daalen, die – na de capitulatie van
het Java Leger – weigerden gehoor te geven aan de oproep om de wapens neer te
leggen en besloten de strijd voort te zetten, welke in hoofdzaak plaats vond in
het gebied tussen Poso en Kolonodale in Midden-Celebes.
Door guerilla-actie, nu eens gezamenlijk, dan weer gesplitst optredende, werden
de vijand belangrijke verliezen berokkend, waarbij echter aan eigen zijde ook
offers moesten worden gebracht.
De steeds opgejaagde troep kreeg uiteindelijk gebrek aan munitie, voedsel en
medicamenten, terwijl de bevolking, onder druk van de Japanners, geen hulp meer
Tenslotte vielen de resterende militairen in handen van de vijand, in wiens
ogen hun voortgezette weerstand geen genade kon vinden.
De beide officieren, commandanten, werden naar Menado overgebracht en aldaar
onthoofd, terwijl deze 8 onderofficieren te Kolonodale moesten achterblijven,
alwar zijn in de maand Augustus 1942 werden terechtgesteld.
Het zou de Luitenants niet mogelijk zijn geweest het verzet zovele maanden vol
te houden, indien zij niet de krachtige steun van deze onderofficieren hadden
gehad. Naast grote moed en trouw hebben zij bij het herhaald gesplitst optreden
ook het benodigde beleid getoond.
Evenals thans reeds in Minehassa geschiedt met de namen van de Luitenants de
Jong en van Daalen zullen daar in de toekomst ook de namen van deze
onderofficieren als sieraden van het Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger met
eerbied en waardering worden genoemd.
Kapitein Christoffel was toen hij het KNIL verliet de meest gedecoreerde officier met een unieke combinatie aan onderscheidingen voor dapperheid, zeker voor zijn relatief lage rang. Al tijdens zijn actieve periode was er veel discussie over zijn handelen.
Een goed overzicht van zijn leven is op wikipedia te vinden.
In alle jaren heb ik buiten musea geen items gezien die aan hem toebehoord hebben, zelfs geen handtekening. Dat is totdat ik deze handtekening kreeg, een tweede handtekening ben ik ook nog niet tegengekomen.
Before WW2 there unit badges did not exist in the Netherlands East Indies Army. In the period from the liberation in 1945 until the KNIL was dissolved in 1950 many badges for units (mainly batallions) and other distinctive badges came into use. First these were mainly embroidered but soon they were made of metal with enamel or regular paint. The metal versions were better resistant to the tropical conditions but the paint chipped quite easily. There were several local producers of badges but the most prolific maker was Cordesius en Zonen (and Sons) in Batavia. The regular Dutch (expeditionary) Forces in the Indies used the same type of badges for their units.
Above the badges of the 1st and 9th batallion of the KNIL Infantry. Both badges feature the typical Postal Horn which was the standard shoulder badge of the Infantry in the pre war period.
Badge of the 2nd infantry batallion in metal and a period (unworn, nos) cloth variation of the same badge.
KNIL Batallion 5 (V) – Andjing NICA. The name originally was negative, even a swear word against these soldiers that were mostly pre war KNIL soldiers who, immediately after their release as POW’s of the Japanese, returned into active service in 1945. NICA is the acronym for Netherlands Indies Civil Administation, the first people that returned to the Indies after the liberation. Andjing is the Malayan word for dog. The 5th batallion took it up as their battle name which is represented in the dog’s depiction in the badge.
The head of the dog was also made in pairs for wear on both arms where the dog had to look to the front on both arms!
Badges of the 11th (XI) Infantry Batallion and the generic badge for all KNIL Cavalry units. Batallions X/XI/XII all have a similar badge with a red elephant (gadjah merah) with the Batallion number beneath.
These KNIL batallion badges are all rare today and are even being reproduced, both in metal and cloth. Originals in good condition are getting difficult to find. Some units are more difficult than others and there are many collectors who try to get all units complete. I am trying to complete the KNIL Infantry Batallions in addition to the KNIL Special Forces units.
A great overview of all badges of that period (text in Dutch) can be found here!
For a long time I have been very interested in Japanese applied arts, netsuke, inro and tsuba’s mainly. Although I stopped collecting such items actively I still bought these 4 items from a friend.
The provenance wat too interesting to let them pass by. The friends grandfather was Professor Dr. C.C. Krieger. He collected these items in the first half of the 20th century when he was the Conservator for the Department of Japan, China and mainland Asia in what today is the Ethnographical Museum (Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde) in Leiden. He held this position from 1927 up to his retirement in 1949.
In 1935 he promoted to PhD in the Japanese language and the same year he became professor in the same subject at the Utrecht University. In 1947 he was promoted to special professor (bijzonder hoogleraar) in the art and history of the Far East including the Japanese language, a position which he held upon his final retirement in 1954, aged 70.
Dunhill-Namiki fountain pen
About 20 years before I had already received his fountain pen as a gift for my collection. Being a specialist in the Japanese language and art he obviously wrote with a luxurious Japanese lacquer pen. It was a Dunhill-Namiki, a cooperation between the famous London retailer of smoking utensils Dunhill and the Japanese pen company of Namiki (the current Pilot). These Namiki pens are famous for the lacquer (maki-e) of high quality and also were made by famous artists. Dunhill retailed them in the Western world. In this case the pen was used intensively. It is a rare pen as a size 20 (the biggest they made apart from the jumbo size 50) in a period that watches and pens were still small in general. A very appreciated gift and still one of my favorites!
His extensive collection of Japanese art was divided between his 3 children, amongst which the mother of my friend. She held on to the inheritance and after her death her two daughters inherited the collection and I was happy to gain these 4 objects from his original collection.
Two netsuke, toggles for the inro. One a relatively crude depiction of a foreigner and the other a depiction of a famous Japanese tale.
The other two items are tsuba or handguards for the Japanese swords. In this case foreign imported items most probably and adapted for Japanese use. In Japan these are called nanban. If the professor had a special interest in Japanese items with a different origin or depiction of foreigners is not known. Below a short description I received regarding these tsuba.
Martial arts meet the decorative arts. The round guard looks Chinese, Ming in style, but possibly a later revival piece. Note the voal delinaeation of the washer-seat on one side, which on the opposite side is rectangular. More study is required to determine the date of manufacture.
The octagonal one may be Korean. In both cases, these guards have been adapted to Japanese use. Unfortunately, the addition of hitsu-ana has defaced the original design. The condition appears to be outstanding.
Damascened guards do no fare so well under heavy use. Neither of these guards seem to have been worn “in the field”. Both were well cared-for by previous owners. Their preservation today is thanks to the uniquely Japanese culture of appreciating sword-parts as works of art in their own right.
Dr.Krieger and the War against the Japanese
Even though the items are not military in essence there is a small link to a military history due to the person of the original owner!
In the 1930s Japanese influence in Asia was expanding and felt threatening for most Western powers in the region. The Dutch with their presence in the Dutch East Indies were part of this fear. The actual extend of the threat would finally become clear with the start of the war against the Japanese from Pearl Harbour onwards.
In these 1930s the Dutch Military Intelligence already worked on breaking the codes the Japanese used for their international communications. What I was not aware of when I started this blog is that Dr. Krieger actually was part of this effort!
A collecting friend has several items in his collection that relate to this subject and he brought this fact to my attention. It is even mentioned in the book by Robert Haslach about the subject. The dutch Naval officer Nuboer asked for the help of Krieger (also a former Naval officer!) in his effort in breaking the Japanese codes in 1934. Nuboer would eventually be successful in his efforts! You can read some more about him here.
The friend has in his private collection a Naval uniform of Nuboer and a tropical suit that belonged to Krieger. Here some pictures of the Nuboer uniform.
How Nuboer and Krieger came into contact is not yet clear and subject of further research I want to do. What is clear that the help of a former Naval officer with extensive knowledge of the Japanese and their language was valuable to the Dutch Forces.
This was formalized in 1937. Henri Koot, the head of military intelligence requested his official help. Krieger would become, next to his job as Curator of the Asian department of the Leiden Ethnographical Museum, member of the General Staff of the Army in The Hague. His work would only end after the German occupation in 1940. Due to the secrecy of the job and the subsequent war little is known about this period but it will also be subject of further research!
In my earlier blog I already described the status weapons of the Aceh and Gayo regions of Sumatra to some extend. Here I want to show some detailed photo’s of the quality of workmanship in these status weapons! Remember the golden crowns are rare, maybe only 1 in a 100 examples have these….
Aceh rencong with golden crowns
An overview of 4 rencong, probably all 19th century pieces with the original sheaths on three of them. Short description from left to right and top to bottom:
Handle is made of “white” buffalo horn as opposed to the more common dark horn. Enamel of the crowns is of very high quality.
Handle made of Akar Bahar, root of the sea, which is very brittle and probably the rarest handle material. The back part therefore also of gold with a diamond (inten) on top. A very high status item.
Handle of dark horn and smooth as opposed to the first and last handle. Top of the metal also has very nice gold inlays.
Dark buffalo handle and the biggest size rencong of these four with some old battle damage and likely the oldest of these.
Note that the bottom two crowns have a very high quality of enamel and the top two ones hardly have any enamel.
Gayo status rencong with silver and (marine) ivory
In the Gayo region the use of silver was more common on status pieces. Also the use of marine ivory (dandan) was quite common. Also the first metal part often has an overlay in copper or suassa.
The first has an unusual size, the longest of all seven rencong in this blog. Also the combination of ivory, silver crowns and suassa overlay is remarkable. Probably of ritual meaning or very high status.
The second is a more standard Gayo status rencong with brass overlay and only ivory on the handle. Both have the typical blood groove that is more or less standard on Gayo made pieces.
The third seems to be a Aceh made piece for the Gayo region. The use of a full silver handle with suassa details and the sheath hint at Gayo use but the quality of workmanship hint at Aceh. An interesting cross cultural rencong.
Input and help in determining age and details of these rencong is more than welcome, please contact me with additional info!
It is not so often that you find a still life with Dutch medals on it, let alone colonial medals. As it directly fits my Dutch East Indies medal collection I was quite happy when I was able to acquire this painting by the Dutch Artist P.C. Kramer.
Kramer is a relatively well known painter and his work is shown in several Dutch museums. . He lived between 1879 and 1940 in Delft. The painting discussed in the blog below also hints at a background related to the Dutch East indies, like the medals in my painting.
The Citadel Medal for the siege of Antwerp in the left corner is a bit unexpected next to the Expedition Cross.
It looks like the painter was not an expert in medals as they are shown in the wrong order in the top row, the Atjeh medal is upside down and the bottom row is a very unlikely combination. Combining this with his year of birth they were possibly family heirlooms.
Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht (1858-1933, HvP in short) was a well known Dutch artist who is remembered mostly for his works of art in relation to military themes. So his works have the interest of both art museums and collectors and military museums and collectors of military artifacts. More about his life and work can be found here: http://hoynck-van-papendrecht.nl/
I have two works of art from his hand in my collection. At first I was not able to get the story behind one of these picture here but fortunately Jacques Bartels of the website above and author of the biography of HvP was able to help.
The drawing is actually an illustration from the book “My lady nobody” by Maarten Maartens a Dutch writer who wrote in English so was actually not very well known in the Netherlands as a result of that. More about him and his works can be found here: http://maartenmaartens.nl/
The illustration is of the to main characters of the book Ursula and Gerard Baron van Helmont who is an officer in the Dutch East Indies and recently returned home after being wounded in Aceh. For his action he was knighted with the prestigious Military Order of William which can be seen on his chest.
Below the illustration as it appeared in the book.
“‘I AM COME TO MAKE CONFESSION AND THEN TO LEAVE YOU’”
And the actual drawing as it looks today:
Where HvP is known for his use of colour in his water colours in this case the use is minimal as it was to be printed in black and white. But his signature quality is there in abundance in this really nice work by him!