The 1904 military expedition to the Gajo 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!

Sources:

Krisdisk (2007) by Karsten Sejr Jensen

Museum Volkenkunde Leiden (photo of kris of Teukoe Oemar)