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by AM van Rensburg

"The soldiers who served East India Companies were recruited from the slums for the port cities of Europe and any seaman who had not bred in the slums was a raw country boy seeking escape from the monotony of peasant life." H Fuber, Rival Empires of Trade p 303. The middle class Dutchman avoided being recruited by the VOC with all its dangers of the East.

Many potential VOC employees were victims of zielverkopers. The zielverkopers/volkhouders/borgen were pimps who attracted those who were seeking employment. Germans and Northern Europeans as well as boys from the countryside were taken in by them. The zieleverkopers would give them lodging and get them to sign a bond. In turn they would get them a position with the VOC. In the meantime they were housed in awful conditions, this could take a number of months. They were then charged up to 150 fl. On departure the zielverkopers would supply them with a kitbag. Often these zielverkopers would sell these bonded men to celenkoper.

Between 1670 -1680 the VOC recruited 45,000 personnel. On the average they had to recruit 1,000 men, three times a year. Between 1720 - 1780 the VOC had to recruit 7,000 - 8,000 personnel per year. The greatest number of workers the VOC had in the East was in 1753, when they employed 25,000 people. There was a big commotion with the recruitment: "vanuit het oostindisch Huis, via tromgeroffel, met trommel en pijpen, schalmein en trompetten in alle straten en stegen bekend liet maken dat men zich kon aanmelden om naar de Oost te gaan" Maritieme Geschiedenis der Nederlander Vol II, p 134. Even fights broke out as the desperate ran to try and get a placement. Once they were recruited they would receive two months salary in advance, that amounted to about 20 gulden. This money was given to the zielverkopers, by those who were bonded to them. The young had to serve 10 years, the older 3 to 5 years. They would only receive the rest of their payment after returning from Asia. Since the zielverkopers could not wait that long to receive all the money (due to shortage of capital), they thus sold the transportbrief also called celen (celen means 'seal', which is a similar sounding word to 'zielen' meaning soul), this is the origin of the name zielverkopers (soulsellers). The Company was a ray of hope for thousands of unemployed, even though the salary was low, they were guaranteed with a job for a number of years. Lodging and food was all part of the deal. The Company also offered a career promotional path.

The VOC ships were mainly manned by the down and out in society. A description of their behavior is recorded: "behave like wild boars; they rob and steal, drink and go whoring so shamelessly that it seems to be no disgrace with them" CR Boxer, The Dutch Seaborne Empire, p 78. Another more sympathetic account of the sailors lot are given: "Jan Maat, the least and lowliest person aboard, must be ready on the slightest nod or command of any superior, to do everything he is told without grumbling. At any show of reluctance, he is threatened and beaten with the rope's end. The sailors must climb and clamber in the shrouds and on the yardarms by day and night, in storm and tempest. They must load and unload the ships, and they must stand like a lot of subservient slaves with hat in hand by the gangway whenever the skipper or another officer leaves or returns to the ship" CR Boxer, The Dutch Seaborne Empire, p 78, 79.

Nicolaas de Graaf in 1700 described how the VOC was the places of refuge for many of the worst of all nations: "Moffen, Poepe, Knoete, Hannekemaijers en andere groene kassoepers, die't gras nog tussen die tanden" {Gerda Pieterse gee die volgende beskrywing van hierdie terme: Mof is 'n volksuitdrukking vir Duitsers (moffen is dan twee of meer) Hannekemaaiers is Duitse seisoenwerkers - hulle het in oestyd gekom om 'n paar weke te werk, NA die tyd is daar baie gedrink en dan is hulle weer vort NA die volgende bestemming gewoonlik terug NA Duitsland toe waar dit dan weer oestyd was. Dit is nie 'n skeldnaam nie, maar daar het wel 'n stigma aan hulle gekleef. Die Knoete is 'n volksuitdrukking vir Skandinawiese seisoenwerkers (Koning Knud), en volgens my was die Poppen of Poepen ook Duitse seisoenwerkers - ek dink in die turfgebiede, maar is nie seker nie.}

A good description of what was contained in a sailors scheepskist "Aan kleren pakte hij broeken, hemden, kousen, schoenen, mutsen, hoeden, dassen, neusdoeken, en gespen in. Hij kon enig eet- en drinkgerei meenemen, zoals een bord, een kroes, een kan, een mes, een theeketeltje of een koffiemolentje. Voor de lichaamsverzorging bezat hij zeep, een kammetje en een spiegeltje. Tabak, een tabakdoos, een tondeldoos en een voorraad pijpen waren onmisbaar." Sporen van de Compagnie, p 59.

Their clothing was inadequate for the cold northern seas which included snow. In the tropics it was humid and unbearably hot, the sailors seldom washed.

There was no love loss between the sailors and soldiers on board the ships, they were separated on the ship. The sailors usually lived in the oorloopdek whereas the soldiers lived in a lower deck. The duties of the soldiers only amounted to stand watch on the ship, whereas the sailors had to perform all the other work on board the ship, this increased the animosity. The various nationalities also displayed a lot of hostility eg between the Dutch/German and French.

The crew were divided into groups of seven men (bakken). Each group was known as a 'bakken". Each group had to share one collective bowl (it was also here that the word 'schotel' came into use) for food during the journey. They were grouped in natural networks: kok, bottelier and their mates: the bootsman, schieman and seilmaker with their mates. The timmerman etc.

1. Monthly rate for Dutch Navy October 1652 -
Captain - fl 30
Lieutenant - fl 25
Schipper (master) - fl 24
Opper-stuurman (pilot, or chief mate) - fl 30
Surgeon, with his medicine-chest - fl 30
Sailors - fl 10 -11

All of above payment were exclusive of ration and subsistence allowances

2. Basic rate of pay for overseas employees second half of 17th century (monthly pay in florins)
Opper-koopman, Senior merchant - 80-100 Chief purchasing Officer for the Ship
Koopman, Merchant - 40-60
Onder-Koopman, Junior merchant - 36-40
Boek-houder, Writer, bookkeeper - 18-24 Administrator for goods and salaries
Onder-boekhouder, Assistant, Clerk - 16-24 Assistant to bookkeeper

Schipper, Master - 60-80 He had total control of ship
Opper-stuurman, First mate 36-50 He was second in command
Onder-stuurman, Second mate - 24-36 He was responsible for the voyage
Derdewaak of derde stuurman, third mate 26-32
Hoogh-bootsman, Boatswain - 22-26. Responsible when the ship as anchored or sailing for the main mast
Schieman/ hoogh-bootsmansmaat, Boatswain's-mate - 20-24. Assistant to boatswain, and responsible for dokkemast
Kwartiermeester - Quartermaster - 14 direct control of a group of personnel, for food and to keep order
Bottelier, Steward - 20-24. Responsible to hand out the drink and spices
Botelliersmaat, Steward's mate - 14
Kok, Cook - 20-24. Responsible for the preparation of cooked food.
Koksmaat, galley boy 14
Opperseilmaker, Sailmaker - 18. Looked after the repairs of sails.
Onderseilmaker, Sailmaker's-mate - 14
Opperbabier, Surgeon - 36-50. Medical care
Onderbabier, Surgeon's mate - 24-28
Opperkuiper, Cooper - 16-17. Had to open vats, buckets and assist steward
Onderkuiper, Cooper's mate 12-14. Assisted the cooper
Oppertimmerman, Ship's-carpenter - 30-48. Responsible for the ship and pump and other wood works.
Ondertimmerman, Carpenter's mate - 24-28
Constapel, Master-gunner - 20-24
Gunner's-mate - 14
Quarter-gunner - 12
Provost, Master-at-arms - 14-15. Looked after law and order and punishment on ship
Scheepskorporaal, ship's corporal - 14-16
Matroos, Bootslei, Able seamen - 10-11
Bootsgesel/matroos, Ordinary seamen - 7-10. Guard duty, tar, rowing, loading ship, keeping ship hygienic.
Hooploopers, Apprentice seamen - 7. Assistance to seaman
Jongens, Ship's-boys under 16 years old - 4-6. Odds and ends and running errands on the ship
Trompetter, trumpeter 20-24. Gave the signal for change of guard.

Kaptein, Captain - 80
Luitenant, Lieutenant - 50-60
Vaandrig, Ensign - 36-40
Tituliar luitenant, third lieutenant 24 - 32
Sersant, Sergeant - 20
Korporaal, Corporal - 14
Landspassaat, Lance-Corporal - 12
Adelborst, Cadet - 10
Soldaat, Private soldier - 9
Rekruut, Raw recruit - 7-8
Tamboer, Drummer - 6-10
Bosschieter, Arquebusier

Predikant, Qualified Preacher - 80-100. Seldom allotted to a ship
Krank-bezoeker and Ziekentrooster, Sick-visitor, catechist - 30-36 Responsible for spiritual matters

Opperbarbier/ opperchirugyn
, barber-surgeon 32 -50. Medical care
Onderbabier, second-surgeon 24-28. Assistant to barber-surgeon
Derdebabier, barber-surgeon's mate 14- 18. Assistant to barber-surgeon

Craftsmen and Artisans
House -carpenter - 15-16
Mason - 15-16
Gunsmith - 12-14
Smith - 12-14
Locksmith - 12-14
Sword-cutler - 14
Furniture-maker - 14

The distinction between the personnel on the ship is well described in the book Maritieme Geschiedenis van der Nederlanden Vol II, p 139:
1. The officers consisted of the Kaptein and Opperstuurman.
2. The onder officiere, lower officers were made up of most others apart from the sailors and soldiers.
3. The sailors, hooglopers and jonges were considered as het volk.
The matrozen were also known as bootsgezellen. Then you had the hooglopers or licht matrozen also know as jong bootsgezellen or oplopers, they were aged 16-18 years and assisted the sailors. The lowest, were the jongens they were aged 10 -16 and did odds and ends.

There was a great amount of discrimination betwee these three groups on the ship. The officers ate at the officers table at the back of the ship and there was no rations and the food was a far better quality. They also had chinaware and cuttlery. Whereas the rest ate their food out of the common bowl. The lower officers received double rations. The mates and jonges and hooglopers received half a wine ration. The officers slept in beds in their cabins. Whereas the sailors slept in hammock on the overlop. The lower officers slept at place of their work. The volk (ordinary sailors) were only allowed to stay in front of the main mast on the upper deck. The officers had their privileged position at the back of the ship.

GUARD DUTY. There were up to six guard shifts, and the time slots were as follows:
20 -24 hours eerste wag
0 -4 hondewag
4 -8 dagwag
8 -12 voormiddagwag
12 - 16 namiddagwag
16 -20 platvoetwag

The VOC recruits were servants of the Company and not employees. Food and lodging on board the ship were free, however the outing and entertainment at the Cape and the pleasures on land in the East were the individuals responsibility. The cost to replace their clothing, whether it was from wear and tare, or stolen was a personal expense. Medical care was free, however some services by the surgeon amounted to an extra charge. On enlistment they received two months salary in advance. The employee was allowed to request a maximum of three months salary a year to be paid to family members back home. Those sailors or soldiers who went working for the company on land in the East or in the Cape was allowed to request up to six months salary a year. Those obtaining money as such received their salary in 'licht geld'. 'Licht geld' was when they received the currency in Cape money which was less than in Netherlands, in other words he got less money than was subtracted from his account.

The VOC thus introduced a form of cashless society, most transactions were done as an accounting transaction. This way the company had a greater control over its servants.

All this account keeping was kept in the scheepssoldijboek, including fines that was imposed by the fiskaal: complaining about the food amounted to a fine of one months salary. Throwing food overboard was penalized with a fine of two months salary (refer also to article: Gereg en Ongereg). The person who saw land first was rewarded by having an amount credited to his account. There was an amount credited to their personal account as a bonus for completing a journey in good time. Those ships who conquered veroverde prinse, received a percentage of the value of the booty. On completing term of service, they received their payment as the scheepssoldijboek account was settled including the outstanding amount to the zielverkoper.

Bruijns,Dutch Asiatic Shipping Vol I, p 210, 211
CR Boxer: Dutch Seaborne Empire 1600 - 1800, p 337 - 338
ed LM Akveld, S Hart, WJ van Hoboken, Maritieme Geschiedenis van der Nederlanden Vol II
P van Mil, De VOC in de Kaart gekeken


deur AM van Rensburg

Daar was 'n direkte verbintenis tussen wat hulle geeet het en die gesondheid van die bemanning. Die kos op die skepe was gou nie van die beste gehalte nie. Eers het hulle die bederfbare kosse geeet. Daarna het die kos bestaan uit beskuit, ertjies, bone, gesoute- vleis, spek en vis. Botter was gebruik vir 'n lang tydperk op die rit om in te bak.

Een lys van 'n VOC matroos se voedsel word aangehaal deur PW Laidler, bl 17:
Beskuit - drie pond per week
Slaai olie - kwart pint per week
Asyn - half pint per week
Botter - half pond per week
Spek - drie maal 'n week
Vis - gebakte stokvis en ertjies op sekere dae
Rog - gekook die dag na vasdag
Brandewyn en Bier - een 'gill' per dag
Dan het hulle ook kaas gekry.

Wanneer mense siek geword het op die skip, was daar spasie vir tot 40 siekes in die siekeboeg aan boord. Die Noordsee was vriesend koud, die ewenaar was daar smoorhitte en windstilte, hierdie verskillende klimate het ook meer siektes veroorsaak.

Daar was baie ongevalle op die VOC skepe. Omtrent 'n derde van die wat geseil het, het gesterf op die reis. Die Kaap was gestig om te dien as 'n hospitaal, en as 'n verversingpos wat groente en ander voorraad kon verskaf. Hier kon die bemanning herstel. In die tropiese gebiede het baie van die VOC personeel gesterf as gevolg van malaria, cholera, maagsiekte en koors. Terwyl die inboorlinge gesterf het van pokke en griep omdat hulle nie voorheen aan dit blootgestel was nie. Met die koms van die Europeers het hulle ook in kontak gekom met die siektes.

Die sterftes op die skepe was as gevolg van: Bedryfsongevalle, gevegte en verwonding, asook skipbreuk

Uitputtingsiektes - skeurbuik. Tekort aan vitamine C (later het hulle suurlemoene en lemmetjies gebruik om dit teen te kamp). Simptome het ingesluit verlamming. Die mond was vol swere en hulle tande het uitgeval. Hulle het flou geval. Die siekte was baie erger wanneer hulle ook aan watergebrek gelei het. Die siek persoon se liggaam was bedek met blou vlekke. Die bene het opgeswel en swere het oral oopgebars. Die persoon beleef benoudheid op die bors en vind dit moeilik om te hoes. Die meeste slagoffers kom voor om die ewenaar, want dit is daar waar die waterrantsoen verminder word en die skepe het ook te doen gehad met windstilte. Die skepe het skaars geroer en die bemanning was siek, dit was bedompig, warm en onbestaanbaar.

Besmetlike siektes - rotkoors. Lopende maag was so erg dat dit bloed bevat, geen wonder dat dit bekend was as roode loop. Die persoon het aan hoofpyn gelei en het hulle sinne verloor. Die besmetting word deur kleerluise veroorsaak. Dit was as gevolg van vuil klere en vuil slaapgoed.

Geslagsiektes - Was genoem besmettelijke vrouwesieckte, ook bekend as Venus ziekte. Hulle het die siekte behandel met kwiksilwer. Die "Here van ses weke" het maar 'n los lewe geleef wanneer hulle aan die land gekom het.

Die skeepslei was ook gedurig nat van rëen, seesprei, lekke in die skip, en hulle beurt om die pompe te pomp. Hulle het maar na aan mekaar gesit om warm te bly, onder in die bedompige dekke waar daar geen vars lug was nie. Op 14 April 1694 gee Simon van der Stel die volgende oorsake van siektes en ongevalle op die skepe: "en navorsching gedaan, gevende d'ene dese, d'andere gene reden daar van, dog meest de wijt an de swaare kouwde dewelke de menschen in't hartje van den winter om de noord van schotland moeten uijtstaan, andere an de schaarzheid van pot spijs, of wel an de soldaten, dewelke uijt haar besetting of leger weg lopende met een besmettelijke siekte anboord komen, en 't gantsche schip ontsteken, en eindelijk werd voor gewent, dat de stervte voort komt door 't scheppen van saut water voor de water makers, also de Matrosen buijten boord en op een stelling staande, daar door geduurig nat en koud en weinig van verschoning van klederen versien zijnde siek worden en weg sterven."

Aan boord was daar 'n scheepschirugyn. Van 1652 het die Kamer van Amsterdam eksamens vir persone wat die driejarige barbierskursus voltooi het en as chirugijns wou spesialiseer, laat sit. Daar was 'n opperscheepschirurgyn,'n onderscheepschirurgyn, en derde scheepschirurgyn. Die chirugyn kon net mediese hulp verleen, dit het nie operasies ingesluit nie.

Kinders so jonk as 13 en 14 jaar oud het na die Ooste gereis as die derde scheepschirugyn. As 'n mens al die ongevalle op die skepe in ag neem, is dit ongelooflik dat daar altyd mense was wat bereid was, of dalk so desperaat was om werk te kry op die skepe van die VOC. Was dit dalk 'n geval dat hulle enige iets so prebeer om van hulle armoede weg te kom.

ed LM Akveld, S Hart, WJ van Hoboken, Maritieme Geschiedenis van der Nederlanden Vol II
JR Bruijn & J Lucassen (eds) J de Hullu, Op die Schepen der Oost-Indische Compagnie
PW Laidler en M Gelfand: South Africa Its Medical History 1652 - 1898: A Medical and Social History, (Struik, 1971)
C Searle, The History of the Development of Nursing in South Africa 1652 - 1960: A Socio-Historical survey, (Struik, 1965)
M van Gessel, Gouden Buys

AM van Rensburg

Omtrent 'n duisend predikante is deur die VOC oor 200 jare na die Ooste gestuur. Min predikante het op die skepe gedien. Die skepe was bedien deur 'n krankbezoeker en sieketroosters. Die persone wat in hierdie posisie gedien het was afkomstig uit die lae klas van werkers. Hulle was beperk met wat hulle mog doen; hulle kon nie hulle eie preke of gebede sê nie, en moes voorlees wat voorgeskrywe was. Hulle werk het die volgende ingesluit:CR Boxer The Dutch Seaborne Empire, p152 "To read the morning and the evening prayers from a little book, and to sing a verse or two from a psalm. On Sundays, they must read a chapter or a sermon and sing a psalm or a hymn before and after the same. If anyone is sick and likely to die, the sick-comforter must encourage him and read some Christian prayers to him (and help him to draw up his will)."

Dit was verpligtend dat almal op die skepe die Godsdiens moes by woon. Die wat die godsdien gemis het, se wynrantsoen was weggeneem.

Dobbel en kaartspeel was verbode. Maar hulle kon skaak en ander bord speletjies speel.

Die gehalte van die lewe van skeepspersoneel was nie baie beter as die slawe nie. Wanneer die skepe de Sorlings of Scilly eilande verby gevaar het, of by de Farilhoens, de Barles of Barlenga (wat een klein eilandgroep is aan die kus van Portugal en ongeveer gelyk met Lisbon geleë is) geseil het dan word al die manne wat nooit voorheen geseil het nie, gedoop. Die persoon was twee of drie maal van die ra in die see gedompel. Later was dit afgeskaf en het almal eerder een kan Franse wyn ontvang. Nog 'n ander groot Feesdag was wanneer hulle naby die Brasiliese kus gekom het, en verby die gevreesde Abrolhos eilande gevaar het (die eilande bestaan uit 'n reeks van klippe en banke wat meestal onderwater is.)

Om die skepe was daar dikwels haaie. Hulle het 'n haai gevang en dan bind hulle 'n paar leë vate aan die haai vas, dan laat hulle die haai vry. 'n Mens kan maar net verbeel die sport en gelag wat daarmee gepaard gegaan het. Die manskappe het ook daarvan gehou om te sing. Die bietjie genot wat hulle seker almal na uitgesien het was om te drink

ed LM Akveld, S Hart, WJ van Hoboken, Maritieme Geschiedenis van der Nederlanden Vol II
JR Bruijn & J Lucassen (eds), J de Hullu, Op die Schepen der Oost-Indische Compagnie.


AM van Rensburg

Gereg op die skepe het plaas gevind deur die volgende Rade:
Scheepsraad - bestaan uit opperkoopman, schipper, koopman of boekhouer, opperstuurman en kommander van soldate, vir belangrike sake sluit hulle ook in die hoogbootsman, konstabel, schieman en kwartiermeester.
de Brede Raad - Die was geroep wanneer skepe saam geseil het, en wanneer 'n kapitale of kriminele oortreding plaasgevind het. Bestaande uit die skeepsraad van die commandeurskip, die gesamentlike kooplieden, schippers, onderkooplieden, en opperstuurlieden van die vloot.
Die Krijgsraad was amper die een en selfde as die scheepsraad maar het gesit wanneer soldate verhoor moes word, die raad het bestaan uit: die koopman, skipper, sergeant korporaal en landspassaat.

Lyfstraf, vonnise siviele misbruik (Kyk ook na artikel Sailors, Soldiers - Pay and Position etc), oortredinge was deur die Scheepsraad toegepas. Die Brederaad het kapitale en kriminele sake gehanteer. Wanneer dit 'n groot saak was dan was die beslissing gelaat om verhoor te word by die vaderland, Kaap of Indië.

Die hoof van polisie en offisier van justisie was die provoost. Hy moes die vonnise uitvoer. Hy het bo sy salaris opsluitgeld gekry. Ses stuiwers om iemand in die boeie op te sluit, vir die opsluit van 'n offisier het hy 10 stuiwers ontvang. Die provoost het 'n geregtigheidsstok besit, wat met oranjelint versier was. Dit was sy teken van amp en gemagtigheid

In die Maritieme Geschiedenis van Nederlanden Vol II, p 147 beskryf hulle oor die toepasing van die wet "Die zwaarste straffen standen op moord (in dat geval werd de dader met hun slachtoffer in de zee geworpen) ' vuyle sonden' of homoseksualiteit, desertie en muiterij."

Straf het ook die volgende ingesluit: kielhaling, van die ra val, die wip, die hout perd dit was wanneer 'n persoon vasgebind was op die pynbank. Hulle het self mense se hand aan die hoofmas vasgespyker. Dan het baie slae gekry met die end van die tou. Van die mees algemene oortredings was Godslastering, dronkenskap, en bakleiery met messe.

ed LM Akveld, S Hart, WJ van Hoboken: Maritieme Geschiedenis van der Nederlanden, Vol II
JR Bruijn & J Lucassen (eds), J de Hullu, Op die Schepen der Oost-Indische Compagnie

by AM van Rensburg

The motto of the VOC was "Jesus Christ is good but trade is better".

CR Boxer in Dutch Seaborne Empire, p 126 refers to one of the Amsterdam merchants in 1638 when asked about trading with the enemy Antwerpen he replied "that if he could make a commercial profit by passing through hell, he would risk burning the sails of his ships in doing so." A West African remarked to a VOC trader p 128 "Gold is your God". The Swedish King Charles X when some Dutch envoy spoke about liberty and religious freedom, the king pulled out a rijksdaaler and said p 128 'Voila votre religion'.

The Dutch in trading in the East did not only have the Portuguese as their opposition, the Portuguese in effect paved the way for the VOC trading venture. The Portuguese soldados - bachelor soldiers were encouraged to become casados - married settlers. The Portuguese left their mark on the east since they were there much earlier and many of their men had children from native wives and concubines. The descendants of these unions were Eurasians, and they constituted enclaves of Portuguese descendants with established settlements. The VOC and other European traders relied on these descendants as go betweens, and as wives or concubines. These people had an affinity with the West, they spoke Portuguese and were Christians. In the Afrikaans language this influence of the sea traders is evident with words such as: 'katel', 'kooi', 'kooigoed', 'hospitaal' and 'kombuis'.

The Europeans were looking for the exotic from Asia. Be it clothing, spices or slaves, this was a new world that fascinated them. The hub in the East for the VOC was Batavia, this was where the Hoge Regering van Indië was based. The trade and influence of the VOC included places such as Malakka (Malaysia), Ceylon, Cochin (India), Coromandel Coast (India), Malabar Coast (India), Bengal (India, Bangladesh), Ambon, Banda, Ternate, Deshima/Nagasaki (Japan), Surate (Iran), Macassar. Trade included many ports and numerous items of trade. The VOC traded for sugar and spice and everything nice:
Cinnamon - kaneel - from Ceylon
Sugar - Suiker - from Candy Ceylon
Cloves - (krui)naeltjies - from Moluccas
Mace - from Moluccas
Nutmeg - neut - from Banda Islands
Pepper - pepper - from Malabar, Bantam and Sumatra
Tea - tee - from Ceylon and China
Porcelain- Porselein from China
Coffee - koffie from Ceylon and Arabia
Rice - from Java

They also brought back pharmaceutical products from the East:
benzion, opium, camphor

Dyes like indigo formed part of the trade.

From the Coromandel coast they obtained cotton textiles, not only was this bought for Europe but they traded these textile for spices in the Moluccas. The obtain silk in China and traded it in Japan for silver and gold. They also traded in Guinea lijnwaad (Guinea cloth) which they took to Africa to barter for slaves. From Bengal silk was purchased. Not only roll fabrics were bought but also finished work. The trade was between Europe and Asia, but intra-Asia as well. Europe had only one colour material, they were totally fascinated with the bright patterned cloth which did not bleed, or wash off. Many of these cloths were known as chintz, which comes from the Indian word cheent meaning spotted. The material was made of silk or cotton, be it wall hangings, bedcovers, tablecloths, scarfs, shawls, paijamas. The Indians perfected the art of spinning, weaving, dyeing, printing and painting. The textiles, cloth and material consisted of a great range and variety with lovely calicoes, including the following Dutch descriptions:
salempoeris - doek van salempoeris, het suid van Calcutta gekom
felp - fluweel
parcallen - blou katoen van Koromandel
haman - doek van dig weefsel, omslagdoek vir winter of handdoek
gingam - gestrepte doek van katoen
dromgam - twee kleurige doek van katoen
Toutcorijnse chitzen - bont doek van katoen
armosijn - dun sy gebruik vir voering, afkomstig uit Ormus in Persië, Bengal en China
caatje - doek van katoen
bourat - growwe weefstof van wol
chairgie - lig wolstof
chitz - bontdoek van katoen

The East India Companies were able to cut out the Indian and Arab caravan traders which would travel overland, via the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. In 1670 a Dominican friar commented: "The Coromandel Coast resembles Babel in the variety of tongues and different costumes." During the operation of this trading Company, 4,500 times did they send out a ship to the East. The VOC also introduced the first containerization with using big vats to transport a lot of their goods. The VOC brought the East and West together by means of trade, as well as by means of human contact. Far too little is known of the genealogical legacy that must be part of so many people's heritage in both Asia and Europe with out either having a knowledge of it. The Cape at the Southern tip of Africa was a vital part as a halfway house between Europe and Asia. The Cape has also been referred to as the tavern of two seas. The trade by the VOC has left its trail in the settlement and descendants in South Africa and those who have sailed to other parts of the world. The Cape settlement was the unplanned child of the VOC trade.

There ships became floating forts in order to protect the traders. On land they established forts, factories and trading posts.

Bruijns, Dutch Asiatic Shipping, Vol I
CR Boxer, Dutch Seaborne Empire
Philippe Godard, The First and Last Voyage of the Batavia
Rita Kumar, Costumes and Textiles of Royal India
R Laarhoven, The Power of Cloth: The textile Trade of the Dutch East Indian Comapany (VOC) 1600 - 1780, doctoral thesis Australian National University, 1994




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