(P32) Images and imaginations; Maluku and the Philippines in early modern art and illustrations
Fri 15:30-17:00 K12 | 1.12
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Early modern European art and the representations of Birds of Paradise
Emilie Wellfelt Stockholm University
The paper discusses visual sources relating to early colonial Southeast Asia. The case chosen is the representations of Birds of Paradise (Cendrawasih, Manuk Dewata), whose feathers and plumes were much appreciated in Asia, the Islamic World, and Europe.
The Birds of Paradise are endemic to the New Guinea region and constituted a major export article that entered long distance trade alongside spices that originated from Maluku.
A plethora of legendary descriptions of the bird are found in European texts from the 16th century onwards. The paper analyses how the birds were depicted in early modern Western paintings and illustrations, and how this mirrors the images of Southeast Asia in Europe, and furthermore the changes in colonial political history.
Mardicans in Manila: A Model Alliance from a Spanish Map
Lalaine Bangilan Little Misericordia University
In a 1734 map of the Spanish Colonial Philippines by Spanish Cartographer Pedro Murillo Velarde and Tagalog artists Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay and Francisco Suarez, a series of twelve identically-sized panels borders the left and right edges, one of which features a figure labeled, “Mardica.” Mardicans referred to an ethnic group of descendants of Christians from the island of Ternate in the Maluku region of Indonesia, also known as the Spice Islands. The Mardicans helped the Spanish defend Ternate in 1662, and by 1700 they had left Ternate and settled in Cavite, Philippines. In the map’s illustration the Mardican is depicted in European-styled breeches and hat, but heavily armed with both spear and sword. He is standing next to another non-Hispano-Filipino figure labeled “Japon.” Referring to textual sources such as the 1590 Spanish manuscript, the Boxer Codex, I will explore how the map’s portrayal of a Mardican can be understood in light of shifting relations between Europe, Asia, and the Maluku region between sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. In this presentation I will show how the inclusion of the Mardican, as one of seventeen ethnic types depicted in the map as residing in Colonial Manila, served as part of a larger codification project to represent the Philippines as a territory of ample resources and opportunities. This specific 1734 depiction of a Mardican alongside a Japanese further conveys the extent to which Spanish governors relied heavily on a careful balance of power between the multiple ethnic groups in Manila.
Picturing the spice wars: unpublished drawings from the 1630s and the 1650s
Tristan Mostert Leiden University
The eastern archipelago is the region where Dutch colonialism really began: their efforts to control the trade in clove and nutmeg led to their first treaties with indigenous rulers, their first territorial possessions, and also their first armed conflicts with indigenous powers. As the cradle of Dutch colonialism, the region is well-represented in 17th century Dutch maps and other topographic material. Relatively little imagery exists, however, of the way in which the Dutch established their power there: decades of brutal wars in the region. Even the most well-known episode from these conflicts, the wars in the Banda islands ultimately culminating in their depopulation, is almost wholly absent from contemporary drawings and prints.
This paper focuses on the later episodes of the spice wars in the ‘Amboina Quarter’, the region around Ambon and Seram. Here, the VOC’s monopoly policies resulted in a drawn-out series of conflicts stretching from the 1610s to the 1650s. While little printed material of these conflicts exists, the personal archives of governor Artus Gijsels contain a whole series of drawings giving us a poignant insight into the wars in the 1630s; two manuscript versions of Livinus Bor’s Amboinse Oorlogen (1663) contain a series of images that did not make it to the published book, but also give us a wealth of insight into the last and most dramatic of these wars, the Great Hoamoal War (c. 1651 – 1656). These images provide important insights into the day-to-day nature of the conflict and the indigenous way of war, relevant beyond their direct topic and enriching our understanding of the region and period as a whole.
The material of knowledge production in the eighteenth-century Philippines
Birgit Tremml-Werner Linnaeus University
Beginning with paintings and ornamented maps, a plethora of objects including luxury commodities, everyday utensils, and artefacts shaped imaginations of the Philippines in the Spanish Empire from Acapulco to Alicante. This paper explores how images and objects shaped the imperial discourse and colonial governance during the eighteenth century. Following a multi-disciplinary approach informed by art history, anthropology, and missionary studies, this survey based on the material objects and written records, asks how images and objects produced in the Philippines shaped metropolitan imaginations of colonial realities. Understanding the creation and dissemination of images as a co-produced, multi-layered process it moreover offers insights into the manifold actors involved and the fluid meanings negotiated between local artisans, painters, scribes, their colonial intermediaries, and metropolitan audiences.
The European expansion in maritime Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries generated a substantial body of visual representations in the form of illustrations and maps as well as fine art. Inspired by work such as Cécile Fromont in The Art of Conversion (2014) where she analyses historical interactions between the Kingdom of Kongo and European powers through a combination of art-, material culture- and archival sources, this panel opens for new discussions about historical relations between maritime Southeast Asia and Europe.
We ask questions about how images convey discourses of foreignness and exoticism in Europe, how more or less correct observations were altered to suit expectations and power relations, and to what extent we can use the visual archive as sources to the Asian side of the story.
Maluku and the Philippines are interesting cases in point. While not characterized by large kingdoms or monumental architecture, these archipelagic regions were prime objects for European expansion, by Portuguese, Spanish, English and Dutch ventures due to the enormous potential profits of trade with spices and other products.
During the successive phases of subordination in the 16th and 17th centuries a series of illustrations were made of local people, buildings, animals, birds and landscapes. Some of these were published in widely read travel literature and were reified in new versions. In another set of visual sources from the period, the setting is European and/or Christian but key components carry references to the archipelagos highlighted here.
Put short, the panel discusses what western art can tell us about Maluku and the Philippines in early modern history and what these regions meant in European imaginations of the time.