Year published :2008

Pages :122 pp.

Size :15x23 cm.

Color illustrations :11 plates

Maps :4 pull-out maps

ISBN: 9789749511350

Traveler in Siam in the year 1655: Extracts from the Journal of Gijsbert Heeck

by Gijsbert Heeck

Translator: Barend Jan Terwiel

Gijsbert Heeck (1619–1669) was a medicinal specialist who served the Dutch East India Company (VOC). His journal, written more than three hundred and fifty years ago, is based on the daily notes he made during his third trip to the East. This volume presents the selections from his journal that deal with Siam, accompanied by the original Dutch text.

Heeck reveals how Siamese authorities reacted to a violent confrontation between the Dutch and the Portuguese. He gives a detailed description of the Dutch lodge in Ayutthaya, and also bits of information on the relationships of local Dutch men with indigenous women. His record of villages along the Chao Phraya River that specialized in making coffins, preparing and selling firewood, painting, and producing earthenware signals the existence of a complex economy in this part of Siam. Compared with other seventeenth-century descriptions of the landscape, Heeck’s journals provide more information on population, scenery, traffic, trade, and religious establishments than all the others combined. He also provides a unique early perspective on local social arrangements and political intrigue, and on interactions between the Dutch and the locals.

This publication is the initiative of a group of Dutch and Thai scholars who intend to provide access to important Dutch texts about Siam from the VOC period by translating them into English along with a transcript of the original Dutch text. Heeck’s journal was chosen for the strength of its observations of mid-seventeenth century Siam.

Barend Jan Terwiel recently published Thailand’s Political History: From the Fall of Ayutthaya until Recent Times. Among his other works are Through Travellers’ Eyes: An Approach to Early Nineteenth-century Thai History and Monks and Magic. Renée Hoogenraad is a specialist in VOC texts about Siam.