Category Archives: VOC

François Valentijn’s Description of Ceylon

Thiru Arumugam in The Ceylankan Vol 26/3, August 2023, where  the title reads “François Valentijn wrote a 462 page ‘Description of Ceylon’ 300 years ago … Part 2” ……… Part 1 having appeared in The Ceylankan J 102 Vol 26(2) May 2023, pp 24-25. …..  also by Thiru Arumugam

First and Second Chapters [Geography] For his sources of information about the geography and history of Ceylon up to the Portugueseperiod, Valentijn relies on the Portuguese writer Diogo do Couto’s Ceylon section of his books Decadas da Asia (Decades of Asia)5. Couto was Chief Keeper of the Records in Goa from 1595 to 1616. Goa was the Asian headquarters of the Portuguese. Valentijn also took information from the Dutch writer Father Philippus Baldeus6, who lived in Jaffna from about 1656 to 1665. For the description of the interior of Ceylon he relies on Robert Knox7, as the Portuguese and Dutch had limited access to these areas. There was a pirated Dutch translation of Knox’s book by S de Vries published in Utrecht in 1692 and Valentijn would have used this translation. Valentijn plagiarised freely, sometimes copying entire sections from these books. In those halcyon pre-copyright days, the printed word was considered public property!

Continue reading


Filed under authoritarian regimes, centre-periphery relations, Colombo and Its Spaces, Dutch colonialism, economic processes, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, military expenditure, politIcal discourse, sri lankan society, transport and communications, travelogue, unusual people, VOC, world events & processes

The Origins of Burgher & Malay Surnames in Colonial Ceylon

Author Unknown … sent to Thuppahi by Kodi Kodituwakku of Chandos St, Fort, Galle

The Ceylon Burgher Community is the finest exponent of this European onoma-tology in Sri Lanka, as the members of the community carry some of the world’s rarest surnames which at present verge on extinction. The ancestors of the Dutch Burghers were not necessaril.y Dutch by ethnic origin as the Dutch East India Company [recruited] hundreds of mercenaries from all parts of Europe who later reached the shores of Lanka to strengthen the Dutch garrisons on the Island. These Europeans later espoused local women and paved the way for the Lankan Eurasian Community, which later came to be known as ‘Dutch Burghers’ meaning ‘Town Dwellers’.

Continue reading


Filed under accountability, art & allure bewitching, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, cultural transmission, Dutch colonialism, economic processes, education, ethnicity, governance, heritage, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, politIcal discourse, Portuguese in Indian Ocean, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, VOC, working class conditions, world events & processes

Galle Fort Today: Its Dutch Legacy

Mahil Wijesinghe, in Sunday Observer Epaper, 23 October 2022, with this title “Dutch Legacy of Galle fort

The Galle city is home to a population of around 100,000. Easily reached via the Southern Expressway, the A2 Highway or the coastal rail track, Galle is indeed a place worth a stop. A quick walk through the chip-stone laid busy streets, you will discover the rich history of the colonial period and the natural beauty of the seascape.


Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under ancient civilisations, architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, cultural transmission, Dutch colonialism, economic processes, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, life stories, military expenditure, military strategy, modernity & modernization, patriotism, photography, religiosity, sri lankan society, travelogue, unusual people, VOC, world events & processes