an encyclopaedia of images of the life in the colonies
photographs by Barnum Archives • text by Massimo Pacifico
Even in the early ’30s of 1900s, the estates of the Netherlands in Asia included vast territories. Those who, after the independence, in 1949, became Indonesia: the Large and Small Sunda Islands, part of Timor, part of Borneo, the Moluccas, part of New Guinea. Almost seventy million inhabitants, about ten times more than the metropolitan ones. Agriculture gave sugar, rubber, coffee, tea, tobacco, and china. There were five million cattle, and two and a half million buffaloes; almost a million horses. Oil, tin, and coal were extracted. And then there was fishing … The data of this economy, impressive and detailed, were reported by the Encyclopedia Treccani, in 1933, in pages edited by Cornelis Lekkerkerker and others.
How did one live in colonies? The same Lekkerkerker accurately told his compatriots in a work (for the editor J. B. Wolters of Groningen, with a branch in Batavia, today Jakarta), which includes 620 photographs. A vast repertoire, divided into nine series, which describes the countries, the people, religions, art, indigenous and settler activities, means of transport, flora and fauna.
The photographs are of an appreciable clarity and allow one to get an idea of places such as Bali, Celebes, Lombok; to appreciate Nias’ indigenous architecture, and the impressive bamboo bridge (unidentified in the caption); coffee crops; the Toraja culture …
In short, an encyclopaedia of images from which the following are drawn.