Pers, A van

Photograph

Nederlandsch Oost Indische typen ... [Dutch East Indies ‘types’]: met een verklarenden tekst in't Hollandsch en Fransch ... / A. van Pers. ('s Gravenhage : C. W. Mieling, [1854-1856]). [Plates]

‘Topping’ [Masked dance]

‘Reizende Muzijkanten’ [Itiinerant musicians]

Auguste van Pers (1815-1871) was a Dutch artist who spent much of his life in the East Indies. Publication of this collection of ‘typen’ was begun in Batavia in 1851, but abandoned when van Pers had to return to Holland. C.W. Meiling, one of the foremost Dutch lithographers, began publication of the work in parts in 1853.

‘Topping’, depicts a comic scene in a topeng (masked) dance, which presents stories from Javanese history. The man is wearing a European cap and, according to the caption, “this would only have served to increase the comedy in the eyes of the natives”. The female singer-dancer holds the end of her scarf in a typical pose. The accompanying musicians are playing a reduced gamelan orchestra, comprising a drum, vertical and horizontal gongs, and a rebab, a two-stringed bowed instrument that the artist has incorrectly shown with three strings.

 ‘Reizende Muzijkanten’ depicts a pair of itinerant busking musicians in Java. They are playing a large frame drum (rebana) and a violin. The violin was originally introduced to Indonesia by the Portuguese who built coastal settlements and colonised parts of the archipelago from the late sixteenth century, prior to Dutch colonisation. It is played in non-orthodox ‘folk’ style in various traditional musical genres, especially in Sumatra but also other regions.

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