Jean Gelman Taylor
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Sultans and the House of Orange-Nassau
Indonesian perceptions of power relationships with the Dutch
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Gifts flowed from Indonesian sultans and princes to Dutch royals from initial encounters in the early seventeenth century through to the mid-twentieth. These artefacts of material culture, such as ceremonial and ritual objects, fashioned from costly materials and exhibiting a high degree of artistry, embody statements about power, sacredness, and projection of the royal self. Paintings and photographs of the gifts and documents from the royal givers indicate how Indonesian sultans perceived their relations with the Dutch monarchy. Visual records of processions and pageants in the colony also offer evidence of presentation of the royal self to Dutch and Indonesian audiences alike. Imperial historiography, resting on colonial archives, tends to cast the colonised in the single role of subjects and their history as a chapter in the history of the Dutch overseas. In considering both partners in the cross-cultural colonial encounter, Indonesians become star performers of their own history. We can fit the short European period into a much longer Indonesian historical experience of foreign traders, adventurers, raiders, assimilated and temporary conquerors.

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