The embassy of Sultan Alauddin of Aceh to the Netherlands, 1601– 1603
Jean Gelman Taylor
This chapter examines how presentation is managed when ambassadors are sent in place of the royal personage. Sultan Alauddin mounted instead a royal tour by proxy in which he was embodied, and concealed, in his gifts and in the humbler persons of his placeholders. Abdul Hamid, Alauddin's chief ambassador, was designated head of the embassy. In Aceh, Alauddin's proposal of a partnership between sovereign states has entered mythology, forged during decades of armed resistance to Indonesia's central government. The envoys presented Maurits with Alauddin's letter and a copy that had been carried on the second Zeeland ship in the convoy to the Netherlands as surety against mishap at sea. The Sultanate of Aceh and the Republic of the Netherlands were pivots of global trade and communications. The seaboard provinces hosted commercial companies that financed trade and navigation science, and outfitted fleets for long-distance voyages.
Indonesian perceptions of power relationships with the Dutch
Jean Gelman Taylor
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.