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Pieter Nicolaas Kuiper, The Early Dutch Sinologists. A Study of their Training in Holland and China and their Functions in the Netherlands Indies (1854-1900), PhD Thesis, Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2015, 2 vols., 1035 pages, 45 illustrations, 19 appendices, 4 indexes. ISBN/EAN: 978-90-71256-45-5

Claudine Salmon
p. 263-266
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Pieter Nicolaas Kuiper, The Early Dutch Sinologists. A Study of their Training in Holland and China and their Functions in the Netherlands Indies (1854-1900), PhD Thesis, Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2015, 2 vols., 1035 pages, 45 illustrations, 19 appendices, 4 indexes. ISBN/EAN: 978-90-71256-45-5

Texte intégral

1P. N. Kuiper’s thesis has the great merit of unveiling the singularity of the first forty-odd years of Dutch Sinology, which unlike that of other European countries was not directed towards China, but to the management of the Chinese communities in the Netherlands Indies. In 1848, a change in the administration of justice at home and in the colony had a far-reaching effect on the legal position of the Chinese in the colonial possessions, since the Governor-General was authorized to declare parts of the Civil Code or Commercial Code applicable to the local population. This greatly boosted the need for translators. Moreover, in the mid-1850s, the increase of Chinese coolies for work in the tin mines of Bangka and Belitung and, since the 1870s, in the East Coast plantations of Sumatra, resulted in a greater demand for interpreters.

2Since the 17th century, translations from Chinese to Malay and from Malay to Chinese had been made by leaders of the Chinese community. By the mid-19th century, more and more colonial authorities rightly or wrongly suspected some translators of misinterpreting the texts on purpose, hence their request to have Dutch students trained as translators and interpreters.

3The authorities in the metropolis were slow to react. The first lessons were given by private teachers. Johannes Josephus Hoffmann (1805-1878), of German origin, became the first professor of Chinese in the Netherlands and the first professor of Japanese in the Western world. However, a Chinese and Japanese language course was established at Leiden University in 1855, and a chair of Sinology in 1877, which was inaugurated by Gustaaf Schlegel (1840-1903) of German ancestry and a former student of Hoffman, who had first worked as interpreter in the Indies from 1862 to 1872.

4The study is divided into thirteen chapters that mainly focus on the following questions: the origins of Sinology (pp. 7-33), students of Hoffman and Schlegel, their stays in South China (pp.  35-386), their compilation of dictionaries (pp. 387-448), their working as interpreters and translators with the assistance of Chinese teachers introduced from Southern China, who also acted as clerks (pp.  449-508), their advisory functions (pp. 509-561), and their studies and missions. Finally, the reform of 1896 initiated by W.P. Groeneveldt (1841-1915, former interpreter), which was aimed to strengthen the Sinologists’ position as advisers (pp. 599-616). From that time on, they were called “Official for Chinese Affairs” (Ambtenaar voor Chineesche Zaken), instead of “Interpreter (tolk),” a formal designation that turned out to be incorrect. As a result, the brightest ones moved to more brilliant careers, as showed in the very detailed biographies of the 26 first Sinologists followed with their honours, publications, manuscripts, obituaries, and the fate of their libraries, which are given in Appendix A (pp. 825-967).

  • 22 Worthy of note: in 1917, a new curriculum for Leiden was proclaimed, and Mandarin become the main l (...)

5In the epilogue the author provides an overview of the Sinology in Leiden after the passing of Schlegel,22 the evolution of the new function of the Official for Chinese Affairs in the Indies, until the end of their Bureau (and the deliberate destruction of the archives) when the Japanese invaded the Indies in 1942; the creation in 1947 of the University of Indonesia which included a Sinological Institute (Sinologisch Instituut, Batavia) “as Leiden’s little brother” (p. 620) that was staffed with former Officials for Chinese Affairs. The departure of the last of them in 1954 marked the end of a full century of Dutch Sinological involvement in the Archipelago.

  • 23 We leave apart Hoffman’s Japanese-Dutch-English dictionary, the aim of which was to promote Japanes (...)

6Here we would like to emphasize the chapters that help us to better understand the functions of the Sinologists in the Indies: the publication history of dictionaries and their evaluation (Chapter 11), the Sinologists’ translations (Chapter 12), their advisory functions (Chapter 13), and their missions (Chapter 14). The Sinologists compiled three dictionaries that were supposed to help them in their work with the Chinese in the Indies, at a time when the interest in Chinese dialectology was mainly the realm of missionaries.23

  • 24 A Chinese printing facility was established in Batavia with Chinese type in 1862, and the Governmen (...)
  • 25 It was still possible to purchase it when we arrived in Jakarta in 1966.

7The first, by J.J.C Francken (1838-1864) and C.F.M. De Grijs (1832-1902), was an Amoy-Dutch dictionary (Chineesch-Hollandsch wordenboek van het Emoi dialekt). It was started by Francken in China in 1862 and published by De Grijs in Batavia in 1882. It is arranged according to Zhangzhou/Xiamen pronunciation of the Hokkien dialect which was generally spoken on Java; unlike Rev. Carstairs Douglas’ Chinese-English Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of Amoy (London, 1873), it includes Chinese characters, but in a non-systematic way.24 It contains about 33,000 entries, and some 2,000 sayings, and has remained very useful up to now, in spite of its shortcomings.25

8Schlegel Dutch-Chinese dictionary in Zhangzhou dialect (Hô Hoâ Bûn-Gi Lui Ts’am 荷華文語累參 Nederlandsch-Chineesch wordenboek met de transcripsie der Chineesche karacters in het Tsiang-tsiu dialect, was published in instalments from 1882 to 1891 in Leiden by Brill. Although it was criticised by some for including “obscene” terms and quotations, but it was regarded by others as one of the best dictionaries. Unfortunately, this dictionary was not “to become a classic dictionary that would long be in use” (p. 442), the main reason being that after the end of the 19th century, the Sinologists did not continue to translate systematically the colonial ordinances into Chinese.

9The fourth and last dictionary compiled by a Sinologist in the Indies was P.A. Van de Stadt’s Hakka dictionary (Hakka-wordenboek), that was published in Batavia in 1912 in two parts: Dutch-Hakka and Hakka-Dutch. At that time, Van der Valk was General Agent of the Billiton Mining Company, but he had previously studied Hakka in China. It is a practical dictionary of the Hakka dialect as spoken on Bangka and Belitung, but it lacks Chinese characters. It is full of Malay and hybrid loanwords. Van de Stadt could make use of several other dictionaries, including Ch. Rey, Dictionnaire Chinois-Français, dialecte Hac-ka (Hong Kong, Imprimerie de la Société des missions étrangères, 1901).

  • 26 An example of such translations is the Huaren meisegan tiaoli 华人美色甘条例 (Regulations of the Chinese O (...)
  • 27 See also Archipel 77 (2009), pp. 38-44 for the presentation of Tan Siu Eng 陈琇荣 (1833-1906), assista (...)

10In the chapter on interpretation and translations, the author provides a vivid description of the difficulties encountered by the interpreters in relation to the variety of dialects spoken in the colony, and even in the same city. In 1878, it was finally decided that pure interpretating work had to be done by ethnic Chinese: “Since they could feel and think as a Chinese and made idiomatic translations, they were best able to bring across the meaning” (p. 468). On the contrary, regarding translating work, which had long been assumed by Chinese,26 it was thought that they had to be done by Dutch interpreters. The main reason was that although the Chinese versions were generally correct, they were not directly made from Dutch but from Malay, eventually with some undesirable consequences. But in the Indies the interpreters could not use the translation methods of the European interpreters in China, who relied on educated Chinese who, after hearing the oral explanation of the text, composed excellent draft translations. In the Indies the interpreters were left with the difficulty of composing in Chinese except for those who managed to select excellent teachers. One example was Hoetink’s collaboration with Jo Hoae Geok 杨怀玉 (?-1899) from Xiamen, who accompanied him in Makassar in 1878 and stayed there, where he married the daughter of the Chinese kapitan, became a wealthy businessman, and was appointed as luitenant of the Chinese in 1896 (pp.  186-187, 472).27 Kuiper provides a sample of renditions of legal texts made by the Sinologists with the originals in Dutch, and their renditions in English (pp. 485-494). Special attention is also given to account books, the manner in which they were interpreted, translated and excerpted, because during the 19th century cases of bankruptcy and fraud with bankruptcy were rampant among the Chinese on Java (pp. 494-500)

11Chapter 13, as well as presenting the biographies of the Sinologists allow the reader to obtain an insight into the diversity of their advisory functions. They ranged from supervision of the Orphans and Estate Chambers (by becoming “extraordinary members”) to their expertise in law and customs for the courts. In some cases, they entered into philological conflict with the peranakan heads of the Chinese communities. They occasionally complained about their weak advisory position. Chapter 14 provides an overview of the topics for which the colonial government needed their services, such as study missions at home and abroad, investigation of secret societies, arranging for emigration of coolies, other coolie matters…

  • 28 See Liste chronologique des ouvrages et opuscules publiés par le Dr. G. Schlegel : 1862-1901, Leide (...)
  • 29 One of the best known being his Notes on the Malay Archipelago, Compiled from Chinese Sources, firs (...)

12The contribution of these Sinologists is uneven; some concentrated their research on Insulindian Chinese, and mainly published in Dutch, such as M. von Faber (1838-1917), B. Hoetink (1854-1927), and J. L. J. F. Ezerman (1869-1949). Others became eminent scholars and civil servants such as: Schlegel, whose list of scholarly publications is impressive,28 Groeneveldt who in 1877 after having been an interpreter for almost thirteen years, became Referendary (Referendaris) at the Department of Education, Religious Affairs and Industry, and Honorary advisor for Chinese Affairs, and authored diverse historical studies;29 de Groot, who in 1891 became Professor of Geography and Ethnography of the Indies Archipelago in Leiden, and who inherited the chair of Sinology after the passing of Schlegel, and who has remained famous for his Religious System of China in 6 volumes (1892-1910); and, again Simon Hartwich Schaank (1861-1935), who published important studies on the Chinese in Sumatra and Borneo, and who is also known for his linguistic studies, especially on ancient Chinese phonetics.

13To sum up, this research provides an extremely rich overview of the forty-odd years of Dutch Sinology at home and in the Indies; as such, it is a must for the student who is interested in the history of European Sinology, but also in that of of Insulindian Chinese communities, since both are inseparable.

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Notes

22 Worthy of note: in 1917, a new curriculum for Leiden was proclaimed, and Mandarin become the main language (p. 1000).

23 We leave apart Hoffman’s Japanese-Dutch-English dictionary, the aim of which was to promote Japanese studies and to maintain the precedence of the Dutch language among the Japanese, as well as manuscript dictionaries (pp. 387-398).

24 A Chinese printing facility was established in Batavia with Chinese type in 1862, and the Government Press continued to use this type at least until the 1920s.

25 It was still possible to purchase it when we arrived in Jakarta in 1966.

26 An example of such translations is the Huaren meisegan tiaoli 华人美色甘条例 (Regulations of the Chinese Orphans Chamber), a manuscript copy that belonged to B. Hoetink (1854-1927), which is now kept in The East Asian Library, Leiden University. Dutch text in Staatsblad van Ned.-Indië, 1828, n° 46.

27 See also Archipel 77 (2009), pp. 38-44 for the presentation of Tan Siu Eng 陈琇荣 (1833-1906), assistant of Groeneveldt.

28 See Liste chronologique des ouvrages et opuscules publiés par le Dr. G. Schlegel : 1862-1901, Leiden, 1902.

29 One of the best known being his Notes on the Malay Archipelago, Compiled from Chinese Sources, first published in the Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap, Vol. 39, 1880, reprinted in 1887 in England, and by Bhratara in Jakarta in 1960.

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Claudine Salmon, « Pieter Nicolaas Kuiper, The Early Dutch Sinologists. A Study of their Training in Holland and China and their Functions in the Netherlands Indies (1854-1900), PhD Thesis, Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2015, 2 vols., 1035 pages, 45 illustrations, 19 appendices, 4 indexes. ISBN/EAN: 978-90-71256-45-5 »Archipel, 101 | 2021, 263-266.

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Claudine Salmon, « Pieter Nicolaas Kuiper, The Early Dutch Sinologists. A Study of their Training in Holland and China and their Functions in the Netherlands Indies (1854-1900), PhD Thesis, Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2015, 2 vols., 1035 pages, 45 illustrations, 19 appendices, 4 indexes. ISBN/EAN: 978-90-71256-45-5 »Archipel [En ligne], 101 | 2021, mis en ligne le 30 juin 2021, consulté le 18 août 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/archipel/2488 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/archipel.2488

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Claudine Salmon

CASE, CNRS

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