The exhibition The Great Suriname exhibition is currently on display in Amsterdam. Below is an image report with a number of texts from the exhibition. The exhibition is very extensive, yet many visitors miss elements that are important to them. But everyone’s list is different.
To show a lot on this site I now do it in two parts. Hereby the first part of the exhibition.
‘The Republic of Suriname is located north of Brazil, between the mouths of the Corantijn and Marowijne rivers, between Guyana and French Guiana. Suriname has a tropical climate, is four times the size of the Netherlands and has just over half a million inhabitants. … Suriname was inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years, until about 1500 when Europeans arrived in the coastal area. The Dutch founded trading posts and later plantations, where the heavy labour was done by enslaved Africans. After the official abolition of slavery in 1863, Asian contract workers took their place. … Suriname became self-governing after World War II and fully independent in 1975.’
‘The earliest trace of humans in Suriname are ten thousand years old. The first farmers arrived three thousand years ago. They cultivated cassava on so-called farmland – areas cleared of rainforest – and built terps in the coastal region… Today the country has more than 20.000 indigenous people. Many of them live in the coastal area…..’
Chinese: ‘The first contract workers were Chinese. Around 3000 people left Hong Kong for Suriname. They came from southeast China en most spoke Hakka, a Chinese language. … Many of the 2.500 at the time established careers… at least a third of all doctors were of Chinese descent. There are now far more Chinese due to recent migration.’
Hindustani: ‘After the ship llla Rookh brought the first contract workers from northeast India to Suriname in June 1873, more than 34.000 people made the crossing over a forty-year period. … Many acquired a piece of land after thier contacts ended and became farmers….. Since the end of World War II, Hindustani people are the largest group within the Surinamese population.’
Javanese: ‘Between 1890 and 1939, around 33.000 contract workers were shipped from Java to Suriname via Amsterdam. They were mostly young, unmarried men and women….Suriname is the only country in South America with a clearly recognizable Javanese culture. ‘
The history of colonialism and slavery is told in the surrounding display cases. A large part of the books and documents that are on display come from the private collection Buku by collector Carl Haarnack.
All visitors walk on the tombstones. Some are really worth studying and irrevocably connecting the New Church with colonial and slavery history.
On the painting Jan Jansse van Nes. Together with Michiel de Ruyter, he went on a mission to reclaim the forts from on the West African coasts. Elmina (in Ghana) is depicted in the background.
‘On Expedition: Maria Sibylla Merian.
She must have been fearless! A 53 – year- old woman who undertook the long ocean crossing to Suriname with her 19- year-old daughter in the summer of 1699. Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) wanted to be the first to catch and breed butterflies, beetles and other insects, to discover how they developed from egg to adulthood.
She was an artist and scientist who showed the relationship between plants and insects. She was also the daughter of famous publisher and engraver Matthaeus Merian from Frankfurt am Main, and she had two daughters whom she taught to draw, colour and etch. … ‘
End of part one.
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