Memories of people and things

A drawing of people (above) Georg Franz Muller met during his time in Batavia; and his belongings, including a pair of shoes, a basket, a teapot and a coin purse.
A drawing of people (above) Georg Franz Muller met during his time in Batavia; and his belongings, including a pair of shoes, a basket, a teapot and a coin purse.PHOTO: STIFTSBIBLIOTHEK ST GALLEN
A drawing of people Georg Franz Muller met during his time in Batavia; and his belongings, including a pair of shoes, a basket, a teapot and a coin purse (above).
A drawing of people Georg Franz Muller met during his time in Batavia; and his belongings, including a pair of shoes, a basket, a teapot and a coin purse (above).PHOTO: SWITZERLAND

Who: Georg Franz Muller (1646 to 1723) A native of Alsace, Georg Franz Muller served for 12 years as a soldier in Batavia (present-day Jakarta), employed by the Dutch East India Company.

He arrived in Java in 1670 and, during his service there, he studied the local language and kept an illustrated diary of his travels in the region, including drawings of native flora and fauna, and people of various nationalities whom he met.

He left Batavia in 1682 for Europe and worked at a Roman Catholic church in Rorschach, Switzerland. He bequeathed his belongings, including his diaries and souvenirs from Batavia, to the church.

Among the things he left behind are everyday objects from 17th-century Batavia such as a Chinese teapot and Chinese silk purses, which reflect the growing presence of the Chinese community in Batavia during that period.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2016, with the headline 'Memories of people and things'. Print Edition | Subscribe