François Valentijn’s Description of Ceylon: (Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien, 1726), 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

François Valentijn’s Description of Ceylon

(Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien, 1726), 1st Edition

Edited by S. Arasaratnam


412 pages

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Hardback: 9780904180060
pub: 1977-12-28
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pub: 2017-05-15
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François Valentijn's Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien (Old and New East Indies) has for long been regarded as a primary source of information on a number of regions of maritime Asia. It is a veritable encyclopaedia, bringing together an array of facts, trivial and vital, from a wide range of contemporary and earlier literature, acknowledged and unacknowledged, and contains valuable excerpts from contemporary documents of the Dutch East India Company and from private papers. It is indeed a public archive. Despite this historic character of the work, it was never republished in full in a critical edition or made available in English translation. It has therefore remained relatively unknown and little read, except by the specialist wanting to quarry this mine of information for his particular purpose. This edition of Valentijn embraces the part dealing with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the fifth volume of Old and New East Indies. The island of Ceylon is one of three areas that has received the most detailed treatment in the work, with substantial sections devoted to geography, topography, society, natural history and the record of historical tradition. He also provides an almost contemporaneous account of the Dutch conquest of the island. For his description of Ceylon, Valentijn has had access to a variety of sources - Sinalese, Portuguese and Dutch - and has presented this material to us with his characteristic attention to detail. The volume now published with an introduction and explanatory notes is many things for many people: a geographer's manual, a naturalist's handbook, an anthropologist's collection of caste and custom, an antiquarian's record of tradition and a chronicler's narrative of history. One of the most informative writings on Ceylon is made available, for the first time, to the English-reading public.

About the Series

Hakluyt Society, Second Series

Routledge is pleased to be the publisher for the Hakluyt Society.

The Hakluyt Society has for its object the advancement of knowledge and education, particularly in relation to the understanding of world history. The society publishes scholarly editions of primary sources on the 'Voyages and Travels' undertaken by individuals from many parts of the globe. These address the geography, ethnology and natural history of the regions visited, covering all continents and every period over the last two thousand years. Such texts, many previously available only in manuscript or in unedited publications in languages other than English, are the essential records of the stages of inter-continental and inter-cultural encounter.

Established in 1846, the Society has to date published over 350 volumes. All editions are in English. Although a substantial number of the Society's past editions relate to British ventures, with documentary sources in English, the majority concern non-British enterprises and are based on texts in languages other than English. Material originally written in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French or Dutch has regularly appeared, material in Russian, Greek, Latin, Ethiopic, Chinese, Persian or Arabic occasionally.

All editions contain an introduction and scholarly annotation, giving both the general reader and the student a degree of assistance in understanding the material and providing guidance on the relevance of the episodes described, within the context of global development and world history. Volumes are often generously furnished with maps and contemporary illustrations.

Information about the Society may be obtained from the Administrative Assistant at the following address:

Hakluyt Society, c/o Map Library, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DG, UK


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General