Member: Baan Hollanda Foundation
The Dutch in Ayutthaya, 1604-1765
VOC merchants first arrived in Ayutthaya in 1604, hoping to find passage to China via Siam. Although unable to do so, the Dutch nevertheless continued to trade in Siam, establishing a factorij in Ayutthaya in 1608, and later on one in Ligor (Nakhon Si Thammarat). The kings of Siam exchanged some letters and gifts with the Princes of Orange, and also maintained a regular diplomatic correspondence with the Governors-General in Batavia. The Dutch were, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the most notable European traders in Ayutthaya. VOC military collaboration with Ayutthaya led in 1634 to a royal grant of land beside the Chao Phraya River on which to build its factory, the site of Baan Hollanda. The Dutch supplied artisans and experts for the court of Siam, and participated in court life. The VOC’s trade in Siam declined in the eighteenth century. The Company thus decided to withdraw from Ayutthaya, leaving in late 1765 – just over a year before the city fell to the Burmese.
The VOC and its Siam merchandise
Ayutthaya in its heyday as a thriving maritime emporium had access to a rich hinterland full of forest produce as well as minerals. Dutch trade in Siam was focused on obtaining goods for the Japan market (principally the dyewood sappan, rayskins and deerskins), tin from the south of Siam particularly Ligor (Nakhon Si Thammarat) and, occasionally in times of need,, rice to help feed VOC outposts, notably Batavia. The VOC was for the most part able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement with the Siamese royal court to buy these goods, some of which were crown monopolies. Other goods exported by the Dutch were black lac, ivory, eaglewood, benzoin, gumlac, rhinoceros’ horns, timber, wax, coconut oil, cowhides, plus buffalo horns and hides. Among other goods, the Dutch brought Japanese silver and copper (during the seventeenth century), Indian textiles and spices from the Indonesian archipelago to Ayutthaya. They also re-exported goods to other parts of Asia, such as Japanese copper to India or Indian cotton cloth to Japan.
Baan Hollanda Information Centre on Thai-Dutch Relations, Ayutthaya
Baan Hollanda is situated next to the ruins of the VOC’s Ayutthaya factory, built in 1635. Given the site’s historical significance as an early Dutch footprint in Siam, in 2004 Her Majesty Queen Beatrix initiated the idea of establishing an information centre to illustrate the 400 year long Thai-Dutch relationship. The resulting Baan Hollanda exhibition focuses on diplomatic and commercial relationships, on why the Dutch came to Siam, as well as how they lived and interacted with Siamese society. Visitors can take a fresh and challenging look at Ayutthaya, a multi-cultural city, through the history of commodity trade routes, as well as experience a replica of an archaeological excavation. Moreover, Baan Hollanda’s cafe space was designed both for educational activities as well as to be aesthetically pleasing for visitors. The hand painted décor creates a lively environment that offers visitors a warm, welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Baan Hollanda aims to serve both as a source of knowledge and a pleasant social space for families and friends.