Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jan Cock Blomhoff (ヤン・コック・ブロンホフ)


Jan Cock Blomhoff with his little son Johannes and the Dutch nurse-maid Petronella

From 1806 until 1823 Jan Cock Blomhoff (Amsterdam 1779 - Amersfoort 1853) stayed at the Dutch trading post at Dejima, Japan. The Dutch were the only westerners allowed by the Japanese ruler, the shogun, to trade with the Japanese people (since they hadn't tried to convert the Japanese to Christianity).

In 1813 he refused to surrender the post to the English. He was taken captive and send to England. Released in 1815, he married in 1816 and returned to Japan in July 1817, accompanied by his wife Titia Bergsma, his newborn son, and a nurse-maid. This was highly exceptional since no western women were allowed in Japan. The shogun refused to grand them a residence permit, and Tita, her son, and the nurse had to return to the Netherlands in December 1817. He never saw her back, she died in 1821, reportedly of grief.


Jan Cock Blomhoff and his red-haired wife Titia Bergsma, their son Jantje, the wetnurse and the Indonesian maid Marathy. Japanese print, circa 1817.

In the short time they stayed in Japan, untill December 1817, they were often drawn by artists, who had never seen other than Japanese women, and 500 different prints widely circulated throughout the country. Titia is recognizable by her curly hair pictures (very noticeable in Japan where the native women do not have straight hair curls). To this day they statues and pictures of Titia are sold in Japan.

From 1817 to 1823 Jan Cock Blomhoff was the director of the trading post. In 1824 he returned to the Netherlands, and from 1844 until his death he lived in a country-house near Amersfoort. His grave has been cleared away, but his tombstone is still visible.




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