Sunday, September 22, 2019

Travel literature Essay Example for Free

Travel literature Essay Travel literature took place around the 19th century. It was also known as the Augustan Age, the Age of Enlightens or the Neo Classical Age. The art of journeying is a process of self-discovery and to discover new destination, culture and place.During the Industrial Revolution in Europe, traveling became very popular. The Europeans especially the Portuguese, Dutch, English and Spanish started to explore new places in the East. The first expedition to the east was conquered by the Portuguese. In November 1497, Vasco da Gama led the first major European excursion into the Indian Ocean at Cape of Good Hope which was the gateway to South East Asia. The second expedition was led by Alfonso de Albuquerque who extended their power eastwards by gaining control of Malacca in 1511. When the Portuguese first arrived at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the leading emporium of western South-East Asia was Malacca. It continued the practice of other great ports of earlier years where ships from India, China and Java converged on Malacca. They usually will not come at the same time because each group had to plan an inward and a return voyage to fit the seasonal changes of the monsoon winds. The cultural observations made by various writers are what I am going to discuss and it is based on J.M. Gullicks Adventures and Encounters in South East Asia. The two stories that I have chosen to discuss are King Mongkut faces the Camera by John Thomson and Sultan Yusuf faces the Death and Turns Back by Hugh Clifford. John Thomson is a professional photographer who made his appearance in the second half of the nineteenth century. John Thomson (1837-1921) is a Scotsman, who arrived in Singapore in 1862 to join his brother William in the business of watchmaker and photographer. His travels brought him to Bangkok in 1865, and then went to Cambodia to take photographs of the ruins of Angkor Watt. Later he set up his business in Hong Kong and from there made trips to China to take photographs. He became a fashionable photographer in the West End of London, in later part of his life. Thomsons most reliable and outstanding writing was when he had a trip to Bangkok during the reign of King Mongkut (r.1851-68), where he photograph the palace and the king. John Thomson has talked about many cultural observations in his passage called King Mongkut Faces the Camera. Throughout his observations, Thomson has always compares the Local Culture to his own Home Culture. The Home Culture has become a kind of yardstick for his view and reasoning about the Local Culture. After Thomson was better acquainted with Krum-mun-alongkot, he was introduced to his family circle. He had, I believe, sixteen wives, although I never saw more than twelve at a time; some of these were young and pretty.1 The wives were usually engaged in embroidery. They also practiced the habit of chewing betel-nuts and smoking cigarettes. The children on the other hand were also born with cigarettes in their mouths2 According to John Thomson, he actually saw a child leaving its mothers breast for a smoke. In this observation of his, Thomson uses his Home Culture as a yardstick for the reason and view of the local culture. Therefore, he disapproves the idea of more wives, smoking cigarettes and chewing betel-nuts which cannot be found in his culture and consider that the westerns are more civilized. He even regards it as a pity by saying; I thought it a pity to see them smoking cigarettes, or chewing betel-nuts, the teeth blackened with the incrustation and their mouths disfigured with blood-red juice; they also perforce a nasty habit of spitting into golden vases which their slaves help up dutifully for the purpose.3 He regards their behavior has pity because as a member of the royal family, they are not portraying or setting a good example for others. Usually high rank monarchs set a good example to the public. On top of this, the idea of the children who were born with the cigarettes in their mouths is also considered uncivilized. Children at such a young age should not be exposed to bad habits like this. They are to be brought up in a healthy environment and thought the rightful things in life. Thomson also disapproves the way the servants were treated. They have to hold the golden vases for their mistress to spit their betel-nuts juice and crowd in their hands and knees behind their masters. Around his singular figure were grouped a number of his attendants and slaves, who crowded reverently on their hands and knees and they had also perforce a nasty habit of spitting into golden vases which their slaves help up dutifully for the purpose.4 Thomson regards the servant as Slaves because they do not have a social stand in the society. They are treated like slaves and when Thomson saw this, it came as a shock to him. Again, he finds it an uncivilized behaviour compared to his own country. I think that Thomson did not give a fair description on this matter because he is judging based on his home culture and therefore it has become a yardstick for his reason and view. He did not spend much time in Thai to observe and learn about the culture. He only comments on his observation through his short stay in Thai. He did not take the trouble to find out why they are practicing it. In other words Thomson is trying to affirm his superiority by saying the West is more civilized than the East. According to Thomsons point of view, Thai was a much modernized country. This is pictured through the observation that was done in the palace. The room in which we were received was filled with foreign machinery, scientific instruments and articles of domestic use. ..there was a telegraphic machine, backed by a statue of Buddha..There were also watch tools, turning-lathes and telescopes, guitars, tom-toms, fiddles and hand-saws; while betel-nut boxes, swords, spears, and shoe-brushes, rifles, revolvers, Windsor-soap, rat-paste, brass wire and beer bottles, were mingled in heterogeneous confusion.5 Although the Siamese have all the modern equipment with them yet they do not know how to use it or the purposes of it. They only display it to show that they too posses it. For example, in one corner there was a telegraphic machine, backed by a statue of Buddha.6 This shows that they do not know how to use a telegraphic machine and just display it like a statue of Buddha. From this passage we know that the Thai are very ignorant to the foreign instrument and Thomson feels what they really need is a practical use of knowledge. They simply accept the modernization with out knowing its practical usage. According to Thomson, the Thai monarch believes that by doing miracle to the country, the people will look up at him and he can become a very powerful person. In this point of view, Thomson has managed to give a fair and objective view of the Thai who are so ignorant in using the modern equipment. They simply display it without knowing its purpose. For example the entire room was filled with modern equipment together with betel-nut boxes, swords, spears and shoe-brushes7. This clearly shows that the Thai did not have any knowledge on the use of the equipment and they simply put it together with other unwanted or unimportant items. The idea of appropriation is due to the process of post colonial which takes over the local culture. Although Thai has never been colonilized by any foreign forces, yet it has the influence of westernization through the impact of modernization of the country by King Mongkut. Therefore the idea of appropriation has been adopted by the local people and it has a great impact in the local culture. The idea of appropriation in the Thai culture can be seen through many aspects such in the Siamese Kings English and also in the hybrid image of the Siamese Women. The idea of appropriating is to take one as its own. Therefore when the king of Thai speaks his Siamese English, we can say that he is appropriating the English. This is because, he not only mixing his own Thai language with the English but also speaks bad English. Mr Town-shun, ..Ah! you are Scotchman, and speak English I can understand; there are Englishmen here who have not understanding of their own language when I speak.8 The Siamese kings English is not only very amusing to the readers but also becomes as an dramatic irony because the king does not realize that he speaks bad English and at the same time was commenting to Thomson about his own Englishmen who could not understand their own language when he speaks. Therefore, what Thomson is trying to say is the West is appropriating the East by colonization yet here the king of Siam is appropriating the English by thinking that he speaks good English compare to the Englishmen and does not realize that his English is bad. The Siamese women who were trying to mimic the western ladies draws the attention of Thomson. The imitations of English ladies were particularly ludicrous, for while the contrast between the graceful, modest native costumes and the huge crinoline and chignon of the West, could not fail to strike every beholder.9 Thomson totally disapproves the idea of the Thai women who were trying to imitate the English women. According to him, it losses its value and draws the contras. He like the Siamese ladies to be Siam and not to mimicry the foreigners. The Siamese women dressed in western style create a hybrid image. It does not portray their culture and belongings. Therefore, the both examples that were mentioned above, Thomson has given a fair judgment and how it reflects a negative view on the Thai culture. The hair cutting ceremony or also known as coming to age ceremony is also an official ceremony carried out to the young Prince who has come to the throne. It is also known as the Tonsure or So-Kan Festival. I afterwards attended the great Tonsure Festival, or So-Kan, as the Siamese call it, when the heir-apparent, Prince Chowfa Chul-along-korn, who has since come to the throne, was deprived of the pride, pomp and circumstance of a sacred Brahminical rite.10 Thomson describes every procedure in full detail and in each he gives a full description of what was going on. He also gives a very positive and objective view of the local custom and culture which was carried out. Within the grounds of the first kings place, there is a large paved quadrangle ..known as mount Khrai-lat, and bearing a tiny shrine upon its summityoung Prince thrice around the sacred mount khrai-lat. Later two ladies, who was waiting belowbathe his feet in a silver urn. Thence he betakes himself to a temple hard by, where the top-knot is solemnly removed.11 Thomson gives a full description of the entire ceremony from the beginning to the end. He even commons by saying The entire ceremony is long and tedious and I was the only European who witnessed this important part of the Brahminical ceremony.12 In his observations on the hair cutting ceremony, Thomson has not only given a very lengthy description of the ceremony and its importance but also marks his present as a very important one. In this aspect, Thomson has list down his observation which was very unique to him. This was something new to him and he was so amused by it. He give a lengthy description about the entire observation and it gives the readers a better view of what a hair cutting ceremony is all about. Thomson was requested to company Krum-mun-alongkot a chief astronomer and the king Mongkuts royal brother. Thomson notices that he was dressed, when at home, in a light jacket, much too small to cover him and wore a band of silk around his loins. His shrunken limbs were bare and his feet encased in richly-embroidered slippers; but on other occasions, when he paid me a visit, for example, he assumed much more ample and costly attire.13 For a foreigner like Thomson, to see a monarch with Bare Limbs comes as a cultural shock. This is because the royal families in the west are very well dressed and very formal at all times. They do not choose to dress freely as they wish at home and quite formal for occasion. Therefore when Thomson saw Krum-mun-alongkot, in two different ways, it was like a kind of shock to him . Although kind and hospitable, the Prince was not a man calculated to inspire awe into his beholders.14 Indirectly, it also suggests that Thomson was affirming his superiority compare to the Thais. Therefore, he affirmers that although the Thai monarchs are kind and hospitable yet it does not give any positive impression about them compare to the westerns. In this point of view, I totally disagree with Thomson because he did not give a fair judgment. In the Asian society each country has its own traditional costume. Therefore, the Prince attire of a short jacket and silk might be their traditional costume and the Prince might be comfortable with it. Therefore, Thomson can not make his judgment comparing the Prince attire to his own monarch who dressed more formally. Hugh Clifford came much later and became a legendary figure. He had begun his colonial career at the age of seventeen. In a period of conflict between Malay resistance in Pahang and colonial expansion, he rose rapidly to the senior ranks of the government, becoming a Resident when he was under thirty five. He was then suspected to be poisoned but recovered to pursue a more prosaic middle career in other British colonies. In 1927 he realized his long cherished hope of returning to Malaya as governor. However, within a couple of years he was disabled by insanity which lasted to his death in 1941. Clifford was a prolific writer and often a powerful one. He likes to write about the Malay aristocratic and the village life of the Malay states in the late 19th century. One of his personal experiences with the local is Sultan Yusuf Faces Death and Turns Back. Hugh Clifford like wise John Thomson has talked about much cultural observation especially about the Malay aristocratic and the village life of the Malay States. His close relationship with the local monarchs is pictured in Sultan Yusuf Faces Death and Turns Back. Cliffords point of view on the cultural observations can be divided into some subtopic as well. In Cliffords passage called Sultan Yusuf Faces Death and Turns Back, the sultan of Perak called Sultan Yusuf was afflicted by a tumor of the brain, which the European doctors predicted would be fatal. However Sultan Yusuf and many of his Malay subjects, believe that his illness was the result of a curse laid upon him by Megat Pandia ( a withchdoctor).15 In the Malay society, top priorities are given to superstitious believe. In the passage of Sultan Yusuf, although the European doctors have confirmed that Sultan Yusuf is afflicted with brain tumor and predicted that he might live a day or two yet the locals did not believe it and think that his sickness is caused by a curse laid upon him by a witchdoctor called Megat Pandia due to some money problem. So, to break the spell upon Sultan Yusuf, a local medicine-man is called to perform the ceremony. So the medicine-men pattered charms and exorcisms unceasingly; and when the fits seized the King, the most daring and the most mendacious among them would cry out that he beheld the Bajang ( the Familiar One) and his horrible spouse the Lang Suir (the Weird Kite-Hag) sitting over against the body of their victim.16 After the medicine-man has performed his ceremony, the Sultan slowly regains conscious and started to live a normal life. Later, Clifford also explains that on the same day Megat Pandia was found death and the cause of his death is natural. Although we find it hard to believe of what had happen to Megat Pandia and Sultan Yusuf, yet the events that took place shows that the presents of supernatural elements are true and believable especially in the case of Sultan Yusuf. Hugh Clifford has given us of his personal observation and not his opinion. Therefore, although it is unbelievable, yet because he himself encounters it and have lived with the Malay society for many years, make us accepts his point of view which comes as a fact. According to the observation done by Clifford, the sickness of the King also became a national crisis. When the King falls sick, the people too felt the pain. According to Clifford, the people gathered around the balai where the King was laid to see, touch and feel by pressing their hand on him for the last time. Then we, who sat nearest to him, laid violent hands upon him to restrain his struggles and to shampoo his tortured limbsthey made this part of their duty serve as an occasion for touching and pressing the hands of one or another of the young Rajas whose devotion to their dying monarch.17 From the small description, Clifford has made the readers realize of how the Malay society thinks highly on the King and country. Clifford has explained to us of how they show their respect by spending their nights beside the Kings bed by shampooing him to restrain his struggles. Through this small passage, Clifford has made us realize how the locals are so loyal and faithful to their King. Through this, he has managed to give a fair and objective view of the local culture. There are also some minor aspects that Clifford has touch in the passage called Sultan Yusuf Faces Death and Turns Back. The influence of Islamic aspects is very much clear in their daily life. The locals are very much adapted to the religious terms like Ya Allah! Ya Tuhan- Ku and Lam-alif. Lam- alif here refers to a letter the wedded consonant and vowel which forms the first portion of the profession of Muhammadan faith.18 Lam-alif is a kind of holy word that often used when someone is in the sick bed. According to Clifford who has mentioned how Sultan Yusuf who was in the process of dying, confess Lam-alif At Last he said, Guru, I behold the Lam-alif!.19 This shows how the locals have adopted to the term that has become a part of their daily life and culture. Chewing betel-nuts also become a culture of the locals. Clifford has made an observation on this, when Sultan Yusufs guru smiled. The gurus smile widened till his red, betel-stained gash of a mouth extended almost from ear to ear.20 This shows how frequently they chew betel-nuts. Like wise in Siam, it is also a part of the Malay tradition to chew betel-nuts. From the above description, we can say that Clifford has observed very closely of the Malay culture and give an objective view of their practice and living style. As a result, the cultural observation done by John Thomson on King Mongkut faces the Camera and Hugh Cliffords Sultan Yusuf Faces the death and Turns Back has come out with their own perception and view. John Thomson gives his fair judgment in the things he agrees and eventually disagrees when he finds something that is contrast or that is unacceptable. For example he admires King Mongkut and the way he was dressed. I must confess that I felt much impressed by his appearance, as I had never been in the presence of an anointed sovereign before.. His dress was a robe of spotless white;I was admiring the simplicity and purity of this attire.21 Thomson being very frank by saying how he feels about certain things. In another example, when he finds the women are mimicry the western ladies, he gives a negative point of view. The imitations of English ladies were particularly ludicrous.22 Through out Thomsons observation in Siam is based on his Home Culture and therefore he agrees to certain accepts and disagrees in others. Where else in the Hugh Cliffords passage called Sultan Yusuf faces the death and Turns Back, he has given a full description of his personal observation only. Hugh Clifford did not make any commandments or give his personal opinion on his observation. His observations are mainly of what he sees. He gave two different account on the situation the leave it to the readers to judge and make their own stand between the death of the Sultan. The Europeans doctors explained that the growth of the tumor on the Kings brain had been suddenly arrested and the case was quoted as one of the unparallel interest but the Malays say that the King went near to lose his life at the hands of Megat Pendias Familiar.23 WORK CITED 1. Gullick J. M. , Adventures and Encounters Europeans in South East Asia, Oxford University Press, New York,1995. 2. Coedes G. , The Indianised States of Southest Asia, East West Center Press, Honolulu, 1968. 3. Pratt Mary Louise, Imperial Eyes, Travel Writing and Transculturation, Routledge, London, 1992. 4. Spurr David, The Rhetoric of Empire, Duke University Press, London. 1933. 5. Lecture Notes. 6. 1 Gullick J.M, Adventures and Encounters Europeans in South East Asia, Oxford University Press, New York,1995. Pg 84. 2 Ibid. Pg. 84 3 Ibid. Pg.84 4 Ibid. Pg. 82 and 84 5 Ibid. Pg. 82 and 83 6 Ibid. Pg. 82 7 Ibid. Pg. 83 8 Ibid. Pg. 84 9 Ibid. Pg. 88 10 Ibid. Pg. 87 11 Ibid. Pg. 87 and 89 12 Ibid. Pg. 89 13 Ibid. Pg. 82 14 Ibid. Pg. 82 15 Ibid. Pg. 96 and 97 16 Ibid. Pg. 100 17 Ibid. Pg. 99 18 Ibid. Pg. 102 19Ibid. Pg. 102 20 Ibid. Pg. 101 21 Ibid. Pg. 85 22 Ibid. Pg. 88 23 Ibid. Pg. 105

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.