Original Nusantara Diplomatic Letters in a St. Petersburg Collection, Russia

In 1910, the Russian collector and scholar N.P. Likhachev (1862-1936) purchased a rare collection of Malay letters from the Muller auction house in Amsterdam. Earlier, in 1890, some Chinese letters were bought in Paris from the antiquarian Saffroi.

All but one of these letters came from the family archive of Governor-General Joan van Hoorn (in office 1704-1709). The Likhachev collection contains 54 documents written in Malay, Javanese, Dutch, Chinese and Spanish. Most of these letters are the so-called 'Golden Letters’ or ‘Surat Emas’, diplomatic letters sent to Batavia Castle by the rulers of Palembang, Cirebon, Banten, Jepara, Bima (Sumbawa), and Buton. The documents all date from the period 1680-1710.

The documents are carefully preserved in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (IOM) of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. Dr. Irina Katkova was so kind as to inform us of this collection.