The Department of National Archives launched The Travel Diary of Issac Augustine Rumpf, The Dutch Governor of Ceylon (1716 – 1723) on July 4. This is the English translation of the two volumes of the original diary which is in Dutch language. The original diary has been translated by Prof KD Paranavitana, a scholar in 17th and 18th Century Dutch language. The project was executed under the Netherlands and Sri Lanka Mutual Cultural Heritage Programme.
The publication is an informative guide on the society of the maritime districts of early 18th century. It is useful for historical and social studies of early 18th Century Ceylon. The original travel diary comprises notes made by the Governor Rumpf, while travelling within the territory under him, as per routine with Governors appointed by the Dutch East India Company.
The 20 coloured drawings of the Dutch fortifications visited by the Governor Rumpf are considered an exceptional feature of his diary. There are extensive details of the projects he initiated which depict the state of affairs at the time. The information in the diary relates to his visits to Hanwella and Commandment of Galle in 1717 and visits to Jaffna between December 12, 1719 and February 4, 1720.
The publication gives a comprehensive description of the administrative procedures adopted by the Governor and interactions between Dutch governor and the locals. The Governors objectives of these tours were to discover the real-estate affairs of the areas, to collect revenue, to prevent losses from territory, to identify abuses by the dishonest servants of the company, to inquire reasons for failing to deliver the tribute of elephants by Vanniyas and so on. The English translation is accompanied by an extensive introduction and relevant indices.
Author Prof KD Paranavitana said that the publication carries “a wealth of information from early 18th Century Ceylon.” Prof JJL Gommans, Chair, Global History of the Institute for History, Leiden, the Netherlands in a special review of the publication mentioned that the most fascinating section for him from the manuscript is the segment on 18th Century horse breeding in the Island of Mannar. Education Minister, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam was the chief guest for the occasion and the Dutch Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Joanne Doornewaard was the guest of honour.