Photographs from Surinam and Curaçao in Rijksmuseum, Holland

September 10, 2009 by admin · Comments Off
Filed under: Culture, Curacao Photos, Events 

From 18 August, around 80 photographs from Surinam and Curaçao dating from 1846 to 1973 are on display at the Rijksmuseum. The photographs, some of which are Rijksmuseum acquisitions and some of which are on loan from private collectors and other contributors, tell the story of various chapters from the history of ‘the West’. The existence of several of the photographs taken in 19th century Surinam was previously unknown. The highlight of the exhibition, is without a doubt, the earliest known photograph from Surinam, of a young married couple in 1846.

This photo, a so-called daguerreotype, depicts Maria Louisa de Hart, the daughter of a female slave whose freedom had been purchased, and the Jewish plantation owner Mozes-Meijer de Hart. Her husband was Johannes Ellis, the son of Abraham de Veer, who was a Dutchman and the governor of Elmina in what is now Ghana, and the Ghanaian Fanny Ellis. Their son, Abraham George Ellis (1846-1916) was the first and only Surinamese minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet (1902-1905, Minister of the Navy). Until now, it was not known that any pre-1860 photographs from Surinam existed.

The publicity surrounding the discovery of this photograph prompted several private parties to contact the museum – they also had very old photos of their forefathers. An ‘ambrotype’ taken in 1857 of Martha-Elisabeth de Wees, a former slave, is now also included in the exhibition. Two years before the photograph was taken, she was freed for ‘good behaviour’ and in observance of the ‘King’s birthday’

One remarkable discovery was a signed ambrotype from 1859. The photo was signed by S. del Casthilho, one of the first professional photographers who set up a studio in Paramaribo, only 20 years after photography was invented.

Also on display will be various photographs from 1911 to 1930, a time when the plantation economy was declining and bauxite mining was becoming an increasingly important industry, including photographs from the bauxite mining town Moengo. There is also a panorama of Paramaribo by Augusta Curiel (1873-1937), a famous pre-WWII photographer from Surinam. Additionally, there are several photographs of ‘Black Tuesday’ (Zwarte Dinsdag). On this day – 7 February 1933 – the activist against colonialism Anton de Kom was imprisoned in Paramaribo, unleashing a protest by his supporters to demand his release.

Finally, the museum will display photographs taken by Willem Diepraam (1944) between 1973 and 1977, including of the 1973 election victory of Henck Arron, who would go on to become the first prime minister of independent Surinam.

The exhibition will also feature 20 photographs taken in Curaçao during WWII, including of Princess Juliana’s visit to the island in 1944 and of Willemstad during the 1930s.

The photographs from Surinam and Curaçao will be on display in the Rijksmuseum from 18 August to 5 October. Several of the photographs from Moengo were acquired thanks to a grant from the Maria Adriana Aalder Fonds fund.

Local designers a hit in Curaçao

October 7, 2007 by admin · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Conferences and Trade Shows, Culture 

The Bold and the Beautiful! This is how the runway show Barbados put together recently could be described as. Eight different but very talented designers brought a beautiful collection of fabulous but wearable couture showcasing the best of the Barbadian designers.

Avark, this years Best New Product Award in the product line: Fashion winner, had the task to kick off the showcase for the Barbadian section, and right away set the mood for what could be expected from Barbados. Avark, showcasing in Curaçao for the first time, sizzled with his elegant mens and womens collection; featuring casual designs made of cotton, linen, leather and burlap, using a combination of mainly creme, off white, orange and brown colors and an African print. The African inspiration used in this collection, created a sense of timelessness, which was exactly what the designers had wanted to achieve.

Next was BoUiK, which presented dramatic creations of great creativity. In this collection there were designs for both casual and evening wear. The casual wear featured both short skirts and shorts which combined bold and bright colors which gave it a very youthful and playful feel. In one design of print, polka dots were used, and in other designs, African prints. The mens design featured sleep wear which was very simple but sexy. The evening wear featured long beautiful but playful evening gowns, designed in different layers and combining the colors orange and green.

Four Seasons Colonnade followed. The mother and daughter design team presented part of their 2008 collection. This collection can be typified as a combination of elegance, boldness, and creativity, with jewellery and accessories beautifully made. The fashion designs were made of materials such as chiffon, spandex, and silks, the jewellery was made of beads, wood, pearls etc. The pink dress in the kids collection was pretty with many details that made it elegant at the same time. The bridal gown was simple but very elegant.

Last years Best Product and Product Line winner and this years runner up in Best Booth Display as well as Best New Product, Luna Designs, also presented their new collection. Luna Designs specialty is jewellery. These are mostly made from environmentally friendly materials such as wood and beads and recycled paper. Luna Designs runway presentation was excellent, and since the models were dressed in white, it brought out the beautiful combination of colors of the jewellery, which consisted of chains, earrings, anklets, rings and bags; all in bright and bold colors. This collection can be typified as creative, youthful, casual, fresh, tropical and bright.

Navazoe was the fifth to showcase their new collection. Navazoes collection was typified by beautiful matching accessories. Their specialties are mostly hats and bags for women. The designs varied from casual wear in tropical colors to more sophisticated casual wear in subdued colors. The two materials used in this collection were silk and polyester, which were combined with leather. The prints were either hand-painted, embroidered or preprinted. The handles were made of wood, beads, and have a typical Navazoe identification tag attached to them. The combination of these materials made it a very interesting collection.

Perlixins Spring & Summer 2008 Collection called Hello Africa was a feast for the eyes. A fashion collection where different styles were combined and color combinations were presented that one would not usually expect. But as the designer stated. That makes it more interesting. Most of the fabrics for the garments came from West Africa, which is recognisable in the different prints. Furthermore, waxed cotton and silk georgette were used in this collection. In this collection also, different styles were combined, such as the African style with the western idea. A much unexpected combination, but beautifully executed.

The accessories collection consisted of bags which were made of snake skins, burlap, and tweed. These materials were combined and made for some interesting designs. The Rykii de Jude Inc. collection was one of sophisticated elegance. Using the basic colors white and black with red details, resulted in designs that can be used for both casual and evening wear. In some of both the mens as well as the womens creations, the designer used a white or black basic color with very thin stripes. Very chic and very elegant. The womens wear consisted of both short and long dresses and the mens of suits.

Last, but certainly not the least, as is said, Nine One Designs presented their new jewellery collection especially made for this showcase. Using a strong blend of jewellery designs and materials, Nine One Designs presented a very unique and sophisticated creative collection for both men and women. As they state it. We dont just make jewellery, we create jewellery. The collection presented, consisted of a distinctive blend of natural materials such as shells and pearls which were combined with copper, sterling silver and 14 carat gold. The collection ranged from jewellery for casual wear, to very fine jewellery for evening wear. Curaçao certainly got a good taste of Barbadian fashion by having been presented by a good mix of great creativity, elegance and use of a great variety of wonderful materials. The Caribbean Gift & Craft Show lasted the whole weekend and ends today.

Source: Barbados Advocate

Curacao – “Holland In Miniature”

September 25, 2007 by admin · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Culture, Travel and Tourism 

When asked about Caribbean architecture, many tourists might think of small, colorful houses and grass huts. In Curacao, however, the architecture is inextricably linked to the colonial past. Despite the sparkling Caribbean Sea and dry climate, much of Curacao resembles the great Dutch city of Amsterdam more than the picture book version of the region. Under control of the Netherlands since the 17th century, Curacao was constructed as a home away from home for colonizers. Throughout the years, the pervasive Dutch architecture adopted many Caribbean traits. The additions of such things as porches, verandas and bright exterior colors created the spectacular sites on view for today’s visitors. Though many call the island “Holland in miniature,” you will be greeted by a world that is uniquely Curacao.

Curacao was originally discovered by the Spanish expedition of Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda in 1499. After gaining control of the island and ousting the native Arawak population, the Spanish ruled the island for over a century. However, in 1634, the Dutch invaded Curacao and quickly turned the island into a Caribbean version of Holland. Under the rule of Pieter Stuyvesant, the Dutch fought off invasion attempts by the British and French with the help of several forts along the coastline. Though many of these forts remain today – some of which have been converted into resorts and restaurants – the true architectural allure of Curacao came from everyday life.

The capital city of Willemstad dates to the Dutch invasion of 1634 and the outlines of its fortifying walls can still be seen. Following the signing of a peace treaty with Spain, the Dutch began constructing numerous houses and businesses throughout the island. The focus of Curacao and its Dutch rulers quickly turned from defense and fortification to the rapidly expanding trade market. By the early 18th century, nearly 200 homes and business had been constructed within the walls of Willemstad, each in the quaint Dutch style of the era.

In Willemstad, the best example of the “Holland in miniature” concept is the district known as Otrobanda. Constructed upon a winding grid of alleyways and narrow streets, this neighborhood most closely resembles the archetypal 17th century Dutch town. As the city developed throughout the centuries, Otrobanda eventually became the island’s cultural hotbed in the early 20th century. In fact, most of Curacao’s most recognized politicians, artists and musicians grew up in this truly unique part of the capital city. Today, Otrobanda continues to display both strong ethnic and cultural diversity – a trait seen inside local businesses and amongst the residents that stroll the maze-like streets.

Within the capital city, it is also recommended to walk through the areas known as Punda – also referred to as “old Willemstad” and known for its imposing fort – and Pietermaai – a neighborhood just outside of central Willemstad know for its colonial mansions. Perhaps the most interesting fact about Punda is that the first buildings constructed here were, in fact, perfect replicas of the homes and businesses that border the canals of Amsterdam. Today, Punda features architecture from several different eras of European design with each building painstakingly preserved. The neighborhood of Pietermaai dates to the early 18th century and marked the first residential expansion beyond the walls of Willemstad. Many of these stately European homes have since been converted into businesses, while others remain in their original state.

If you venture outside of Willemstad to the arid landscape of the island’s interior, you will most likely spot a number of plantation homes and Dutch windmills. Like many of the structures in Willemstad, most of the plantations date to the 18th century. While many plantation homes and their surrounding buildings have been reduced to rubble, some of the estates have been preserved as museums. If you are interested in how these people lived during colonial times, visit the Sorghum Stalk House Museum.

Many of the island’s most popular tours visit the most interesting architectural sites and several museums in Willemstad document the unique history of this Caribbean treasure. Even if you aren’t usually moved by architecture, it will be hard to avoid the charm of Curacao.

Article Source:

About the Author:
Justin Burch writes articles about travel in Curacao for the Marriott Resorts.

Jewish culture flourishes in Curacao

September 1, 2007 by admin · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Culture 

The Jewish community has a rich historical presence on the tiny island
Jewish landmarks may not be the top draw of a Caribbean island, but the Chosen People settled in the tiny nation of Curacao as early as the 1650s, and the synagogue and museum are beautiful tourist sites on the picturesque isle.

On Curacao, you will find a mixture of European, Jewish, South American and African influences that have created a diverse culture on this 38-mile-long piece of land. Located 25 miles north of Venezuela, just outside of the hurricane belt in the southwestern Caribbean, Curacao offers plenty to do and see.

Despite the fact that Curacao is a small island, it is filled with miles of gorgeous beaches, a lovely sea aquarium, some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean and plenty of opportunities to interact with dolphins. It seems less congested than some of its neighboring islands, but this will probably change with the development of several large hotels over the next few years.


While Jews have lived in Curacao for more than 350 years, it seems that the Jewish community peaked around 1800, when more than 2,000 Jews lived here. Over the course of many years, like many Jewish communities worldwide, there was a decline. Then there was a temporary boost in 1964 with the arrival of about 600 Cuban Jews who were fleeing communism.

Today, the closely knit Jewish community of Curacao, despite being split between Reconstructionist and Orthodox, is composed of about 500 people.

One of Curacao’s main attractions, included on the list of national monuments, is the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, which welcomed between 10,000 and 11,000 visitors last year, many of them cruise ship passengers in port for the day. Tourists can pay $6 to enter the synagogue and the museum, which are located in the heart of Willemstad, Curacao’s colonial capital.

Established in 1732, the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Americas. The congregation is now part of the Reconstructionist movement and in 2002 it became fully egalitarian, granting both men and women full equality in all synagogue rituals.

Even those who are not religious will enjoy touring both the historic synagogue as well as its neighboring institution, the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum.

When entering the synagogue, the first thing that everyone notices is the sand beneath their feet. Cantor Avery Tracht, who serves as the congregation’s spiritual leader, offers three explanations for the sand.

“The Torah states, ‘We should be fruitful and multiply as the sands of the sea,’ ” he said. The sand also “memorializes our 40 years in the desert when our ancestors lived with sand as a floor, and also during the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, the Jews had to worship in secret for fear of death, so they put sand on the floor to dampen the sounds of people’s footsteps in the hidden places of worship.”

If you are lucky enough to attend services, you will be moved by the building’s magnificent pillars and four chandeliers of extraordinary beauty, all of which came from Amsterdam. Three of them are older than the building itself and the origin of the fourth is unknown.

Now the chandeliers are only lit for special occasions because, with a total of 144 candles, it takes quite some time to illuminate them. During services, the congregants and tourists are engaged, involved and even a bit “inspired,” as one woman said.


Across the courtyard, the small museum is filled with ceremonial objects that have been either donated or are on loan from local Jewish families. The museum occupies two buildings that date back to 1728. They were originally the rabbi’s residence and the mikvah, or ritual bathhouse.

When the mikvah fell into disuse in the middle of the 19th century, the buildings were sold and for many years occupied by non-Jews. During their recent restoration by the Curacao Foundation for the Preservation of Monuments, the mikvah, lost for generations, was sought and uncovered. It is now the first thing that draws a visitor’s attention when entering the museum’s patio.

The artifacts housed in the museum powerfully illustrate the Jewish life of the Curacao community. Myrna Moreno, the museum curator and a long-line descendant of Curacao Jews, welcomes visitors with stories about how the items housed here are part of a “living museum.”

“We enjoy the use of several of the museum’s items for various holiday celebrations,” she said. Ms. Moreno’s husband’s family traveled from Spain to Amsterdam and then to Curaao in the early 1700s. A replica of a tombstone with the name Moreno Henriquez on it can be viewed on the patio of the museum. (Sometime in history, the name Henriquez was dropped.)

In a nearby suburb of Willemstad is Shaarei Tsedek, Curacao’s second Jewish congregation, with an Ashkenazic Orthodox orientation.

This congregation has about 60 families or a total of 150 members, including eight families who keep strictly kosher homes.

One of the interesting things to note about the two Jewish communities here is that despite local history, they are actively engaged and intertwined in various activities, both with each other and with the greater community in Curacao.

The congregations share a Hebrew school and there is a joint teaching effort between the two community’s spiritual leaders. Additionally, the two Jewish communities peacefully co-exist with all of the African, Spanish, Portugese and Dutch influence on the island.

“Yu Di Korsow,” Ms. Moreno said. “A child from Curacao. We are all friends.”