Friday, July 24, 2009


These images convey some of the wonders observed by a party of French Jesuits who visited Siam under the protection of Louis XIV in 1689. Guy Tachard wrote the account illustrated here: Second voyage du pere Tachard et des Jesuites envoyez par le Roy au royaume de Siam. The first trip had taken place three years earlier. We have that volume also at the library where I work in San Francisco, but the illustrations are fewer and of a lesser exoticism.

The Jesuits had big budgets for the books they produced and in general had a freer hand than commercial printers in the quantity and quality of the illustrations they used. Hence the fold-out plates and scenic chapter headers.