“Orientals measure their respect for the traveller by his style.”

Time flies. It feels as if it were yesterday, but Tinco Lycklama arrived in Baghdad in December 1866, five months ago. Now it’s time again to move on. In style…

As it was the perfect custom for a gentleman in those days, Tinco Lycklama spent his last few days on goodbye visits to the people he had acquainted. Little time was lost on ‘Europeans’ (by which he certainly meant the personnel of the foreign legations) – with whom he had spent little time. But he had grown fond of the Carmelite priests, the people of the trading house of Weber, Jaeger and Wartman, and the Tonietti, Asfar, and Hanousche families (Levantines). They had done their utmost to make his stay in Baghdad comfortable and interesting. They had become friends.

Of course, he also visits Mehmed Namik Pacha, the powerful Ottoman viceroy of Baghdad. A direct relationship of mutual respect had grown between the two men. It had given Tinco a few privileges, such as special protection on some of his excursions to places like Babylon, Najaf and Karbala. As Tinco was about to continue his travel through Mesopotamia for a short return to Tehran (Persia), and then back through the north of modern Iraq towards Erbil and Mosul, the viceroy obliged again and provided Tinco with a passport and a special letter of recommendation. (In 1868, Tinco Lycklama and Mehmed Namik Pacha will meet again in Constantinople).

And, Tinco decided to leave Baghdad in style…

Caravan in the desert
Not Tinco Lycklama – but his desert caravan may have looked like this

We know from Tinco’s travelogue that he never travelled alone. He hired servants to assist him with practicalities – from cooking and washing clothes, to delivering messages, conversing and negotiating with locals, and protecting Tinco and his possessions.

“Je permets au lecteur de s’égayer à mes dépens ; je ris encore moi-même quand je me vois, par le souvenir, marchant en tête de cette caravane, d’une composition, néanmoins, absolument orientale.”

He never was short of servants as he had the money to pay them – and pay them well. But, he reflected that it would make sense to expand his team. “The reader is entitled to cheer at my expense; I’m still laughing myself, remembering how I was leading this caravan which, by the way, looked perfectly oriental.” Indeed, he left Baghdad with…

  • Eight servants:
    • Jussouf – a schismatic Armenian
    • Betros (Pierre) – a catholic Chaldean
    • Naoum – a catholic Chaldean
    • Djamoun (Simon) – a catholic Chaldean
    • Reza-Kouli – a chiite Persian
    • Iskender (Alexander) – a chiite Persian
    • Abbas – a chiite Persian
    • Naguy – a sunni Kurd
  • Three mule-drivers – all arab muslims
  • Twenty-five animals:
    • 10 mules
    • 9 Arabian horses
    • 2 greyhounds
    • 2 English dogs
    • 1 cat
    • … and of course his faithful Vashka – the dog that had joined him in Tiflis.

This caravan may have been perfectly oriental, but with a somewhat excentric Dutchman in the lead it must have been a pretty interesting sight!

Why did Tinco grow his team even though he didn’t need the extra manpower? Let’s assume that, carrying a precious recommendation from the viceroy of Baghdad, Tinco must have felt that he had to live up to his new status. And, as we’ll see later, word about Tinco’s activities in Baghdad even reached Tehran: his journey through the Orient got noticed!

However, there is also a very practical reason, and the answer lies in the enumeration of the various religions in his team. As a rule, travellers in the Orient were advised to hire people from different backgrounds, so that they would look at each other rather than turn against their paymaster. Tinco admits that it sounds ‘Machiavellian’, but it may have been a wise decision.

On a seperate note (and, admittedly, it’s very trivial), one may wonder where the cat came from. In fact, Tinco informs us that the cat was a gift from someone in Tehran. That means that he has been travelling no less than seven months with a cat, without telling us! We already know that the story of his dog Vashka is exceptional, as no other dog in history has seen as many remnants of antiquity (Persepolis, Babylon, Nineveh, Palmyra) or ancient places such as Aleppo, Damascus and Jerusalem. Now, we’re finding that he also had a cat with him when climbing the stairs of the palace of Darius and walking the streets of Baghdad. We have no clue, however, about the greyhounds and the English dogs. Perhaps he took them along as gifts for his friends in Tehran?

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