Tinco Lycklama met Mehmed Namik Pasha in the month of February 1867, in Baghdad. At that time, the Pasha was the governor of Baghdad and of its whole province. He gave Tinco full support for the continuation of his travel plans – including a special passport and personal letters that Tinco would use wherever he went throughout the Ottoman empire.
The Pasha is considered as one of the most influential Ottoman statesmen of all times, who has made an indelible imprint on Ottoman politics throughout the 19th century.
The title is misleading. Purposefully so, because it points towards the hidden stories behind Tinco’s life (which we seek to unravel).
We know that Tinco Lycklama brought oriental rugs from Persia. Some have survived, and some have vanished (and may be still in some collection, somewhere). We don’t know (yet) if they were from Ziegler, but they may have been.
But, anyway, who was Ziegler?
We’re still in Tabriz, hundred fifty years ago. Tinco arrived in that city on 8 April, 1866. One of his first and most important visits was one out of necessity. He had to meet Mr. Würth.
Back in Tiflis, a local Russian merchant – who also performed banking functions – had provided Tinco with papers that would facilitate assistance – and money! – from Mr Würth in Tabriz. Würth was involved in import/export in all sorts of goods – one of the very few foreign operators in this bustling merchant city (the most important center of commerce, after Tehran). Würth was also some sort of banker. And… he was Swiss. He was an associate of Mr. Feidinger, another Swiss national. Tinco writes that both gentleman were extremely helpful and of the most agreeable company. After doing their business, Würth and his wife welcomed Tinco for dinner at their ‘country home’, not far outside Tabriz’ city walls. There, two more Swiss attended the dinner, Messrs. Meili and Bauman – both Swiss nationals, once again. Tinco also met with the Russian consul-general Stoupine (and his wife), as well as the British consul-general Keith Edward Abbott, who was the dean of the European community at Tabriz at that time.
The story of the Swiss in Persia is interesting. Very little documentation seems to survive, but some researchers estimate that between 10-15% of all exports from Persia came through Swiss traders. In fact, some Swiss were in Persia as early as the 17th century (does it surprise if we say those early Swiss were clockmakers?). Even Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689), one of Tinco’s inspirations, came to Persia in the company of a Swiss maker of jewels and clocks, Hans Rudolf Stadler (from Zürich).
Whereas Tinco doesn’t mention it (as it happened a few years after his travels in Persia) Mr. Würth and Mr. Baumann actually formed the Tabriz branch of Ziegler & Cie – a Swiss company that focused on trade with Persia – as early as 1869. In fact, they invested heavily in the rug trade and introduced production and logistical systems that enabled the Persians to manufacture carpets on a near-industrial scale. Through Ziegler’s international business set-up, these carpets ended up all over the world – and Ziegler carpets are still associated with the western perception of what oriental rugs are about.
Interestingly, in 1874, a Dutch company by the name of J.C.P. Hotz & Zoon set up the “Vennootschap Perzische Handelsvereeniging” (Persian Trade Association). The son, Albertus Paulus Hermanus Hotz (1855-1930), was only nineteen when he travelled to Persia in 1874 – coincidently staying at many of the places that Tinco had visited just a few years earlier. From 1876 onwards, Hotz developed a range of activities, mainly in carpets and banking. Given the attention given to the publication of Tinco’s travel writings (between 1871-1874), it is hard to imagine that the Hotz would not have been aware of Tinco’s travels. They may even have met Tinco for advice, as he was the only living Dutchman to have traveled the region and having business contacts on the ground (such as Würth and Baumann, and through them the Ziegler company). The first Dutch consul-general in Persia, Richard Christian Keun van Hoogerwoerd (1838-1906), arrived in 1868, and Tinco left Persia one year before, but there is a solid chance that both have been in contact afterwards. In fact, it was consul Keun van Hoogerwoerd who advised Hotz early on to establish a business in Persia.
Tinco may or may not have bought carpets through Würth and Ziegler. But, he had a close connection to people involved in the industrialisation and internationalisation of the Persian carpet industry. Possibly, another interesting axis for investigation.
Some background information:
About Ziegler & Cie. on Wikipedia… (also check the page in other languages)
Etemad, Bouda : “Une maison suisse de commerce en Perse: Ziegler & Cie (1860-1934)”, in Revue Suisse d’Histoire, 1987 (see document…)
Witkam, Jan Just : “Albert Hotz and his Photographs from Iran: an Introduction to the Leiden Collection”, in “Iran and Iranian Studies”, edited by Kambiz Eslami, Zagros Press, Princeton, 1998 (see document…)
The Emir Abd el-Kader, “el Djezairi”, was an iconic Algerian religious and military leader who opposed French colonial aspirations in Algeria. (For further reading about Abd el -Kader, please continue to his Wikipedia page…).
Tinco Lycklama met Abd-el-Kader in Damascus, on 27 June 1868. It is presently unclear why exactly Tinco wished to meet with him, except if only by a personal fascination to meet this remarkable man. It is, however, possible that Abd el-Kader provided Tinco with an introduction to Lady Digby (Jane Ellenborough), who would procure Tinco with the necessary guidance to be able and travel the dangerous routes to reach Palmyra. (This will be further examined).
Below the picture of Abd el-Kader, a transcription of the original passage (in French) about Tinco’s encounter with Abd el-Kader.
Je m’étais proposé de rendre visite à l’émir Abd-elKader qui, après s’être illustré dans la défense héroïque du sol de sa patrie avait encore ajouté à sa réputation par sa conduite généreuse à l’égard des chrétiens, lors des massacres de Damas où il avait pris sa retraite. Il accueillait volontiers les Européens, et lui ayant, dans la matinée, fait demander de me recevoir, j’en reçus l’invitation de me présenter chez lui le même jour à cinq heures.
L’Émir occupait une grande maison semblable à toutes celles de la ville, sans la moindre apparence extérieure. Entré par la petite porte, je me trouvai dans une vaste cour, avec fontaine de marbre au milieu, ombragée de beaux arbres. Les soldats de la garde algérienne, amenée d’Afrique par Abd-el-Kader, allaient et venaient. Ce fut l’un des officiers qui m’introduisit auprès de l’Emir, lequel me reçut dans une salle basse située au fond de la cour, et simplement meublée de divans en étoffes de Damas : au-dessus étaient fixées, sur les murs, de fort belles armes. L’un des kawas du consulat de France me servait d’interprète. On connaît la réserve proverbiale d’Abd-el-Kader. Après les premiers compliments, où j’eus soin de rappeler le souvenir de sa belle conduite à l’égard des chrétiens, l’Emir m’adressa quelques questions sur mon pays, qui me permirent de juger qu’il n’ignorait rien de la situation respective des diverses nations européennes. Je lui dis que je connaissais l’Algérie, que j’avais visitée deux fois ; mais c’était l’un des sujets dont il aimait le moins à parler. Il changea de conversation, et la mit avec beaucoup d’aisance sur mes voyages, dont je lui fis l’itinéraire en quelques mots. Les noms de Bagdad, de Couffah et de Kerbélah me parurent le frapper surtout, et je dus satisfaire sa curiosité de zélé musulman à l’égard de ces lieux célèbres dans l’histoire de l’islamisme. Cette entrevue avait duré une demi-heure; je crus le moment venu de prendre congé. L’Émir se leva, et me donnant la main à l’européenne : « Je vous remercie, me dit-il, d’avoir pensé à un exilé; je ne vous reverrai plus, mais mes vœux vous suivront; que la protection divine soit avec vous! »
D’autres ont parlé de la personne d’Abd-el-Kader ; je ne puis que confirmer ce qu’on a dit de la finesse de sa physionomie et de la grâce de ses manières. Sa parole était grave et douce; c’est à son regard plein d’assurance et d’autorité qu’on reconnaissait surtout l’homme fait pour commander et entraîner les autres.
Klaas Willems Wierda (Bolsward, 19 January 1824 – Aengwirden, 11 March 1889)
Klaas Willems Wierda was an administator of the business interests of Tinco Lycklama. “Administrator” is indicated as his occupation in his death record. Previously, he was a bailiff (“deurwaarden”) on behalf of the court of justice at Heerenveen. He resigned from this position 1 March 1878 (as reported in De Standaard on 16 Februari 1878, see record below).
Klaas Willems Wierda was living at Fok 27, Heerenveen
Burgerlijke Stand Bolsward – Tresoar
Pierre Tetar van Elven was a member of a family of artists. He met Tinco Lycklama in France, and accompanied him on travel to the Middle East. He produced a few portraits for Tinco, including a portrayal of a “Réception et bal travesti dans les salons du baron de Lycklama, février 1874” at Villa Escarras, Cannes.