Aug 26, 2010

Dead Dutch men and My VOC coins?

As I just wake up from a long slumber of 3 years, there are many intriguing events happening in my life these days, motivating me to write more. During the day when I purchased VOC coins from the old coins shop, I wondered about the source of those coins. When I asked the staff, he said, those coins were from Indonesia (former Dutch East Indies). He added, “These coins had been kept on the eyes of the dead Dutchmen when they were buried in the graveyard. Now that renovations are happening in modern day Indonesia, these graveyards are being dug out and demolished, and that's how we get these coins”. This was certainly exciting to listen, but was a little creepy too..

More research on this makes things even more interesting. In pre-Christian times, coins were used to be placed with the dead, as payment for Charon, the boatman of the Underworld, who ferried souls across the river Styx to the land of the dead.  And those who could not pay the fee had to wander the shores for a hundred years. So, this should have been practiced by the Dutch too. But, wait, why do Indians follow this tradition?! (I refrain myself from posting an Indian corpse with a coin on the forehead for obvious reasons. It’s very creepy already!) Did European colonialists bring this tradition to India? Or do Greek and Indian mythologies share ideas?

Well, other things apart, the most touching event is that after telling all this story to my dad, he was concerned about the origin of the coin, and advised me to smear some holy ash on it (to ward off any evil!). A doctor of his calibre cannot be superstitious. But his advice was on concern and care for his beloved son! 


  1. Last three lines were really touching..& makes me struggle between Science and Superstitions !

  2. Yes, definitely I advised for that and for also another one that is not yet investigated field of science - evils may also rise from the (existing, live) humans themselves having such superstitions!


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