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STRUYS, Jan Janszoon. Les Voyages de Iean Struys en Moscovie, en Tartarie, aux Indes et en d'autres pays étrangers, Amsterdam, Chez la Veuve Iacob van Meurs, 1681.

Flemish artist Jan Jansen Struys (c. 1630-1694) was a sailmaker in his native city. He started travelling from a very young age. With intervals, his travels cover the years from 1647 to 1673.

According to the information he provides himself, in the chronicle of his first voyage he describes all the islands of Cabo Verde, Madagascar, Siam and Japan. Struys made his second voyage four years after the first. He travelled to Italy, where he joined the Venetian army in the war against the Ottomans. In his third journey he reached Russia, Persia and Arabia. During his travels, Struys became captive to the Muslims, sought refuge in foreign services and finally served the Venetians.

His work was first published in Flemish in 1676. His chronicle is replete with confusion and is full of paradoxes, albeit laid out with talent and imagination. Some of its few engravings are found in other travel works under a different title. Struys’ text is at times detailed and thorough, and at others diffuse and lacking in documentation. Like many travellers of the modern era, he evidently possesses no scholarly education, and is somehow fanciful, quite curious and in any case tireless.

In 1656-57 Struys visited Crete, Lesbos, Tenedos, Patmos, Zakynthos, Cythera and maybe Delos. One of the curiosities in his chronicle is the plate in which a view of an island with antiquities in plain sight, clearly reminiscent of Delos, is titled “Island of Delphi”, while a “Mount Parnassus” is mentioned in the legend of the picture. Thus one can see ancient temples and ruins in a port with modern buildings, buzzing with movement. In this picture, all these elements become an occasion to represent the idea of a location.

Struys' views of Tinos and Patmos are highly interesting in this respect. The actual geography and morphology of both islands and the placement of their settlements point us to to the conclusion that the view of Patmos is in reality a depiction of Tinos and vice versa.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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