Historical knowledge

First Indian–Danish contact, 1620

This article focuses on the complications involved in the very first Indian–Danish cultural encounter leading to the establishment of the Danish trading station in Tharangampadi or Trangebare as it was called by the Danes in 1620. The analysis is based on the report sent to the Danish King Christian IV by his envoy Ove Giedde on his return from India. It begins with a description of the voyage to the East Indies in order to introduce the reader to the troubles, aspirations, and actors from the Danish side. The friction created when the Danes encountered the aspirations of Raghunatha Nayak of Thanjavur and the role of the gift is analysed next. The conclusion is that the south Indian partner of the encounter is rather cross-culturally experienced and actually eager to allow the Danes to settle in the area. The analytical perspective on the encounter is concentrated on events described by Ove Giedde. The focus is on the actual meetings in 1620, of agents with disparate cultural backgrounds and aspirations and who in their grappling with one another create a contact zone of new forms of social interaction.

Fihl, Esther. (2009). “Shipwrecked on the Coromandel: The first Indo–Danish contact, 1620”, in Esther Fihl and A.R. Venkatachalapathy (eds.), Cultural Encounters in Tranquebar: Past and Present. Special issue of Review of Development and Change: Vol. XIV no. 1-2.

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