Confesso não gostar de fazer conferências amarrado a um papel. Tenho por hábito correr o risco da aventura do discurso solto e não deixar de olhar a assistência nos olhos. Assim o voltei a fazer na Universidade Chulalongkorn de Bangkok numa palestra subordinada ao tema "O Império Invisível das lusotopias mestiças na Ásia, séculos XVII-XX". Como ainda não fixei o texto da comunicação então feita, aqui deixo ao interessados as principais linhas da intervenção, pedindo desculpas pelo laconismo de algumas passagens mais impressionistas, que ganharão decerto substância no acto da escrita. Trata-se de mera sucessão de tópicos.
The invisible empire: half-caste lusotopia in Southeast Asia (17th - 20th centuries)
Iit was not understood nor perceived as such neither by its members nor by the people among which they lived, but it worked as a powerful clientele network, of affections and defence of a certain idea of universal fraternity.
Portuguese lusotopias identified themselves with a State present in the continent (Portugal) and were linked to it by bonds, vague but powerful, of cultural, linguistic and mainly religious loyalty. All these self-proclaimed Portuguese, being or not European Portuguese descendants, they identified their difference and self-genesis as a group invoking the legacy - real or mythical - of a "bearded man.
Generic exonyms of the inhabitants of Portuguese Bandel:
Feringi (India), - Farang (Siam), - Ferengi (Malay peninsula), Falangxi (China) …but also exonyms containing some specific characterization: Bengali Puthe (white from Bengal), Nasrani (Nazarene), Serani among the Malays, Gwailo (ghosts) for the Cantonese language, Nanbanjin (barbarians from the south) for Japanese, Gora (Nepal).
Protukét (Siam), or “Portugueses de Sião”, Portugis (under dutch rule), Kristang or Kristang People (Malay peninsula) or Gente Cristã , Hoalang (Vietnam) and Krisatang (Cambodia, before and after the French Protectorate).
The Bandel “บันแดล์”
The basic unit of this Invisible Empire is the Bandel or Kampong: villages and settlements of variable dimension and population density existing mainly in the sea front of southern Asia and Southeast Asia, and occupied by religiously homogeneous populations. Bandel and Kampong could, therefore, be isolated villages, but also neighbourhoods set in peri-urban areas.
Autocephalous and possessing a social structure centred in the nuclear family, these settlements had a clear economical and productive specialisation that transformed them in social units different from their neighbours.
Under the supervision of one or more chiefs (Capitão) / ผู้ใหญ่บ้าน
Lower administrative level: settlement, Thai village: หมู่บ้าน (ex. Conception in Bangkok).
Medium administrative level. Thai district: อำเภอ (ex. Bandel dos Portugueses de Ayutthaya).
Initially, the bandel of Ayutthaya was spontaneous, product of the settlement of a handful of Portuguese, but later established close cooperation with the State of India (Estado da Índia), that lasted at least until the beginning of 18th Century.
Double loyalty; loyalty to the local sovereign, that they served and in exchange ensured them liberties in the context of the sakdina; loyalty to the King of Portugal, Patron and protector of Asian Christianity.
The Portuguese Bandel in Ayutthaya
Was the biggest and most consistent Portuguese establishment in the Region.
Become into a refugee centre from catholic people from Malacca, Makassar and other former Portuguese possessions.
Populated by African-Indian, India-Malay, Japanes-Portuguese and Chinese-Indian and Peguan-Portuguese and Portuguese-Siamese.
Franciscan chapel, the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Our Lady of the Rosary), of Dominicans, the Jesuit church of São Paulo (Saint Paul) and the home-seminar (“seminário).
Brotherhoods: Confraria do Santo Nome de Jesus; Confraria de Santo António; Confraria de Nossa Senhora da Conceição; Confraria de Nossa Senhora do Rosário.
The population, subject of the King of Siam, was part of the Sakdina social regime in the condition of Phrai Luang, (พลายหลวง).
Some privileges inherent to the condition of religious minority (ex. authorised to let their hair grow; don’t need to have หัวจุก ; authorised to rest on Sundays; excused from fulfilling any religious obligations destined to Buddhists …but obliged to the annual allegiance vow to the Sovereign, a ceremony only required from higher officials.
This community was marked by a strong cultural duality.
Was a strategic social group that performed specific roles in the city: soldiers, pilots, translators.
Under the supervision of Krom Tha: pilots and interpreters.
Under the supervision of Kalahom: as soldiers in units equipped with individual fire arms, or as artillerymen (ทหารเมืองฝรั่ง), serving in the second advanced corps commanded by the Phrya Viset Songkram.
Phrya Viset Songkram was authorised to wear trousers and a hat. He had, as general officer, the privilege of being covered with a parasol. In times of peace, “foreigners” had the task of maintaining firearms – rifles and artillery pieces – to serve as musicians in royal processions and organise cremation ceremonies of the royal family.
The “Protukét” villages in Bangkok. Early Bangkok period.
Bangkok /Azeitão = กอก = olive orchard
Early Bangkok period: Protukét would be around 3500 in the capital (c. 2% of Bangok population).
Three different communities:
1. Santa Cruz (Holly Cross) of Thonburi. Given by King Taksin to the Protukét.
In the 1830's there would be around 500 residents in the parish.
It was located in front of the new royal citadel and the vibrating Chinese trading neighbourhood of Sampeng, the commercial lung of Siam.
The kampong shared an artificial island crossed by a canal with the Palace of Kalahom, the all mighty Minister of South or Minister of War. At its left, a little more than a kilometre north, there was the ท่าช้าง (Quay), the port for royal barges and the arsenal of the capital. Also at its left, distant little more than 500 metres, the residence of the Prince Wongsa (1808-1871).
The men in the community were divided in three professional groups: doctors, interpreters and soldiers: that is, the functions required for the maintenance of the fort, the residences of the กลาโหม and Prince Wongsa (Krom Luang Wongsa Dhiraj Snid), as well as the quay. Everything indicates that custom officials at the port, rowers in State barges, the interpreters that we find in the accounts of European missions to Siam - namely José da Piedade – and the deputies of the governor of the mouth (ปากน้ำ) were from Santa Cruz.
2. Parish of the Imaculada Conceição (Immaculate Conception). Given to the Portuguese Patronage and later taken by French Missionaries.
Located in Samsen, north of the political-administrative and religious complex of the Royal City of Bangkok and exists since the 17th century, being the cradle of the current Thai capital.
The field counted 700 Christians in late 1830's and was under the authority of a general officer of the army. It was an entirely military kampong. The Camp was under the authority of a หัวหน้ากอง (Brigadear).
1786, it received a great contingent of Khmer – c. 450 people – and in 1834, another group of refugees of the Khmer-Portuguese ethnic group arrived to the field during the war between Siam and Vietnam for the control of Cambodia. During 1840’s also arrived some hundreds of Hoalang Vietnamese: the fields of Saint Francis Xavier and Ban Yuan.
Outside of duty, they sold chickens, hunted otters and Nok Katen, whose plumage they sold. Some had little groceries. Women and old people made fishing nets and raised pigs that they then sold to Chinese.
Christians from the Conception were, for sure, the most fervent of the Mission in Siam, much praised in the annual letters from French priests for their religious zeal and dedication to religious obligations. The majority of the population was distributed by three brotherhoods of the parish: the Brotherhood of the Holy Sacrament Santo Sacramento), the Brotherhood of the Holly Virgin (Santa Virgem) and the Third Order of Saint Francis (Ordem Terceira de São Francisco).
There was, immediately, a differentiation between “those that live near the river” and “those that live inland”, an invisible frontier, very pronounced still today, between those that "founded the village" and those "that came later".
3. Rosary was located near the seat of the Catholic diocese of Siam, situated in Bang Rak. Given by King Rama I to the Queen of Portugal (1786) and later taken by the French Missionaries.
When occured the so called Crisis of Two Palaces / วิกฤตการณ์วังหน้า (December 1875 - February 1875), the Protukét obeyed, of course, to the command line and kept allegiance to Krom Phra Rajawang Bovorn Vichaichan (กรมพระราชวังบวรวิไชยชาญ). In the late 1870s, the positions achieved by Protukét had been severely undermined.
Portuguese in Siam (2th half of XIX Century)
Migratory flow from Macao. The largest Western community in Siam (1870’s).
Well-educated and skilled immigrants. (ex. the first Philharmonic Society was established in Bangkok by Portuguese in 1899).
Commercial companies (ex. D’Almeida & Co, Comission Agents).
Portuguese occupying a senior position in European companies (ex. J.S. Parker, Pickenpack Thies and Co, Agency of Russel and Co, William Anthom and Co, Rémi Schmidt & Co.).
Entrepreneurs in the lumber business, export of rice, alcohol production, horticulture and floriculture (Mr. José de Almeida, from Singapore: invited by King Chulalogkorn to be the responsible for royal gardens).
Other Portuguese subjects: Chinese from Macao holding Portuguese passports.
Portuguese working in Thai government: Celestino Maria Xavier (1863-1922), Luang Chamnong Dithakar, later Phraya Phiphat Kosa, Royal Commission for International Fairs, Ambassador to Italy and Ambassador to the League of the Nations.
...but also many Portuguese advisors: judges, lawyers, merchant navy officers and officers of the Navy, Customs officers.