The Magic Dagger of Batavia
The Dutchman Bartholomeus van Robbemond would not have dreamed that his entire life would change when, in 1714, he neared the end of his search for the legendary dagger of Batavia.
As a ship’s boy hired by the Vereenigde Oost-India Company or Dutch East India Company, the young Robbemond had heard of a magical dagger in Batavia. The old sailor’s legend never left the bright adventurer, and so many years later, when he had his own ship, he went in search of the dagger himself.
The dagger, also called a Kris, was an asymmetrical dagger with the magical ability to make its wielder invulnerable. It was also referred to as the reverent ‘Fire Tiger’.
‘It’s enough to turn the blade on someone, his bones become dust and his hair becomes ashes’,
Robbemond wrote in his logbook, among other things.
The legend of the Fire Tiger, which had another name of ‘Harimau Api’, tells the story of a little boy in Sumatra. The boy once rescued a baby tiger from a fire and the two quickly became inseparable friends. But when, many years later, the boy’s tribe was attacked, the tiger died in battle as he protected the boy. Reflecting on revenge and protecting his tribe, the boy asked the gods for help. He was told that he should build a big fire, from which the tiger would be resurrected. The boy followed the instruction and indeed the spirit of his tiger friend rose from the flames, carrying a dagger in his mouth. The boy grew into a young man who would use the dagger to defend his village against other attackers. He was appointed chief of the tribe and bore the name of the Tiger King, his people being called the Tiger Warriors. When, after many decades, the Tiger King died, the indestructible dagger was hidden in a temple in the jungle so that it would never fall into the wrong hands.
When van Robbemond came into possession of a map with the exact location of the dagger, he could finally uncover the legend which had fascinated him since he was a child. He also wanted to find the dagger before adversary Cortez, who only sought to abuse the magical powers of the dagger for his own purposes.
Van Robbemond made it to Batavia ahead of Cortez and fought his way through the jungle past tigers until he finally held the Harimau Api in his hands and later stored it.
These exciting events would change van Robbemond’s worldview forever, and ultimately lead to the founding of ACE. The VOC logo is still recognisable in the weathered wood of the dagger’s case, even after all these years.
For hours, one of the co-founders of the ACE, Frederik Hornung, stared at the logo, viewing it from all directions. Finally, in a trance, he designed the logo that still stands for the Adventure Club of Europe – it is said that the brainchild burst forth from him, as he looked upon VOC logo…
The pirates set course for Batavia… To be continued!