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ABSTRACT

AN ICONOGRAPHICAL INTERPRETATION
OF W.K. DE BRUIN’S ILLUSTRATIONS
IN ROESDI DJEUNG MISNEM

By
Wawan Setiawan
NIM: 27006004
This research examines several drawings by the Dutch illustrator W.K. de
Bruin (1871-1945) which appeared in a four-book series entitled Roesdi djeung
Misnem (Roesdi and Misnem). The books were written in Sundanese by the Dutch
author A.C. Deenik in collaboration with his Sundanese counterpart R. Djajadiredja
(1882-1942) for pre-war elementary school children in West Java.

By viewing these drawings through a visual culture approach, this research
sheds light on the iconographic aspects of visual imagery. Following the three strata
of interpretation of visual works formulated by art historian Erwin Panofsky (1862-
1968), it focuses on the motifs and meanings of these drawings in an iconological
analysis. In doing so, it relates the analysis to broader observations on the
visualization of Sundanese people, nature and culture by Europeans in the colonial era

From the 150 drawings printed in the book, 14 samples have been selected.
They were chosen by purposive sampling associated with the iconographic aspects of
visual imagery. In examining them, this research makes observations about the
imagining of fictional characters and their appearances, everyday life, physical and
social milieu, as well as their customs. The drawings are also analyzed from the
perspective of their implied meanings. They are also compared with other drawings by
the same illustrator and other illustrators.

This research concludes that De Bruin’s attempt to visualize Sundanese people
in their cultural setting relates more or less closely to a European colonial view of
native people in the pre-war era. To a certain extent, his drawings affirm the debasing
view of native people. In any case, De Bruin’s drawings cannot be separated from the
policy of the colonial government of the Dutch East Indies in the field of education for
indigenous people, which aimed to transform them into a culture that would sustain
the stability of colonial order itself.

Key words: iconography, illustration, Sundanese, superiority, visual culture, W.K. de
Bruin

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