Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn

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Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn, S German born in 1809 in Mansfeld, was one of the great naturalist researchers of the 19th century. Called “The Humboldt of Java,” Junghuhn published his comprehensive account of the island entitled Java in 1853/54 in Dutch. It is a work comparable in scope and significance to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles’ famous History of Java. [More...] From the outset, Junghuhn’s main interest was in botany, but his father wanted him to become a medical doctor. As ajunghuhn university student, he was involved in a duel and was sentenced to ten years in jail in 1831. By pretending insanity, however, he managed to escape in 1833, went on to join the French Foreign Legion and was briefly stationed in Algeria. He returned to Paris where the famous botanist Persoon advised him to enter the Dutch colonial service and go to the East Indies.

Once there, Junghuhn concentrated on botanical, zoological and geographical studies. He traveled extensively through the Preanger region, climbed most of West Java’s volcanoes, and in 1845 published his first book, Topographical and Natural Science Journeys through Java. His account vividly relates the difficulties of scientific research at that time-the tropical climate, the impenetrable jungles, and the inaccessibility of large tracts of land. His book also contains many of his beautiful drawings.

From 1855 onward Junghuhn devoted himself largely t the introduction of cinchona (quinine) tree in West Java, a venture that encountered a great many difficulties before finally succeeding. His first plantations were at Cibodas (Mt. Gede) and Pangalengan (Mt. Malabar), eventually quinine plantations thrived in many parts of the Preanger region.

Junghuhn’s intense involvement with the natural world is summed up in his profession of faith: “There is only one revelation and that is nature.”

Junghuhn died in 1864 and was buried in Lembang.

Compiled from: All Around Bandung, Gottfried Roelcke, Gary Crabb

Bandung Society for Heritage Conservation

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