Jacobus Bontius

Jacobus Bontius

Jacobus Bontius (Jacob de Bondt) (1592, in Leiden – 30 November 1631, in Batavia, Dutch East Indies) was a Dutch physician and a pioneer of tropical medicine. He is known for the four-volume work De medicina Indorum. His 1631 work "Historiae naturalis et medicae Indiae orientalis" introduced the word "Orang Hutan" into Western languages.[1]


Bontius was born in Leiden, the youngest child of eight of the physician Gerard de Bondt / Gerardus Bontius (1536–1599), professor at Leiden University. Amongst his brothers were Reinier de Bondt / Regnerus Bontius (1576–1623), court physician to Maurice of Nassau, and Willem de Bondt / Wilhelmus Bontius, law professor at Leiden University.[2]

Jacobus graduated M.D. from Leiden in 1614. He sailed to the East Indies with Jan Pieterszoon Coen, for the Dutch East India Company.[3]

De medicina Indorum (1642)

Bontius' medical observations were published after his death. They include what is recognized as the first medical description of beriberi.[4] He reported on the dysentery epidemic in Java in 1628.[5] The second edition of 1658, put together by Willem Piso, was expanded and included material by Piso on the Americas.[6]


  1. ^ Dellios, Paulette. 2008 "A lexical odyssey from the Malay World." Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages 23:1
  2. ^ G. W. Bruyn and Charles M. Poser, The History of Tropical Neurology: Nutritional Disorders (2003), pp. 1-3; Google Books
  3. ^ [1] The National Herbarium
  4. ^ David W. McCandless, Thiamine Deficiency and Associated Clinical Disorders (2009), p. 31; Google Books
  5. ^ Abhay Kumar Singh, Modern World System and Indian Proto-Industrialization: Bengal 1650-1800 (2006), p. 682; Google Books
  6. ^ Donald F. Lach and Edwin J. Van Kley, Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III: A Century of Advance. Book 1 (1998), p. 457; Google Books