I am always fascinated by the Surinamese nation, since there is so many interconnections between different groups throughout its history. The Tjin-A-Djie family is one example.

Original Name

This comes from the name of a Chinese immigrant named Tjin A Djie, who would help birth a prominent Surinamese family. After he arrived, he earned a license to start developing grocery stores on a plantation. His two sons would eventually start opening their own grocery stores and greatly expanded the family wealth.

Joseph Tjin-A-Djie

It is technically pronounced [chihn-uh-jee]. In the more technical origins, Tjin is actually the original Chinese surname, however it eventually became part of the new surname Tjin-A-Djie, whereas Joseph may have been adopted within the process of Christianization as well as Surinamization.

His son, Rudolf Tjin-A-Djie, would go on to become a proprietor of the gold mines that were discovered in the border between Suriname and French Guiana. He would eventually marry Elizabeth, a Vietnamese-French woman and had nine children.

The descendants are quite diverse, since they have ancestry not from forebears who are Chinese and Vietnamese, but also Scottish, African, Malaysian, Portuguese, indigenous South American, and others. There are many descendants, whether in Suriname itself or in America, as evidenced by their unique surname. The surname also stands out because of the insignia created by Elizabeth, who was an expert in porcelain.

I could not find any sources that are beyond the English translations, which are scarce because they are mostly in Dutch. However, I would hope that there is more focus within the Anglophonic world on this particular family, because they are a testament to the strength of immigrant power and industry.


Image Attribution: Oscar “scar55” Perez. “Rudolph J. Tjin-A-Djie.” Fiverr. FlotsamflipRudolf J. Tjin-A-Djie and Family.” 30 September 2014. CC BY-SA 4.0. Work builds upon original photograph, specifically of Rudolph Tjin-A-Djie.

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