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Mass wedding ceremony of Benteng Chinese, Jakarta 2012.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Peranakan Malay, Hokkien language, Indonesian language|
|Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Peranakan, Chinese Indonesian|
Benteng Chinese (Bahasa Indonesia: Cina Benteng or Tionghoa Benteng) are a Chinese-Indonesian community of 'Peranakan' or mixed descent, native to the historic Tangerang area in the modern-day Indonesian provinces of Jakarta, Banten and West Java.
The name 'Benteng' is derived from the Malay word for 'fortress', used formerly to refer to the historic Tangerang area. It refers to a colonial fortress on the banks of the Cisadane River, built by the Dutch East India Company in the seventeenth century as part of their defence system against the neighbouring Sultanate of Banten.
According to a Sundanese manuscript Tina Layang Parahyang (Notes from Parahyangan), the Chinese community of Batavia and Tangerang has existed since at least 1407 CE. This manuscript recounts the arrival of among the earliest Chinese migrants to the area, led by a certain Tjen Tjie Lung, also dubbed 'Halung'. They landed at the mouth of the Cisadane river, now called Teluk Naga (Dragon's Bay).
Subsequent waves of Chinese immigration from the seventeenth century onwards took place under the auspices of the Dutch East India Company. Boen Tek Bio, the oldest Chinese temple in Tangerang, was built by the community in 1684. Some Benteng Chinese trace their origin to those fleeing Batavia during the Chinese Massacre of 1740.
Many ethnic-Chinese allies and officials of the Dutch colonial authorities held office (see: Kapitan Cina), and owned landed estates (particuliere landerijen) in the historic Tangerang area. The historian Mona Lohanda, herself a Benteng Chinese, goes so far as to say that "Tangerang was practically a Chinese private domain" (p. 258). These landlords and bureaucrats also sponsored a large-scale migration of Chinese indentured laborers, who played a crucial role in the agricultural and economic development of the region.
In the Indonesian Revolution from 1945 to 1949, tension rose between indigenous Indonesians and Benteng Chinese, who were perceived to be in favour of the Dutch colonial status quo. On 23 June 1946, riots targeting Benteng Chinese homes broke out in Tangerang, where revolutionary militiamen sympathetic to the Indonesian republican cause looted Chinese possessions, including Chinese prayer tables. These riots were apparently triggered by placement of an Indonesian flag with a Dutch flag by a Dutch colonial army soldier of Chinese descent.
Indonesian journalist Rosihan Anwar wrote in the Merdeka daily on 13 June 1946 that relationship between native and Chinese Indonesians had reached an all-time low. Conditions worsened after Pao An Tui, a pro-Dutch Benteng Chinese youth group, mobilized armed groups to evacuate Benteng Chinese residents to Batavia. Anti-Chinese rioting was successfully suppressed by the alliance of Pao An Tui and Dutch colonial troops.
At the time, nearly the entire Benteng Chinese population was displaced, and upon returning, they found that their properties were no longer intact: their land holdings had been confiscated or their homes had been looted.
The traditional dress of the Benteng Chinese is a mixture of the Chinese traditional dress mostly of Hokkien heritage and the Betawi traditional dress. The males wear a black shirt and long pants with a traditional hat in conical shape. The female dress called 'hwa kun' is a blouse with headdress and veil. An alternative costume is the 'kebaya encim' of Peranakan heritage.
Benteng Chinese culture today is a mixture of Betawi and Chinese cultures. One example is cokek, a dance featuring a male and female couple set to gambang kromong music. Religiously, the Benteng Chinese adhere to Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Protestantism, ancestor worship, and few adhere to Islam.
Even if most Benteng Chinese do not speak Chinese language, they maintain Chinese traditions including the use of Qing wedding costumes.
Notable people with Benteng Chinese heritage or ties include: