Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The History of Pecinan (Chinatown) of Semarang

Klenteng Tay Kak Sie, the oldest confucian temple in the chinatown of Semarang.
The Chinese and Semarang city, have a good relation for a hundred years ago. Since, the Semarang city is the main harbour for Demak Kingdom, so many of foreign traders come to this city, like arabic, chinese, and Indian. The story of the chinese in Semarang firstly note on the history since the crew of Admiral zheng he great voyages, are brethed in Semarang due to linked the trade relations between chinese and the kingdoms in Java Island. Then they made a settlement around Simongan completed with mosque and shrine. Many people believe, this was the first chinese region in Semarang.

The Chinese English School, now is used by SMAN 5
Semarang. (source:
The relationship between the Chinese and the native people was good, until they cooperate to revolts againts the dutch in 1740. Since the dutch controlling the trade in Indonesia, many chinese and native people have difficulties to trade. Then the excalation become high in the city of Batavia (Jakarta), because of was the fear in the highest ranks of the VOC (Veerenidge Ost Compagnie, the dutch trade company) prevailed for some time that the continuous uprising unemployed Chinese workers on the sugar plantations in the districts of Batavia might spread to large groups of more affluent and better-organized Chinese traders and artisans within the walls of the city.

The Chinesse start to attacking the military post of VOC, helped by the native, the Batavia become so chaos. Fear of the condition become worst, The Governor-General Adriaan Valckenier, ordered mass killing in the village outskirt of Batavia. At least 10.000 people died in Batavia. The clashes eventually spread out especially in major cities in Java Island like, Semarang, Cheribon, Surabaya, Rembang, and so on.  The rebels are retreated from Batavia, runs out to the east, and they burnt and attacked every Dutch post and plantation. Lack of organization and weapons, finaly the Dutch could defeated it. They stregthen their post and fortrees along the north coast of Java. The Dutch also separated the settlements of native and chinesse. Then,  the separation of the Chinese and the Native begun.

The chinese funeral ceremony in Candi, Semarang taken
on 1904. (source: tropenmuseum)
The Chinese people become centered in one region, called pecinan (Chinese quarter), maybe it will be looks like the concentration camp at that moment. Also in Semarang, that situated in the banks of Semarang river, now we know as pecinan (chinese quarter). The VOC controlled the pecinan of semarang with the patrol of the cavalry every nite, through the banks of the river that surrounded the neigborhood, then now we known as jalan inspeksi (eng: inspection street). The chinesse couldnt leave the neigborhood without a permission. So, the living of chinesse people in Semarang at that time just concentrated on there, so they built school, market, crematorium, and temple to support their daily. Many of them are still existed nowadays like pasar senggol(market), tay kak sie temple, . Then after the VOC bankrupt and the Indonesia directly become the colony of the Dutch in 1799, many chinese heve a good relation with the government, and the culmination was the Dutch government allowed the chinesse to residence outside the chinesse quarter in the middle of 19 century. Since that moment a lot of building in the neigborhood become abandoned or torned down.

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