Two photo Albums from Chinatown in Jakarta

Although there are remnants of Buddhist belief amongst the Javanese themselves, and some remote communities still maintain their traditional allegiance, the majority of people identifying as Buddhist in Indonesia are of Chinese ethnicity.

The Chinese have a long history of mercantile relations with Indonesia, of course, going back to the Middle Ages, but they and came and settled in numbers only from around the 17th century onwards.

Many were merchants who made their fortunes and became leaders of Chinese Society in Indonesia, and were recognised as such by the Dutch colonial government. One such leader was Mr. Xu Jin Zhuan, who built what is now known as the Chandra Naya building in central Jakarta.

The building is fairly modest as it now stands, and what sets it apart is the fact that it remains standing in what is now the heart of a shopping and residential complex, with malls and skyscrapers all round.

I photographed the building in its surroundings and the charming Peking Opera masks hanging on the wall there, before we made our way to Chinatown proper, and a series of small traditional Chinese Temples.

We walked round most of these temples as the roads were tiny, and the Temples were anyway all quite close together in this packed neighbourhood.

Most of the Temples we saw were of the mixed variety, having both Taoist, Confucian as well as Buddhist elements, which is common throughout SE Asia.

One of the Temples I managed to get access to to photograph had recently burnt down, and I found one four-letter sign on a still standing wall, which was later translated for me as meaning The Moment of Consciousness before Death, which seemed an apt reminder on a burnt out Temple.

 

 




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