Category: History/Culture

Zheng He

Zheng He, The Chinese Muslim Eunuch

Zheng He is renowned today as a great explorer, honoured by both Chinese and Muslims throughout South East Asia. But while his name may be familiar, details of his...

119. Kaarspellers: A photograph taken by Jean Demmeni showing gambling in central Java (circa 1911) - courtesy of Bartele Gallery

Uneasy Money

Gambling, like prostitution and corruption, is an age-old vice that is part of Indonesia’s culture. Despite being criminalized in the 1970s, the gaming industry is...

De Boroboedoer

Treading in Jogjakarta’s Ancient History

Jogjakarta and its Hill of Stones Anyone with but the flimsiest knowledge of Indonesia will know the pivotal role Jogjakarta has played. In culture, in rebellion, in...

Plate 2.1

How Indonesia’s Spices Unrolled the Map of the World

  As Indonesia prepares to celebrate 66 years of independence it is an appropriate moment to turn the clock back 560 years to the middle of the 15th century, before...

Bung Karno and Sudjojono

Art and Revolution

S. Sudjojono, 1913-1986 One of the ultimate tools of revolution is art. So, too, revolution ideas often stimulate revolutionary visuals – posters and icons that embody...

Photo courtesy of Bartele Gallery

Did You Know…?

In 1602 eight early British expats were dropped off in what is now known as Banten Lama by the first voyage of the East India Company. They were told to make money and...

Majapahit Piggy Bank

The Origins of the Piggy Bank

In the west the Piggy Bank has long been a time-honoured rite of passage, a whimsical but didactic tool for inculcating children with the benefits of saving. While today...

Children enjoying the lake at Setu Babakan

Staying in Town for the Holidays?

Let’s face it, Julia Roberts’ “Eat Pray Love” was just way too glib to get the old heart racing. An airbrushed, one-dimensional view of spiritual...

Gereja Sion in 1695

Geraja Sion

Back in the middle of the 17th century, Jl. Pangeran Jayakarta was one of Batavia’s hottest addresses. It was a wide, spacious boulevard so beloved of colonials who...

Chinese temple

Batavia – A Chinese Town Under Dutch Rule

No-one knows when the Chinese first hit what was to become Jakarta. Certainly, when the Dutch first arrived, in 1596, they found Chinese merchants manufacturing arak...