POST D- Documentary: China Benteng- A Poetry

This documentary looks to capture parts of the vibrant life of the Chinese Benteng community. The filmmaker explains at the beginning this minority group referred to a community of Chinese Indonesians residing in Tangerang Area, in the province of Banen. Which was one occupied by the Dutch colonists. They have been known to live there since 1407 CE. This post will follow on the various lifestyles lead by this mix cultural populace and try to understand their perspective in short.

Keep in mind the people living in Tangerang are mostly farmers who have been following the family business since their arrival to the land and are quite isolated in the sense, by their environment; which is mostly of pastures, livestock and green-calm surrounding which in comparison to a rough, crowded, loud city life of Jakarta (Donenfeld, J 2013) which is an hours away. What’s more interesting is the fact the Benteng Chinese upholds to both the old Chinese and Betwai traditions which has been passed down from generations to generations like that of Lim Tjoan a 75 year old farmer who have retired from farming with his “…field work is now handled by my children” (Leo. P.J 2012), which is quite impressive in this day and age where many of the traditional understanding and knowledge is lost as new technologies and influences take its place. This show of cultural richness is further evidently shown at the start of the video where the people celebrate the ‘Dragon Boat’ festival, which started 2300 years ago when the Chou Dynasty ruled China (1122 – 256 BC) and has been celebrated to this very day as rememberence. And if you look in further there is a second layer of family traditions showcased when the “bride is combed by her brother three times in a row” (TheKotatua 2013, 9:20) a ritual with the filmmaker explaining that each comb has a meaning. In other times there is the traditional values that you hold on to as an individual which is shown in the video when the ducks are released into the water and the “people jumps into the river to catch ducks, which is believed will bring luck” (TheKotatua 2013, 22:43). It seems absurd to watch these occurrences being performed but if you look closely at its core reasoning, a sense of unity can be seen being bought to the community. It echoes togetherness and show of strength in a mental and physical sense towards the hardships and suppression the people of Tangerang had to endure over the past.

Participants of one of the dragon boats winning the race.
Participants of one of the dragon boats winning the race.

Today the Benteng Chinese culture is a mixture of Chinese and Betwai cultures, the Betwai being the indigenous people of Jakarta. These ties of mix tradition encourages a lifestyle which can be challenging but at the same time interesting to live by. Never the less there is no compromise for togetherness and that’s the key that holds this community together.

References

Donenfeld. J 2013, Back to City Life in Jakarta, Indonesia, weblog, viewed on 30 April 2015 <http://jeffreydonenfeld.com/blog/2013/04/back-to-city-life-in-jakarta-indonesia/ >

Leo. P.J 2012, ‘The life of Benteng Chinese’, The Jakarta Post, online, Jakarta, viewed on 30 April 2015 < http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/03/31/the-life-benteng-chinese.html&gt;

Donenfeld. J 2013, Back to City Life in Jakarta, Indonesia, weblog, viewed on 30 April 2015 <http://jeffreydonenfeld.com/blog/2013/04/back-to-city-life-in-jakarta-indonesia/ >

TheKotatua 2012, China Benteng- A Poetry, Youtube, viewed on 30 April 2015<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E83cFFrYx7U>

 Images and Videos

TheKotatua 2012, China Benteng- A Poetry, Youtube, viewed on 30 April 2015<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E83cFFrYx7U>

Participants of one of the dragon boats winning the race“, taken from the video.  TheKotatua 2012, China Benteng- A Poetry, Youtube, viewed on 30 April 2015<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E83cFFrYx7U>

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