This year’s August 17 for me is pretty special because of not only celebrating Indonesia’s independence day, but also discovering the first settlement of ethnic-Chinese civilization in Tangerang through the iconic Chinese-style ancient house designed with low-curving sloped roofs in the midst of Pasar Lama traditional market named Benteng Heritage Museum, the first Chinese-Indonesian heritage museum in Indonesia.
As independence day is considered one of National holidays, you will only see dead silence of this market with no purchasing-and-bargaining transaction. Instead, scattered trashes, frowsy tends along the street and malodorous smell are the things you can witness if wandering down to the center of Pasar Lama traditional market on August 17. You only can go on foot if having a plan to visit Benteng Heritage Museum.
The more you stroll around, the more vivid you will find this museum that is believed to be exist in around 17th century, still with its Chinese ancient temple-like buildings. Most importantly, you can see Indonesia’s national flag dangling towards the skylight above, indicating that ethnic-Chinese community is the part of Indonesia as stated in Bhinekka Tunggal Ika.
This is the entrance door of Benteng Heritage Museum. It feels like you are traveling to the ancient China temple emblazoned with reddish ornaments and lanterns as well as Chinese writing style hanging above the door. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
If going to the right side of the entrance door, you will witness the official indication of this museum. Udaya Halim or known as Lim Tjhin Pheng in Chinese name, is still working on his mission of not only preserving and educating both locals and Tionghoa to understand how the cultural blends between Indonesian and Chinese create such epic Tionghoa heritage in Indonesia, but also encouraging all Chinese-Indonesian descendants of appreciating and conserving their ancestors’ identity and tradition.
If going further, you will see several chairs with various kinds of old photographs, trophies, ancient documentary about Indonesia Raya national anthem and a spot to buy the entrance ticket. As it is the special edition of Indonesia independence day, the tour-guide explains a brief history about Indonesia Raya’s historical background before exploring through the museum. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to take any documentations in any kind of format while getting inside the museum.
In accordance with the history, Kartika Yo, a daughter of Yo Kim Tjan who was a friend of WR Supratman (Indonesia Raya song initiator), was believed to have the authentic recording of the song in black vinyl with the violin instrument and WR Supratman’s audio vocal. She smuggled the recording to England in order to give a chance for Indonesians to duplicate. Unfortunately, the origin of Indonesia Raya authentic recording is well unknown.
Its beautiful first-floor terrace facing the life of the street in Pasar Lama traditional market simply makes this museum become an example of the 17th century Chinese-style house in Tangerang. If going inside the museum, you will see such cultural blends between Chinese and Indonesian through its architectural construction on the first floor named gerbang bulan or moon gate completed with old photographs about Tionghoa life and festivals in Tangerang called Peh Cun.
Ethnic-Chinese community in Tangerang is often referred as Cina Benteng, meaning ‘the Chinese of the fort’, a name derived from Tangerang and the bend in the Cisadane River becoming the site of a Dutch fort in the 17th century. Besides, some of them called themselves as Hitachi (Hitam Tapi Cina), a term to describe the physical feature of Chinese people in Tangerang who share the black skin just like local Indonesians.
Besides the photographs, you will get your eyes soothed by the collection of history artifacts along with the thorough explanation of Admiral Cheng Ho’s voyages in spreading Chinese heritage across Indonesia, old opium scales from different periods, traditional Tionghoa costumes from the 18th to 19th century, tiny ladies’ shoes, mahjong set and airy relief surrounding the first-floor.
Do not worry of losing any information about Benteng Heritage Museum as you will get a kind of guide for visitors explaining about the history of the museum. Besides, I get another kind of flyer about discovering the authentic recording of Indonesia Raya national anthem as I pay a visit on August 17.
Before the tour ends, the tour-guide asks us to take several snapshots with several kinds of style. This one is called Cina Benteng photo style. Isn’t it the same like you say kiong hi to the elders during Chinese lunar new year?
If you walk further around 300 meters and turn right, you will see Boen Tek Bio, one of the ancient Buddhist temples where incense still smolders. Unfortunately, we cannot explore further the temple as there are many people who pay a visit to pray for Gods.
About the Museum
- You can have lunch or dinner with authentic Peranakan Cuisine (Babah Culinary) in the museum either with halal or non-halal foods in special packets such as birthday party, pre-wedding photos, culinary tour and lunch meetings (80 people maximum)
- The programs are varied into several kinds such as tour museum (every hour), heritage walk (10 people minimum, pre-booked only), culinary workshops (20 people minimum, pre-booked only) and photography seminars / workshops (20 people minimum, pre-booked only)
- Guided tour applied with the duration of approx. 45 minutes. Each tour group is limited to 20 participants
- Before the museum tour ends, you can purchase several things at gift corner such as Chinese history books, traditional cakes, vintage cameras, etc
- Opening hours: Tuesdays – Sundays at 10.00 am – 5.00 pm included public holidays. No operations on Mondays
- Entrance ticket: IDR 25,000,- per person
- Address: Jl. Cilame No 18/20, Pasar Lama Tangerang 15111, Banten – Indonesia
- Phone: +6221 55791139
- Email: email@example.com
- Official website: http://www.bentengheritage.com
- Facebook & Twitter: Museum Benteng Heritage; @bentengheritage
- Related post about Benteng Heritage Museum: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/09/01/benteng-heritage-museum-pearl-tangerang.html