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Jakarta Post

The life of Benteng Chinese

  • P.J. Leo

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 31 2012   /  01:47 pm

Lim Tjoan Lie, 75, was asleep on a bamboo bench in front of his traditional Kebaya house adorned with Chinese characters on its walls and doors. He took a nap after helping his children and neighbors reap paddy harvests in his fields only a few blocks behind his house.

A member of the community of Chinese descents in Legok, Tangerang, Banten, better known as Cina Benteng or Benteng-Chinese, Lim at his present age no longer works in various other sectors as he used to do in his youth.

Today, Lim spends most of his time at the Kebaya house he built as a teenager, when he earned a lot of money as a trader in the local market and as a farmer. The typical Benteng-Chinese house is made of a species of wood now increasingly hard to find in Tangerang.

The origin of Kebaya houses in Legok is unclear and nobody knows how the name came to be. Some say the name comes from the ...