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Jakarta Post

Desolate grave of forgotten figure Souw Beng Kong, oldest tomb in Jakarta

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

PREMIUM
Jakarta   /   Tue, August 20, 2019   /  05:57 pm
The Jakarta Post Image
A trellis fence encloses the grave of Souw Beng Kong, the first Chinese community leader in Batavia (as Jakarta used to be called), in the narrow Gang Taruna alley on Jl. Pangeran Jayakarta in North Jakarta on Aug. 14, 2019. Historians regard the tomb the oldest archaeological remnant of Chinese heritage in the city. (JP/Budi Sutrisno)

“We are all aware that Souw Beng Kong’s grave is nearby. In fact, it is renowned. But we never learn who the person was and what he did in the past,” said North Jakarta resident Herniawati, who is a street vendor on Jl. Pangeran Jayakarta. The 26-year-old woman’s expression reflects the gradually fading story of one of the most important figures in the early rise of the capital, without whose service, a historian agrees, there would have been no Batavia, the old name of Jakarta. The grave of the first Chinese-Indonesian community leader in Batavia, with the title kapitan (captain), Souw Beng Kong (1580-1644) is located in a narrow alley off Gang Taruna, on the busy street of Jl. Pangeran Jayakarta, not far from the hectic Mangga Dua shopping district. In the past, many residents used to wash dishes around the tomb area and litter there, and it was often f...