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Y A L E U N I V E R S I T Y P R E S S / N E W H AV E N & L O N D O N

Published with assistance from the Mary Cady Tew Memorial Fund.

Copyright © 2003 by Jean Gelman Taylor. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced,

in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers.

Designed by Mary Valencia.

Set in Adobe Garamond type by The Composing Room of Michigan, Inc.

Printed in the United States of America by Sheridan Books.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Taylor, Jean Gelman, 1944– Indonesia : peoples and histories / Jean Gelman Taylor.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-300-09709-3 (cloth : alk. paper) — ISBN 0-300-09710-7 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Indonesia—History. 2. Indonesia—Ethnic relations—History. I Title.

DS634.T39 2003 959.8—dc21 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources.

In memory of JOHN R. W. SMAIL with respect and affection CONTENTS List of Capsules ix List of Illustrations and Maps xv Preface xvii Introduction 1

1. Early Beginnings: Histories Through Material Culture 5

2. Communities and Kingdoms: Histories Through Writing and Temples 27

3. Sultans and States: Histories Through Islam 60

4. Monarchs, Mentors, and Mobile Men: Embedding Islam in Indonesian Histories 88

5. Newcomers in the Muslim Circle: Europeans Enter Indonesian Histories 115

6. Inside Indonesian Sultanates: Dutch Vassals, Allies, Recorders, Foes, and Kafirs 142

7. New and Old States: Freelancers, Prophets, and Militias at Large 174 vii CONTENTS

8. Maps and Mentality: European Borders Within Indonesian Worlds 209

9. Many Kingdoms, One Colony: Bringing Indonesian Histories Together

–  –  –

M story. But there is no single story or history, and the principals become Indonesians only in the telling of Indonesian histories. The historical context in which this book is written is the debate within Indonesia itself as to what regions and communities constitute the nation. It is not the distant argument of academics, but the subject of real conflict between and within Indonesian communities. The debate is carried through violence as well as through public discussion. Men, women, and children die, lives are disrupted, property is destroyed, and fear settles in public meeting places. In this book I have tried to establish links between Indonesian communities, to show why, historically, they have reasons to live together in one nation and, at the same time, to show histories of difference.

In the scholarly literature on Indonesia there is a long tradition of stressing Javanese “difference,” particularly in the individual’s approach to Islam as either “orthodox” or “syncretic.” I find “folk Islam” a more helpful way of understanding approaches to religious belief and practice, because it links Javanese with all other Islamic communities of the archipelago and relates Indonesian Islams to the traditions and histories of Islam everywhere. In discussing Javanese difference, most scholars adopt the Javanese (and Dutch) perception that Indonesia is Java plus Outer Islands, that the core is Java and that


the societies of the other islands form a fringe. Sometimes that fringe is called the Malay-Muslim zone, again indicating Java’s difference.

For all historians there is a very real problem in how to write an Indonesian history that covers Java and somehow fits “the rest” in. Each community is its own center. It is possible to write a history that begins with Ternate and its water empire, or that takes Aceh as the organizing center, includes its vassal states on the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, and follows the process of such polities becoming incorporated into a state based in Java. No center other than Jakarta was proposed by Indonesians in creating their nation in 1945. No one argued that Palembang in southeast Sumatra, site of the ancient kingdom of Srivijaya, should be the capital of the new country of Indonesia. Nor were there any proponents for Pasai, the first known sultanate to export Islam across the archipelago. Java and the Javanese have seemed to Indonesians to be the core of the nation. The Dutch city of Jakarta, heir to Muslim and Hindu pasts, was accepted as the appropriate site for the republic’s capital.

Labels create problems in telling histories. There was no entity internationally recognized as “Indonesia” before 1949 or even thought of before the second and third decades of the twentieth century. The term “Indonesian” appears straightforward, but it covers citizens whose ancestors originated in the Indonesian archipelago, China, India, Arabia, and Europe. Political and religious passions often reserve the term Indonesian for those whose ancestors originated in Arabia and the archipelago. Designating an Indonesian as, for example, “Chinese” (as I do in this text) regrettably carries the implication, and reinforces it, that such persons are not “really” Indonesian. Some scholars use the term Chinese Indonesian. Logically, then, we should also say Minangkabau Indonesian, Arab Indonesian, Javanese Indonesian, and so on. Similarly, the term “Dutch” appears straightforward, meaning a person born in Holland. But in Indonesian histories, Dutch troops generally meant a company composed of a score of European men and hundreds of Balinese, Javanese, Batavians, Timorese, Buginese, and Ambonese soldiers. Nationalist, imperial, and postcolonial histories cast colonialism as a great drama of brown against white, but to ordinary men and women the drama was more complicated.

Dutch rule created a single political unit incorporating many sultanates. It circulated Muslim and Christian Indonesians through colonial space along roads, railways, and steamship routes. Dutch rule brought Indonesians into continuous relationships with each other, where before encounters were sporadic. The Dutch also played the role of agent for the introduction and application of technological inventions such as the printing press, the telegraph,


and vaccinations. Indonesians rejected foreign rule, but there are no voices calling for an end to electricity and mechanized transport. Another lasting legacy of the Dutch was the emotional impact of rule by Christian Europeans.

The boundaries of the Dutch-made state are today under challenge, limiting Christian space and Christian authority over Muslim Indonesians.

A major theme in this book is mobility, and especially the mobile man.

Wandering holy men, traveling scholars, traders, porters, rebel princes, and thugs (sometimes called local heroes) journey through texts written by Indonesians and outsiders. The Dutch saw Indonesia as full of wild spaces where there were pirates at sea, roving gangs on land, troublesome seers. Indonesian stories tell of wandering heroes who fight their way through forest or journey over seas in their quest for holiness or a high-status bride or to retrieve a birthright. Exile and transmigration were devices of archipelago kings and Dutch governors-general, and they are the tools today of Indonesian presidents. Militias and paid mobs erupt from mountain hideouts and urban slums to plant their mark on society, to force it into new directions. Before, communities lived in parallel worlds, their lives touching at times. Today, some communities in Indonesia are being overwhelmed, the space for their difference shrinking. The worldwide web has brought profound change. Ideas that formerly could be trapped or stifled are now flung into space, where they jostle with everyone’s ideas, and fuel angers and hatreds, nourish conspiracy seekers, and inspire idealists of every kind.

This work of an outsider to Indonesian histories may strike Indonesians as a strange and unfamiliar narrating of their own history, which is the learned history from the national curriculum and the personal experience of living through history. It can only touch lightly, if at all, on periods, events, and persons which strike others as all-important. I have tried to tell Indonesian histories through byways and minor characters, as well as through big events, to bring in ordinary lives, problems, and encounters. There are myriads of Indonesian histories. Only a sampling exists between the covers of this book.

This book combines a continuous narrative with short essays embedded within each chapter. These capsules treat themes, individuals, works of art, variant interpretations by scholars, and topics such as calendars, caliphs, and mosque design. Some essays link a theme to several time periods. Readers knowledgeable about Buddhism or the meanings of the public kiss in Indonesia can skip the essays on these topics. Those who want to learn about the politics of polygamy, or the history of coins, or the meanings of merdeka can go straight to the particular essays. The titles of the essays and page locations are listed following the table of contents.


The sources are arranged in the bibliography under chapter headings. For this book I have drawn mainly on English-language texts, since it is a general history, but I have also included some books and articles in Indonesian, Dutch, and French that I found particularly valuable.

The spelling of places and names conforms to modernized spelling systems. Older texts use Achin for Aceh, Djakarta for Jakarta, the Moluccas for Maluku, Malacca for Melaka, the Celebes for Sulawesi. I use Kalimantan to refer to the two-thirds of the island of Borneo that is part of Indonesia. West Irian has been renamed Papua, and the country of Timor Loro Sa’e succeeds the Indonesian province of East Timor. Terms from Indonesian and other languages are translated in the text the first time they appear. Those used more than once are listed alphabetically in the glossary.

The bibliography acknowledges my debt to scholars past and present. I want to name those to whom my special thanks are due, beginning with my teachers Jamie Mackie and John Smail for whom I have written this book.

They created my interest in Indonesia and gave me ways of thinking about it.

I thank Anthony Reid for proposing to Yale University Press that I write this book, and the staff of the Press for their patience, skills, and support. Over many years the staff of the Documentation Center of the Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology of Leiden, The Netherlands, have allowed me to study its wonderful photograph collection. My thanks particularly to Gerrit Knaap and Dorothée Buur. I thank Jaap Anten for assistance in providing illustrations for this book. I thank also the Lontar Foundation of Jakarta and especially Hani Siti Hasanah and John H. McGlynn, for assistance and their gracious permission to reproduce the illustrations in the text.

The Arts Faculty of the University of New South Wales has supported this book by providing travel grants so that I could participate in international conferences and revisit Indonesia, and by awarding me study leave for research and writing. My colleagues in the School of History endorsed my plans, rearranged teaching schedules, and gave me encouragement. I particularly acknowledge Roger Bell, Ian Tyrrell, and my partners in Southeast Asian History, Ian Black, John Ingleson, and Mina Roces. I have drawn on the expertise of Rochayah Machali, David Reeve, and Edward Aspinall in the School of Modern Languages.

My colleagues Barbara Watson Andaya, Charles Coppel, Robert Cribb, Nancy Florida, Tineke Hellwig, Clive Kessler, Ellen Rafferty, and Michael Van Langenberg have generously shared their rich knowledge. Donald Emmerson has carried on with me a conversation about Indonesia over many years and


places. I thank him for detailed comments on Chapter 12 and continual encouragement. I thank Wolfgang Linser for his detailed comments on the early chapters. My profound thanks go to Laurie Jo Sears and to Ian Black. They read every word of this text and commented on it with grace, tact, and a devotion of time drawn out of full lives. Robert Cribb created the maps, and I thank him for contributing his unique skills and knowledge to this book.

Learning grows out of teaching as well as out of research, and here I want to thank Iskandar P. Nugraha and Kristarniarsi, whose doctoral studies, insights, and kindness have taught me so much. I especially thank Iskandar Nugraha and Tony B. Wurjantono who made possible for me a journey through time in Java. I thank Thomas and Mieke Nelwan for their hospitality, friendship of many years, and love for my family.

My son and husband called this the book that would not end. No female academic could have two more supportive men in her life. I thank Harry for his computer expertise and Howard for sustaining me with humor.

–  –  –

ndonesia is the fourth largest country in the world. It is important as exI porter of petroleum, natural gas, and manufactured goods, as consumer of Western and Japanese aid and investment funds, and as the world’s largest Muslim nation. It is an archipelago country, made up of 17,506 islands, populated by 230 million people speaking more than three hundred languages. It has been an independent republic for more than fifty years, before that a colony of the Dutch and a zone of Islamic monarchies. The world’s largest Buddhist temple survives from the ninth century in the heart of Java, and a form of Hinduism lives on in Bali. A fringe of Christian communities encircles Java.

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