Chinatown Exotica in Kampong Kapitan – The collapse of the Kingdom of Srivijaya in the XI century. Became the beginning of the arrival of the Chinese (Ming Dynasty). To the archipelago in the XIV century. At that time the Chinese government formed a trading institution, one of which was based in Palembang. So many Chinese traders then settled and married Palembang girls.

Chinatown Exotica in Kampong Kapitan
Chinatown Exotica in Kampong Kapitan

The history of the Kapitan village

During the colonial period, the Dutch appointed Chinese officers of major rank to rule the 7 Ulu region. The major known as Major Tumenggung and Major Putih. After that, the position was then passed down from generation to generation to his heirs. Until finally the position was held by Tjoa Kie Cuan (1830) and passed on by his son Tjoa Ham Hin which was then given by the Dutch the Kapitan China title in 1855.

From this Kapitan China then came the term Kampung Kapitan which was once inhabited by people of Chinese descent in Palembang. Kampung Kapitan is a housing that has an area of ​​about 165.9 x 85.6 meters, located in the middle of a dense settlement on the banks of the Musi River which is directly opposite the Benteng Kuto Besak.

Chinatown Exotica in Kampong Kapitan
Chinatown Exotica in Kampong Kapitan

Starting as a Chinatown in Palembang, Kampung Kapitan now only leaves two heritage buildings from the 1800s. “These two buildings belong to Kapitan, there were three to the left, but because of something, the leftmost building now belongs to someone else and its shape has changed,” Mulyadi said, the great-grandson of Kapitan explained.

Kapitan Kapitan Heritage Building

Two buildings more than 400 years old were built using pulay wood. Although the foundation of the house is still sturdy, in some parts, it has begun to decay with age. Each kapitan house building is connected by a hall in the center of the house. The hallway is opened when the house is having parties and meetings. In general, Kapitan Cina houses are on stilts with a blend of Palembang and Chinese traditional touches.

According to Mulyadi, the two remaining houses are known as wooden houses and stone houses. In contrast to stone houses, the term wooden house is used because the foundation of the house is made using pulay tree trunks. In addition, most parts of the house including the interior and ceiling still use wood. Judging from its function, the stone house is used as a place of worship, while the stone house is used to hold parties and meetings.

The two Kapitan Cina heritage buildings located in Kelurahan 7 Ulu, Seberang Ulu I Subdistrict, Palembang City, are still standing strong. However, in some parts it has been damaged. Only three items from the Chinese Kapitan remains are still found in the two houses. Among the relics are the ash table, the prayer altar, and some documentation.

Kapitan Village which is a Chinatown area is a form of Palembang City, which has always lived in diversity. It is appropriate that the remnants of buildings and relics in Kapitan Village get more attention from the government. It is no exaggeration if the wooden houses and stone houses in Kampung Kapitan become cultural heritage buildings, in addition to being more than four centuries old, the house also keeps a history of the arrival of the Chinese to Palembang.

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