Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1812 Peranakan saihu
Subject: 師傅 sai hu master of kuntao
Culture: Peranakan / Sino-Javanese
Setting: Dutch colonial period, Java 17-19thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources,Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

​* Wickberg 2002 p240
"In Java the descendants of Chinese immigrants formed a special group known as peranakan Chinese, or simply 'peranakan.'  For several generations they identified themselves as Chinese and remained apart from Indonesian society.  Their cultural life was a creation of blended Chinese and Indonesian elements. They were, in other words, neither Indonesian nor completely Chinese.  Although they were in many ways culturally Indonesian they resisted assimilation into Indonesian society for a number of reasons.  Javanese culture, as the culture of a conquered people, lacked prestige and there were legal liabilities attached to identifying oneself as Javanese.  Dutch culture, as that of the conqueror, was attractive but not really available.  In the classic 'plural society' of Java, ethnic lines and class lines were identical.  The peranakan Chinese, classified always as Chinese, were the middle class of Java. Assimilation toward Indonesians meant a move downward.  Upward social mobility meant moving toward the Dutch.  But there was no way for the peranakans to move.  They could not change status.  Even those who tried to move toward assimilation to Javanese society had difficulty being recognized as anything but Chinese.  Caught between an attractive but inaccessible Dutch culture and a partly attainable but unattractive Javanese culture, the peranakan was fixed where he was.  And the peranakan social system he developed served as an 'assimilation trap' -- a half-way house between 'Chinese' and 'Indonesian.'"