Overview stories

01- The grave findings of my ancestor Kan Keng Tiong and the phenomenon of Mandarins in Dutch East Indies

02- The mass grave

03- Djakarta, Jalan Teuku Umar 15, the last house of H.H. Kan

04- The number on the yellow Universitas Indonesia jacket

05- The Amateur Orchestra of Djakarta

06- General Destruction Corps

07- The Chinese Tea Lords

08- The ancestoral altars of the Kan-Han-Tan clan

09- The coffin of great grandmother Thung Leng Nio as an example of a traditional Chinese coffin

10- Tan Goan Piauw and Thung Leng Nio

11- Villa Mei Ling is an historic building for Dutch India

12- Tan Tjoen Lee and Han Tek Nio-

13- Kan Keng Tjong overview

14- Desiree Tan (Hoei Nio)

15- Bommeltje

16- H.L.L.Kan and the opium and salt regie in Dutch India

17- Music in my family

18- Gedong Dalam a Paladio villa in Dutch East Indies

19- Ferry Tan's death and the failed cover-up of the s.s. Insulinde

20-The disappeared Compagnie Seepers of the City Guard of Batavia

21- Han Oen Lee en Kan Oe Nio

22- Ganti Nama,the compulsory name change imposed on Chinese Indonesian citizens and other racial laws in Indonesia





02. A mass grave

(partly) translated by Lina Sidarto
These two photographs, which are on Facebook, were recently brought to my attention. The second photo is a detailed enlargement of the first photograph. The photographer apparently noticed something unusual about the gravestone, as it is not common to have 13 people in one tomb. A mass grave?
This grave is a silent witness to the Indonesian government’s indifference towards the Chinese minority in the 1960s.

graf opschrift

Epitaph (translated):
This is the last resting place of: Jo Heng Nio, Kan Keng Tiong, Siauw Po Nio,
Kan Oe Nio, Han Oen Lee, Kan Eng Nio, Tan Tjit Nio, Han Tek Nio, Tan Tjoen Lee, Kan Pan Nio, Tan Tek Liang, Ir. Kan Hay Liong (Dary): Djakarta 5 november 1908 -’s Gravenhage 6 augustus 1946, Kan Pin Nio.

It all began one afternoon in 1962 when my mother received a phone call that bulldozers were about to flatten the graves of our ancestors. Our ancestors had been buried ‘for eternity’ on land which belonged to our family.
“What do you mean? Aren’t those graves on private property?” was my mother’s logical reaction.
The answer was plain and simple: “It may have been private property, but it has been dispossessed. You will receive official notice about this shortly. In the meantime it is important, should you want to preserve the graves with their content, that you remove them immediately.”
The ‘Jakarta Bypass’ project was in the planning, and it would go right through our property. This prestigious project had to be finished before the fourth Asian Games held in Jakarta from August 24 to September 4, 1962. With a lot of effort, we got a week’s extension.
For environmental and hygienic reasons, we cremated our ancestors. The next step was how we could preserve those remains in such a way that there would still be a gravesite to honour our ancestors, and the rituals that accompany Ching Ming (1).
By chance, there was an unfinished plot belonging to H.H. Kan and his wife for their son Dary Kan Hay Liong. This site was covered with concrete tiles with handles. The tiles were meant to be replaced with a proper tombstone. Thus, this plot became the common grave for our ancestors with the rescued ‘Bongpai’ (2) as its tombstone.

(1). Ching Ming is the celebration of graves, and is commemorated on the third day of the third month, or 100 days after the winter solstice. On that day, ancestors’ graves are visited and cared for, and foods and other offerrings are put on the graves.
(2). Bongpai is the tombstone of a Chinese grave.otes:



A delay of one week was too short::

  • Licenses for digging up graves and transport had to be arranged.
  •  An undertaker had to be found that was experienced in digging up graves, cremating and negociating with the gouvernment about all the needed licenses.
  • My father Kan Hay Liang en cousin Kan Sioe Djin had to arrange free days from work.
  • For me the school had to give me permission for some free days.
  • Since the coffins where covered with stone and a layer of molasses, digging them up was more difficult. These layers where still very tough to break through after 100 years. The more recent graves had a layer of concrete on top of them.
  • The diggers where hindered by the large amount of peope and children who came to watch it al happen.
  • Bulldozers had already started to dig up other graves and this made it difficult to find and dig out our family graves..


The plundered or already bulldozered graves had no undamaged bongpais anymore. Two bongpais where saved. The most important one was of our ancestral father Kan Keng Tiong. The other one was of the eldest daughter of Kan Keng Tiong: Kan Eng Nio known as“Mah De” or “Twa Ipoh”. My father had a special bond with Kan Eng Nio since he was her special attendant in her last years.


De Bongpai of Kan Keng Tiong


(translated by Koos Kuiper)

This picture is a gravestone of a member of the Kan family of whom we only know his posthoumus name Ping Tsing (?) . He has to be the grandfather of H.H. Kan. The names of his two wifes Siauw en Jo are also mentioned. Place of origin is named: Nanjing (near Zhangzhou). Dates are mentioned as "second month of autumn 1867", possibly the year in which the grave is constructed. He has an imperial title of honour but his function is not mentioned. Drafted by three sons and 7 daughters.The sons Tjeng-Soen, Soei-Tjiang and Tjeng-Sie are mentioned, and the daughters Oe-Nio en Eng-Nio. Kan Keng Tjong had a second, postume naam Ping Tsjing (Mandarin: Bingzheng), litteraly "insist on the right/ the righteous"

In earlier years people had more names: de real name (on gravestones "taboo name"), a regularly used name, one or more nicknames etc., and sometimes a posthumous name. It does mean that Kan Keng Tjong was an important person. For the two wifes there where also exalted posthumous names, meaning "Lovingly and docile" (Siauw) en "Diligent and kind-hearted" (Jo). They both have the title of (Mandarin:) gongren,"spouse of a civil servant of the fourth rank" The daughters are from right to left: Pin, Kiat [?difficult to read], Eng, Siauw (or: Tioe), Oe, Tian, Pan (?). 品吉(?)英秀宇展盼(?)
Remarkable is that we where not able to find anything of the second wife of Kan keng Tiong. She is not mentioned on the gravestone and we have not found her grave.


The Bongpai of Kan Eng Nio


(Translation Koos Kuiper)
The other picture (grave with decoration) is of Kan Eng Nio, married to someone who was called: Ouw (Mandarin Hu). She lived from the Chinese dates 20-9-Xianfeng 11 (Octobre 23 1861), till 2-5-Republiek 10 ( june 7 1921). Drafted by adoptive/care/duty son in the family: Kan Hay-Liang (my father).
Because of the chaotic en hastily digging up of the graves not all bones and remains where found and taken with us.

Because of these events my grandmother wanted the graves of her husband Tan Tjoen Lee and her son Tan Tek Liang (Ferrie) to be dug up as well , despite the fact that they where burried near Bogor and were not in danger of being destroyed.

The mass grave was finished after my grandmother Han Tek Nio passed away, it was completed in 1969. Before that time, the collection of bags with the ashes of the family members where kept at home on the family altar.

In the pictures below the grave of Dary Kan Hay Liong can be seen before and after it was build into a massgrave. The first picture from 1954 still shows the handles on the concrete plate on the grave of Dary Kan Hay Liong (right side in the corner). The second picture is taken in 1988.

grafsteen   graf



 This story was published earlier in a short version on the site :
As a result on Facebook of the CIHC the next comment appeared:

Steve Haryono: hehe, fotonya  Michael Hadi ( these pictures are taken by Michael Hadi).Grin emoticon

Michael Hadi Hayashi: ya , saya senang jika dipublikasikan dengan benar.. selama ini pihak2 tour leader LOH melewati begitu saja makam ini..tanpa mau tahu baca tulisannya.. saya beritahukan mereka gak mau peduli..
(I am happy this is published , tilll now it was completely ignored by tourleaders who walked by this grave. They ignored the grave while I tried to bring this under their attention)


Berkel, 7 augustus 2017


-back to top-