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


10. Tan Goan Piauw and Thung Leng Nio




Family name Tan (Chen in Mandarin) is among the most frequent Chinese names in Southeast Asia and in the Netherlands. This is to stipulate which Tan branch is at the base of our Kan-Han-Tan clan.
According to the Jia Pu (family book) of cousin Tan Eng Swie’s father, the oldest known ancestor Tan Tjong Tek  (1301-1387) is born in the province of Fujian, Southeast China in district Zhang Ping Hsien (Hokk. Tjang Peng Koan).He started in a small village Zhuāngzòu near Longjuan county Anxi. He married Lie Qi Wei from village Xian-Jing. Anxi is in prefecture Quanzhou, province Fujian.

administrative devisions China
The Jia Pu describes the situation around 1300. Presently no town or village with the name of Zhuangzou can be found in the county Anxi, though there is a village Zhuangzao [Hokk.:  Tjeng Tjaw] near Longjuan. Cousin Tan Eng Swie and Danny Tjoa suspect that the author of the passage in the Jia Pu mistakenly used the character for zou instead of zao. Moreover the author would have used the character for township xiang instead of village cun.
kandkaart regio Fujian
zhuang Zoa Cun

So Tjeng Tjaw is considered the place of origin of our Tan ancestors.
In Bogor/Buitenzorg the camp directly behind Jl Suryakencana (Handelsstraat) is actually  called “Kampung Tjeng Tjaw”. .


Tan Tjong Tek married with Lie Koen Houw and had two sons.
The eldest son Tan Siang Kim moved to Tang Lauw.
The younger son Tan San Tjie was the ancestor of our Tan branch.

foto Tan Goan Piauw



The first descendent of Tan Sang Tjie who migrated to Java was Tan Ak Siap (1755-1800).

Tan Goan Piauw alias Tan Eng Tjoen is a descendent of Tan Ak Siap . He lived from 1835-1889 in Buitenzorg. He was the 15th generation of the Tan branch.
His father was Tan Soeij Tjoe alias Pie sin (1808-1850), his mother was Thung Na Nio (Tjeng Kiong). He had 4 brothers: Goan Tjin, Goan Koei, Goan Pouw and Goan Hoat. He married Thung Leng Nio, who lived from 1839-1928.

Tan Goan Piauw had 4 sons and 3 daughters.
Sons: Tan Tjoen Gie (1854-1901), Tan Tjoen Liang (1862-1924), Tan Tjoen Keng (1872-1906) and Tan Tjoen Lee (1875-1934). Tan Tjoen Lee was my mother’s father.
Daughters: Tan Lie Nio, Tan Ek Nio en Tan Tjit Nio. Tan Tjit Nio was married with Han Khing Bie, brother of my father’s father Hok Hoei Kan.  The sister of Han Khing Bie and Hok Hoei Kan:  Han Tek Nio was married with Tan Tjoen Lee. Both couples married on 2-1-1901.


Tan Goan Piauw and Gedong Dalam

Gedong Galam, familiehuis te buitenzorg

The Tan family home in Buitenzorg “Gedong Dalam” is built by Tan Goan Piauw. He had to consider restrictions (neighborhood) for Chinese which were stipulated by the government of the Netherland Indies. This meant that Chinese were to live in separate parts of town in typical Chinese  houses.
Gedong Dalam is built at the edge of the Chinese camp of Buitenzorg the present Bogor and is situated just south of the Botanical Garden. Because of the long deep access to the house from the main street, the Handelsstraat, it was called Gedong Dalam.


The front of Gedong Dalam appears as a typical Chinese house with an entrance in the middle. A roof parallel with the front with slightly upward sides. It was built bigger than any regular Chinese house in the camp and was decorated with marmor tiles and pillars.  The back garden was declining down towards the river. As a result there was a difference in ground level between front and the rear of the house. This slope enabled at the back side of the house the construction of an additional floor underneath the ground floor of the front side, underneath the living quarters of the house. This part is therefore called the “Kolong”(cellar).

The ground  floor at the front side became a kind of second floor at the backside and was connected by two large curved staircases on both sides in the style of Palladio. To get an impression of the scale of these staircases here a photo taken during an excursion of the Bataviasche Vrouwelijke Studenten Vereeniging (BVSV) at Gedong Dalam in July 1931.

Such Paladio Style details in houses were reserved for white Europeans and actually at that time forbidden for Chinese. But these details were not visible from the street side. Later the building was enlarged both on left and right sides with an extension of the roof and an extra window and a porch above the front door. As a result the layout of Gedong Dalam resembles the form of a cross, quite in accordance to a Palladio Villa.

Gedong Galam achterzijde
gedong dalam achterzijde tuin

Tan Goan Piauw and Thung Leng Nio lived in Gedong Dalam till their death. Thereafter descendants of Tan Tjoen Gie and Tan Goan Hoat lived there. Later followed by poor family members(?).
Anecdotes about Gedong Dalam:

  • My mother always told me about the crocodiles (leguans) that came crawling up the staircases. So at the begin of the 20th century it was still full with animals around the Tjiliwoeng river.
  • The sanitary was placed at the Kolong. A branch of the river was led through underneath the building and used as drain for the toilet.  My mother had to be alert for all kind of animals that came up through the toilet hole.    

After the independence of Indonesia according to Hardi Sumawinata, a descendant of Tan Goan Hoat, Gedong Dalam was used by the Chung Hua Chung Hui.

(Foto Tan Eng Swie en Hardi Sumawinata

Chung Hua Chung Hui   landhuis gedongdalam   Gedong Dalam groep mensen
-click on photo's to enlarge-

After the coup of 1965, Gedung Dalam was confiscated by the Indonesian Government. According to Mario’s blog was Gedong Dalam then used as a tax office. . On the left photo the front of the building was closed with bars. Also two new buildings were built in the front garden.  A shopping mall was planned by the daughter of Suharto and Gedong Dalam was flattened. But in the meantime Suharto was no longer president. Gedong Dalam, as can be seen on photos made this year, remained just as a ruin overgrown with trees and bushes and deprived of the marmor tiles and pillars.
The present owner according to Mario’s blog is Gus Dur.



The original staircase at the entrance of the building.


Tan Goan Piauw a Chinese Officer

Tan Goan Piauw is remembered in our family as "Captain China at Buitenzorg".
According to cousin Tan Eng Swie at least 8 descendants of Tan Ak Siap were appointed as Chinese Officer namely:
Tan Oe Ko, Tan Soei Tjang, Tan Goan Piauw, Tan Goan Pouw, Tan Tjoen Hong, Tan Tjoen Kie, Tan Tjoen Tjang en Tan Tjoen Lien. (Regeringsalmanak van Ned. Indie recorded by Steve Haryono and Swanny Thee).

krantenbericht aankomst Tan Goan Piauw  

From the newspaper reports it seems that Tan Goan Piauw in his early officer days was already taken to Batavia by the other Chinese officers such as his uncle Tan Oe Ko.

Tan Goan Piauw had the following officer functions:
1865 – 1878: Lieutenant of the Chinese in Buitenzorg
1878 – 1882: Captain of the Chinese in Buitenzorg
1882 – 1890: Titular Captain of the Chinese in Buitenzorg

Apparently since 1880 his Captains post was in decline as shown in newspaper reports of the Java Bode of 19  and 31 August 1880.
bericht in de Java bode over buitenzorg
bericht in java bode over peranakan chinezen   aankoop land door Han Goan Piauw

In the family there could be another reason for this early end of his Captaincy. Shortly after Tan Goan Piauw purchased the Tegal Waroe Landerijen, he was visited by the Resident of Buitenzorg. This Resident came to collect the alleged overdue debt payments of land tax for the previous years. After Tan Goan Piauw had shown the purchase contract dated on that same year, he was accused of counterfeiting the date of purchase. As a result Tan Goan Piauw in his anger slammed the marmor table blade they ware sitting by in two. The Resident was so shocked that he soiled his pants. As a revenge Tan Goan Piauw was accused of offending the Resident; in the newspaper came the story “a Chinese had offended the Resident”. Unfortunately this newspaper report has not yet been found in the historical newspapers nor in the Royal Library.    
After 1882 the pressure for retirement increased on Tan Goan Piauw, in the newspapers the following reports were published that he would soon retire.

java bode ontslag Tan Goan Piauw   aankondiging ontslag Han Goan Piauw in de Locomotief

Shortly after that his retirement and nomination to Captain China Titular was reported.

ontslag in de java bode, Han Goan Piauw   Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad schrijft over ontslag Han Goan Piauw
Although the Kong Koan (Chinese Council) of Buitenzorg was disbanded during W.W.II, there was some still some kind of activity till 1967. The whereabouts of the Kong Koan Archives of Buitenzorg unfortunately is not known. 

Stories and Anecdotes’ about Tan Goan Piauw

There are some stories about Tan Goan Piauw receiving a medal for pacifying an uprising.
He went unarmed on horseback to ask why they were revolting. After providing the people with rice and therefore preventing a famine the uprising was ended without any bloodshed. To receive his medal he had to go to the Resident. There he had to wait, much too long for his taste. So angrily he smashed the medal on the floor and shouted keep your dammed medal. Another story he threw the medal in a cupboard.
Tan Goan Piauw would go for a swim each morning in the river behind his house. Also he would have had knowledge of medical herbs and could cure illnesses by his hands.
About Tan Goan Piauw as a person is not much known. According to my grandmother, the widow of his youngest son, he was rather scary due to his squint. One was never sure of which direction he was looking.
Tan Goan Piauw was on very friendly terms with his neighbors of the Tegal Waroe Landen the Arnold family, from whom he also rented property. This was clear from documents in the Nationaal Archives where shortly after his death in 1890 there is a remark over rent during 15 years of Tegal Waroe Land, for which they would not want to immediately charge the  inheritors for rent due in order not to disturb their good relations.

Tan Goan Piauw seemed rather impulsive. He once bought the complete rice harvest from his friend A.E.R. Arnold – as Tan Eng Swie told, but had to solve the problem of storing. To cope with that problem he bought the house Tjimangis (with corresponding estate) to at least be able to dry store all rice . Tjimangis was to be a rubber plantation later on. The last administrator of this plantation was Phoa Liong Djin, husband of a granddaughter of Tan Goan Piauw viz Clementine (Kiang Nio) Tan.

Tan Goan Piauw and education

Tan Goan Piauw was progressive in his time. He took care that his 3 sons by Thung Leng Nio would be well educated in Dutch schools.
His eldest son Tan Tjoen Liang was sent to the Netherlands to study at the Technical Highschool in Delft, which was then just established . He was to be the first Chinese born in the Dutch East Indies who graduated to be an engineer (Ingenieur). see 24- Tan Tjoen Liang de eerste Nederlands Indische Chinese Ingenieur  aan de TH Delft on this site

een brief van Han Goan Piauw aan zijn zonen  

The two younger sons were sent to Batavia to secondary school (KW III) and stayed in the home of one of the teachers, Mr. Veenstra.
Tan Goan Piauw wrote a letter to both his sons Tjoen Keng and Tjoen Lee from which we can learn how he treated his sons.
This letter shows Tan Goan Piauw’s handwriting, a strong clear script. It is written in a mixture of Malay and Dutch.
He could speak Malay and Dutch, and as a Chinese Captain would have to speak several Chinese Dialects such as Mandarin, Hokkian. Probably also Hakka and Sundanese, the language used in West Java.

This drive towards good education was obvious in the whole family. For example my grandmother, the wife of Tan Tjoen Lee always urged her grandchildren to score the highest marks at school.


From the historical newspapers we know that Tan Goan Piauw has tried to combine  Tjimangis with the Tegal Waroe Landerijen in one government unit of West Java. Possible reason for this move was the colonial agricultural politics, namely, after the opening of the Suez channel, the Preanger Residence was for European planters only .

Javabode over jubilee Teijsman op Buitenzorg   Tan Goan Piauw was in close contact with the people of ‘s Lands Plantentuin (Botanical Garden) in Buitenzorg as his house Gedong Dalam was situated along that garden. An article from the “ Natuurkundig Tijdschrift voor Nederlandsch Indie” gives an account of a festival on the occasion of the jubilee of mr. Johannes Elias Teijsmann, hortulanus, who on the 2-1-1880, had stayed for 50 years without a break in Netherlands Indies and was for 38 years connected to the Hortus:

At the end Mr. Teijsmann invited all people to move to the backside of his house to view a spectacular fireworks offered to him by one of his oldest friends, the Captain China Tan Goan Piauw, that was ignited by another of his oldest friends, Lieutenant China Tan Goan Pouw, in his garden illuminated with beautiful Chinese lanterns.”

This jubilee festival was also reported in the Java bode of 2-1-1880.
verslag planten  

In this way he was in contact with various persons who experimented with plants/harvests, as we can see in the newspapers.
And he engaged in expositions for agriculture and horticulture. In that context also Mr. K.F. Holle is mentioned, known from the well-known book of Hella Haasse “Heren van de Thee”.

Schutterij wedstrijd op Buitenzorg, Tan Goan Piauw  

Also from the historical papers we can read that Tan Goan Piauw was involved in the “Buitenzorgsche Wedloop Societeit” and that he was frequently running his own horses, Bintang a white gelding horse and Jan Stap Allemachtig a Scheck horse.
Here also the names of the “Heren van de Thee” are mentioned such as E.J. Kerkhoven and A.W. Holle.
One big question was: how did Tan Goan Piauw obtain his capital?
Claudine Salmon describes in Indonesia, 1991 vol.51 p.38 A critical view of the opium  farmers as reflected in a syair (poem) by Boen Sing Hoo (Semarang, 1889) a sort of fable: Tan Goan Piauw is mentioned in here by the name of “Deer of Bogor”.
It is not clear to us if he in fact was engaged in opium production.

According to Tan Eng Swie most Chinese families were directed as extended family  by the eldest living or most capable member of the family. In this way money was gathered with commercial contracts in commerce, horti- and agriculture already from the time of Tan Ak Siap. Tan Oe Ko could become Captain China only because he and the family was already wealthy and respected in the Chinese community.
In the time of Captaincy Tan Oe Ko and next members of the family would become more wealthy by the tax leases they could acquire in their official positions.
So Tan Goan Piauw was born rich, and he expanded this wealth in that way.

An art historian of the Municipal Museum of Den Haag was introduced in my grandmother’s home (widow of Tan Tjoen Lee) by the Dutch Embassy when she was in search of VOC silver. She discovered a silver VOC plate on the ancestor table (aboe-table). This plate along with other silver plates was used to place food and fruit on the ancestral altar. My grandmother told us that this plate was donated by the Governor General to Tan Goan Piauw thanking him for his services. Unfortunately we could not find evidence for this in newspapers.
Zilveren VOC bord

On 11-5-1876 he made his will from which we learned about his wife and his second wife (bina moeda) and his natural son Tjoen Gie and his three heirs Tjoen Liang, Tjoen Keng, Tjoen Lee. This will is kept by Tan Eng Swie and we were allowed to copy it.”


Tan Goan Piauw died on the 19th of September 1889 in Buitenzorg at the age of 54 years.


He was buried with pomp and grandeur in accordance with his position of Captain China on the 27th October 1889.


Thung Leng Nio

Of his wife Thung Leng Nio we have more photo’s than of Tan Goan Piauw.

foto van Thung Leng Nio
Foto van Thun Leng Nio ca 1900
Foto van Thung Leng Nio ca 1927
Ca 1890 Ca 1900 Ca 1927
Foto van Thung Leng Nio is ingelijst in Amsterdam staat op de achterkant

Here are three photos from various ages. The first photo probably was taken by my grandfather Tan Tjoen Lee, her youngest son, when he went to study Commerce from 1893 till 1898 in Haarlem. There is a label at the backside that the photo is framed in Amsterdam by camera store La Granche , Singel 187.
In 1920 on the occasion of her 80th birthday she is photographed with all her family, proudly seated between them. The names of all these family members are noted at the backside of the photograph.

Familiefoto op de 80ste verjaardan van Thung Leng Nio

Unfortunately we do not know about her parents. It is said however that there is a close relation with the regent’s family. She lived 15-2-1839 till 14-12-1928. Thung Leng Nio married Tan Goan Piauw and had three sons and three daughters as mentioned before.
My mother, youngest daughter of Tan Tjoen Lee: Desiree Tan, remembered her as a lovable but strict grandmother who wanted the grandchildren neatly seated at the dining table to eat and no talking or laughing during the meal. She spoke Soendanese with the children. Until her death she lived in Gedong Dalam, Handelsstraat 162, Buitenzorg.
Her son Tan Tjoen Lee had stipulated  in an official notary act with all heirs of Tan Goan Piauw that Thung Leng Nio was entitled to live in Gedong Dalam until her death and that all heirs together would ensure that financially Thung Leng Nio could lead a life in accordance with her status as wife of Captain China of Buitenzorg.  The Chinese camp did respect her as such and  every year the due procession with the Barongsai came to Gedong Dalam. My mother especially was horrified of the Barongsai as he came running up the stairs from the entrance. To shy him away they would throw coins to the Barongsai.
Thung Leng Nio would cast tin to make small weights she could use to place on patterns for sewing or to make other small tin objects. Nothing is left of these tins.

Een chris van Thung Leng Nio

zilveren deksel van drinkgerei met opschrift

-click photo to enlarge-

Also she would have brought into the family a number of “krissen”, such as kris “Pangeran Pamor” which her youngest son Tan Tjoen Lee would hang above his pillow

Part of her drinking equipment is left: a silver lid that can be placed on a glass or cup, with the inscription: mevrouw de Wed. Kapitein Tan Goan Piauw, 26-1-1911. What the special event is on that date we don’t know.

serviesgoed, kopjes, met opschrift Tan Oe Ko


To serve as an example of sober attitude my grandmother, the widow Tan Tjoen Lee, told about her mother in law Thung Leng Nio: when there were meetings or parties by the Capitan China Buitenzorg it was a custom then to smash the cups behind their back. Mostly the cups were destroyed, but Thung Leng Nio considered it too bad and gathered the not broken cups. So still two porcelain cups for arak have been saved of a predecessor of Tan Goan Piauw in Buitenzorg: Tan Oe Ko.

Some pictures of Thung Leng Nio, possibly shortly before her passing away.

Thung Leng Nio op hoge leeftijd,nog altijd kaarsrecht

From these pictures you can see that in spite of her high age she is still a straight and  stately woman. She walks a bit difficult and has difficulty hearing because she must bow to the speaker to understand her. It looks like she has vitiligo (white streaks)  in her face but it could also be bedak. Also she seems to have a struma (enlargement of thyroid).


On 14-12-1928 Thung Leng Nio died and she was buried on 9-1-1929.

Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad met overlijdensadvertentie Thung Leng Nio  
overlijden mevr. de weduwe Thung Leng Nio

We have a photo of her deathbed.

doodsbed van Thung Leng Nio

Also the klamboe, curtains and bed-ribbons are conserved.

de klamboe van het doodsbed van Thung Leng Nio   een detail van de klamboe van het doodsbed van Thung Leng Nio
de gordijnen van het doodsbed van Thung Leng Nio
bedlinten   bedlinten  

Photos have been made of the decoration of her coffin.

de grafkist wordt opgetuigd
de grafkist wordt opgetuigd fase 2
de grafkist wordt opgetuigd fase 3
de grafkist wordt opgetuigd fase 4
Decoration of the coffin with flowers was as follows:
de grafkist is opgetuigd

First an embroidered cloth with the 8 immortals was draped on the coffin.
Thereafter a net was draped to be able to fix the flowers to the coffin.
On the photo top right you can see the Hoan ensign. The Hoan is a bar with a hoop on which 3 broad and 7 thinner short strips hang down. The 3 strips represent the 3 parts of the soul made by Yang, whereas the 7 short ones are made by Yin. After the death and during the burial the spirit  of the diseased will stay in this Hoan. The Hoan is carried in the funeral procession and brings the spirit from home to the grave. The photos have been made by the son of Thung Leng Nio, my grandfather Tan Tjoen Lee. The film of her burial is made by Kwee Zwan Liang. The film fragment of the funeral is to be seen in the Kwee movies. These films can be viewed at Beeld en Geluid keyword: Kwee Zwan Liang or Kwee compilaties. you can view them there on request. She was lead to her burial place with pomp and grandeur in accordance with her position of the widow of a Captain China .

The following pictures give an impression of the burial procession:

de begrafenis stoet, een impressie
  de begrafenis  
de begrafenis

The grave of Tan Goan Piauw and Thung Leng Nio

We used to visit the graves in Bogor every year during the Tjeng Beng. This was a real festivity each year. First there was the food shopping at a member of the Tan family who lived in the Djalan Perdagangan (jl. Suryakencana).

At the burial place we were attended by the village head who addressed my grandmother with the title “Djoeragan” (land owner). There were always some small boys who would climb the palm trees to fetch some young coconuts for its milk. After cleaning the graves, lighting the incense sticks and symbolically sacrificing food to our ancestors by putting it in front of the Bongpais, we dined together (in thought) with our ancestors.     

This tradition was stopped abruptly in 1962. In that year we had to exhume our ancestors near Djakarta because the burial grounds were dispossessed on the occasion of the construction of the Djakarta Bypass.
See the story “Mass Grave” on this website.

Though the graves near Bogor were not in direct danger, my grandmother, the widow of Tan Tjoen Lee (Han Tek Nio) had exhumed all graves near Bogor, that is the grave of Tan Tjoen Lee and her son Ferry, and also that of Tan Goan Piauw and his wife Thung Leng Nio.

The photo on the left shows the grave of Tan Goan Piauw and Thung Leng Nio during the exhumation. The burning of incense sticks is to warn the spirits about the exhumation. 


According to William Yuen Tai this bong pai was made in the year Yi Chou, which is 1889, and was made for father Captain Tan and mother mrs Tong or Tang (Thung). Remarkably Tan Goan Piauw was remembered with his alias/posthume name on the bong pai: viz Eng Tjoen (Ying Zhun).
The exhumed remains of Tan Goan Piauw and Thung Leng Nio were cared for by the family Tan Tek Lhoen in Bogor including the Bongpai.



As a reaction on this website we received some photos about an old house. This house is also situated at the Handelsstraat (jl. Suryakencana no 210) and it is known in Bogor as ”the old house of the Captain - Tan”. In an excerpt of a script of Krishta Paramita Kurnadi it was stated that with “the captain-Tan”, Tan Goan Piauw is meant.


So some new puzzle pieces have to be positioned. Will be continued

Although there are still no answers for the above questions, the architectural style of the building being definitely after 1900 excludes the option that Tan Goan Piauw had ever lived in this house.
Berkel, Updated August 2018
Sioe Yao Kan    


back to top