Project Description

Madiun, Indonesia: Historic footage of a funeral


On an early Wednesday morning in 1930, a group of 20 men placed a magnificently decorated coffin onto a stately carriage of silver and grey, pulled by four horses draped in exquisitely tailored cloth. Against the background of the crowd’s white mourning clothes, the green palms and masses of flower bouquets, a military parade set forth marching in front of the coffin. It was followed by thousands of grieving Chinese families, native villagers, Javanese royalty and Dutch officials.

Captain of the Chinese
Njoo Swie Lian passed away aged 58 and received a burial worthy of kings. He was he last Captain of the Chinese community in Madiun, a function bestowed upon him by the colonial Dutch government. Captains were responsible for the civil administration of the Chinese community, overseeing the registration of marriages, divorces, deaths, births, education, taxation, and basic judicial administration. Typically appointed from the socio-economic elite of the Chinese, they fulfilled a bridging function between the Dutch rulers and the Chinese community.
You can see historic footage of Njoo Swie Lian’s burial here:

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