Besides Semarang in Central Java province, which owns Sam Poo Kong temple that is closely related to the famous Chinese Admiral, Admiral Cheng Ho, Lasem apparently has a long history of opium and the first Chinese landing area in Java.  Today’s Miscellany will inform you about Lasem with the nickname “Little China” that used to be the center of Duchy and now turned into a sub-district within the area of Government of the Regency of Rembang. 

Lasem is a district town in Rembang Regency, Central Java that has been famous as one of the best producers of Batik in Indonesia. In addition to the city’s famous nickname as Batik Town. Santri Town and Heritage Town, Lasem is also nicknamed as “Little China”. Why? It’s because Lasem is the first Chinese landing area in Java. It can be proved by the spread of Chinese village in Lasem. There also lies a gold-plated Buddha statue. Geographically, the location of Lasem is very strategic for trade activities. Therefore, Lasem became a lane and trading center for people who come to Java. 

In the 14th and 15th century, Lasem was one of China’s immigrant growing places besides Semarang and Surabaya. As a political ambassador of Chinese emperor of Ming dynasty, Admiral Cheng ho wanted to foster bilateral relations with Majapahit Kingdom, especially in the field of culture and commerce. At that time, Babagan river called as Paturen river, whole trade transactions were conducted, and slowly immigrants from China came and built houses as places to live and place of worship such as temples.

The remaining temples that still stand in Lasem until now are Gie Yong Bio, Cu An Kiong and Po An Bo. Of the three temples, Gie Yong Bio is a special temple built in 1780 to commemorate and honor the Lasem heroes’ act while fighting against the VOC during the Dutch colonial period. The heroes are Tan Kee Wie (a reputable Chinese in Lasem), Oey Ing Kiat who holds Raden Ngabehi Widyadiningrat (a Chinese who had serve as Duke and mayor in Lasem), and Raden Panji Margono (a son of Tejakusuma V, a former of Duke in Lasem. Besides Temple, Chinese and Java acculturation of culture at that time left the work of North Coast Batik Tulis that was known as Batik Lasem. The development of Batik in Lasem, commenced from Na Li Ni or The Princess of Champa wife Bi Nang Un, a member of the Zheng He expeditions (1405 – 1433) which introduced the technique of Batik in the 15th century.

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