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3 From Subandar to Tridharma: Transformations and Interactions of Chinese Communities in Bali

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Chapter Summary

After the fall of the New Order regime in 1998 with its legally fixed discrimination of the Chinese, the “ethnic Chinese,” or Tionghoa, have started to vigorously revitalise their culture and also to display it in public. In Bali, as elsewhere in Indonesia, the Chinese have had a long history as subandar or trade masters who managed maritime trade on behalf of Hindu-Balinese kings. Today, many Balinese temples still display shrines for the worship of these important ancestral office holders called Ratu Subandar. In the wake of the revival of their cultural life, the Chinese have started to perform elaborate rituals and ceremonies, such as the Chinese dragon dance, in front of Ratu Subandar shrines. This chapter traces the transformation of the ethnic Chinese in Bali, who have built up networks with religious communities in many Asian countries from where they now import elements of “Chineseness” in varied ways.



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