The history of Confucianism as one of the six religions officially recognized in Indonesia is rather obscure. In the second half of the nineteenth century the Chinese Peranakan (creole) community, under the pressure of Dutch colonial policy, was led to question its own identity and made various efforts of self re-sinization. The Chinese Association (Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan) founded in Batavia in 1900, which was to have immense repercussions, had, among other aims, that of promoting Confucius’ teaching. Some activity around the Master had taken shape at the very end of the nineteenth century, notably the publication of a biography and a few translations of his Classics. However, this was not a religious movement yet. This article argues that Confucius’s teaching was translated into religious concepts in 1902, as a reaction to the challenge of Western modernity. Then, Confucianism was conceived as an ideology comparable to the world’s great religions, especially Christianity. However, it happens that a tale, here edited and translated, was used as reading matter for Chinese schools before the above-mentioned publications. The tale is not explained by the renewal of Confucianism at the end of the century; on the contrary, it helps to understand it. It shows, together with other clues, that Confucius’s teaching, as a guide for proper conduct, was at the heart of Peranakan society. When the directors of the Tiong Hoa Hwe Koan needed to choose a philosophy that would unite all the Chinese of Java, and when later they needed to define Chinese religion, Confucianism was a natural choice.


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pp. 67-107
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