River trading: Emergence and the rivalry of the middleman trader in jambi, centra sumatra, 1906-1942

Ega Barus, Didik Pradjoko

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Jambi has been known as a producer of export commodities such as pepper and gold since the 17th century and has grown to become a producer of rubber, rattan, and copra commodities since the late 19th century. Batanghari River and its tributaries play an important role as a commodity distribution channel from inland (ulu) to the point of trade in the coast of (ilir) Jambi. Previous studies by Elsbeth Locher-Scholten emphasized the ‘push and pull’ process adopted by the Dutch in the region of Jambi. The purpose of controlling the territory was to control the oil fields located in Jambi. The study does not show that the river played an important role in Jambi’s community life. On the other hand, Barbara Watson Andaya focused less on addressing the role of the river, even though the commodity trade from the hinterland (ulu) was brought to the port (ilir) through the river. Another study conducted by Gusti Asnan only focused on examining the rivers and it’s history in Sumatra. The role of the river for trading in the Residency of Jambi was very striking. Although the port activities were not as crowded compared to other commercial cities with large boats, they were busy with rafts and prau belonging to Jambi and Chinese people. This is interesting because the trading activities that took place in Jambi were able to mobilize the economy of the people of ulu ilir who had been divided because of political turbulence during the age of empires. The special trade relations between the Chinese in Jambi and Singaporean traders are able to make the river traffic in Jambi crowded with prau and rafts carrying commodities and imported goods. Therefore, this research is important in order to understand the role of the river in Jambi as a means of boosting the economy of the society. The sources used in the writing of this article were obtained from journals and newspapers of the colonial period, archived in the National Library of Indonesia. The KITLV website provided reports of the colonial administration and photographs. Other sources such as books, online journals, and unpublished scientific papers were obtained from the University of Indonesia Library and jstor.org pages.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDissecting History and Problematizing the Past in Indonesia
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781536193992
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Chinese people
  • Middleman
  • Recidency of jambi
  • River trading
  • Ulu ilir


Dive into the research topics of 'River trading: Emergence and the rivalry of the middleman trader in jambi, centra sumatra, 1906-1942'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this