IIAS Newsletter 45 Autumn 2007

The unbearable absence of parasols: the formidable weight of a colonial Java status symbol

Liesbeth Hesselink

You were nobody in colonial Java if you didn’t carry a parasol. The payung carried so much weight, in fact, that not only Javanese dignitaries but even Dutch administrators could be seen toting one. You might think someone as necessarily professional as a doctor also carried a payung. But the right to carry one was codified, and only in 1882 was the Westerneducated Indonesian physician, the so called dokter djawa, deemed enough of a somebody to carry one.

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