Chinese temples in Jakarta date from around 1650. Most are rectangular, multiroofed buildings set within a walled compound. Temples contain a main altar and image, and side annexes for subsidiary deities. Wall panels inscribed in Chinese characters preserve the name of the temple god, and the date and names of donors. Some temples were open to the entire Chinese community; others served members of a clan, migrants from a common locality in China, or occupational groups such as rice merchants and sailors. Temples honored Buddhist or Taoist deities; those dedicated to local spirits were built near places holy to the Javanese. Mosques for Chinese congregations were the focus of neighborhoods of Chinese Muslims, who were termed Peranakan.
In China the filial son erected a stone memorial to his father. He maintained the tombs of past generations, and made regular offerings. When Chinese men died outside China their sons carried on the tradition of public memorial. Old Chinese cemeteries in Indonesian cities record preservation of Chinese habits overseas and the prosperity some migrants attained. They also show that the skills of stonemason and inscriber of Chinese characters traveled beyond China.
Chinese communities no longer continue this tradition in contemporary Indonesia. Urban land is too expensive to purchase for burial grounds, while public displays of attachment to traditions of China are not acceptable to many Indonesians. Cremation, which often replaces burial, is also another sign of the long journey of assimilation by Chinese, for it is the burial form of Southeast Asian Buddhism.
Many holy grave sites in Java are attributed to Muslim men of Chinese origin, such as Pangeran Hadiri. According to local tradition, he was a captain shipwrecked off the north Java coast who married Ratu (Queen) Kalinyamat and founded the port city of Japara.