Totok is an Indonesian term of Javanese origin, used in Indonesia to refer to recent migrants of Arab, Chinese or European origins.[1][2][3][4] In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was popularised among colonists in Batavia, who initially coined the term to describe the foreign born and new immigrants of "pure blood" – as opposed to people of mixed indigenous and foreign descent, such as the Peranakan Arabs, Chinese or Europeans (the latter being better known as the Indo people).[3][5][4]

Dutch Totok couple wearing Dutch traditional clothing on New Year's Day 1926

When more pure-blooded Arabs, Chinese and Dutchmen were born in the East Indies, the term gained significance in describing those of exclusive or almost exclusive foreign ancestry.[1][3][4]

'Peranakan' is the antonym of 'Totok', the former meaning simply 'descendants' (of mixed roots), and the latter meaning 'pure'.[4][6]

Notable Dutch Totoks and descendants

Totok father with Indo wife and children and Indigenous nanny
  • Paul Acket (Semarang, Java, 1922), founder of the North Sea Jazz festival
  • Albert Alberts (1911–1995), award winning author, journalist
  • Beb Bakhuys (1909–1982), football player and manager
  • Ben Bot (born in Batavia) (b. 1937), minister
  • Hans van den Broek (b. 1936), minister
  • Jeroen Brouwers (1940-2022), author
  • Conrad Busken Huet (1826–1886), newspaper editor on Java (1868–1876)
  • Louis Couperus (1863–1923), childhood in Batavia, Java (1871–1877), author of The Hidden Force (1900)
  • P. A. Daum (1850–1898), newspaperman, author
  • Johan Fabricius (1899–1981), author of De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe (1923)
  • Anthony Fokker (Blitar, Java, 1890–1939), aviation pioneer
  • Hella Haasse (Batavia, Java, 1918–2011), award winning author
  • Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema (Surabaya, Java, 1917–2007), decorated World War II hero
  • W. R. van Hoëvell (1812–1879), church minister of Batavia, political activist (1838–1848)
  • Xaviera Hollander (b. 1943), author
  • Rudy Kousbroek (1929–2010), author
  • Liesbeth List (b. 1941), singer
  • Multatuli (1820–1887), resident on Ambon and Java (1838–1858), iconic author
  • Willem Nijholt, artist, singer
  • Willem Oltmans (1925–2004), journalist, author
  • Helga Ruebsamen (1934–2016), author
  • F. Springer (1932–2011), author
  • Bram van der Stok (Plaju, Sumatra, 1915–1993), decorated World War II hero
  • Madelon Szekely-Lulofs (Surabaya, 1899–1958) author of Rubber(1931)[7] and Koelie (1931)[8]
  • Peter Tazelaar (Bukittingi, Sumatra, 1922–1993), decorated World War II hero
  • Edgar Vos (Makassar, 1931-2010), fashion designer
  • Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (1876–1917), known as Mata Hari, exotic dancer, spy

See also



  1. Ulbe Bosma & Remco Raben (2008). Being "Dutch" in the Indies: A History of Creolisation and Empire, 1500–1920 (11 April 1996 ed.). National University of Singapore Press. pp. 186–286. ISBN 978-0-89680-261-2.
  2. Charles A. Coppel, "Diaspora and hybridity: Peranakan Chinese culture in Indonesia", in Routledge Handbook of the Chinese Diaspora, edited by Chee-Beng Tan, pp. 346-347
  3. Mobini-Kesheh, Natalie (1999). The Hadrami Awakening: Community and Identity in the Netherlands East Indies, 1900-1942. Singapore: SEAP Publications. ISBN 978-0-87727-727-9. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  4. Rush, James R. (2007). Opium to Java: Revenue Farming and Chinese Enterprise in Colonial Indonesia, 1860-1910. Sheffield: Equinox Publishing. ISBN 978-979-3780-49-8. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  5. Willems, Wim "Tjalie Robinson; Biografie van een Indo-schrijver" Chapter: Een Totok als vader (Publisher: Bert Bakker, 2008) p. 45 ISBN 9789035133099.
  6. Tan, Mely G. (2008) (in English and Indonesian), Etnis Tionghoa di Indonesia: Kumpulan Tulisan [Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: Collected Writings] (Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia, 2008) ISBN 978-979-461-689-5 p. 1
  7. Rubber by Madelon Szekely-Lulofs on DBNL website.
  8. Koelie by Madelon Szekely-Lulofs on DBNL website.


  • Bosman, Ulbe and Raben, Remco. De oude Indische wereld 1500–1920. (Bert Bakker, Amsterdam 2003) ISBN 90-351-2572-X (in Dutch)
  • Sastrowardoyo, Subagio Sastra Hindia Belanda dan kita (Publisher: PT Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, 1990) p. 21 ISBN 979-407-278-8 (in Indonesian)
  • Taylor, Jean Gelman. The Social World of Batavia: European and Eurasian in Dutch Asia (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983). ISBN 9780300097092
  • Taylor, Jean Gelman. Indonesia: Peoples and Histories (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003). ISBN 0300097093
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