by Anton Gautama
For over a century, the Pabean Market has been the center of of the spice trade in the agrarian Indonesian province of East Java. The sweet smell of spices filling the air;workers carrying baskets bursting with produce and seafood to the compact, cluttered shops lining the labyrinth of alleys the Pabean Market, is typical but in many ways unique for markets in Java.
Pabean Market in Surabaya is a testament to Indonesian tolerance and diversity. In the century-old structure, thousands of shopkeepers of diverse ancestries: Javanese, Madurese, Chinese, Arab, conduct business in harmony and mutual cooperation. Anton Gautama spent a year roaming the labyrinth of narrow alleyways, seeking the heart and soul of the place he first visited as a young boy. His photographs depict the wonderfully dynamic and complex life of this thriving market, the natural beauty of the architecture, and, above all, the faces and dress of shopkeepers expressing their pride in maintaining a rich cultural heritage.