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Javanese people

Written By Rio Gonzales on Friday, April 20, 2012 | Friday, April 20, 2012


The Javanese people (Javanese Ngoko: Wong Jawa, Krama: Tiyang Jawi; Indonesian: suku Jawa) is an ethnic group native to the Indonesian island of Java. At approximately 85 million people (as of 2009), it is the largest ethnic group on the island, and also in Indonesia. They are predominantly located in the central to eastern parts of the island. Following centuries of migrations they can now be found in most Provinces of Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia and also Suriname in South America.

History
Like most Indonesian ethnic groups, including the Sundanese of West Java, the Javanese are of Austronesian origins whose ancestors are thought to have originated in Taiwan, and migrated through the Philippines, reaching Java between 1,500BCE and 1,000BCE.

Hindu and Buddhist influences arrived through trade contacts with the Indian subcontinent. Since as early as first century CE, Javanese sailors has been trading spices in India. With the intensive contacts, the Javanese developed philosophical concepts that are parallel but not identical with the Indian. Hindu missionaries arrived in 5th century, with Buddhist missionaries also coming around the same period. Local rulers adopted concept of kingly rules with monarch identified with gods.

These Hinduism, Buddhism and Javanese faiths blended into a unique local philosophies.

Prambanan temple
The cradle of Javanese culture is commonly described as being in Kedu Plain in the fertile slopes of Mount Merapi. Earliest dynasties, Sanjaya and Sailendra has their power base there, where they leave major monuments such as Borobudur and Prambanan temple complex.:238-239

Center of Javanese culture and politics was moved to eastern part of the island when Mpu Sindok (r. 929-947) moved the capital of the kingdoms eastward to the valleys of Brantas River in the 10th century CE. The move was most likely caused by volcanic eruption of Merapi and/or invasion from Srivijaya.:238-239
Mpu Sindok's great-grandson Dharmawangsa attempted to attack Srivijaya in Sumatra in 990 AD, but his effort failed. In retaliatory attack he was killed and the Medang kingdom defeated. The kingdom was restored by his nephew Airlangga, son of his sister Princess Mahendradatta of Medang and King Udayana of Bali. The new kingdom was named Kahuripan, but following Airlangga's death it was partitioned along Brantas river into two kingdoms: Panjalu (or Kadiri) and Janggala. The later soon absorbed and reunited with the former.

In eastern Java, Medang Kingdom and later Kadiri developed a refined culture that combined Hindu-Buddhist influences and native culture. For example, Kakawin Ramayana, the Javanese adaptation of Indian Ramayana epic, and Buddhist treatise Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan, both composed during Mpu Sindok's reign.
This was also continued under Singhasari kingdom which ruled following Ken Arok conquest of Kediri in 1222. The major spread of Javanese influence occurred under King Kertanegara of Singhasari in late 13th century. The expansionist king launched major expeditions to Madura, Bali in 1284, Borneo and most importantly to Sumatra in 1275. Following the defeat of Melayu Kingdom, Singhasari controlled trade in Strait of Malacca.

Singhasari dominance was cut short in 1292 by Kediri's rebellion under Jayakatwang, where Kertanegara was killed while in a trance during a Tantric Buddhism ceremony. However, Jayakatwang reign as king of Java soon ended as he was defeated by Kertanegara's son-in-law, Raden Wijaya with the help of invading Mongol troops in March 1293.

Raden Wijaya would later established Majapahit near the delta of Brantas River in modern-day Mojokerto, East Java. Kertanegara policies would later be continued by the Majapahits under King Hayam Wuruk and his minister Gajah Mada.

Bajang Temple
Kingdoms of Java actively involved in spice trade in the sea route of Silk Road. Although not a major spice producer itself, they were able to stockpile spice by trading it with rice, of which Java was a major producer. Surplus rice were traded with black pepper, nutmegs, and cloves from Spice Island and resold with great profit to foreigners. Majapahit is usually regarded as the greatest of these kingdoms. It was both an agrarian and a maritime power, combining wet-rice cultivation and foreign trade. The rulers of Majapahit patronized various art forms in both Buddhist and Hindu traditions, among these is Nagarakretagama poetry composed in 1365 by Buddhist monk Prapanca. The center of Majapahit power was in delta region of Brantas river in modern day East Java, that provided access to both trade in Java Sea and rich rice-producing hinterland. The ruin of their capital can be found in Trowulan.
Following succession disputes and civil wars, Majapahit power collapsed. Java underwent major changes as Islam spread. After the collapse of Majapahit, its various dependencies and vassals broke free. Sultanate of Demak became the new strongest power, gaining supremacy among city-states on the northern coast of Java. Apart from Javanese city-states, it also gained overlordship of ports of Jambi and Palembang in eastern Sumatra, from which produced commodities such as lignaloes and gold. Demak played major role opposing the newly arrived colonial power, the Portuguese. Demak twice attacked the Portugese following their capture of Malacca. They also attacked alliance between Portuguese and the Sunda Kingdom, establishing in process the Sultanate of Banten.

Demak was succeeded by Kingdom of Pajang and finally Sultanate of Mataram. However, Java slowly fell to the Dutch East India Company, which would also eventually control most of Maritime Southeast Asia. Dutch rule was briefly interrupted by British rule in early 19th century. While short, the British administration led by Stamford Raffles, was a significant, and included re-discovery of Borobudur. Conflict with foreign rule was exemplified by the Java War between 1825 and 1830, and the leadership of Prince Diponegoro.

Like the rest of Dutch East Indies, Java was captured by the Empire of Japan during World War II. With Japan defeat, independence was proclaimed in the new republic of Indonesia.

Migrations
Several waves of Javanese migrations have occurred during its long history, some occurred during Hindu-Buddhist period and during Islamic period, while other happened in Colonial period.
Javanese were probably involved in Austronesian migration to Madagascar in the first centuries CE. While the core culture of the migration is most closely related with Ma'anyan of Borneo, a portions of Malagasy language is derived from loanwords from Javanese language.

Since Hindu kingdoms period, Javanese merchants settled at many places in the archipelago.:247 In late 15th century, following the collapse of Majapahit and rise of Muslim principalities on the northern coast of Java, many Hindu nobilities, artisans and courtiers migrated to Bali, where they would contribute to the refined culture of Bali. Other who refused to convert to Islam retreated to Tengger mountain, retaining their Hindu religions and became the Tenggerese people.

Majapahit rigidly established fire-arms and cannonade as a feature of warfare. The demise of the Majapahit empire also cause the flight of disaffected skilled bronze cannon-smiths to Brunei, modern Sumatra and Malaysia, and the Philippines lead to near universal use of the swivel-gun, especially on trade vessels to protect against prevalent marauding pirates, in the Makassar Strait. The Javanese bronze breech-loaded swivel-gun, more correctly known as a meriam was used ubiquitously by the Majapahit navy and unfortunately pirates and rival lords.

In the conflicts during the transitions of power between Demak, Pajang and Mataram in late 16th century, some Javanese migrated to Palembang in southern Sumatra. There they established a sultanate and formed a mix of Malay and Javanese culture. Palembang language is a dialect of Malay language with heavy influence of Javanese.

The Javanese also present in Peninsular Malaya since early times. Portuguese historian De Barros mentioned that there were 10,000 Javanese in Malacca in early 16th century. They were administered with autonomy under their chiefs. Their settlement contributed to the multi-ethnic nature of Malacca. Link between Java and Malacca was important during spread of Islam in Indonesia, when religious missionaries were sent from Malacca to seaports in northern coast of Java.

Large migration to Peninsular Malaya occurred during colonial period when they migrated from Central Java to Malaysia from 1880 to 1930. They migrated to seek a new life away from the Dutch colonists who ruled Indonesia at that time. Today the they live throughout Peninsular Malaysia in parts of Perak, Selangor, and Kedah. The migrants bring with them various aspect of Javanese cultures such as Gamelan music, traditional dances and art of Wayang kulit shadow play.

Javanese merchant also present in the Moluccas as part of spice trade. Following Islamization of Java, they spread Islam in the islands, with Ternate being a Muslim sultanate circa 1484. Javanese merchants also converted coastal cities in Borneo to Islam. The Javanese thus played important part in transmitting Islam from western part to the eastern part of the Archipelago with trades based from northern coast of Java.
New migration pattern emerged during colonial periods. During the rise of VOC power starting in the 17th century, many Javanese were exiled, enslaved or hired as mercenaries to Dutch colonies of Ceylon in South Asia and Cape colony in South Africa. These included princes and nobilities which lost their dispute with the Company and exiled along with their retinues. These, along with exiles from other ethnicities like Bugis and Malay become the Sri Lankan Malay and Cape Malay, ethnic groups respectively. Other political prisoners were transported to closer places. For example Prince Diponegoro and his followers were transported to North Sulawesi, following his defeat in Java War in early 19th century. Their descendants are well-known as Jaton (abbreviation of "Jawa Tondano"/Tondano Javanese).

Major migrations started during Dutch colonial period under Transmigration programs. The Dutch needed many laborers for their plantations, moved many Javanese under the program as contract workers, mostly to other part of the colony in Sumatra. But the Dutch also to sent the Javanese workers to Suriname in southern Americas. Today approximately 15% of Suriname population is of Javanese descent.

The Transmigration program that was created by the Dutch was continued following the Independence. The Javanese were traditionally concentrated in the provinces of East Java, Central Java and Yogyakarta, but due to migrations within Indonesia (as part of transmigration programs or otherwise) there are now high populations of Javanese people in almost all the Indonesian provinces. The province of West Java is home to the Sundanese, Indonesia's second largest ethnic group who are ethnically distinct from the Javanese. The significant Javanese population can be found in Jabodetabek (Greater Jakarta) area, Lampung, South Sumatra and Jambi provinces. Several paguyuban (traditional community organization) were formed by these Javanese immigrant, such as "Pujakesuma" (abbreviation of Indonesian: Putra Jawa Kelahiran Sumatera or Sumatra-born Javanese).

Language
Javanese people use Javanese language in everyday speech. Javanese is a member of Austronesian languages family. It is closely related to, but distinct from, other languages of Indonesia. The language is notable for heavy use of Sanskrit words, which is nearly ubiquitous, especially in literary. This is due to long history of Hinduism and Buddhism influence in Java.

Most Javanese in Indonesia are bilingual and also use Indonesian language, which is the national language of the country. In a public poll held circa-1990, approximately 12% of Javanese used Indonesian, around 18% used both Javanese and Indonesian, and the rest used Javanese exclusively.

Javanese language was commonly written using Javanese script, natively known as Hanacaraka or Carakan. The script is descended from Brahmi script and was commonly used until independence, where they were replaced with Latin alphabets.

While Javanese was not made an official language of Indonesia, it still have a status of 'regional language' for communication in Javanese-majority regions. The language also can be viewed as an 'ethnic language' because it is one of the defining parts in ethnic identity.

Literature
Javanese literature tradition is among the earliest and the oldest surviving literature tradition in Indonesia. The translations of Hindu epic Ramayana and Mahabharata into old Javanese language took place during the era of Medang Kingdom and Kediri kingdom around 9th to 11th century. The Smaradhana is also composed during Kediri kingdom, and it become the prelude of later Panji cycles that spread as far as Siam and Cambodia. Other literary works include, Ken Arok and Ken Dedes, based upon Pararaton, the story of the orphan who usurped his king, and married the queen of the ancient Javanese kingdom. Nagarakretagama which describes Majapahit during its height. One of the Javanese kakawin, Tantu Pagelaran dated from Majapahit period explained the mythical origin of the island and its volcanic nature. Babad Tanah Jawi is a literature which relates to the spread of Islam in Java. Babad Dipanagara telling the story of Prince Diponegoro.


Religion
Giri Kedaton
Historically, Javanese follow a syncretic form of Hinduism, Buddhism and Kejawen ( which is animistic) as they were united under Hindu/Buddhist kingdoms for centuries. Starting from the 15th century, Islam and Christianity came to Java and slowly spread. Islam spread quickly under new Islamic monarchs. The spread of Christianity was supervised by colonial powers. All of the new religions were absorbed and interpreted by the Javanese according to the Javanese traditional values, creating a new set of religious beliefs unique to local culture. Javanese nobles which rejected Islam fled to neighboring Bali where they contributed heavily to the Balinese Hindu religion.

Today, most Javanese follow a moderate form of Islam as their religion. Islam as practiced in Java are influenced by traditional beliefs. Ortodox Islamic traditions are the strongest in northern coast bordering the Java Sea, where Islam was first brought to the island. Islam first came in contact with Java during Majapahit periods, when they traded or made tributary relations with various states like Perlak and Samudra Pasai in modern-day Aceh.

A minority of Javanese also follow Christianity (Protestantism and Catholicism), which are rather concentrated in Central Java (particularly Surakarta, Magelang and Yogyakarta for Catholicism). In a much smaller scale, Buddhism and Hinduism are also found in the Javanese community. The Javanese Tengger tribe is still practicing Hinduism till today.

Kejawen
Many traditional Javanese customs have their roots in the Kejawen belief or Hindu traditions, although most Javanese are not Hindu anymore. Minor deity such as Nyi Loro Kidul and Deities of Mount Merapi are still revered at Yogyakarta, special ceremonies are held to maintain good relationships with Nyi Loro Kidul and Mount Merapi.

Family
Culturally, Javanese people adopt a bilateral kinship system, with male and female descent are of equal importance. It is not customary for Javanese to have a descended surname.
Women have a high degree of autonomy in Javanese culture. In Java parents have little control over decisions of women, unlike paternalistic culture in other part of Asia. Divorce is acceptable and quite common in Java.
For a boy, circumcision is an important transition toward adulthood. The ritual usually held when the boy is 6-12 year old. Following the circumcision it is customary to hold a wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performance. Circumcision is one factor that differentiate the Javanese with related Balinese and Tenggerese, which still predominantly Hindu.

Profession
In Indonesia, Javanese can be found in all professions, especially in the government and the military. Traditionally, most Javanese are farmers. This was especially common because of the fertile volcanic soil in Java. The most important agricultural commodity is rice. In 1997, it was estimated that Java produced 55% of Indonesian output of the crop. Most farmers work small-scale rice field, with around 42% of farmers cultivate less than 0.5 hectare of rice field. In region where soil is less fertile of where rainy season is short, other staple crops is cultivated, such as cassava.
Javanese blacksmiths provide a range of tools such as farming equipment and to cultural items such as gamelan instruments and kris.

Calendar
Javanese calendar is the calendar used by Javanese people concurrently with two other calendars, the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar. Gregorian calendar is the official calendar of Indonesia while the Islamic calendar is used by Muslims and Indonesian government for religious worship and deciding relevant Islamic holidays. Javanese calendar presently used mostly for cultural events (such as Satu Sura) or divination. The present Javanese calendar system is a lunar calendar adopted by Sultan Agung in 1633, based on the Islamic calendar. Previously, Javanese people used a solar system based on the Hindu calendar.
Unlike many other calendar, Javanese calendar use a 5-day week known as the Pasaran cycle. This is still in use today and superimposed with 7-day week of the Gregorian calendar and Islamic calendar to become what is known as the 35-day Wetonan cycle.

Villages
Javanese traditional house
Villages is an important administrative unit in Java. It is divided into two types: Desa with elective leadership, usually in rural area, and Kelurahan, where the leadership is appointed by Indonesian government, usually in urban area. Village administration is managed by officers, still called with their traditional Javanese names. These are lurah (village chief), assisted by offices of carik (village secretary), kamituwa (officer for social affair), jagabaya (office for security), and modin (office for Islamic affair and rituals, derived from Arabic Imam ad-Din, or leader of the faith).

These officers traditionally didn't get paid in cash, but allotted a portion in village's public land to be farmed, called tanah bengkok. In modern day Indonesia, Village chief is elected directly by universal suffrage of the villagers, who was 17 year old and above, or already married. As literacy rate was low before independence, it is customary for the rival candidates to use common items as their campaign symbol, such as fruits, vegetables or traditional foods. The village chief election is usually non-partisan.

Art
Wayang
Javanese origin artforms are among the best known in Indonesia and the whole archipelago. The famous Javanese wayang puppetry culture was influenced by Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The Wayang repertoire stories, lakon, are mostly based on epics from India; Ramayana and Mahabharata. These epics and stories influenced wayang puppetry as well as Javanese classical dances. The influences from Islam and the Western world also can be found.
The art of Batik and Keris dagger are among Javanese origin art expressions. Gamelan musical ensembles are found in both Java and Bali. All of these artforms holds important position, and function within Javanese culture and tradition.

Architecture
With its long history, the Javanese produced many important buildings, ranging from Hindu monuments, Buddhist stupa, mortuary temples, palace complex, and mosques.
The paragon of religious monuments are Hindu temple of Prambanan and Buddhist temple of Borobudur. Both of them 9th centuries temples which are UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both are located near city of Yogyakarta in the slope of Mount Merapi.

Borobudur
Meanwhile example of secular building can be seen in ruins of former capital city of Majapahit Kingdom (14th to 16th century AD) in Trowulan, East Java. The complex covers an area of 11 km x 9 km. It is consisted of various brick building, ranging from 20 to 40 meter-wide canal, purification pools, temples and iconic split gates. The capital complex is currently being submitted in tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage.

Traditional Javanese building can be identified by its trapezoid shaped roof supported by wooden pillars. Another common feature in Javanese building is pendopo, a pavilion with open-side and four large pillars. The pillars and other part of the buildings can be richly carved. This architecture style can be found at kraton or palace of the Sultanates of Yogyakarta (palaces of Hamengkubuwono and Pakualaman) and Surakarta (palaces of Pakubuwono and Mangkunegaran).
Traditional mosques in Java retain its root. Pendopo model is used as main feature of the mosque as its prayer hall. Trapezoid roof is used instead of domes, often with multi-tiered, tiled roof. In addition of not using domes, traditional Javanese mosque also often didn't have minaret. The split gate from earlier Hindu-Buddhist period is still used in many mosques and public buildings in Java.
Important examples of mosque with traditional Javanese architecture are Agung Demak Mosque, Menara Kudus Mosque and Grand Mosque of Banten. Kudus Mosque is even more notable because it incorporate Hindu-style stone architectures.

Cuisine
Javanese cuisine and culture place an important role in rice, the staple food of the island. Among Javanese it is considered not to have a meal if a person hasn't eat rice yet. It is also important part of identity that differentiate Javanese with foreigners that eat bread (the Europeans) and resident of other island who eat sago (for example Moluccans). Rice is also symbol of development and prosperity, while cassava and tuber is associated with poverty.

Javanese cuisine is varied by regions. Eastern Javanese cuisine has preference for more salty and hot foods. While the Central Javanese prefer sweeter foods.

Famous food in Javanese cuisine is for example Rujak Cingur, a marinated cow lips and noses, served with vegetable, shrimp prawn and peanut sauce with chili. Rojak Cingur is considered traditional food of Surabaya in East Java.

Gudeg is a traditional food from Yogyakarta and Central Java which is made from young Nangka (jack fruit) boiled for several hours with palm sugar, and coconut milk.

Pecel, a type of peanut sauce with chili is a common ingredients in Javanese cuisine. It is used in various type of Rujak and Gado-gado. It can also be used as stand alone sauce with rice and prawn, egg and vegetables as Nasi Pecel (Pecel rice).

Tumpeng, is a rice served in the shape of a conical volcano, usually with rice colored yellow using turmeric. It is an important part of ceremony in Java. Tumpeng served in landmark events such as birthday, moving house, or other ceremonies. Traditionally, Tumpeng is served alongside fried chicken, boiled egg, vegetables, goat meat on a round plate made from bamboo called besek.
But the most famous food originated in Java is perhaps tempeh, a meat substitute made from soy bean fermented with mold. It is a staple source of protein in Java and popular in the world as an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians.

Social stratification
The famous American anthropologist Clifford Geertz in the 1960s divided the Javanese community into three aliran or "streams": santri, abangan and priyayi. According to him, the Santri followed an orthodox interpretation Islam, the abangan was the followed a syncretic form of Islam that mixed Hindu and animist elements (often termed Kejawen), and the priyayi was the nobility.

But today the Geertz opinion is often opposed because he mixed the social groups with belief groups. It was also difficult to apply this social categorisation in classing outsiders, for example other non-indigenous Indonesians such as persons of Arab, Chinese and Indian descent.
Social stratification is much less rigid in northern coast area, which is much more egalitarian.

Names
Javanese do not usually have family names or surnames. Many have just a single name. For example, Sukarno or Suharto. Javanese names may come from traditional Javanese languages, many of which are derived from Sanskrit. Names with the prefix Su-,which means good, are very popular. After the advent of Islam, many Javanese began to use Arabic names, especially coast populations, where Islamic influences are stronger. Commoners usually only have one-word names, while nobilities use two-or-more-word names, but rarely a surname. Due to the influence of other cultures, many people started using names from other languages, mainly European languages. Christian Javanese usually use Latin baptism names followed by a traditional Javanese name.

Some people use a patronymic. For example, Abdurrahman Wahid's name is derived from his father's name (Wahid Hasyim) who was an independence fighter and minister. In turn, Wahid Hasyim's name was derived from that of his father: Hasyim Asyari, a famous cleric and founder of the Nahdlatul Ulama organization.

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