ETHNONYMS: Orang Djawa, Tijang Djawi, Wong Djawa
Identification. The Javanese are Indonesia's largest ethnic group and the world's third-largest Muslim ethnic group, following Arabs and Bengalis. "Wong Djawa" or "Tijang Djawi" are the names that the Javanese use to refer to themselves. The Indonesian term for the Javanese is "Orang Djawa." The term djawa has been traced to the Sanskrit word yava, "barley, grain." The name is of great antiquity and appears in Ptolemy's Geography.
Location. The Javanese primarily occupy the provinces of East and Central Java, although there are also some Javanese on other Indonesian islands. Java, one of the largest islands of Indonesia, is located between 6° and 9° S and 105° and 115° E. The climate is tropical, with a dry season from March to September and a wet season from September to March. Mountains and plateaus are somewhat cooler than the lowlands.
Demography. The Javanese population was 2 million in 1775. In 1900 the population of the island was 29 million and in 1990 it was estimated to be over 109 million (including the small island of Madura). Jakarta, the capital city, then had a population of about 9.5 million people. Some areas of Java have close to the highest rural population density in the world: the average density is 1,500 persons per square mile and in some areas it is considerably higher. In 1969 Jay reported a population density of 6,000-8,000 persons per square kilometer in residential areas of rural Modjokuto. Population growth combined with small and fragmented landholdings has produced severe problems of overcrowding and poverty.
Linguistic Affiliation. The Javanese are bilingual. They speak Bahasa Indonesia, the Indonesian national language, in public and in dealings with other ethnic groups, but at home and among themselves they speak Javanese. The Javanese language belongs to the West Indonesian Branch of the Hesperonesian Subfamily of the Malayo-Polynesian Family. Javanese has a literary history dating back to the eighth century. The language has nine styles of speech, the uses of which are determined by principles of etiquette. There is a trend toward simplification of speech levels.
History and Cultural Relations
Wet-rice agriculture and state organization were present in Java before the eighth century. Indian influence between the eighth and fourteenth centuries produced a number of petty Shaivite/Buddhist kingdoms. The Madjapahit Empire flourished near the present city of Surabaja during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, during which time Indian Muslims and Chinese dominated international trade. When the center of power shifted to port towns during the sixteenth century, Indian and Malay Muslims dominated trade. The aristocracy adopted a form of Islam that had been influenced by south Indian religious beliefs, and Islam spread.
The Mataram Kingdom rose in the sixteenth century and flourished until the middle of the eighteenth century. First the Portuguese, and later the Dutch, dominated trade during this period. The Dutch East India Company divided Mataram into several vassal states around 1750 and later these states came under the rule of the Dutch colonial government. Except for a brief period of British rule, Java remained under Dutch rule; it was opened to private Dutch enterprise after 1850. A nationalist movement arose in the early twentieth century and communism was introduced. There was an unsuccessful revolution in the late 1920s. After Japanese occupation during World War II, Indonesia declared its independence. The Dutch transferred sovereignty to Indonesia in 1949 after four years of warfare.
High population density imparts an urban quality to all of Java, including the rural areas. The majority of the population lives in small villages and towns and approximately 25 percent lives in cities. Population is evenly distributed and villages are often separated by no more than a few hundred meters. Villages are never more than 8 kilometers from a town. Although there are a number of towns and cities in Java, the only cities with true urban and industrial characteristics are Jakarta, Surabaja, and Semarang. Landholdings are small and fragmented.
The typical village house is small and rectangular. It is built directly on the ground and has a thatched roof. The inside has earthen floors and its small compartments are divided by movable bamboo panels. House styles are defined by the shape of the roof. Village houses that reflect urban influence have brick walls and tiled roofs. Large open pavilions at the front are typical of houses of high-ranking administrative officers and members of the nobility.
Subsistence and Commercial Activities . Java has a dual economy with industrial and peasant sectors. The Dutch established plantations based on a Western model of business Organization. This segment of the economy is now concerned with estate agriculture, mining, and industry. It is highly capitalized and it produces primarily for export. Wet-rice agriculture is the principal activity of the peasant economy; fishing is important in coastal villages. Animal husbandry is not developed for want of space. A number of dry-season crops are produced for sale, and there are also some small-scale cottage industries and a local market system.
Industrial Arts. Small-scale industries are not well developed because of problems in capital, distribution, and marketing. Cottage industries in Central Java Province are silver work, batik, handweaving, and the manufacture of native cigarettes.
Trade. There are local markets, each servicing four to five villages throughout rural Java. The retailers are usually women.
Division of Labor. Javanese are primarily farmers, local traders, and skilled artisans. Intermediate trade and small industry are dominated by foreign Asians, and the large plantations and industries are owned by Europeans. In precolonial Java, the population was divided between royalty, with its court and the nobility, and the peasantry. Two more classes emerged under colonialism and with the development of administrative centers. These classes are landless laborers and government officials, or prijaji. The prijaji are generally urban and there are several statuses. In rural areas farming remains the predominant occupation. Some people engage in craft specializations and trade but these occupations are usually part-time. The majority of everyone's time is spent on farming. In rural areas learned professionals such as teachers, spiritual leaders, and puppeteers are usually people from affluent families. These latter occupations have considerable prestige but they are also practiced only part-time. Local and central government officials have the highest prestige.
Land Tenure. Traditionally much of the land was held communally and communities recruited corvée (unpaid labor) for the king, the nobility, or the colonial government. Even today, communal land is reserved for schools, roads, and cemeteries and for support of the village headman and his staff. The corvée consisted of a group of villagers (kuli ), who constituted the productive labor force of the village. Communal land was allotted for usufruct as compensation to the kuli. In some places the kuli became a hereditary status included with the inheritance of the land. In addition, many Javanese villages have tracts of communal land allotted to the population for usufruct on a rotating basis. Individual holdings are small.
Kin Groups and Descent. Descent is bilateral and the basic kin group is the nuclear family (kulawarga ). Two kindredlike groups are recognized by the Javanese. One is the golongan, an informal bilateral group whose members usually reside in the same village and who participate together in various ceremonies and celebrations. The alur waris, the second kindredlike group, is a more formal unit involved in caring for the graves of ancestors.
Kinship Terminology. Four principles govern Javanese kinship terminology. First, the system is bilateral; that is, the kin terms are the same whether the link is the father or the mother. The second principle is generational; that is, all the members of each generation are verbally grouped. The third principle is seniority, a principle that subdivides each generation into junior and senior categories. Finally, the fourth principle is gender. There is a slight distinction made between nuclear-family relatives and others.
Marriage. Individuals usually choose their own spouses, although parents sometimes arrange marriages. Marriage is prohibited between members of the nuclear family, half siblings, and second cousins. Several types of marriage are disapproved of but people can avoid the supernatural sanctions associated with them by performing protective rituals. The idea of preferred marriages is not widely known.
Marriage formalities include a gift to the bride's parents from the groom's relatives, a meeting of the bride's relatives at her house the night before the ceremony, civil and religious ceremonies and transactions, and a ceremonial meeting of the couple. Divorce is common and is accomplished according to Muslim law.
Most marriages are monogamous. Polygyny is practiced only among the urban lower class, orthodox high-ranking prijaji, and the nobility.
There is no fixed postmarital residence rule, although the ideal is neolocal. Uxorilocal residence is common in southern Central Java Province. High-ranking prijaji and the nobility tend toward residence in either of the parents' homes. Urban prijaji are neolocal.
Domestic Unit. The Javanese term for "household" is somah. Peasants and the average urban prijaji live in monogamous nuclear-family households with an average population of five to six. High-ranking prijaji and the nobility have polygynous uterolocal extended families and are larger.
Inheritance. Dwellings and their surrounding garden land are inherited by a married daughter or granddaughter after a period of coresidence. Fruit trees, domestic animals, and cultivable land are inherited equally by all the children, while heirlooms are usually inherited by a son.
Socialization. Children are treated indulgently until the age of two to four when inculcation and discipline begin. The most common methods of discipline are snarling, corporal punishment, comparison to siblings and others, and threat of external disapproval and sanctions. The latter type of discipline encourages children to be fearful and shy around strangers. Mothers are the primary socializing agents, as well as sources of affection and support, while fathers are more distant. Older siblings often take care of young children. First menstruation for girls is marked simply by a slametan, or communal meal, while for boys circumcision, occurring between the ages of 6 and 12, is an important and dramatic event.
Social Organization. Javanese social classes have a long history. During the time of the Mataram Kingdom, peasants were ruled by a landed nobility or gentry representing the king. The king allotted land to some people in an appanage system. Merchants lived in coastal and port towns where international trade was in the hands of Chinese, Indians, and Malays. The port towns were ruled by princes. This pattern prevailed until the colonial period. During that period, in addition to the peasantry, two new classes arose, nonpeasant laborers and the prijaji. The prijaji, descendants of the precolonial administrative gentry, were "white-collar" workers and civil servants. There was a class of nobles (ndara ) who could trace their descent from the rulers of the Mataram Kingdom.
During the twentieth century, there has been a trend toward an egalitarian social system and a drive to make upward mobility available to all. By the middle of the twentieth century, peasants comprised the largest class and there was a growing class of landless agricultural laborers.
Political Organization. Indonesia is an independent republic and the head of state is President Suharto. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta and the ministries of the national government are located there. The ministries have branches at various levels from which they administer services. There are three provinces (propinsi ) in Java. In addition, the Special Region of Jogjakarta, or Daerah Istimewa Jogjakarta, has provincial status. There are five residencies (karésidènen ) in each province. Each residency contains four or five districts (kawédanan ) and each district has four or five subdistricts (katjamatan ). There are ten to twenty village complexes (kalurahan in Javanese, desa in Indonesian) in each subdistrict. The smallest unit of administration is the dukuhan and each kalurahan contains two to ten of them. Some dukuhan contain a number of smaller villages or hamlets also called desa. The kalurahan or desa is headed by an official called a lurah and the dukuhan is headed by a kamitua.
Social Control. In rural areas the neighborhood exerts the greatest pressures toward conformity with social values. The strongest sanctions are gossip and shunning. Kin seem to have less force than the neighborhood in exerting social control.
Conflict. Interpersonal conflict, anger, and aggression are repressed or avoided in Javanese society. In Java it is difficult to express differences of opinion. Direct criticism, anger, and annoyance are rarely expressed. The major method of handling interpersonal conflict is by not speaking to one another (satru ). This type of conflict resolution is not surprising in a society that represses anger and expression of true feelings. Concern with maintaining peaceful interactions results in not only the avoidance of conflict and repression of true feelings, but also in the prevalence of conciliatory techniques, particularly in status-bound relationships. One source of antagonism is between adherents of different religious orientations; this is related to class differences, prijaji versus abangan villagers (see under "Religious Beliefs"), and has much to do with rapid social change.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefs. Virtually all Javanese are Muslims. In reality, the religion of the Javanese is syncretic, with Islam being laid over spiritual and mystical beliefs of Hindu-Buddhist and indigenous origins. The difference in degree of adherence to the doctrines of Islam constitutes a dichotomy that pervades Javanese culture. The santri are strict in their adherence to Islam while the abangan are not. This dichotomy has class and political-party implications.
The peasant abangan knows the general structure of Islam but does not follow it to the letter. The abangan religion is a blend of indigenous beliefs, Hinduism-Buddhism, and Islam. In addition to Allah, abangan believe in several Hindu deities and numerous spirits that inhabit the environment. Abangan also believe in a form of magical power that is possessed by the dukun, who is a specialist in magical practices, a curer, and/or a sorcerer.
The prijaji abangan religious practice is similar to that of the peasant abangan but it is somewhat more sophisticated. It has an elaborate philosophy of fate and is quite mystical. Asceticism and the practice of meditation are characteristic of prijaji abangan religion. Sects under the leadership of gurus are typical.
The santri are present among all social levels but they predominate in the commercial classes. The santri diligently comply with Islamic doctrine. They perform the required prayers five times a day, attend communal prayers at the mosque every Friday, fast during the month of Ramadan (Pasa), do not eat pork, and make every effort to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once.
Religious Practitioners. There are several types of religious practitioner in Islam. There are sects consisting of a guru or kijaji (teacher) and murid (disciple) dyads that are hierarchically organized. Individual kijaji attract students to their pondoks or pesantren (monasterylike schools) to teach Muslim doctrines and laws. In addition to the dominance of Islam, magic and sorcery are widely practiced among the Javanese. There are many varieties of dukun, each one dealing with specialized kinds of ritual such as agricultural rituals, fertility rituals, etc. Dukun also perform divination and curing.
Ceremonies. The communal meal, the slametan, is central to abangan practice and is sometimes also performed by santri. The function of the slametan is to promote slamet, a state of calmness and serenity. The slametan is performed within a household and it is usually attended by one's closest neighbors. Occasions for a slametan include important lifecycle events and certain points in the Muslim ceremonial calendar; otherwise it is performed for the well-being of the village.
Arts. Geertz (1964) describes three art "complexes," each involving different forms of music, drama, dance, and literature. The Javanese shadow play, the wajang, is known worldwide and is central to the alus (refined) art complex. The wajang uses puppets to dramatize stories from the Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, or from Java's precolonial past. Wajang performances are accompanied by gamelan (percussion orchestras), which also have achieved worldwide fame. Another art form associated with the alus complex is batik textile dyeing. The alus art complex is classical and traditional and is largely the domain of the prijaji. The other two art complexes are more popular, nationally shared, and Western-influenced.
Medicine. Doctors practicing scientific medicine are present and are consulted in Java, especially in urban areas, but curers and diviners continue to be important in all of Javanese culture. In addition to the dukun who perform magic rites, there are many dukun who cure illnesses. These latter dukun include curers who use magic spells, herbalists, midwives, and masseurs. It is said that even urban prijaji who regularly consult medical doctors may also consult dukun for particular illnesses and psychosomatic complaints.
Death and Afterlife. Funerals are held within hours of death and they are attended by neighbors and close relatives who are able to arrive in time. A coffin is built and a grave is dug quickly while a village official performs rituals. A simple ceremony is held at the home of the deceased followed by a procession to the graveyard and burial. A slametan is held with food provided by neighbors. Javanese funerals are marked with the same emotional restraint that characterizes other social interactions. Graves are visited regularly, espedaily at the beginning and end of the fasting month, and they are tended by relatives. The Javanese believe in continuing ties with the dead and especially ties between parents and children. Children hold a number of slametans at intervals after death with the last held 1,000 days after the death. There are varying beliefs about life after death, including the standard Islamic concepts of eternal retribution, beliefs in spirits or ghosts who continue to influence events, and belief in reincarnation, the last sternly condemned by the orthodox Muslims.
Dewey, Alice G. (1962). Feasant Marketing in Java. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.
Geertz, Clifford (1964). The Religion of Java. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.
Geertz, Clifford (1975). The Social History of an Indonesian Town. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Geertz, Hildred (1961). The Javanese Family: A Study of Kinship and Socialization. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.
Jay, Robert (1969). Javanese Villagers: Social Relations in Rural Modjokuto. Cambridge and London: MIT Press.
Williams, Linda B. (1990). Development, Demography, and Family Decision Making: The Status of Women in Rural Java. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.
M. MARLENE MARTIN
"Javanese." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/javanese
"Javanese." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/javanese
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.
POPULATION: 60–80 million
1 • INTRODUCTION
The Javanese are the dominant ethnic group of Indonesia. Non-Javanese Indonesians often complain of a Javanese "colonialism" having replaced the Dutch version. Although Javanese culture is just another regional culture, it has far greater power to influence national culture.
The Austronesian ancestors of the Javanese arrived perhaps as early as 3000 bc from the Kalimantan coast. Apparently the island's agricultural bounty was renowned from the earliest times: "Java" comes from the Sanskrit Yavadvipa ("island of barley").
Over the centuries, various native Javanese states emerged. Most were fragile coalitions of regional lords under central dynasties, often embroiled in bloody succession struggles. In the fifteenth century ad, Java's north coast ports fell under the influence of Muslim Malacca, and under the rule of the descendants of non-Javanese Muslim merchants. The Dutch government took control of Java in the 1830s. A population explosion turned three million Javanese in 1800 to twenty-eight million by 1900. The Javanese took the lead in the Islamic, communist, and nationalist movements that challenged colonialism from early in the twentieth century.
2 • LOCATION
The island of Java is roughly the size of Britain. Some 63 percent of the island is cultivated; 25 percent of the surface is devoted to wet-rice paddies. The northern coastal plain faces the shallow and busy Java Sea. Along the southern shore, plateaus fall sharply to the Indian Ocean. The Javanese homeland consists of the provinces of Central Java and East Java (minus the island of Madura) and the Special Region of Yogyakarta. Javanese have also settled for centuries along the northern coast of West Java, particularly in the area of Cirebon and Banten.
Numbering between 60 million and 80 million people, the Javanese account for more than 40 percent of Indonesia's total population.
3 • LANGUAGE
The Javanese language is Austronesian. It is most similar to neighboring Sandiness and Madurese. It divides into several regional dialects.
A speaker of Javanese must adjust his or her "speech level" according to the status of the person addressed. There are basically two "speech levels": nikko and kromo. Nikko is the language in which a person thinks. It is only appropriate to use nikko with people of equal status whom one knows intimately, and with social inferiors. Kromo is spoken to older people, people of higher status, and those whose status is not yet known by the speaker. Many of the most basic sentences differ markedly at the two levels. In nikko, "Where [are you] coming from?" is Soko ngendi. In kromo, it is Saking pundi. Mastering kromo is an acquired skill.
Javanese do not use surnames. They go only by a single personal name. Two examples are the names of twentieth-century Indonesian leaders Sukarno and Suharto, both Javanese.
4 • FOLKLORE
Javanese recognize several classes of supernatural beings. Memedis are frightening spirits. These include the gendruwo, which appear to people as familiar relatives in order to kidnap them, making them invisible. If the victim accepts food from the gendruwo, he or she will remain invisible forever.
The greatest spirit is Ratu Kidul, the Queen of the South Sea. She is believed to be the mystical bride of Java's rulers. Her favorite color is green. Young men avoid wearing green while at the Indian Ocean shore so that they will not be pulled down into Ratu Kidul's underwater realm.
Another set of legendary figures are the wali songo. These are the nine holy men who brought Islam to Java. They are credited with magical powers such as flying.
5 • RELIGION
All but a fraction of Javanese are Muslim. However, only a portion regularly follow the "five pillars of Islam" and other practices of orthodox, Middle Eastern Islam. They have come to be called santri and are further divided into two subgroups. The "conservatives" keep to orthodox Islam as it has been practiced for centuries by the Javanese. The "modernists" reject local traditions and embrace a form of Islam supported by Western-style educational institutions.
Non-santri Javanese Muslims are popularly termed abangan or Islam kejawen. They do not perform the five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, or make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Their religious life focuses on ritual meals called slametan.
As much as 12 percent of the population of the island of Java adhere to religions other than Islam. There are several hundred thousand Christians. Among these, Roman Catholics are particularly numerous.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
The first day (beginning at sunset) of the Islamic year ( 1 Sura) is regarded as a special day. On the eve of the holiday, people stay up all night. They watch processions such as the kirab pusaka (parading of the royal heirlooms) in the town of Solo. Many meditate on mountains or beaches. The birthday of Muhammad ( 12 Mulud) is celebrated in Yogya and Solo by holding the Sekaten fair the week preceding the date. Ancient gamelans (a type of orchestra) are played at the festival. On the holiday itself, there is a procession involving three or more sticky-rice "mountains" (symbolizing male, female, and baby).
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
On the thirty-fifth day after birth, a ceremony is held with special food and much family celebrating.
Arranged marriages still occur in villages, but most Javanese choose their own partners. The process begins with the man formally asking the woman's father or male guardian (wali) for her hand. On the night before the wedding, the woman's kin visit the graves of ancestors to ask for their blessing. Kin, neighbors, and friends come for a slametan feast.
The wedding ceremony itself is the conclusion of the Islamic marriage contract between the groom and the bride's father or wali. The groom, with his party, proceeds to the bride's house. There is a festive meal with music and dancing. The groom can take the bride away after five days. The trend today is for wealthy families to display their status by reviving the more elaborate traditional ceremonies.
Javanese hold slametan (ceremonies) for the deceased on the third, seventh, fortieth, one-hundredth, and one-thousandth day after death. On Ramadan and certain other holidays, people put flowers on the graves of their departed loved ones.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
The Javanese avoid confrontation at all costs. They react even to disturbing news with a resigned smile and soft words. They never give a direct refusal to any request (however, they are very good at giving and taking hints). In addition to polite speech, proper respect requires appropriate body language: bowing and slow, graceful movements. Children who have not yet learned to behave in a dignified way are said to be durung jawa, "not yet Javanese."
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
In Javanese villages, individual houses and yards are enclosed by bamboo fences. Village houses sit on the ground and have earthen floors. They have a framework of bamboo, palm trunks, or teak. The walls are of plaited bamboo (gedek), wood planks, or bricks. The roofs are made of dried palm leaves (blarak) or tiles. Inside, rooms have movable gedek partitions. Traditional houses have no windows. Light and air enter through chinks in the walls or holes in the roof.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
The nuclear family (kuluwarga or somah) is the basic unit of Javanese society. It includes a couple and their unmarried children. Sometimes a household also includes other relatives and married children and their families. A married couple prefers to set up a separate household if they can afford to. Otherwise, they usually move in with the wife's parents. Taking more than one wife is rare. The divorce rate is high among village folk and poorer city folk. After a divorce, the children stay with the mother. If she marries again, the children may go to live with other relatives.
Javanese mothers remain close to their children throughout their lives. Fathers, however, become more distant after children reach the age of four. Fathers are regarded as the heads of the house, but the mother exercises more real control. Parents are supposed to be constantly correcting and advising their children, however old the child is. Children, though, never criticize or correct their parents except in the most indirect ways.
Descendants of a common great-grand-parent form a golongan or sanak-sadulur. Their members help each other hold major celebrations and gather on Islamic holidays. Larger still is the alurwaris, a kinship group directed toward the care of the graves of a common ancestor seven generations back.
11 • CLOTHING
For everyday wear, Javanese follow the Indonesian style of dress. Men and women also commonly wear sarongs (a skirtlike garment) in public. Ceremonial clothing for men includes a sarong, high-collared shirt, jacket, and a blangkon, a head cloth wrapped to resemble a skullcap. Women wear the sarong, kebaya (long-sleeved blouse), and selendang (sash over the shoulder). The woman's hairstyle is called sanggul (long hair in a thick, flat bun at the back—now achieved with a wig addition). Handbags are always worn. Traditional dance costumes and wedding attire leave the chest bare for men and the shoulders bare for women.
12 • FOOD
The most common meal ingredients are rice, stir-fried vegetables, dried salted fish, tahu (tofu), tempeh (a bar of fermented soybeans), krupuk (fish or shrimp crackers), and sambel (chili sauce). Favorite dishes include gado-gado (a salad of partially boiled vegetables eaten with a peanut sauce), sayur lodeh (a vegetable and coconut milk stew), pergedel (fat potato fritters), and soto (soup with chicken, noodles, and other ingredients). Dishes of Chinese origin are very popular, such as bakso (meatball soup), bakmi (fried noodles), and cap cay (stir-fried meat and vegetables). Common desserts are gethuk (a steamed cassava dish colored pink, green, or white) and various sticky-rice preparations (jenang dodol, klepon, and wajik).
Nasi Tumpeng (Festive Rice Cone)
- 6 cups cooked white rice
- 6 scallions
- 1 hard-boiled egg
- 1 small shallot or pearl onion
- 1 small red chili
- Bamboo skewer
- With clean hands, mound the rice into a cone shape about four inches in diameter and about five inches high. Press firmly to form a cone that will hold its shape.
- Carefully peel six or eight lengths of green scallion, and tie them together about one inch from their end. (A small rubber band could be used for this.)
- Place the tied end on top of the rice cone. Drape the green ends evenly to form stripes down the side of the cone.
- Thread the chili, pearl onion or shallot, and hard-boiled egg onto the skewer. Carefully insert the skewer into the rice cone to make a garnish top for the cone.
Javanese often buy prepared food from peddlers making the rounds of neighborhoods. They enjoy lesehan, late-night dining on mats provided by sidewalk food vendors. For special occasions, the tumpeng slematan, a cone-shaped mound of steamed rice, is served ceremoniously. The guest of honor holds a knife in his right hand and a spoon in his left. First, he cuts off the top of the cone, usually featuring a hard-boiled egg and some chilies in a type of garnish, and places it on a serving plate. Then he cuts a horizontal slice from the top of the rice cone and serves it to the most-respected (usually the oldest) guest.
13 • EDUCATION
See the article on "Indonesians" in this chapter.
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
The full gamelan orchestra is an important part of traditional rituals, festivities, and theater. It consists of bronze gongs, keyed metallophones (like xylophones), drums, a flute, a rebab fiddle, and a celempung zither. It also includes male and female vocalists. The music (either loud or soft styles) includes hundreds of compositions (gending) in a variety of forms.
Traditional dance emphasizes precise control of the body, particularly in graceful hand movements. The most revered dances are the bedoyo and srimpi, in which young women symbolically enact combat. Male dancing includes the tari topeng in which solo performers portray folktale characters.
Javanese literature goes back to the eleventh century ad, beginning with adaptations of the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The earliest surviving literature in modern Javanese includes babad, poetical chronicles of Java's history. Novels and short stories are produced in Javanese but must compete with better-known works in Indonesian.
15 • EMPLOYMENT
Some 60 percent of Javanese earn a living from agriculture. They grow wet rice and dry-field (tegalan) crops (cassava, corn, yams, peanuts, and soybeans). In mountain areas, many peasants engage in market gardening (vegetables and fruits).
Traditionally, Javanese look down on manual labor and commercial occupations. They prefer white-collar jobs and, most of all, aspire to bureaucratic service. However, most nonfarming Javanese work as artisans or as petty traders (many are women). With Indonesia's economic boom, more Javanese are taking factory or service jobs. Poverty has forced many Javanese into low-status jobs such as maid, street peddler, fare-collector, parking attendant, or ngamen (street musician who plays on sidewalks or on buses between stops).
16 • SPORTS
See the article on "Indonesians" in this chapter.
17 • RECREATION
On the whole, urban middle-class Javanese prefer pop culture to the traditional performing arts as a source of entertainment. However, the urban poor, peasants, and some members of the elite still enjoy the traditional performing arts.
Java's master art form is the wayang kulit shadow-puppet play. Flat puppets are manipulated against a screen lit by a lamp or electric bulb overhead. The plays are based on the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana and include intrigues, romance, comedy, and tragedy. Nowadays, wayang is broadcast on the radio, blaring from open-air eateries.
Today a popular form of theater is central-Javanese ketoprak. Based on stories from Javanese history, and Chinese and Arab tales, it emphasizes spoken comedy and melodrama rather than music and dance.
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Batik textiles are the best-known Javanese craft. The intricate designs are created in several dyeings. The space not to be dyed in a particular color is covered with wax. Batik styles differ radically. Some emphasize dense geometric patterns in brown, indigo, and white. Others feature delicate floral patterns in red and other bright colors.
Other noteworthy crafts are leatherwork (wayang puppets), woodcarving (dance masks, furniture, and screens), pottery, glass-painting, and ironsmithing (kris swords).
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
Javanese peasants must support themselves on smaller and smaller landholdings. Many lose their land and must become tenant farmers, sharecroppers, or wage-laborers for the better-off peasants who can afford fertilizers and some machinery. The military helps industrialists suppress labor unrest in the factories that are multiplying in Java's crowded cities.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Keeler, Ward. Javanese Shadow Plays, Javanese Selves. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987.
Oey, Eric, ed. Java: Garden of the East. Lincoln-wood, Ill.: Passport Books, 1991.
Interknowledge Corp. [Online] Available http://www.interknowledge.com/indonesia/, 1998.
World Travel Guide. Indonesia. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/id/gen.html, 1998.
"Javanese." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/javanese
"Javanese." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/javanese
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
Jav·a·nese / ˌjävəˈnēz; -ˈnēs/ • n. (pl. same) 1. a native or inhabitant of Java, or a person of Javanese descent. 2. the Indonesian language of central Java. • adj. of or relating to Java, its people, or their language.
"Javanese." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/javanese-0
"Javanese." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/javanese-0
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
"Javanese." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/javanese
"Javanese." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/javanese
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
LOCATION: Indonesia (Java)
POPULATION: 100 million
RELIGION: Islam; Protestantism: Catholicism; folk religion
RELATED ARTICLES: Vol 3: Indonesians
To medieval geographers, the name "Java" was virtually synonymous with the entire sweep of islands between China and India. From Mecca's viewpoint, every Muslim from "below the winds," that is, Southeast Asia, was "jawi." While Bali might monopolize Indonesia's tourist brochure image, Java and the Javanese in many ways dominate Indonesia's reality. Non-Javanese Indonesians often complain of a Javanese "colonialism" having replaced the Dutch version, but, from the viewpoint of a multiethnic Jakarta elite oriented towards development and modernity, Javanese culture is just another regional culture, albeit one with far greater power than others to influence national culture in its turn. More importantly, Javanese culture is riven (and enlivened) by the same tensions that obsess Indonesian society as a whole. Javanese Muslim purists find kindred spirits more easily among Malays, Minang, or Bugis than among fellow Javanese whose secularism or syncretism allies them rather to the Balinese, Dayak, or Torajan.
The Austronesian ancestors of the Javanese arrived perhaps as early as 3000 BC from the Kalimantan coast. The name "Java" may have itself originally meant "outlying island," from the point of view of Borneo or Sulawesi. Having acquired metallurgical skills about 2,000 years ago, the Javanese developed complex supra-village polities before choosing to adopt (and recombine and transform) elements of Indian religion, art, and statecraft. From the 7th century, inscriptions and Chinese annals record kingdoms in central Java (two centuries later than in west Java). Despite the value of maritime trade, Mataram, the first great kingdom on Java, emerged in the agrarian interior of central Java, powerful and wealthy enough to raise the "holy mountains" of Borobudur (Mahayana Buddhist) and Prambanan (Sivaite Hindu), monuments surpassing in scale any in India itself. By this time, Java's influence radiated as far as Indochina; the Khmer prince who founded the Angkorean empire had been a captive in Java.
In the 10th century, the vital political and cultural heart of Hindu-Javanese civilization shifted to the Brantas valley in eastern Java, driven from central Java by some unknown (volcanic?) calamity, as well as drawn by greater access to maritime trade. By the end of the 13th century, centered not far inland from modern Surabaya, rose Majapahit, a kingdom whose glorious memory inspired not only Javanese of later centuries but also the Balinese and other peoples of the archipelago. Since Majapahit, like all native Javanese states before and after, was a fragile coalition of regional lords under a paramount dynasty often embroiled in bloody succession struggles, its effective authority could hardly have extended as far as its propaganda claimed. Nonetheless, the list of its far-flung "tributaries" indicates that Majapahit at its height was at the center of a trading network that the Dutch East India Company (VOC), the direct forerunner of modern Indonesia, would later enter and colonize.
In the 15th century, Java's north coast ports fell into the orbit of Muslim Malacca (then the center of international commerce) and under the rule of the descendants of non-Javanese Muslim merchants. These Islamized states, led by Demak, vanquished the remnants of a by then already declining Majapahit and propagated the new religion in the interior. By the following century, in central Java, a new Mataram emerged with a hybrid culture that integrated Islam with the legacy of the old Hindu-Buddhist civilization.
The greatest Mataram ruler, Sultan Agung, might have achieved the unification of Java had it not been for the opposition of the VOC, newly established on the coast. After Agung's death in 1646, Mataram slipped into over a century of civil wars and foreign invasions. The only long-term beneficiary was the ever-intervening VOC, which acquired the north coast and finally oversaw the permanent division of the remaining realm into two equally subjected courts at Surakarta (Solo) and Yogyakarta (Yogya) in 1755.
After the over-extended VOC declared bankruptcy in 1799, the Dutch government took firm control of Java only in the 1830s, after taking half a decade to subdue a rebellion led by the Yogyanese prince, Diponegoro. Colonial pacification deprived Javanese rulers of political power, leaving them the arts as the only theater in which to express authority. Under the Cultivation System, the Dutch, utilizing the native aristocracy and Chinese intermediaries, forced peasants to discharge their tax obligations by growing cash crops (especially sugar) on a portion of their rice lands. Coupled with a population explosion that turned 3 million Javanese in 1800 to 28.4 million by 1900, these exactions impoverished the peasantry.
Resistance took diverse forms: the elite retreated into a world fashioned of arts and etiquette where Javanese refinement remained superior to Dutch "brutishness"; peasants in the Samin movement practiced nonviolent noncooperation, recognizing no obligation to pay taxes. In time, however, the steamship, the railroad, the telegraph, the newspaper, and European racism created an arena for struggle stretching far beyond Java, even beyond the Netherlands Indies. Javanese took the lead in the Islamic, communist, and nationalist movements that challenged colonialism from early in the 20th century. Surakarta was the birthplace in 1911 of Sarekat Islam, the first mass political organization in the Dutch East Indies, and Surabaya was the site of a communist revolt in 1917 among the soldiers and sailors at the naval base there and of fierce resistance in 1945 to British forces come to reimpose Dutch rule after the Japanese occupation. Under the new republic, Yogyakarta, out of recognition for its sultan's support for the struggle for independence, was not integrated into the province of Central Java but rather was granted province-level status in its own right. All but one of Indonesia's presidents have been Javanese, the exception being B. J. Habibie, a Bugis. Sukarno was a partial exception, being half-Balinese.
Java, along with Bali, suffered the great majority of the killings during the anti-leftist massacres of 1965-1966; one of the most important factors leading to the bloodshed was conflict over land in rural Java between landowning peasants aligned with Islamic parties and landless peasants aligned with the Communist party. In promoting the growth of export industries in Java's cities, development under Suharto's New Order regime increased the importance of Java in Indonesia's overall economy, long heavily dependent on the export of petroleum and other natural resources from the Outer Islands. Despite much small-scale, "routine" collective violence (including vigilante exercises of "popular justice" against "immoral elements," attacks on black-magic practitioners [dukun santet], and church burnings), more than in other parts of Indonesia, Java has not seen episodes of ferocious ethnic/religious conflict resulting in thousands of dead and tens of thousands displaced as have occurred in the Moliccas and Kalimantan, though Surakarta was the site of major anti-Chinese rioting in May 1998.
See also the article entitled Indonesians.
LOCATION AND HOMELAND
The Britain-sized island of Java formed eons ago along the line where the Indo-Australian plate meets the continental shelf of Asia. Their collision folded Java along two parallel east-west lines of plateaus and hills. Along the intervening trough, a series of volcanoes broke through; well-spaced, their peaks slope gradually down to broad plains, ideal for rice terraces. Some 63% of the island is cultivated (as compared to 10–20% of the other Indonesian islands); 25% of the surface is devoted to wet-rice paddies. Fragmented into rice-fields that give way to fishponds and saltpans and dotted with ports, the northern coastal plain faces the shallow and busy Java Sea. Along the southern shore, in contrast, plateaus fall sharply down to a deep and desolate Indian Ocean.
According to the 2000 census, Javanese comprised 41.7% of Indonesia's total population, thus numbering 83.9 million. No other Southeast Asian national population and no European one outnumbers them. Speaking dialects of Javanese but counted separately were the Bantenese (4.1 million) and Cirebonese (1.9 million) of western Java. Java's population density ranges from 850 persons per sq km (2,200 per sq mi) to as high as 2,000 persons per sq km (5,180 per sq mi) in the countryside around Yogyakarta. According to 2005 figures, Central Java's population density stood as high as 982 per sq km, East Java's at 757, far higher than West Sumatra's 106 for West Sumatra and Central Kalimantan's 12. Urban crowding is even more striking, given that single-story housing rather than high-rises is the norm.
The Javanese homeland consists of the provinces of Central Java and East Java, minus the island of Madura, and the Special Region of Yogyakarta. Javanese have also settled for centuries along the northern coast of West Java, particularly in the area of Cirebon and Banten. Javanese perceive several regional subcultures. The major division is between the kejawen and the pesisir. Extending over the north coast and including distinct centers, such as Cirebon, Demak-Kudus, and Surabaya, the pesisir is more oriented towards maritime commerce and partakes more directly in Islamo-Malay civilization. Centered on the old royal cities of Surakarta (Solo) and Yogyakarta (Yogya), the kejawen of the interior, on the other hand, emphasizes an indigenous synthesis of Islamic and the older Hindu-Buddhist cultures. This subculture includes the "outlying territories" (mancanegara) of the Bengawan Solo and Brantas valleys, as well as the Banyumas area bordering the Sundanese cultural zone. Depopulated by Mataram's wars, much of contemporary East Java presents a highly mixed landscape, including Madurese, "Westerners" (tiyang kilenan, migrants from central Java), Hindu-Buddhist Tenggerese, and the Balinese-influenced tiyang Osing of the eastern salient.
Migration from Java is a longstanding phenomenon. Javanese, from merchant princes to artisans and servants, filled 15th-century Malacca. Since the 19th century, the land scarcity attendant upon overpopulation has driven tens of thousands to emigrate, first as coolies, later as transmigrants, to the southern and eastern coasts of Sumatra, to Kalimantan, and to Sulawesi. For instance, Javanese comprise 62% of the population in Lampung province (on Sumatra across the Sunda Strait from Java), 32% in North Sumatra, 30% in East Kalimantan, and 12% in Papua; more than one in three residents of the national capital Jakarta is Javanese. Transmigration is in part responsible for the reduction in the proportion of Indonesia's population living on Java and Madura—from 68.5% in 1960 to 58.7% in 2005. In the late 19th century, different colonial powers imported Javanese labor (like Chinese and Indian) to work in Malaya, South Africa, Suriname, Curaçao, and New Caledonia. About 15% of Suriname's current population is Javanese. After more than a century, some of these communities retain their ancestor's language and culture.
The Javanese language is Austronesian, most similar to neighboring Sundanese and Madurese (less so to Malay). It divides into several regional dialects. The people of Solo and Yogya regard their own speech as the most refined and view other dialects as corruptions (other Javanese often agree).
To a level comparable only to Japanese and Korean among major languages, every exchange in the Javanese language systematically defines the hierarchical relations between the speakers. A speaker must adjust his or her "speech level" according to the status of the person addressed, expecting the same courtesy in return. Although there are many fine gradations between them, there are basically two "speech levels": ngoko and kromo. Ngoko is the language in which a person thinks and, thus, is only appropriately used with people of equal status whom one knows intimately and with social inferiors. Kromo is spoken to older people, people of higher status, and those whose status relative to one is not yet known.
While the great majority of vocabulary items do not change between levels, the ones that do are the most common. Thus, the most basic sentences differ completely, e.g., "where [are you] coming from?" is "Soko ngendi?" in ngoko and "Saking pundi?" in kromo. "I cannot do [it]" translates as either "Akuora iso" or "Kulo mboten saged." Moreover, the very texture of the two levels contrasts: ngoko can sound rough, even harsh, and is very precise (as in numerous onomatopoeic words, such as gregel, "nervous to the point of quivering and dropping things"); kromo, on the other hand, is always spoken softly and slowly and is deliberately vague.
Mastering kromo is an acquired skill; in the past, peasants with little kromo kept silent in front of aristocrats or communicated to them through kromo-fluent intermediaries. Today, when unable to speak kromo or unwilling to elevate other people over themselves, all but the most uneducated and village-confined Javanese can avoid clearly insulting others by resorting to Indonesian (which takes on the character of a new kromo).
Although Islamo-Arabic names are common (e.g. Abdurrahman Wahid, the name of a recent Indonesian president), Javanese just as typically takes names of Sanskrit origin. Javanese do not use surnames and, as with Sukarno and Suharto, go only by a single personal name. Many Muslims combine Arabic and Sanskrit names, and the Christian minority generally combines Latin names with Sanskrit ones, e.g. the name of the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Indonesia, Yulius Riyadi Dharmaatmaja (Latin-Arabic-Sanskrit).
Javanese recognize several classes of supernaturals. Memedis are frightening spirits, such as sundal bolong [SeeBanjarese ] and the playful gendruwo. The latter appear to people as familiar relatives in order to abduct them, making them invisible; if the victim accepts food from the gendruwo, he or she will remain invisible forever. Lelembut are possessing spirits. Tuyul are spirit familiars one can enlist through fasting and meditation. Demit are the spirits of spooky spots, and danyang are the guardian spirits of villages, palaces, and other places. The greatest spirit is Ratu Kidul, the Queen of the South Sea, believed to be the mystical bride of Java's rulers; her favorite color is green, so young men should avoid wearing this color while at the Indian Ocean shore, otherwise, they may be pulled down into Ratu Kidul's underwater realm.
In the past, parents inculcated values in their children through tales from the wayang shadow play. The characters provided a wide range of personality types and behavioral models and anti-models: e.g., the pure king Yudistira who has a gambling problem; the refined Arjuna, the perfect warrior and lover; the mighty and irreverent Bima; and the headstrong Srikandi and the retiring Sumbadra, both female paragons. The more laughable human follies appear in the clown-servants (not part of the original Indian epic) Petruk, Gareng, Bagong, and their father Semar. The last is an ugly and rotund old man, who is actually the supreme god in disguise (as well as danyang of all Java). There are also two female clown-servants, the tall and thin Cangik and her short and fat daughter, Limbuk.
Another set of legendary figures are the wali songo, the nine holy men (variously of Arab, Egyptian, Persian, Uzbek, and Chinese origin) who brought Islam to Java (from Malacca, Champa, and the Middle East); they are credited with magical powers, such as flying and with developing ways to propagate Islam to the Javanese through their own cultural forms, such as Sunan Bonang who used Javanese sung poetry and the music of the Javanese gamelan orchestra to communicate Islamic teaching. To this day, their graves, located in cities all along Java's north coast, are popular sites of pilgrimage, especially those of Sunan Giri at Gresik near Surabaya, of Sunan Kudus in Kudus, and Sunan Gunung Jati in Cirebon. Another Muslim figure who attracts pilgrims to his shrine is the spirit of Sam Po Kong (Zheng He), the Yunnan-born admiral of the massive Ming Chinese fleets that made seven voyages to lands around the Indian Ocean in the early 15th century; both non-Muslim Chinese and Muslim Javanese visit his temple in Semarang, the great port on the north coast of Central Java.
All but a fraction of Javanese are Muslim. However, only a portion regularly follow the "five pillars of Islam" and other practices of orthodox, Middle Eastern Islam; they have come to be called santri, a term originally referring only to those taking formal instruction from Islamic teachers. These "purist" Muslims divide further into conservatives, those who keep to orthodox Islam as it has been practiced in Java for centuries; and modernists, who reject local traditions and espouse a more scriptural faith supported by Western-style educational institutions. Both groups have strong organizations (once functioning as official political parties), Nahdatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, respectively.
Non-santri Javanese Muslims, popularly termed abangan or Islam kejawen, revere Gusti Allah and Kangjeng Nabi ("the Venerable Prophet," Muhammad) but do not perform the five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, or go or want to go on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Their religious life focuses not on communal prayer in the mosque but on slametan, ritual meals held during rites of passage, village "spiritual cleansings" and harvest festivals, Islamic holidays, and special occasions, such as the inauguration of a new house or rites to protect an only child from the ogre Batara Kala (ruwatan). They also leave offerings, such as flowers, incense, coins, and rice cakes on a bamboo tray or banana leaf, for the spirits at crossroads, under bridges, in big trees, and elsewhere. They respect the spiritual potency (kesakten) residing in respected heirloom objects, such as gongs, kris swords, and royal carriages. Abangan believe paying homage to rulers and other exceptional people of the past at their tombs will confer spiritual and material benefits. These notions and practices are, however, widespread among santri as well. For example, conservatives regularly make pilgrimages to the graves of Islamic "saints" (legendary holy men), something modernists denounce as "idolatrous." Both abangan and santri consult dukun, diverse magical specialists, including spirit mediums, masseurs, acupuncturists, herbalists, midwives, sorcerers, and numerologists.
Fatalism suffuses much of Javanese thinking. One must be accepting (nerimo), have fortitude (sabar), and free oneself from emotions and desires to reach serenity (ikhlas). Earthly life is but a moment in eternity, the soul "stopping to have a drink" (mampir ngombe). Mystical practices, such as meditation in a secluded place, are common ways to accumulate spiritual power and a major preoccupation of the aristocracy. Explicitly distancing themselves from conventional Islam, numerous mystical sects command a considerable following and have sought unsuccessfully to have the government recognize their beliefs (called kebatinan, "innerness") as an official religion.
As much as 12% of the population of the island of Java (including Chinese and migrants from other islands) adhere to religions other than Islam. There are several hundred thousand Christians. Roman Catholics are particularly numerous; their church has used gamelan in the mass and taught biblical stories through wayang, and Javanese make the traditional sign of homage, palms placed together over the forehead, at the moment of Eucharistic consecration.
On the slopes of the east Javanese volcano Bromo live the Tenggerese, an archaic Javanese subgroup, who practice a folk religion derived from Majapahit Hinduism and highlighting the honoring of Joko Seger, Bromo's guardian spirit.
Javanese combine the seven-day Islamic-Western week (Saturday to Friday: Sabtu, Minggu, Senin, Selasa, Rebo, Kemis, Jum'at) with a five-day indigenous week (Legi, Paing, Pon, Wage, Kliwon). Each day is identified by its place in both weeks (e.g., Selasa Pon or Rebo Legi), a conjunction that recurs every 35 days; birthdays, rituals, and performances are celebrated every time a particular day-pair returns.
The first day (beginning at sunset) of the Islamic year (1 Sura) is regarded as mystically charged. On this night, people stay up all night, watching processions, such as the kirab pusaka (parading the royal heirlooms) in Solo or meditating on mountains or beaches (one means of gaining spiritual potency is to stand in the cold water of a stream all night). The birthday of Muhammad (12 Mulud) is celebrated in Yogya and Solo by the holding of the Sekaten fair (the whole preceding week), the playing of ancient gamelans brought out only for the festival, and, on the day itself, a procession of three or more glutinous rice "mountains" ("male," "female," and "baby").
See also the article entitled Indonesians.
RITES OF PASSAGE
Arranged marriages still occur in villages, but most people choose their own partners. The process begins with the man making a formal inquiry of the father or the wali, a paternal relative who can take a dead father's place, as to whether or not the woman is spoken for, followed later by the presentation of the gifts to the woman's side. On the night before the wedding (midadareni, when heavenly nymphs descend to bless the marriage), the woman's kin visit the graves of their ancestors to ask for their blessing, and the woman's kin, neighbors, and friends come for a slametan feast; the kin stay up all night, making palm-leaf decorations (janur). A dukun manten dresses and adorns the bride for the ceremony.
The wedding ceremony itself is the conclusion of the Islamic marriage contract between the groom and the bride's father or wali. The groom, with his party, proceeds to the bride's house, meets the bride, and is seated on the bridal dais. The groom's parents then arrive to the sound of the gamelan piece "Kebo Giro" (nowadays usually from a cassette). The couple bows (sungkem) to their parents and to other older relatives. The guests then eat and watch dancing by young female relatives of the couple. The groom can take the bride away only after five days; then, they can visit his kin and neighbors for a simpler reception (ngunduh temanten). Immediately after Indonesian independence, the move was to simplify wedding ceremonies, but under the New Order the trend reversed, with wealthy families displaying status through reviving the more elaborate traditional ceremonies (including rich costumes).
Javanese hold slametan for the repose of the deceased on the third, seventh, fortieth, 100th, and 1,000th day after death. On every Selasa Kliwon and Jum'at Kliwon, offerings (flower petals in a half-full water glass) are made to the spirits of the dead. On Ramadan, people go to strew flowers on the graves of their departed.
In the old Javanese kingdoms, descendants of rulers formed the elite (ningrat or priyayi). During the colonial period, priyayi came to refer to all educated people, generally those employed in white-collar jobs, whatever their descent. This term distinguished them from the wong cilik ("little people"), peasants and laborers. Ulama (Islamic scholars), their students, and merchants formed a distinct santri elite of their own.
Peasants recognized their own hierarchy with wong baku (house-owners and the descendants of village founders) at the top, followed by kuli gandok (married men continuing to live with their parents) and joko or sinoman (unmarried men living with parents or others). Heading each village is a lurah (also called petinggi, bekel, or glondong), elected by the villagers, and receiving the right to use communal land to support himself and his staff. The villagers cooperate on common works, such as the construction and upkeep of roads, bridges, and public buildings, and the village spiritual (bersih desa) cleansing rites.
Javanese say of children who have not yet learned to control their emotions and to behave in a dignified and respectful way that they are durung jawa, "not yet Javanese." The ideal condition of the individual and society is an uneventful tranquility. Thus, Javanese avoid confrontation at all costs, reacting even to disturbing news with a resigned smile and soft words and never giving any request a direct refusal (Javanese are adept at giving and taking hints). In addition to polite speech, proper respect requires appropriate body language: bowing and slow, graceful movements.
Javanese villages (desa) may cluster amid fields (in the highlands) or stretch out along roads (in the lowlands), the individual houses and yards enclosed by bamboo fences. Paths no wider than 2 m (6.5 ft) connect the dukuh (its various constituent hamlets). Each village has a balai desa (community meeting hall), several langgar (prayer halls) or a mosque, and a school. Entrance gates are seen everywhere, also defining city wards. There are open areas for a weekly market, stops for buses, and parking for minivans (bemo, kol, daihatsu) and pedicabs (becak) waiting for passengers.
Village houses sit on the ground and have earthen floors. They have a framework of bamboo, palm trunks, or teak; walls of plaited bamboo (gedek), wood planks, or bricks; and roofs of dried palm leaves (blarak) or tiles. Inside, rooms are made with movable gedek partitions. Traditional houses have no windows, light and air entering through chinks in the wall or holes in the roof. Roof shape was used to reflect social status. Ordinary villagers had a serotong roof with two slopes on two sides only. Descendants of the village founders possessed a limasan roof with a double slope on four sides. Marking an aristocratic house was the joglo roof with three slopes on four sides; such residences also had a large pavilion (pendopo) in front for receiving guests and petitioners.
Central Java has a Human Development Index (combining measures of income, health, and education) of 69.8 (2005 score), just above Indonesia' national HDI 69.6, while East Java's HDI's is significantly lower, 68.5 as is Banten's, 68.8. However, the Special Region of Yogyakarta (province-level status) had among the highest HDI's in the country, 73.5. Central Java's GDP per capita is US$6,293, relatively low for Indonesia (for instance, below West Sumatra's US$9,784 and North Sulawesi's US$8,360, though above East Nusa Tenggara's US$3,427). East Java's GDP per capita, however, is relatively high, US$ 11,090). The level of infant mortality (2000 figures) in East Java, 47.69 deaths out of 1,000 live births, is almost twice that in Jakarta; Central Java's figure is a little better, at 43.69, and Yogyakarta's is the same as the national capital's (compare all these with 88.55 for West Nusa Tenggara).
The nuclear family (kuluwarga or somah) is the basic unit of Javanese society, including a couple, their unmarried children, and sometimes other relatives and married children and their families. Javanese recognize kin obligations on both the mother's and father's sides. Descendants of a common great-grandparent form a golongan or sanak-sadulur, whose members help each other hold major celebrations and gather on Islamic holidays. Larger still is the alurwaris, a kinship group directed towards the care of the graves of a common ancestor seven generations back; a descendant living in the village where the grave is located is responsible for mobilizing the scattered kin for this work.
Marriages between first cousins, especially the children of two brothers, and between a man of a younger generation than the woman's, are taboo. A married couple prefers to set up a separate household if they can afford to; otherwise, they usually move in with the wife's parents. Taking more than one wife is rare (kings and other aristocrats formerly kept harems). The divorce rate is high among village folk and poorer city folk; after divorce, children follow the mother or, if she marries again, they may go to live with other relatives. An inheritance may be divided through perdamaian, by deliberation among the children and close kin with the object of providing for those who have the least. The child who has remained in the family home to take care of the parents may also inherit the bulk of the property.
While Javanese mothers continue to provide direct emotional support to their children throughout life, fathers become more distant after children reach the age of four. They become the first "public authority" figures to whom individuals must be reserved and respectful. Although fathers are regarded as the heads of the house, the mother exercises more real control, being able, as a woman, to be more direct; the inevitable display of emotion would compromise a man's image of dignity, the source of his power. Two-thirds of Javanese are reported as speaking kromo (the language of respect) to their parents while greeting or asking for help, and half use kromo even during relaxed conversation with them.
While parents are supposed to be constantly correcting and advising their children, however old the child is, children never criticize or correct their parents except in the most indirect ways.
For everyday wear, Javanese follow the Indonesian style of dress; men and women wearing sarongs in public are also common. Ceremonial clothing for men includes a sarong, high-collared shirt, jacket, and a blangkon, a head cloth wrapped to resemble a skullcap. Women wear the sarong, kebaya (long-sleeved blouse), selendang (sash over the shoulder), and sanggul (long hair in a thick, flat bun at the back, often achieved with a wig addition); handbags have become obligatory. One variation for both sexes is to wear a short sarong over pajama-like trousers (men add a high fez). Traditional dance costumes and wedding attire leave the chest bare for men and the shoulders bare for women.
Meals consist of rice and, at their simplest, stir-fried vegetables, dried salted fish, tahu (tofu), tempe (a bar of preserved whole soybeans), krupuk (fish or shrimp crackers), and sambel (chili sauce). Common dishes include gado-gado (a salad of parboiled vegetables eaten with a peanut sauce), sayur lodeh (a vegetable and coconut milk stew), pergedel (fat potato fritters), and soto (soup with chicken, noodle, and other ingredients). Regional specialties include Yogya's gudeg (chicken and young jackfruit stewed in coconut milk), Solo's nasi liwet (rice cooked in coconut milk), and nasi rawon (rice with a rich beef soup). Dishes of Chinese origin are very popular, such as bakso (meat-ball soup), bakmi (fried noodles), and cap cay (stir-fried meat and vegetables). Snack foods include crackers: emping (from the mlinjo nut) and rempeyek (from peanut). Common desserts are gethuk (cassava that is steamed, mashed, mixed with coconut milk and sugar, and colored pink, green, or white) and various glutinous rice preparations (jenang, dodol, klepon, and wajik). Javanese often buy prepared food from peddlers making the rounds of neighborhoods and enjoy lesehan, late-night dining on mats provided by sidewalk food vendors.
In 2005, the level of literacy in Central Java stood at 87.41%, in East Java at 85.84%, and in Yogykarta at 86.72%, low by Indonesian national standards (the national level is 90.4% according to 2004 figures) but comparable with other provinces with large numbers of poor, such as Bali and South Sulawesi (See also the article entitled Indonesians in this volume).
An integral part of traditional rituals, festivities, and theater, the classical Javanese orchestra (gamelan) consists of bronze gongs, keyed metallophones, drums, a flute, a spike-fiddle (rebab), and a zither (celempung), along with male and female vocalists. Making little use of recently invented notation systems, the music (either loud or soft styles) includes hundreds of named compositions (gending) in diverse forms. Street performers can also play gamelan music with a bamboo-tube gong and box-and-rubber-band zither. Kroncong ensembles can also interperet langgam jawa, folk and contemporary songs in the Javanese scale. Finally, there is also pop and dangdut in the Javanese language [SeeIndonesians ].
Traditional dance emphasizes precise and measured control of the body, particularly in exquisitely graceful hand movements. Once confined to the palaces but now widely taught outside, the most revered dances are the bedoyo and srimpi in which young women enact unrecognizably stylized combat. Other female dances are the coquettish golek and gambyong, which are refinements of the dances of taledek or ronggeng (itinerant performers, generally regarded as little different from prostitutes). The latter consist of flirtation dances (tayub) in which the performer dances in front of a male audience, coaxing individual men to join her. Male dancing includes the tari topeng in which solo performers portray refined as well as violent characters from the Panji tales. A very common popular dance form (and mini-drama) is the trancelike kuda lumping (jarang kepang), which highlights hobby-horse dancers.
Although Javanese today use the Latin alphabet to write their language, some use is still made of hanacaraka, an Indian-derived script that can be traced back to the 8th century, and pegon, a modified Arabic script. Javanese literature goes back to the 11th century, beginning with adaptations in Kawi, the Old Javanese language, of the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. By the 14th century, original masterpieces, such as the Nagarkrtagama, describing a royal tour of Majapahit, were being produced. The earliest surviving literature in modern Javanese (though still impossibly archaic to modern ears) dates from well into the Islamic period and includes babad, semi-mythical poetic chronicles, such as the Babad Tanah Jawi on Java's history. Once commonly heard, the singing of verse (tembang macapat) is a dying art. Novels and short stories are produced in Javanese but must compete with more widely marketable works in Indonesian.
Some 60% of Javanese earn a living from agriculture, growing wet-rice and dry-field (tegalan) crops (cassava, maize, yams, peanuts, and soybeans); in mountain areas, many peasants engage in market gardening (vegetables and fruits, including temperate-zone species like carrots).
Traditionally, Javanese disdain manual labor and commercial occupations, preferring white-collar jobs and, most of all, aspiring to bureaucratic service. However, most nonfarming Javanese work as artisans or as petty traders (most of the latter are women). Although on Java, the bigger business owners tend to be Chinese or sometimes Arab, in much of the rest of Indonesia not only the civil servants and soldiers but also the merchants tend to be Javanese. With Indonesia's recent rapid economic development, more Javanese (especially young women from the villages) are taking factory or service jobs. Landlessness and underemployment have compelled many Javanese to take low-status work, such as being a maid, prostitute, beggar, street-peddler, kenek (fare-collector on a minivan or bus, usually young men or boys), "parking attendant" (men, usually old, who help people parallel park their cars on Java's crowded streets), or ngamen (street musicians who play on sidewalks or on buses between stops).
See the article entitled Indonesians.
ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION
On the whole, urban middle-class Javanese prefer to spend their leisure time enjoying the products of international and national pop culture rather than the traditional performing arts, which many have only glimpsed on television. Court circles (and those wishing to connect themselves to them, members of the new elite and the Indonesian state as a whole) and the peasantry (and by extension many of the urban poor), however, are still attached to the traditional performing arts
Java's master art form is the wayang kulit shadow-puppet play, an adjunct to life-passage ceremonies as well as either ritual or entertainment in itself. In it, a dalang manipulates flat, highly stylized puppets against a screen lit by a lamp or electric bulb over his head. Sitting from mid-evening until near daybreak without getting up, he speaks all the parts, intones narration, sings, and conducts the gamelan orchestra that provides background and accompaniment. Based on the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana and improvised within set frameworks, the plays encompass intrigues, romance, philosophizing, comic interludes, subtle social commentary, pitched combat, and heartbreaking tragedy. Watching either the puppets or their shadows, spectators are free to come and go according to their taste in scenes. Today, wayang is broadcast on the radio, blaring from open-air eateries, and people giving celebrations can play recorded wayang (several cassettes) to approximate the atmosphere.
The most traditional of Java's theater forms is wayang orang, which substitutes human actors or dancers for the puppets. Far more popular today is central Javanese ketoprak, which emphasizes spoken comedy and melodrama over music and dance and draws stories from Javanese history, Chinese, and Arab tales. Employing male performers for female as well as male parts, the east Javanese ludruk is even earthier and more contemporary.
FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES
Alongside gamelan and wayang, batik textiles are the signature art of Java. The intricate designs are created in several dyeings, with the space not to be dyed in a particular color covered with wax. The wax can be applied with copper stamps or, far more laboriously and beautifully, with a canting dipper. Batik styles differ radically between the kejawen (Yogya-Solo) and the pesisir (Pekalongan), the former emphasizing dense geometric patterns in brown, indigo, and white, while the latter prefer delicate floral patterns in red and other bright colors.
Other important or noteworthy crafts are leatherwork (wayang puppets), woodcarving (dance masks, furniture, and screens), pottery, glass-painting, and ironsmithing (kris swords).
With the clearing long ago of the last virgin land, an equal inheritance system has meant that Javanese peasants must support themselves on small landholdings. Many lose their land altogether and must enter tenancy, sharecropping, or wage-labor arrangements with richer peasants who can afford fertilizers and some machinery. Customs, such as permitting the poorest to glean grains that remain in fields after reaping, are being abandoned. During the New Order period (1966-1998), the government pushed ahead with dams and other development projects despite the opposition of the peasants who would be displaced by them. Similarly, the military assisted industrialists in suppressing labor unrest in the factories multiplying in Java's crowded cities.
Central Java's Gender-Related Development Index (combining measures of women's health, education, and income relative to men's) is 58.7, East Java's 56.3, and Banten's 54.9, significantly below Indonesia's national GDI of 59.2. Yogyakarta's, however, was higher, at 65.2, a little lower than Jakarta's. Gender Empowerment Measures (reflecting women's participation and power in political and economic life relative to men's) are 51 for Central Java, 54.9 for East Java, 48.6 for Banten, and 56.1 for Yogyakarta (cf. the national GEM of 54.6).
Javanese notions of gender difference are complex. Men, particularly priyayi (elite) men, on the one hand, are regarded as more capable of the emotional and behavioral self-control (including the intricacies of Javanese linguistic etiquette) so valued in Javanese culture, self-control that grants the individual the spiritual potency to attract the deference and submission of others without overt coercion. At the same time, men on the other hand are regarded as far less capable of controlling their desires, especially for sex and money, than women are, thus, for instance, making women more successful as traders in the marketplace and in financial matters in general (for this reason, husbands hand over most or all of their earnings to their wives who single-handedly manage the household). Javanese women have available to them contrasting, but equally legitimate, models for behavior, both a submissive and demure one (epitomized by Sumbadra, a wife of the wayang hero Arjuna) and an aggressive and bold one (epitomized by Srikandi, another of his wives). Differences between women and men are often described as a contrast between women as kasar (coarse) and men as halus (refined), and, yet, the male ideal (as represented by heroes like Arjuna) is characterized by the same grace and gentleness that the female ideal projects; both are the fruits of inner discipline and can in no way be confused with mere passivity.
Ayatrohaedi, et al. Tatakrama di Beberapa Daerah di Indonesia [Etiquette in Some Regions of Indonesia]. Jakarta: Department of Education and Culture, 1989.
Badan Pusat Statistik: Statistik Indonesia. http://demografi.bps.go.id (November 9, 2008).
Brenner, Suzanne. "Why Women Rule the Roost: Rethinking Javanese Ideologies of Gender and Self-Control." In Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Politics in Southeast Asia, edited by Aihwa Ong and Michael G. Peletz. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995.
Geertz, Clifford. The Religion of Java. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960.
Hughes-Freeland, Felicia. "Performance and Gender in the Javanese Palace Tradition." In "Male" and "Female" in Developing Southeast Asia, edited by Wazir Jahan Karim. Oxford, UK: Berg, 1995. Hutton, Peter. Insight Guides: Java. Hong Kong: APA Publications, 1993.
Keeler, Ward. Javanese Shadow Plays, Javanese Selves. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.
Koentjaraningrat. Javanese Culture. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Kodiran. "Kebudayaan Jawa." In Manusia dan Kebudayaan di Indonesia [Man and Culture in Indonesia], edited by Koentjaraningrat. Jakarta: Djambatan, 1975.
Kullanda, Sergey. "Nushântara or Java? The Acquisition of the Name." Indonesia and the Malay World Vol. 34, No. 98 (March 2006).
Oey, Eric, ed. Java: Garden of the East. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1991.
Suyenaga, Joan. Insight Pocket Guides: Yogyakarta. Hong Kong: APA Publications, 1991.
—revised by A. J. Abalahin
"Javanese." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/javanese-0
"Javanese." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. . Retrieved September 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/javanese-0