Javanese culture is centered in the Central Java, Yogyakarta and East Java provinces of Indonesia. Due to various migrations, it can also be found in other parts of the world, such as Suriname (where 15% of the population are of Javanese descent), the broader Indonesian archipelago region, Cape Malay, Malaysia, Singapore, Netherlands and other countries. The migrants bring with them various aspect of Javanese cultures such as Gamelan music, traditional dances and art of Wayang kulit shadow play.
The migration of Javanese people westward has created the coastal Javanese culture that distinct to inland Sundanese culture in West Java.
- 1 Literature
- 2 Spirituality
- 3 Social Structure
- 4 Occupations
- 5 Calendar
- 6 Art
- 7 Architecture
- 8 Cuisine
- 9 See also
- 10 Further reading
- 11 Notes
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.
During the reign of Majapahit several notable works was produced. Nagarakretagama describes Majapahit during its height. Tantu Pagelaran dated from Majapahit period explained the mythical origin of the island and its volcanic nature. Kakawin Sutasoma, written by Mpu Tantular during the reign of the Majapahit. It is the source of the motto of Indonesia, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which is usually translated as Unity in Diversity, although literally it means '(Although) in pieces, yet One'. The kakawin teaches religious tolerance, specifically between the Hindu and Buddhist religions.
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|Religion at Java|
Historically, Javanese follow a syncretic form of Hinduism, Buddhism and Kebatinan. The Majapahit empire religious tolerance in their society can be summed as Bhinnêka tunggal ika tan hana dharma mangrwa or They are indeed different, but they are of the same kind, as there is no duality in Truth.
Starting from the 15th century, Islam and Christianity came to Java and slowly spread. Due to internal and external conflicts, Majapahit collapsed in the 16th century. Islam spread quickly under the new Islamic monarchs. While the spread of Christianity was supervised by colonial powers.
All of the new religions were not taken literally but instead interpreted by the Javanese according to the Javanese traditional values, creating a new set of religious beliefs unique to local culture.
The introduction of Islam to the islands was not always peaceful however, Javanese nobles which rejected Islam fled to neighboring Bali where they contributed heavily to the Balinese Hindu religion. During the islamization of Java, Sunan Kalijaga was one of the Walisanga which was active in promoting a more moderate form of Islam, he was later appointed as advisor in the new Mataram Sultanate.
Today, most Javanese follow a moderate form of Islam as their religion, while only 5-10 percent of Javanese follow orthodox Islamic traditions. Orthodox Muslims 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.
Many traditional Javanese customs or festivals such as meditation, slametan, naloni mitoni, patangpuluhdinanan, nyatus, nyewu have their roots in the kebatinan belief. Kebatinan are principles embodying a search for the inner self but at the core is the concept of the peace of mind, connection with the universe, and with an Almighty God. Although Kebatinan is not strictly a religious affiliation, it addresses ethical and spiritual values as inspired by Javanese tradition. It is not a religion in usual sense of the word, like Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. There are no scriptures such as the Bible or the Qur'an, nor are there prophets.
The Keratons, the royal palaces of the Yogyakarta Sultanate and the Surakarta Sunanate, are the central of the Javanese culture and social events. Although they are not ruling monarchs, they are still highly revered and look upon in the society. When addressing to the Sultan, a person is expected to speak in the refined "kromo inggil", but today formal bahasa Indonesia is also accepted.
Not all Javanese were once subject of the Yogyakarta Sultanateand the Surakarta Sunanate.
The Priyayis were once part of the ruling aristocrats, they have little function today. Some of Indonesia's ruling political figures are descendants of the priyayis. The are now part of the general society and work in numerous fields.
Villages are an important administrative unit in Java. It is divided into two types: Desa with elective leadership, usually in rural areas, and Kelurahan, where the leadership is appointed by Indonesian government, usually in urban areas. 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 affairs), jagabaya (officer for security), and modin (office for Islamic affairs 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 the 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 are 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.
Culturally, Javanese people adopt a bilateral kinship system, with male and female descendants having equal importance. As such there is no preference on having a male heir like paternalistic cultures in India or China. It is not customary for Javanese to have a surname. Women have a high degree of autonomy and are respected in Javanese culture.
In a traditional marriage, it is the groom's family who chooses the bride from a selection of prospects. Prior to the wedding, the groom's family will give the bride's family a dowry. Afterwards, the bride's family is responsible for paying for the wedding. The groom's family can help financially, but they are not obliged to do so. Traditionally, divorce is not acceptable, but it was acceptable for the husband to take a second wife or a mistress. Young Javanese normally do not follow these customs, and today most Javanese women will resist infidelity and opt for a divorce. Divorce is becoming acceptable in Java.
For a boy, khitan, or 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.
In Indonesia, Javanese can be found in all occupations, 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.
For the Javanese, blacksmiths are traditionally valued. Some blacksmiths fast, and meditate to reach perfection. Javanese blacksmiths provide a range of tools such as farming equipment and to cultural items such as gamelan instruments and kris.Majapahit rigidly use fire-arms and cannonade as a feature of warfare. 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. 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.
Keris is an important item, with many heirloom kris made by master blacksmiths holding significant historical value. The design of the keris, with its snake like blade, is to torn apart an opponents abdomen, making the injury more severe. While the Javanese canting, enables them to make intricate Batik.
Batik is traditionally done as a past time activity for women. But some town and villages have specialized in making Batik, such as Pekalongan, Kauman, Kampung Taman and Laweyan.
The Javanese art of wood carving is traditionally applied to various cultural atributes such as statues, (wayang-)dolls, and masks.
The Javanese calendar is 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). 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 calendars, the Javanese calendar uses 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.
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 kris dagger are of Javanese origin.
Throughout their long history, the Javanese have produced many important buildings, ranging from Hindu monuments, Buddhist stupa, mortuary temples, palace complexes, 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.
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 considered as a candidate for becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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 maintain a distinctive Javanese style. The pendopo model is used as main feature of the mosque as its prayer hall. A trapezoidal roof is used instead of the more typically Muslim dome. These roofs are often multi-tiered and tiled. In addition to not using domes, traditional Javanese mosques also often lack minarets. The split gate from earlier Hindu-Buddhist period is still used in many mosques and public buildings in Java.
Some notable examples of mosques using traditional Javanese architecture include Agung Demak Mosque, Menara Kudus Mosque and the Grand Mosque of Banten. The Kudus Mosque is also of note because it incorporates Hindu-style stone architecture.
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.
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.
A notable food in Java is 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.
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