The Javanese (Ngoko Javanese: ꦮꦺꦴꦁꦗꦮ, Madya Javanese:
ꦠꦶꦪꦁꦗꦮꦶ, Krama Javanese:
ꦥꦿꦶꦪꦤ꧀ꦠꦸꦤ꧀ꦗꦮꦶ, Ngoko Gêdrìk: wòng
Jåwå, Madya Gêdrìk: tiyang Jawi, Krama Gêdrìk: priyantun Jawi,
Indonesian: suku Jawa) are an ethnic group native to the Indonesian
island of Java. With approximately 100 million people (as of
2011[update]), they form the largest ethnic group in Indonesia. They
are predominantly located in the central to eastern parts of the
island. There are also significant numbers of people of Javanese
descent in most provinces of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Suriname,
Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands.
The Javanese ethnic group has many sub-groups, such as the Mataram,
Cirebonese, Osing, Tenggerese, Samin, Naganese, Banyumasan, etc.
A majority of the
Javanese people identify themselves as Muslims, with
a minority identifying as
Christians and Hindus. However, Javanese
civilization has been influenced by more than a millennium of
interactions between the native animism
Kejawen and the Indian
Buddhist culture, and this influence is still visible in
Javanese history, culture, traditions, and art forms. With a sizeable
global population, the Javanese are considered significant as they are
the fourth largest ethnic group among Muslims, in the world, after the
Arabs, Bengalis and Punjabis.
1.1 Ancient Javanese kingdoms and empires
1.2 Javanese sultanates
1.3 Colonial Java
1.4 Republic of Indonesia
2.2 Literature and philosophy
2.3 Social structure
3.4 Wood carving
5 Notable people
6 See also
9 Further reading
For other uses, see Javanese historical texts.
Like most Indonesian ethnic groups, including the Sundanese of West
Java, the Javanese are of
Austronesian origins whose ancestors are
thought to have originated in Taiwan, and migrated through the
Philippines to reach
Java between 1,500BC and 1,000BC.
However, according to recent genetic study, Javanese together with
Sundanese and Balinese has almost equal ratio of genetic marker shared
Ancient Javanese kingdoms and empires
Javanese adapted many aspects of Indian culture, such as the Ramayana
Buddhist influences arrived through trade contacts with the
Buddhist - traders and visitors,
arrived in the 5th century. The Hindu,
Buddhist and Javanese faiths
blended into a unique local philosophy.
The cradle of
Javanese culture is commonly described as being in Kedu
Kewu Plain in the fertile slopes of
Mount Merapi as the heart of
the Medang i Bhumi Mataram kingdom. The earliest Sanjaya and
Sailendra dynasties had their power base there.:238–239
The centre of
Javanese culture and politics was moved towards the
eastern part of the island when
Mpu Sindok (r. 929-947) moved the
capital of the kingdoms eastward to the valleys of the Brantas River
in the 10th century CE. The move was most likely caused by the
volcanic eruption of Merapi and/or invasion from
The major spread of Javanese influence occurred under King Kertanegara
Singhasari in the late 13th century. The expansionist king launched
several major expeditions to Madura,
Bali in 1284, Borneo[when?]
and most importantly to
Sumatra in 1275. Following the defeat of
the Melayu Kingdom,
Singhasari controlled trade in the Strait of
Singhasari dominance was cut short in 1292 by Kediri's rebellion under
Jayakatwang, killing Kertanegara. However, Jayakatwang's reign as king
Java soon ended as he was defeated by Kertanegara's son-in-law,
Raden Wijaya with the help of invading Mongol troops in March 1293.
Raden Wijaya would later establish
Majapahit near the delta of the
Brantas River in modern-day Mojokerto, East Java. Kertanegara policies
were later continued by the Majapahits under King
Hayam Wuruk and his
minister Gajah Mada.
Various kingdoms of
Java were actively involved in the spice trade in
the sea route of the Silk Road. Although not major spice producers,
these kingdoms were able to stockpile spice by trading for it with
rice, of which
Java was a major producer.
Majapahit is usually
regarded as the greatest of these kingdoms. It was both an agrarian
and a maritime power, combining wet-rice cultivation and foreign
trade. The ruin of their capital can be found in Trowulan.
Amangkurat II of Mataram (upper right) watching warlord Untung
Surapati fighting Captain Tack of the
Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company (VOC).
ca 1684 AD.
Islam gained its foothold in port towns on Java's northern coast such
as Gresik, Ampel Denta (Surabaya), Tuban, Demak and Kudus. The spread
and proselytising of
Islam among the Javanese was traditionally
credited to Wali Songo.
Java underwent major changes as
Islam spread. Following succession
disputes and civil wars,
Majapahit power collapsed. After this
collapse, its various dependencies and vassals broke free. The
Sultanate of Demak
Sultanate of Demak became the new strongest power, gaining supremacy
among city-states on the northern coast of Java. Aside from its
power over Javanese city-states, it also gained overlordship of the
Palembang in eastern Sumatra. Demak played a
major role in opposing the newly arrived colonial power, the
Portuguese. Demak twice attacked the Portuguese following their
capture of Malacca. They also attacked the allied forces of the
Portuguese and the Sunda Kingdom, establishing in the process the
Sultanate of Banten.
Demak was succeeded by the
Kingdom of Pajang and finally the Sultanate
of Mataram. The centre of power moved from coastal Demak, to Pajang in
Blora, and later further inland to Mataram lands in Kotagede, near
present-day Yogyakarta. The
Mataram Sultanate reached its peak of
power and influence during the reign of
Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo
between 1613 and 1645.
In 1619 the Dutch established their trading headquarter in Batavia.
Java slowly fell to the Dutch East
India Company, which would also
eventually control most of Maritime Southeast Asia. The internal
intrigue and war of succession, in addition to Dutch interference,
Mataram Sultanate to break up into
Yogyakarta. The further separation of the Javanese realm was marked by
the establishment of the
Although the real political power in those days actually lay with the
colonial Dutch, the Javanese kings, in their keratons, still held
prestige as the supposed power centre of the Javanese realm,
especially in and around
Surakarta and Yogyakarta.
Dutch rule was briefly interrupted by British rule in the early 19th
century. While short, the British administration led by Stamford
Raffles was significant, and included the re-discovery of Borobudur.
Conflict with foreign rule was exemplified by the
Java War between
1825 and 1830, and the leadership of Prince Diponegoro.
Like the rest of the Dutch East Indies,
Java was captured by the
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan during World War II. With Japan's defeat, independence
was proclaimed in the new Republic of Indonesia.
Republic of Indonesia
When the Indonesian independence was proclaimed on 17 August 1945, the
last sovereign Javanese monarchies, represented by the Sri Sultan of
Yogyakarta, the Sunanate of
Surakarta and Prince of Mangkunegara
declared that they would become part of the Republic of Indonesia.
Yogyakarta and Pakualam were later united to form the Yogyakarta
Special Region. The Sri sultan became Governor of Yogyakarta, and the
Pakualaman became vice-governor; both were responsible to
the President of Indonesia. The
Special Region of
created after the war of independence ended and formalised on 3 August
Surakarta was later absorbed as part of the Central Java
Main article: Javanese culture
Javanese dance and Javanisation
Javanese cultural expressions, such as wayang and gamelan are often
used to promote the excellence of Javanese culture.
Javanese culture is one of the oldest civilisations and has
flourished in Indonesia. It has gradually absorbed various elements
and influences from other cultures, including native reverence for
ancestral and natural spirits,
Islamic values, and to a lesser extent, Christianity,
Western philosophy and modern ideas. Nevertheless, Javanese culture
— especially in the Javanese cultural heartland; those of highly
polished aristocratic culture of the keratons in
Surakarta — demonstrates some specific traits, such as particular
concern with elegance and refinement (Javanese: alus), subtlety,
politeness, courtesy, indirectness, emotional restraint and
consciousness to one's social stature.
Javanese culture values harmony
and social order highly, and abhors direct conflicts and
disagreements. These Javanese values are often promoted through
Javanese cultural expressions, such as Javanese dance, gamelan, wayang
and batik. It is also reinforced through adherence to Javanese adat
(traditional rules) in ceremonies, such as Slametan, Satu Suro,
Javanese weddings and Naloni Mitoni.
However, the culture of pesisiran of Javanese north coast and in
Java demonstrates some slightly different traits. They tend to
be more open to new and foreign ideas, more egalitarian, and less
conscious of one's social stature. Some of these northern settlements
— such as Demak, Kudus, Tuban,
Gresik and Ampel in
Surabaya — have
become more overtly Islamic, traditionally because these port towns
are among the earliest places that
Islamic teachings gained foothold
Gamelan is one of Javanese cultural expression that demonstrate
Javanese culture is traditionally centred 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,
Netherlands and other countries. The migrants bring with
them various aspect of Javanese cultures such as
traditional dances and the art of
Wayang kulit shadow play.
The migration of
Javanese people westward has created a coastal
Javanese culture in West
Java distinct from the inland Sundanese
Main article: Javanese language
Javanese script and Javanese (Unicode block)
Javanese is a member of the
Austronesian family of languages and is
closely related to, but distinct from, other languages of
Indonesia. It is notable for its great number of nearly ubiquitous
Sanskrit loans, found especially in literary Javanese. This is due
to the long history of
Buddhist influences in Java.
Most Javanese in
Indonesia are bilingual, being fluent in Indonesian
and Javanese. In a public poll held circa-1990, approximately 12%
of Javanese used Indonesian, around 18% used both Javanese and
Indonesian, and the rest used Javanese exclusively.
Javanese language was formerly written with a script descended
from the Brahmi script, natively known as Hanacaraka or Carakan. Upon
Indonesian independence it was replaced with a form of the Latin
While Javanese was not made an official language of Indonesia, it has
the status of regional language for communication in the
Javanese-majority regions. The language also can be viewed as an
ethnic language because it is one of the defining characteristics of
the Javanese ethnic identity.
Literature and philosophy
Javanese literature and Javanese poetry
Javanese intellectuals, writers, poets and men of letters are known
for their ability to formulate ideas and creating idioms for high
cultural purpose, through stringing words to express a deeper
philosophical meanings. Several philosophical idioms sprung from
Javanese classical literature,
Javanese historical texts and oral
traditions, and have spread into several media and promoted as popular
mottos. For example, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika", used as the national
motto of the Republic of Indonesia, "Gemah Ripah Loh Jinawi, Toto
Tentrem Kerto Raharjo", "Jer Basuki Mawa Bea", "Rawe-Rawe rantas,
Malang-Malang putung" and "Tut Wuri Handayani".
Javanese priyayi (aristocrat) and servants, c. 1865.
The American anthropologist
Clifford Geertz divided in the 1960s the
Javanese community into three aliran or "streams": santri, abangan and
priyayi. According to him, the
Santri followed an orthodox
interpretation Islam, the abangan followed a syncretic form of Islam
Hindu and animist elements (often termed Kejawen), and the
priyayi were the nobility.
The Geertz opinion is often opposed today because he mixed the social
groups with belief groups. It was also difficult to apply this social
categorisation in classing outsiders, for example other non-indigenous
Indonesians such as persons of Arab, Chinese and Indian descent.
Social stratification is much less rigid in northern coast area.
See also: Religion in Indonesia
Distribution of religious affiliation, 2000
Javanese population = 95,217,022
Kebatinan and Javanese sacred places
Today, most Javanese follow
Islam as their religion, while only
5-10 percent of Javanese follow orthodox
Orthodox Muslims are most common in the northern coast bordering the
Java Sea, where
Islam was first brought to the island.
came in contact with
Java during the
Majapahit period, when they
traded or made tributary relations with various states like Perlak and
Samudra Pasai in modern-day Aceh.
A minority of Javanese also follow
Catholicism), which are concentrated in Central
Yogyakarta for Catholicism). Native Christian
churches such as the Gereja Kristen Jawa also exist. On a smaller
Hinduism are also found in the Javanese community.
The Javanese of the Tengger tribe continue to practice Javanese-Hindu
today, and live in villages on the slope of Mount Bromo.
Kebatinan, also called Kejawen, Agama Jawa and Kepercayaan
is a Javanese religious tradition, consisting of an amalgam of
animistic, Hindu-Buddhist, and Islamic, especially Sufi, beliefs and
practices. It is rooted in Javanese history and religiosity,
syncretising aspects of different religions.
Main article: Javanese calendar
Javanese calendar is used by the
Javanese people concurrently with
two other calendars, the
Gregorian calendar and the
Gregorian calendar is the official calendar of Indonesia, while
Islamic calendar is used by Muslims and Indonesian government for
religious worship and deciding relevant
Islamic holidays. The Javanese
calendar is presently used mostly for cultural events (such as Siji
Javanese calendar system is currently a lunar calendar
Sultan Agung in 1633, based on the
Javanese people used a solar system based on the Hindu
Unlike many other calendars, the
Javanese calendar uses a 5-day week
known as the Pasaran cycle. This is still in use today and is
superimposed with 7-day week of the
Gregorian calendar and Islamic
calendar to become what is known as the 35-day Wetonan cycle.
Main article: Architecture of Indonesia
Traditional Javanese house.
Throughout their long history, the Javanese have produced many
important buildings, ranging from
mortuary temples, palace complexes, and mosques.
Two important religious monuments are the
Hindu temple of Prambanan
Buddhist temple of Borobudur. Both of them are 9th century
UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both are located near
Yogyakarta in the slope of Mount Merapi.
Meanwhile, examples of secular buildings can be seen in the ruins of
the former capital city of the
Majapahit Kingdom (14th to 16th century
AD) in Trowulan, East Java. The complex covers an area of 11 km x
9 km. It consists of various brick buildings, a canal ranging
from 20 to 40 meters wide, 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 buildings can be identified by their trapezoid
shaped roofs supported by wooden pillars. Another common feature
in Javanese buildings are pendopo, pavilions with open-sides and four
large pillars. The pillars and other parts of the buildings can be
richly carved. This architecture style can be found at kraton, or
palaces, of the Sultanates of
Yogyakarta (palaces of Hamengkubuwono
and Pakualaman) and
Surakarta (palaces of
Traditional mosques in
Java maintain a distinctive Javanese style. The
pendopo model is used as the main feature of mosques as prayer halls.
A trapezoidal roof is used instead of the more typically
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 the Agung Demak Mosque, the Menara Kudus Mosque
and the Grand
Mosque of Banten. The Kudus
Mosque is also of note
because it incorporates Hindu-style stone architecture.
Main article: Javanese cuisine
Example of Javanese cuisine. Clockwise: fried tempeh, mlinjo crackers,
gudeg with rice wrapped in teak leaf, green chili sambal and sliced
Javanese cuisine and culture place an important role in rice, which is
a staple food on the island. Among the Javanese it is considered not
to be a meal if a person hasn't eaten 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 varies by region. Eastern
Javanese cuisine has a
preference for more salty and hot foods, while the Central
Javanese prefer sweeter foods.
A famous food in
Javanese cuisine is
Rujak Cingur, marinated cow
lips and noses served with vegetable, shrimp prawn and peanut sauce
with chili. Rojak Cingur is considered a traditional food in Surabaya
in East Java.
Gudeg is a traditional food from Yogyakarta and Central
is made from young Nangka (jack fruit) boiled for several hours with
palm sugar, and coconut milk.
Pecel, a type of peanut sauce with chili is a common ingredient in
Javanese cuisine. It is used in various types of
Rujak and Gado-gado.
It can also be used as stand-alone sauce with rice, prawns, eggs and
vegetables as Nasi
Tumpeng, is a rice served in the shape of a conical volcano,
usually with rice coloured yellow using turmeric. It is an important
part of many ceremonies in Java.
Tumpeng is served at landmark events
such as birthdays, moving house, or other ceremonies.
Tumpeng is served alongside fried chicken, boiled egg,
vegetables, and goat meat on a round plate made from bamboo called
A notable food in
Java is tempeh, a meat substitute made from soy bean
fermented with mould. It is a staple source of protein in
popular around the world as a meat substitute for vegetarians.
Main article: Javanese names
Javanese do not usually have family names or surnames, with only a
Javanese names may come from traditional Javanese
languages, many of which are derived from Sanskrit. Names with the
prefix Su-, which means good, are very popular. After the advent of
Islam, many Javanese began to use
Arabic names, especially coast
Islamic influences are stronger. Commoners usually
only have one-word names, while nobilities use two-or-more-word names,
but rarely a surname. Some people use a patronymic. Due to the
influence of other cultures, many people started using names from
other languages, mainly European languages.
Christian Javanese usually
Latin baptism names followed by a traditional Javanese name.
Javanese people can be found in all occupations,
especially in the government and the military.
Javanese people are farmers. Farming is especially
common because of the fertile volcanic soil in Java. The most
important agricultural commodity is rice. In 1997, it was estimated
Java produced 55% of Indonesia's total output of the crop.
Most farmers work in small-scale rice fields, with around 42% of
farmers working and cultivating less than 0.5 hectares of land. In
region where soil is less fertile of where rainy season is short,
other staple crops is cultivated, such as cassava.
A decorative kris with a figure of
Semar as the handle. The bilah has
Blacksmiths are traditionally valued. Some blacksmiths fast and
meditate to reach perfection. Javanese blacksmiths create a range of
tools and farming equipment, and also cultural items such as gamelan
instruments and kris. The
Majapahit used fire-arms and cannonade
as a feature of warfare. The Javanese bronze breech-loaded swivel-gun,
or meriam, was used ubiquitously by the
Majapahit navy, pirates, and
rival lords. The demise of the
Majapahit empire also caused the flight
of disaffected skilled bronze cannon-smiths to Brunei, modern Sumatra
and Malaysia, and the Philippines. This led to near universal use of
the swivel-gun, especially on trade vessels to protect against
pirates, in the Makassar Strait.
Kris knives are important items, with many heirloom kris holding
significant historical value. The design of the kris is to tear apart
an opponent's abdomen, making the injury more severe.
Kota Gede is famous for its silverworks and silver handicrafts.
Batiks are traditionally made by women as a pastime, but some town and
villages have specialised in making batik, such as Pekalongan, Kauman,
Kampung Taman and Laweyan.
The Javanese art of wood carving is traditionally applied to various
cultural attributes such as statues, (wayang-)dolls, and masks.
The Javanese were probably involved in the
Austronesian migration to
Madagascar in the first centuries C.E. While the culture of the
migration is most closely related with the
Ma'anyan people of Borneo,
a portion of the
Malagasy language is derived from loanwords from the
Hindu kingdom period, Javanese merchants settled at many
places in the Indonesian archipelago.:247 In the late 15th
century, following the collapse of
Majapahit and the rise of Muslim
principalities on the northern coast of Java, many
artisans and courtiers migrated to Bali, where they would
contribute to the refined culture of Bali. Others who refused to
Islam retreated to Tengger mountain, retaining their Hindu
religion and becoming the Tenggerese people.
In the conflicts during the transitions of power between the Demak,
the Pajang and the Mataram in the late 16th century, some Javanese
Palembang in southern Sumatra. There they established a
sultanate and formed a mix of Malay and Javanese culture.
Palembang language is a dialect of
Malay language with heavy influence
During the reign of
Sultan Agung (1613–1645), some Javanese began to
establish settlements in coastal West
Java around Cirebon, Indramayu
and Karawang. These Javanese settlements were originally commissioned
Sultan Agung as rice farming villages to support the Javanese troop
logistics on his military campaign against Dutch Batavia.
The Javanese were also present in Peninsular Malaya since early
times. The Link between
Malacca was important during
Islam in Indonesia, when religious missionaries were sent
Malacca to seaports on the northern coast of Java. Large
migrations to the Malay Peninsula occurred during the colonial period,
mostly from Central
Java to British Malaya. Migration also took place
from 1880 to 1930 from other parts of
Java with a secondary migration
Javanese from Sumatra. Those migrations were to seek a new life away
from the Dutch colonists who ruled
Indonesia at that time. Today these
people live throughout Peninsular
Malaysia and are mainly concentrated
in parts of Johor,
Selangor and cities such as Kuala Lumpur.
Today, the Javanese in
Malaysia are included in
Malay race along with
other native Indonesian ethnics, it is estimated 40% of all Malays in
Malaysia at least has some Javanese ancestry.
In Singapore, approximately 50-60% of its Malay population have some
degree of Javanese ancestry. Most of them have identified themselves
as Malays, rather than Javanese.
Javanese merchants were also present in the
Maluku Islands as part of
the spice trade. Following the Islamisation of Java, they spread Islam
in the islands, with
Ternate being a
Muslim sultanate circa 1484.
Javanese merchants also converted coastal cities in
Islam. The Javanese thus played an important part in transmitting
Islam from the western part to the eastern part of the Archipelago
with trade based from northern coast of Java.
Javanese migrant workers in Suriname, circa 1940.
New migration patterns emerged during colonial periods. During the
rise of VOC power starting in the 17th century, many Javanese were
exiled, enslaved or hired as mercenaries for the Dutch colonies of
South Asia and the
Cape colony in South Africa. These
included princes and nobility who lost their dispute with the Company
and were exiled along with their retinues. These, along with exiles
from other ethnicities like
Bugis and Malay became the Sri Lankan
Malay and Cape Malay ethnic groups respectively. Other
political prisoners were transported to closer places. Prince
Diponegoro and his followers were transported to North Sulawesi,
following his defeat in
Java War in the early 19th century. Their
descendants are well known as Jaton (abbreviation of "Jawa
Major migrations started during the Dutch colonial period under
Transmigration programs. The Dutch needed many labourers for their
plantations and moved many Javanese under the program as contract
workers, mostly to other parts of the colony in Sumatra. They also
sent Javanese workers to
Suriname in South America. Today
approximately 15% of the
Suriname population is of Javanese ancestry.
Transmigration program that was created by the Dutch continued
following independence. A significant Javanese population can be found
in the Jabodetabek (Greater Jakarta) area, Lampung, South
Jambi provinces. Several paguyuban (traditional community
organisation) were formed by these Javanese immigrants, such as
"Pujakesuma" (abbreviation of Indonesian: Putra Jawa Kelahiran
Sumateran or Sumatra-born Javanese).
Main article: List of Javanese people
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