The Info List - Kakawin

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Kakawin are long narrative poems composed in Old Javanese, also called "Kawi", written in verse form with rhythms and metres derived from Sanskrit
literature.[1] Poets used a formalized literary language, rather than the vernacular. Poets composed and performed the poems at the courts of central and east Java kings between the 9th and 16th centuries,[1] and in Bali.[2] Although the poems depict events and characters from Hindu
mythology, the narratives are set in the local landscapes of the islands. They are rich sources of information about courtly society in Java and Bali.[3]


1 Structure of a kakawin 2 List of notable kakawin 3 See also 4 References 5 Further reading

Structure of a kakawin[edit] A kakawin stanza consists of four lines. Each line has a set number of syllables per line, set in patterns of long and short syllables based on Sanskrit
rules of prosody. A syllable which contains a long vowel is called guru ( Sanskrit
for "heavy"), while a syllable which contains a short one is called laghu ( Sanskrit
for "light"). The term guru laghu denotes the structure of a line. For example, each line of the kakawin metre called "Śardūlawikrīd[?]ita" consists of 19 syllables. The guru laghu of each line is as follows" ---UU-U-UUU---U--U U. The notation "-" means that the syllable in question is long, while the "U" means that the syllable is short. As an example, the opening stanza of the Kakawin Arjunawiwaha, which is in the metre Śardūlawikrīd[?]ita, is taken:

ambĕk sang paramārthapaṇḍita huwus limpad sakêng śūnyatā tan sangkêng wiṣaya prayojñananira lwir sanggrahêng lokika siddhāning yaśawīrya donira sukhāning rāt kininkinira santoṣâhĕlĕtan kĕlir sira sakêng sang hyang Jagatkāraṇa

A tentative translation in English: The thought of the one who knows the Highest Knowledge has leapt from the emptiness. It is not because he wishes to fulfill his senses, as if he only wants to have the worldly things. The success of his virtuous and good deeds are his goals. He endeavours for the happiness the world. He is steadfast and just a wayang screen away from the "Mover of the World".

A syllable which contains a long syllable is automatically long (ā, ī, ū, ö, e, o, ai, and au) and thus guru. But on the other hand, a vowel which is followed by two consonants is also long. In addition to that the last syllable of a line may both contain a long or a short syllable. It is an anceps. List of notable kakawin[edit]

Inscription of Śivagŗha, 856 Kakawin Ramayana
Kakawin Ramayana
~ 870 Kakawin Arjunawiwaha, by mpu Kanwa, ~ 1030 Kakawin Krsnayana Kakawin Sumanasantaka Kakawin Smaradhana Kakawin Bhomakawya Kakawin Bharatayuddha, by mpu Sedah and mpu Panuluh, 1157 Kakawin Hariwangsa Kakawin Gatotkacaśraya Kakawin Wrtasañcaya Kakawin Wṛttayana Kakawin Brahmandapurana Kakawin Kunjarakarna, by mpu "Dusun" Kakawin Nagarakṛtâgama/ Kakawin Desawarnana, by mpu Prapañca, 1365 Kakawin Arjunawijaya, by mpu Tantular Kakawin Sutasoma, by mpu Tantular Kakawin Siwaratrikalpa/ Kakawin Lubdhaka Kakawin Parthayajña Kakawin Nitiśastra Kakawin Nirarthaprakṛta Kakawin Dharmaśunya Kakawin Hariśraya Kakawin Banawa Sekar Tanakung

See also[edit]

Javanese poetry


^ a b Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 0-300-10518-5.  ^ http://wwwsshe.murdoch.edu.au/intersections/issue5/creese.html Helen Creese, "Images of Women and Embodiment in Kakawin Literature", Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, Issue 5, May 2001 ^ http://coombs.anu.edu.au/SpecialProj/APM/TXT/creese-h-02-96.html Helen Creese, "Temples of Words: Balinese Literary Traditions", Asia-Pacific Magazine, No. 2 May 1996, pp. 38-43

Further reading[edit]

A. Teeuw, 1950, Hariwangsa, Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff. VKI 9. (Extracts of texts, in Dutch) Petrus Josephus Zoetmulder, 1974, Kalangwan. A Survey of Old Javanese Literature, The Hague: