II. History of Java (from Java Essay)


A Brief History of Java

(Introduction of Java Essay)



In the beginning of the first chapter of The History of Java, Thomas Stamford Raffles wrote two hundred years ago[1]:

     “The country known to Europeans under the name of Java, or Java Major, and to the natives under those of Tana (the land) Jawa, or Nusa (the island) Jawa, is one of the largest of what modern geographers call the Sunda Islands. It is sometimes considered one of the Malayan Islands, and forms a part of that division of the Oriental Archipelago which it has been lately proposed to designate as the Asiatic Isles. It extends eastward, with a slight deviation to the south, from 105°11' to 114°33' of longitude east of Greenwich, and lies between the latitudes 5°52' and 8°46' south. On the south and west it is washed by the Indian Ocean; on the north-west by a channel called the Straits of Sunda, which separates it from Sumatra, at a distance in one point of only fourteen miles; and on the south-east by the Straits of Bali, only two miles wide, which divide it from the island of that name.”

     Java with which this book is concerned is the country Java, not the popular trade name of a computer programming language designed to work across different computer systems[2].

     The origin of the name “Java” is not clear, although some theories are found in literature. In the book by Raffles, he wrote that the word might have been derived either from jau (lit. distant or remote, spelt as jauh in the modern Indonesian), as the island was away from the continent, or yava, a Sanskrit word for “barley”. Yava in the second theory appeared in the ancient Indian epic Ramayana in the name of an island Yavadvipa (or Jawadwipa in which –dvipa or –dwipa meant island) where Rama’s army was sent in search of his abducted wife Sita[3]. The island Yavana (耶婆提) where a Buddhist priest, Fa Xian (法顕), from the East Chin Dynasty China was wrecked on his way back from Ceylon and stayed for a while, as written in the travelogue Fo kuo chi (佛國記), must have been the phonetic transcription of Jawadwipa. In an old Javanese book, Serat Mahaparwa (the Mahaparwa Story), written by poet Empu Satya in 879 AD, an interesting story is found.

     “Once upon a time, gods who descended from the heaven saw a long island which, unlike today, unseparately spanned from the present-day Sumatra, via Java, to Bali and called it dava (lit. long). Later, King Isaka [King Aji Saka] who was sent there from India walked the whole island and recognised that it was really a long island. At the same time, he saw a plant jawawut (millet) grow in places. Thus, he named the island of Java for the dual meaning.”[4]

     The Malay Archipelago, or Malayan Islands, written as such in Raffles’s exposition, apparently had various alternative designations in the 19th century[5]. For instance, Alfred Russel Wallace who visited the area as a naturalist argued the terms as well as their geographical definition in his contribution to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London in 1863[6] and stated that the Indo-Australian Archipelago was his preference, notwithstanding the Malay Archipelago was adopted for the title of his famous book published in 1869[7]. Earlier in 1850, James Richardson Logan, an eminent lawyer and ethnologist, wrote that he preferred Indonesia as a purely geographical term for the Indian Islands or the Indian Archipelago, and Indonesians for Indian Archipelagians or Indian Islanders[8], which subsequently gained popularity and was adopted in the name of the Republic of Indonesia when it was formed as an independent nation in 1949, inheriting the former territory of the Dutch East Indies[9]. Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian Language) adopted as the national language was the Low Malay, which used to be the lingua franca for trading around the area.

     In Raffles’s book, another phrase, Java Minor, for Sumatra was used, analogously to Java Major for Java, whether or not these brief terms were common at that time or before then[10]. Marco Polo who stopped at Sumatra in 1292(?) on his way back from China called this island “The small island of Iava” (Della piccola isola di Iava) and Java, “The island of Java” (Dell'isola di Java), with a remark that the latter was a large island (un' isola grandissima)[11]. He told of Java in his travelogue, Il Milione, which was dictated after his return to Venetia as follows:

     “Here is told of the great island of Java. You must know that, on leaving the kingdom of Chamba, one sails 1,500 miles south‑south‑east, and reaches a very large island called Java. According to experienced sailors who know the matters well, it is the largest island in the world, having a compass of quite 3,000 miles. It belongs to a great king. They are idolaters, and pay tribute to no one. This island is immensely rich. They have pepper, nutmegs, spikenard, galingale, cubebs, cloves, in a word all the precious spices one can think of. Great numbers of ships go thither, with many traders who buy sundry wares, from which they obtain much profit and gain. In this island there is such wealth, that no man in the world could calculate or describe it. And I will add that the Great Kaan was never able to take it on account of the great distance, and the dangers of the voyage thither. The merchants of Zaitun [刺桐=泉州] and Manji [蠻子=南宋] have in the past obtained great profit from the trade with this island, and still do so. The greater part of the spices sold in the world, comes from this island. Now I have told you of this island, and will say no more about it, but will proceed.”[12]

     Although the size of the island, which was exaggerated twice due possibly to the lack of correct knowledge, aroused arguments and the hearsay from seafarers was partial to trade, the description on the situation of the country was almost true. In Java, it was the heyday of the Singasari Kingdom when the country prospered under the reign of King Kertanegara (1268–92) and the country’s power extended over outer islands. That they were idolaters meant that they believed in Hinduism. It was a fact that Khubilai Khan’s mission, which demanded tribute, was thrice rejected (See Chapter 6).

     Whilst Marco Polo’s account was surprising to Europeans, the situation as well as the existence of the island had long been known to Asians, viz. Chinese, as The Book of Southwestern Barbarians (Nan Man Xi Nan Yi Lie Zhuan) of the Later Han Dynasty recorded that “In 131 AD, the king of Ya-diao (葉調) from the exterior of the Vietnamese coast sent a mission to this dynasty: The emperor gave a gold stamp and a purple-ribbon medal to Diao-bian (調便)”[13]. Although no direct evidence to prove the existence of a certain king named Diao-bian or his kingdom was locally available, the king was supposed to have been King Dewawarman I who had emigrated from India and founded Salakanagara in the west part of Java Island, with reference to The Book of Kings in the Land of Archipelago (Pustaka rajya rajya i bhumi Nusantara)[14] in which traditions from ancient times were dictated and assembled at a later time.

     The author of this current book (Iguchi) will now review the history of kingdoms that rose and fell after then, until the modern times in the Island of Java with a certain respect to their culture.

     The kingdom that appeared in West Java after Salakanagara was Tarumanagara, which left several pieces of stone monuments as physical evidence. It was founded in the mid-4th century (358 AD) and was most prosperous during the reign of the 3rd king, Purnawarman. With regard to a certain country, a-ro-tan or a-lo-tan (呵羅單國) written in a contemporary The Book of Sung (宋書, Sung Shu), long questioned among scholars, the present writer has come to the belief that those Chinese characters must be the phonetic representation of “a-ru-teun” of Ci-aruteun (Aruteun River) and that the country was no other than Tarumanagara with its capital on the river terrace of Ciaruteun in the present-day Ciampea Village in the outskirts of Bogor where two of the contemporary stone monuments and a number of large foundation stones were discovered (See Chapter 3).

     Tarumanagara persisted until the middle of the 7th century (669 AD) when the kingdom’s name was changed to Sunda, despite the fact that some royal family members had moved earlier to an eastern place in West Java in the early 6th century (526 AD) to establish a region called Kendan/Galuh Kingdom (existed until 852 AD). While the capital of the Sunda Kingdom was presumably located around the present-day Bogor, Linggawisesa, the son-in-law of the 29th king, Linggadewata, founded a new kingdom in the early 14th century (1333) in Kawali, another eastern place in West Java, not far from the above-mentioned Galuh. While Sunda and Kawali coexisted as sister kingdoms, it was in 1482 that Sri Baduga, the son-in-law of the 6th king of Kawali, Dewaniskala, united the two kingdoms and established the Pajajaran Kingdom with its capital at Pakuan (the present-day Bogor). Sri Baduga, nicknamed Siliwangi, was a glorious king, as his achievements were inscribed in the Batu Tulis stone monument erected by his son, Surawisesa, and his episodes have been popular among Sundanese people up until today.

     The sunshine was followed by clouds. In 1526–7, the kingdom’s outer ports of Banten and Sunda Kelapa (the present-day Jakarta), which had prospered by trade with the Portuguese-occupied Malacca, were captured by Moslems who had arisen in central Java and penetrated into Cirebon on the northeast coast of the Pajajaran territory, resulting in the isolation of the country from the sea, and the kingdom’s capital at Pakuan fell to the hands of Moslems in 1579. Thus, Pajajaran became the last Hindu kingdom in Java. Although the founder of the Cirebon Kingdom, Hydayat, was a grandson of Sri Baduga, the kingdom built by he who had converted himself to Islam was not a country that inherited the tradition of Sunda, at least from the viewpoint of the present writer. When Pakuan fell, the pusaka (royal treasures) were carried away by nobles to Sumedanglarang, a subkingdom of Pajajaran, located far to the northeast of the present-day Bandung (The royal treasures exist to date in Museum Prabu Geusan Ulun, in Sumedang).

     A note should be added to the word Sunda. This word, which was used as a geographical term as Sunda Archipelago and the Straits of Sunda, as in Raffles’s exposition, did originate from the name of a coastal town, Sundapula (presumably the present-day Jakarta), built in the Tarumanagara Era, and became a term to designate West Java, as the land and the native people were called tanah Sunda and orang Sunda, respectively. Before modern times, Sundanese people were not on close terms with Javanese people, who had inhabited the middle and the eastern parts of Java Island, having a different language and customs from those of the latter, despite them both ethnically belonging to the same Southern Mongoloid.

     When one speaks about the relation between Sunda and Java, the “Tragedy of Bubat” that happened during the reign of King Linggabuana of Kawali (reigned 1350–7) cannot be forgotten. In 1357 when the king’s daughter Dyah Pitaloka received a marriage proposal from Hayam Wuruk, the young king of the strong Majapahit Kingdom of Java, King Linggabuana set sail to Majapahit for their wedding, accompanying the princess and the family members. On their arrival at Bubat in the suburb of the Javanese capital, they were unexpectedly told that “the princess was to be received as a tribute to the Javanese king, not as the queen”, contrarily to King Hayam Wuruk’s wish, from Gajah Mada, the premier of Majapahit who had concealed an ambition to subjugate Sunda. Linggabuana declared, “We will choose to fight as satria [warriors] rather than be affronted” and the king and all his soldiers were killed by Gajah Mada’s overwhelming army. The queen, the princess and court ladies followed after the deceased men. The story was sung in an epic Kidung Sunda (The Song of Sunda)[15] and was included in the chronicle Pararaton[16], both written in later times. The Sundanese had received great damage, but the king’s brother, Suradipati, succeeded the throne and maintained the kingdom of Kawali.

     In Central Java, civilisation was brought from India in the 1st century by Aji Saka and his party. Although the fate of the kingdom founded by Aji Saka was unknown, 78 AD (i.e. the year of his arrival or death) was defined as the first year of the so-called Saka Calendar, which was widely used before the Western calendar became common.

     The earliest well-known kingdom in Central Java was the Sanjaya Kingdom in Mataram, which worshipped Hinduism, founded in 723 AD by Sanjaya Harisdarma, formerly the 2nd king of Sunda, who moved from Sunda and subjected the whole area of Central Java. When the Sanjaya Dynasty existed in Central Java, there was another dynasty, called Sailendra, which built the famous Borobudur Buddhist Temple in 824 AD. Sailendra Kingdom was merged with Sanjaya Kingdom around 832 AD, when Princess Pramodawardhani, the daughter of King Samaratungga, married Prince Rakai Pikatan of the latter, and ceased to exist in Java, although Prince Balaputradewa, the princess’s younger brother, moved to Sriwijaya in Sumatra, where his mother originated, and bore the title of the King of Sailendra. Loro Jonggrang Hindu Temple (generally called Prambanan Temple), which ranks with Borobudur in its magnificence, is said to have been built by Rakai Pikatan in 856 AD, although the present writer assumes that the construction owed much in financial terms to the wealth of the Sailendra, which Princess Pramodawardhani had inherited from her father.

     The splendid temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, with fine reliefs carved on their walls and stone statues situated in their niches, show that these kingdoms had a highly sophisticated culture. It was in this age that arts and literature of Java’s own style originated. On a copper plate left in the beginning of the 10th century by King Balitung, the son of Prince Pikatan and Princess Pramodawardhani, was inscribed that a shadow play named wayang as well as various dances and chanting of poems were performed on the occasion of a festival. The text of the Ramayana used at that time is considered not to have been the direct translation of an Indian text but the first example of kakawin (i.e. a type of verse written in the Old Javanese language, which was applied since then not only for literature but also chronicles and history books).

     In the Old Book of Tang and the New Book of Tang (舊唐書 and 新唐書)[17], completed in mid-10th and mid-11th-century China, respectively, some accounts were given on a certain country named Ho-ling (or Ka-ling, 訶陵), which was “located on an island in the southern sea and ruled by a queen, named Sima (悉莫)”. The existence of this country was long questioned among scholars and various theories, including such a nonsensical one that it could be the Sailendra Kingdom, were presented in the past. The present writer came to an interpretation that it was the Keling Kingdom written in the aforementioned The Book of Kings in the Archipelago and that the bloodline of Queen Sima extended to the Sailendra and the Sanjaya dynasties as well as to the Kanjuruhan Dynasty, which occurred in East Java (See Chapter 5).

     The centre of kingdoms in Java moved to East Java in 929 AD when Mpu Sindok of the Sanjaya opened his Isyana Dynasty in Medang on the bank of the Brantas River. As to the reasons for their migration, the devastation of land by the eruption of the ever-active Merapi Volcano and religious friction with Buddhists were conceived as described in a later part (Chapter 5). In 1006 AD, when Prince Airlangga, the son of Mpu Sindok’s great-granddaughter Princess Mahendradatta who had married Prince Udayana of the Warmadewa Family in Bali, was visiting his maternal home in Medang for betrothal with Princess Dyah Sri Laksmi, the daughter of King Dharmawangsa, Medang, was attacked by Sriwijaya and the king was killed. After taking refuge in a forest with the princess and lying low for some ten years, he quelled the country, which was disrupted after his uncle’s death, and became the king of Java by the request of local people. While Airlangga’s new kingdom founded in Kahuripan (or Kediri) in 1037 AD prospered under his wise governance, especially with external trade, the king also promoted arts and literature. “Arjuna Wiwaha” (Arjuna’s marriage), written at that time and reputed as one of the most beautiful pieces among numerous kakawin, is said to have depicted Airlangga’s life on the model of a part of the Mahabharata. Airlangga’s image can be seen in some statues that remain to date.

     On his retirement in 1041 AD, Airlangga divided his kingdom into two parts, the western Panjalu (Kediri) and the eastern Janggala for his two sons, but the latter was annexed to the former in the early 12th century because of stagnation, while the former continued to flourish. The Kediri Dynasty was most prosperous during the reign of the 3rd king, Jayabaya (1135–57), as written in Representative answers [about the region] beyond mountains (嶺外代答, Lingwai daida) in Southern Sung Dynasty China as “Java is the second richest among foreign countries next to Tajik (Saracen)” [18]. Under the protection of Jayabaya who was worshipped as an incarnation of god, such great kakawins as Bharatayuddha, Krsnayana and Bhomantaka that were most immortal in the history of Javanese literature were written.

     The last king of Kediri, Kertajaya (1185–1222) was a tyrannic and brutal man who was hostile to religious leaders. Tunggal Ametung, the lord of Tumapel, the former capital of Janggala, was also an oppressive man who persecuted unfavourable monks and imposed heavy taxes on peasants. A hero appeared in such a scene: a young man named Ken Arok who came from sudra, or the lowest Hindu caste. He contrived a coup to assassinate Tunggal Ametung, married Lady Ken Dedes, whom Ametung had kidnapped and made his wife, eventually defeated Kediri, and founded the Singasari Dynasty at the present-day Malang to reign under the name of King Rajasa. The life of Ken Arok was written in the aforementioned chronicle, Pararaton and the story was passed down from generation to generation. Although Ken Arok ruled the kingdom wisely (1222–47), he was murdered by Anusapati, the son of Tunggal Ametung who had been in the womb of Ken Dedes. Despite the repeated assassination of the kings, the kingdom itself continued to exist and fine temples (or mausolea) were built. The statue of Prajnaparamita, unearthed in the Singasari temple complex, for which the image of Ken Dedes, the daughter of an esteemed Buddhist monk, Purva, and reputed perfect beauty, was said to have been modelled for Kwan-non (or Guan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion) praying for perfect wisdom, is now held in the National Museum in Jakarta as a masterpiece and displayed for the public. It would not be exaggerated to say that this statue was the best piece among all Javanese carvings, at least from the present writer’s point of view.

     The 5th king of Singasari, Kertanegara led the country to prosperity and thrice rejected the demand of Khubilai Khan to be subordinated, as mentioned previously, but was murdered in May 1292 in the coup d’etat by Jayakatwang, Lord of Kediri under the control of Singasari, who tried to revive the Kediri Dynasty. Jayakatwang himself was killed in November of the same year by Yuan’s troops despatched by Khubilai with one thousand junks. It was Raden Wijaya, a descendant of Ken Arok and Ken Dedes and the son-in-law of Kertanegara, who pretended to be cooperative but attacked and defeated Khubilai’s army. Raden Wijaya founded Majapahit, which became the strongest kingdom in Javanese history in 1293.

     The 4th king of Majapahit, Hayam Wuruk, married Paduka Sori, his cousin, and made her queen several years after the “Tragedy of Bubat”. Under the reign of Hayam Wuruk, Majapahit developed with the service of Premier Gajah Mada and the kingdom’s hegemony ranged over the whole area of present-day Indonesia, including Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Bali and eastern islands, and West New Guinea, and also extended to the Malay Peninsula[19]. The situation in Java at that time can be perceived from Desawarnana (also called Nagarakertagama) written by Mpu Prapanca who accompanied Hayam Wuruk’s inspection tours and The Overall Survey of the Ocean Shores (瀛涯勝覧, Ying ya sheng lan, 1416)[20] by Ma Huan who attended the voyage of Zheng-He (鄭和) in the Ming Period China, as well as fine buildings and sculptures left in the capital of Majapahit (the present-day Trowulan), Kediri, Panataran and other places.

     After the death of Hayam Wuruk in 1389, Majapahit gradually declined due to troubles with the succession of the throne and due more to the propagation of Islam. In The Overall Survey of the Ocean Shores, it was written that “There are three kinds of people in this country, Moslems who came from western countries for trade, Chinese who were exiled from Canton, Quanzhou, etc., and natives who worship the heresy [Hinduism]”, implying that Islam had significantly spread by the early 15th century. The lords in Demak, Jepara, Gresik and Tuban on the north coast of Java began to convert themselves to Islam and controlled the trade independently from Majapahit, and Demak Kingdom, the first Islamic kingdom in Java, was founded by Raden Patah in ca. 1475. Although Demak flourished by the trade with Malacca, they lost their power after the fall of the latter in 1511 to the hand of Alfonso de Albuquerque, the Governor of the Portuguese India, as written in the book of Tome Pires[21]. Majapahit Kingdom is generally considered to have perished after the reign of Brawijaya VI (1478–98). Around that time, nobles of Majapahit took refuge with a number of books and cultural heritages of Java to Bali where the Islamic power did not reach. All copies of literature and history books written before the Majapahit period remained in Bali and Lombok Island (located east of Bali), thanks to their transportation.

     In 1584, Panembahan Senopati, a descendant of the Majapahit royal family, unified small kingdoms that had arisen and rivalled each other after the death of Trenggana (1522–48), the 3rd King of Demak, and founded the New Mataram Kingdom (or Sultanate Mataram) in Pajang (near the present-day Solo), calling himself the Sultan. Thus, the centre of administration and culture of Java returned to Central Java. The 3rd king, Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo (1613–45) was a great ruler. He conquered the whole area of Java Island, apart from the western half of West Java and a little part of East Java and, in 1628–9, twice campaigned to attack Batavia, which the Dutch had built by defeating the Bantam–English alliance in 1919, although the result was in vain.

     In the mid-18th century (1755 AD), Mataram Kingdom was divided into two for the Susuhunan Family in Solo and the Sultan Family in Yogyakarta, arranged by the arbitration of VOC, after the three-time Wars of Succession[22]. Although it was one side of history that the division of the kingdom had enhanced the presence of the Dutch in Java, it was undeniable on the other side that kings and nobles were freed from military matters and became able to concentrate on the developing of their own arts and culture. It was in the courts of Solo and Yogyakarta that wayang kulit was made sophisticated, the human-played wayang wong (or wayang orang) was created and selimpi and budoyo, both the most noble court dances, were born. In the area of industrial arts, the design and the process of batik (dye-coloured fabric indigenous to Java) was refined, as we can see the products today.

     In 1744, Baron van Imhoff, the governor-general of VOC, built a mansion at Pakuan (the present-day Bogor), the former capital of Pajajaran Kingdom that had perished in 1579 and named the place as Buitenzorg (lit. care-free village), which later in 1870 became the official residence of the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies.

     The aftermath of the Napoleonic War in Europe extended to Java. In 1808, General Herman Willem Daendels, was despatched from the French-occupied Holland, to defend the territory from the anticipated attack by the English. He reformed Batavia by abandoning the fort near the port and constructing the new city centre at Weltevreden, eight kilometres to the north, and prepared a defense line in Meester Cornelis (the present-day Jatinegara), another twenty kilometres to the south. He also founded a fortified city, 180 kilometres east by southeast of Batavia, in the basin of the present-day Bandung surrounded by mountains. In addition, he ordered the construction of an 800-kilometre long post road, De Groote Postweg (locally, Jalan Pos Raya) across Java Island from Anyer in the west end to Panarukan in the east end. Although Daendels had achieved all these undertakings within two years, at the expense of 20,000 lives, he was relieved from his post in May 1811, as his administration did not run smoothly because of his fierce personality, and it was General Jan Willem Janssens who faced, and surrendered, to a British Army, which actually came to occupy Java three months later, led by Lord Minto. The person who ruled Java was Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant Governor of English India, who later founded Singapore. Although his government introducing the British systems was not necessarily successful, the fact that he promoted studies of the relics of ancient Javanese Kingdoms, such as Borobudur, by appointing himself the President of the Royal Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences and authored the great book, The History of Java, was remarkable.

     When the restoration of Java and its dependencies to the Netherlands was agreed in the Peace of Vienna in 1815, King Willem the First decided to govern the East Indies by the hand of the government, not by entrusting the administration to such a company as the former VOC that had become bankrupt in 1799. Overcoming the rebellion of Diponegoro, the so-called Java War (1825-30), the Dutch East Indies steadily developed and became the most prosperous country in Asia. Although the present Indonesia is known as one of the world’s richest countries in terms of natural resources, the economic base at that time was the plantation industries which the Dutch had fostered. The result was that “The Dutch are indirectly making money out of Java, but they are letting the natives make money, too.” [23]  In the beginning of the 1900s, an Ethic Policy was implemented by order of Queen Wilhelmina,.and the education, medical care and the welfare of the native people was greatly enhanced. In the constitution of 1922, East Indies, as well as Dutch Gyuana (Surinam) and Curaçao Island, was given the equal status as the Netherlands.[24]

     Looking back at the long history of Java, one notices that all kingdoms that rose and fell in this island belonged to the native people, apart from such early ones as Salakanagara and Tarumanagara, which were founded by immigrants from India. In fact, the bloodline of the present royal family in Solo and Yogyakarta dates back to Ken Arok and Ken Dedes of the 13th century. The culture and customs brought by Chinese and Moslem immigrants in the course of history were absorbed and assimilated among natives. It is symbolic that the culture of the Hindu–Buddhism age was preserved after the Islamisation, as wayang is loved by Javanese people today. It is remarked that the Dutch, who had set up their trading post at Java in the early 17th century and became the suzerain of the East Indies in the beginning of the 19th century[25], did bring their European civilisation, but never imposed their own culture, paying respect to and even protecting the local heritage. This was quite in contrast to what happened in Spanish colonies, for instance, the Philippines in Asia, let alone those in Middle and South America, where the conquistadors made maximum efforts to change everything local, even the mentality of native inhabitants. Under the Japanese occupation (February 1942–August 1945) during the Second World War, the lands of Java and other territories of the East Indies were impoverished and the people suffered all sorts of privations, but they managed to avoid the Japanisation of their culture.

 After the Second World War, the political environment of Java saw a drastic change. During the period of the so-called Indonesian Revolution, from the declaration of the independence of Indonesia on the 17th August 1945 to the agreement for the independence on the 27th December 1949 in the Round Table Conference in Den Haag, the independence armies based in Central Java vehemently engaged against the Dutch administration. The first president, Soekarno, had inspired nationalism and nationalised the enterprises of Dutch capitals in 1957–8, but the age of his “Guided Democracy” on the tripod of Nasakom (i.e. Nasionalisme, Agama (Religion = Islam) and Komunisme) was ended by the Incident of 30th September 1965 in which six cadres of the national army were assassinated in a coup d’etat and Colonel Oentoeng and communists who were charged with the incident were purged. Suharto, who usurped the power on 11th March the following year, becoming the second president in 1967, started the so-called New Order and a certain economic growth was achieved, but Suharto gradually became despotic and his regime collapsed in 1998 during the Asian Economic Crisis.

     The modern history of Indonesia is vigorously argued. Although the present writer has some insights behind the politics, which are not written in books, rather obtained through his experience of living in the country, they are not within the scope of this book. This writer would just say that the mentality of Javanese and Sundanese people to value tradition has never been affected in spite of the drastic changes of the country’s situation. They respect monarchs in Solo and Yogyakarta, esteem the elders and love cultural heritages such as wayang (shadow play).




[1] T. S. Raffles, The History of Java, London 1817/reprint: Oxford University Press, Singapore 1988. During the Napoleonic Wars, Thomas Stamford Raffles was appointed the lieutenant governor of Java and its dependencies by the English East India Company and stayed in Java in 1811–15.

[2] The name of the computer programming language was allegedly given in connection with an informal American word, “java”, that originated from the fact that coffee was produced in the Island of Java.

[3] The original Ramayana (called Valmiki Ramayana) dates back to the 5th to 4th centuries BC. The Ramayana composed in the poetic kakawin style in 9th century Java is said to have been based on the bhatti kavya or ravana vadha version Ramayana of the 6th to 7th centuries’ origin. (Ref. Kodaganallur Ramaswami Srinivasa Iyengar, Asian Variations in Ramayana: Papers Presented at the International Seminar on Variations in Ramayana in Asia: Their Cultural, Social and Anthropological Significance, New Delhi, January 1981 (Google Books). In the Ramayana story, the island where the abducted Princess Sita (Sinta in Java) was finally discovered was Lanka (Alengka) Island.

[4] Purwadi, Sejarah asal-usul tanah Jawa, Persada, 2004. King Isaka is generally known as Aji Saka, the year of his arrival (or his death) was set as the first year of the Saka Calendar, which was created by himself (See, text in p.15).

[5] E.g. Russell Jones, “Earl, Logan and Indonesia”, In Archipel. Volume 6, 1973. 93–118.

[6] Alfred Russell Wallace, “On the Physical Geography of the Malay Archipelago”, Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol. 33 (1863), pp. 217-234.

[7] Alfred Russel Wallace, The Malay Archipelago (1869), Oxford University Press, Singapore 1985.

[8] J. R. Logan, J. Indian Archipelago IV. 1850, 254 / In Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Version 4.0.

[9] East Indies was a geographical term that originally included Hindustan, Further India, and the islands beyond, but the use became restricted to denote the Malay Archipelago. This term is opposed to the West Indies or Central American islands. East India was used for the names of the English and the Dutch companies established in 1600 and 1603, respectively, for their trading activities in Asia.

[10] To the present writer’s knowledge, the first literature in which these words appeared was: “The Description of Java Major, and the Manner and Fashions of the People, both Javans and Chineses, Which Doe There Inhabit”, by Edmund Scott in William Foster (Ed.), The Voyage of Henry Middleton to the Moluccas, 16041606, Hakluyt Society, London 1943 (in James R. Rush, Java: A Travellers’ Anthology, Oxford University Press 1996).

[11] The Italian words, from: Da’ torchi di G. Pagani, Il milione di Marco Polo: testo di lingua del socolo decimoterzo ora per la prima volta pubblicato ed illustrato dal conte Gio. Batt. Baldelli Boni, Vol.1, Firenze 1827.

[12] The travels of Marco Polo, translated into English from the text of L. F. Benedetto by Prof. Aldo Ricci, with an introduction and index by Sir E. Denison Ross, G. Routledge & Sons, London 1931. In this edition, the Italian words, Della piccola isola di Iava, were translated as “The island of Java the Lesser”. Google Books. In Japan, the book of Marco Polo is generally known as “Touhou Kenbunroku” (lit. Record of Experiences in the Orient), ever since first translated by Yasutaro Sano, and the original title, Il Milione, is almost completely forgotten, although the Japanese name properly represents the contents. In Europe, too, not all friends of the present writer remember the original title.

[13] Nagoya University, Hou Han Shu 76, Nan man xi nan yi lie zhuan [The book of the Later Han, Legends of Southwestern Barbarians] (後漢書列傳第七十六・南蠻西南夷列傳), http://toyoshi.lit.nagoya-u.ac.jp/maruha/kanseki/houhan076.html.

[14] Atja, (Ed.) S. Ekadjati, Pustaka rajya rajya i bhumi Nusantara, suntingan naskah dan terjemahan I 1, Bagian Proyek Penelitian dan Pengkajian Kebudayaan Sunda (Sundanologi), Direktorat Jenderal Kebudayaan, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, 1987. One of the thirty chronicles edited in the beginning of the 18th century in Cirebon by Panitia Pangeran Wangsakerta (Prince Wangsakerta Committee).

[15] Wirasutisna, Haksan, Kidung Sunda III, Departmen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan Jakarta: 1980; Claire Holt, Art in Indonesia: Continuities and Change, Cornell University Press, 1967; P. J. Zoetmulder, Kalangwan, A Survey of Old Javanese Literature, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1974). The original book is supposed to have been written around 1550 by an anonymous author.

[16] Serat Pararaton atau Katuturanira Ken Angrok (The Book of Genealogy or the Recorded Story about Ken Angrok). A book probably written in 1481–1600 by an anonymous author. The English edition: I. Gusti Putu Phalgunadi, The Pararaton: A Study of the Southeast Asian Chronicle, Sundeep Prakashan, New Delhi, India, 1996.

[17] Nagoya University, Jiu Tang Shu [Book of Tang] Vol. 197, Legends147, South/SouthwestBarbarians, 945 AD (舊唐書卷一百九十七・列傳第一百四十七・南蠻/西南蠻 945 AD), http://toyoshi.lit.nagoya-u.ac.jp/maruha/kanseki/jiutangshu197. html; Nagoya University, Tang Shu [The New Book of Tang] Vol. 222-1/2, Legends 147, Foreign  Countries 2) 1060 AD (新唐書卷二百二十二下・列傳第一百四十七下・南蠻下), http://toyoshi.lit.nagoya-u.ac.jp/maruha/kanseki/xintangshu222c.html.

[18] 周去非撰, 嶺外代答卷二 (Zhou Qufei [Ed.]. Ling wai dai da Vol.2 [Representative answers [about the region] beyond mountains], 1172–78),


[19] It is generally said that Majapahit’s domain covered Sumatra, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Bali and eastern islands, and West New Guinea, but, from the fact that no remains of military installations and weapons are found, the kingdom is considered to have controlled these areas economically and administratively, rather than conquered with military force (Private communication from Mrs. Ekowati Sundari, M.A., The National Museum of Indonesia).

[20] Nagoya University, Ma Huan, Ying yai Sheng lan (馬歡, 瀛涯勝覽), http://toyoshi.lit.nagoya‑u.ac.jp/maruha/kanseki/yingyashenglan1.html.

[21] Tome Pires, Armando Cortesao (edit), The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires and the Book of Francisco Rodriguez Volumes 1 and 2, Hakluyt Society, London, 1944 (Google Books)/Japanese translation by Yu Aida, Koji Iizuka, Minoru Izawa, Seiichi Izumi, Seiichi Iwao: Tome Pires, Tohoshokokuki (Daikokai Series V), Iwanami Shoten 1966 (トメ ピレス (会田由, 飯塚浩二, 井沢実, 泉靖一, 岩生成一訳)「東方諸国記 (大航海時代叢書V)」, 岩波書店 1966).

[22] The Gianti Agreement (13 February 1755). In 1757, the Mangkunegoro Family branched from the Susuhunan Family, Solo, and in 1812 the Paku Alam Family branched from the Sultan Family, Yogyakarta.

[23] John C. van Dyke, In Java and the Neighboring Islands of the Dutch East Indies, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York-London 1929. The author continued: “Moreover, they are putting back into the country millions in development. “They are trying to establish a just and equable government and a prosperous colony. To that end they are confirming the land rights of the natives, introducing improved methods of irrigation and husbandry, conserving the forests, establishing native schools and universities, building cities, roads and bridges, opening up new transportation routes, and doing a thousand and one things looking to the betterment of town and country. The result is the natives are well fed, well housed and dressed, look happy, seem contented. And Java is a joy to the traveller, the most delightful of all the tropical countries. The Dutch must receive the credit for much of this. Why not say so without reservation?”

[24] R. B. Cribb, Audrey Kahin, Historical Dictionary of Indonesia, Scarecrow Press, 2004; Bernard Hubertus Maria Vlekke, Nusantara: A History of the East Indian Archipelago, Harvard University Press, 1945.

[25] When the Dutch officially colonised the East Indies is not clearly known to the present writer. Although the asset of the bankrupt VOC by the government took place in 1800 and the foundation of the Ministry of Colonies was in 1806, it was during the time when the Netherlands were under the control of Napoleonic France, and “Java and its dependencies” were occupied by the British between 1811and 1816. It was probably after the Peace of Vienna that the colonial government substantially started to function in 1816 with the appointment of Godert van der Capellen as the governor-general. The so-called colonial rule may be regarded to have ended in 1922 when the East Indies, as well as Dutch Guiana and the Curaçao, was constitutionally given the same status as the Netherlands.