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Gatholoco, Suluk

(652 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Suluk Gatholoco was an anti-Islamic work in Javanese evidently written in East Java in the 1870s in reaction to Islamic reform movements. In the 1870s, Islamic reform was making headway amongst Javanese, but it also precipitated adverse reactions. One was the emergence of a social category known as the abangan, or “nominal Muslims” who did not embrace—indeed, evidently even abandoned the former practice of—Islamic rituals and attenuated their sense of Islamic identity. Another reaction took the form of anti-Islamic writing that rejected Islam …
Date: 2018-07-12

Agung, Sultan

(1,283 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Sultan Agung (r. 1613–46), was the greatest of the kings of the Mataram dynasty of Java and a major reconciler of Javanese and Islamic identities. Sultan Agung (“great Sultan”) was an appellation used only after the ruler’s death. Earlier in his reign he held a series of Javanese titles: Pangeran (“prince, lord”), and Panembahan and Susunan (both meaning “honoured lord”), acquiring the title of “sultan” only in 1641. He is nevertheless referred to as “Sultan Agung” throughout Javanese sources and in the historical literature. Before Agung came to the throne, his predecessors Se…
Date: 2019-01-15

Lawu, Sunan

(652 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Sunan Lawu, the spirit of Mount Lawu—an active volcano 3,265 metres high on the border between Central and East Java, Indonesia, east of the court city of Surakarta—appears to be an ancient deity. An Old Javanese manuscript that refers to King Kertanagara (d. 1292) of the East Javanese kingdom of Singhasari and deals with regulations for Hindu-Buddhist religious elites refers to the dewa giri Lalawu (the deity of Mount Lawu) (Pigeaud, 3:132). There are two remarkable fifteenth-century Hindu temples, Candhi Sukuh and Candhi Cetha, on the mountain, both celebr…
Date: 2018-08-29

Cek Ko-po

(186 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Cek Ko-po may have been the name of the Chinese founder of Demak, traditionally regarded as the first Islamic state in Java. Demak’s history, however, is obscure. In their study of early Javanese Islamic states, Pigeaud and de Graaf conclude that Demak was founded in the last quarter of the fifteenth century C.E. by a Chinese Muslim. The Hikayat Hasanuddin, from Banten (West Java), which is reflected in some seventeenth-century Dutch sources, identifies this person as Cek Ko-po from “Munggul,” which De Graaf and Pigeaud believe may mean “Mongolia.” Cek …
Date: 2019-01-10

Bayat, Sunan

(386 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Sunan Bayat is a legendary figure said to have spread Islam in south-central Java in the fifteenth century C.E. His life is known only from Javanese legends. He was traditionally considered the last Hindu king of Majapahit, who was defeated by Muslim armies in 1478 C.E. (though Majapahit, or a remnant of it, in fact survived until c. 1527). He became lord (bupati) of Semarang, with the name Ki Gedhe Pandhan Arang. Miraculous stories treat his conversion to Islam and instruction in secret doctrines by Sunan Kalijaga, one of the wali sanga (Nine Saints) of Java. According to these legends, P…
Date: 2019-01-10

Chronogram, Muslim Southeast Asia

(675 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
The use of chronograms in Muslim Southeast Asia is most prominent in Javanese culture. In Modern Javanese, chronograms are called sangkala/sengkala (or candra sengkala), the word sangkala meaning “chronology” or “chronogram.” Pre-Islamic, Old Javanese works use the Sanskrit word śakakāla, referring to the Śaka era and meaning also “chronogram” (Zoetmulder and Robson, 2:1603). In Javanese, chronograms consist of four words, each word—rather than each letter of a word, as in the ḥisāb al-jummal and taʾrīkh systems—having its own numerical value. They are read from left …
Date: 2018-07-12

Cirebon

(770 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Cirebon, in present-day West Java, was among the earliest of the Muslim states of Java. Our understanding of its early history has been muddled by the “discovery” in the 1970s of a chronicle called Purwaka Caruban Nagari (“The origins of the state of Caruban,” i.e. Cirebon), which was claimed to be of eighteenth-century origin but is generally considered by scholars to be a twentieth-century fake. Cirebon was apparently occupied by Muslims – probably Chinese - late in the fifteenth century C.E., but its florescence is associated with Sunan Gunungjati (d. c.1570), one of the Nine Saints (wa…
Date: 2019-01-10

Dermagandhul, Serat

(1,085 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Serat Dermagandhul was one of three anti-Islamic tracts in Javanese evidently written in East Java in the 1870s in reaction to Islamic reform movements. Islamic reform’s progress among Javanese from about the 1850s produced some resistance. A social group known as the abangan emerged, who attenuated their commitment to Islam and its rituals and came to be regarded as merely nominal Muslims. Anti-Islamic tracts were also written depicting Islam as a foreign import not suited to the Javanese. In 1870 a version of the chronicle Babad Pajajaran appeared in the Javanese weekly Bramartani, d…
Date: 2018-07-12

Hamengkubuwana I, Sultan

(996 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Sultan Hamengkubuwana I (r. 1749–92)—commonly known as Sultan Mangkubumi, after his princely name—was the first ruler of the kingdom of Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia, and the greatest king of Java’s Mataram dynasty, after Sultan Agung (r. 1613–46). His year of birth is uncertain, with various sources giving dates ranging from 1709 to 1717, the latter year being more likely. In his younger years he was a prince about whom prophecies of future greatness were told, a collector of literature, a …
Date: 2018-07-12

Gresik

(458 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Gresik is a port city in East Java, to the north of Surabaya, which played a prominent role in the history of Islam in Java from early times. The gravestone of one Malik Ibrahim, dated 822/1419, is found there. He was apparently not Javanese; local tradition regards him as one of the original nine bringers of Islam (the wali sanga), but Central Javanese court traditions do not include him in that group. Gresik was evidently founded by Chinese in the fourteenth century C.E. and is described in the fifteenth-century account of the archipelago by the Chinese Muslim Ma …
Date: 2018-07-12

Goddess of the Southern Ocean (Ratu Kidul)

(835 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
The Goddess of the Southern Ocean is regarded by many Muslim inhabitants of Java and Hindus of Bali as the most powerful of local spiritual forces. Islamic reformers have long regarded belief in her as one of the principal barriers to purification of the faith, but other Muslims have accommodated her into their belief systems. The origins of the myth of a powerful female spirit ruling Java and Bali’s Southern (Indian) Ocean are obscure. Pigeaud (4:211) suggested that the goddess was a local pre-Islamic deity, which offered a “prototype” for the ritu…
Date: 2018-07-12

Leran

(233 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Leran is a town in East Java where an early gravestone was found that was once and is still occasionally regarded, erroneously, as shedding light on the early Islamisation of Java. Leran was a major port, which, to judge from archaeological evidence, flourished especially from the fifth/eleventh century to the seventh/thirteenth. The stone found there marked the grave of a woman named Bint Maymūn b. Hibatallāh, who died in 475/1082. Recent analysis of the stone by Ludvik Kalus and Claude Guillot…
Date: 2018-12-18

Bonang, Sunan

(456 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Sunan Bonang is one of the legendary Nine Saints ( wali sanga) who were said to be responsible for the conversion of the Javanese to Islam in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries C.E. His life is obscure. Most legends agree that he was the son of Sunan Ngampel-Denta, another of the wali sanga of Java, and that he studied with his father and with the future wali Sunan Giri. According to these legends, Bonang and Giri set off together for Mecca but got no farther than Melaka, on the strait between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, where an Arab Muslim s…
Date: 2019-01-10

Centhini, Serat

(1,291 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Serat Centhini (“The book of Centhini”) is an encyclopaedic Javanese work describing romantic adventures, social life, and religious ideas in Islamic Java, known in a text written in 1815 on behalf of the crown prince of Surakarta, who was to become Susuhunan Pakubuwana V (r. 1820–3). The work consists of 722 cantos, comprising something over 200,000 lines of Javanese verse. Portions of the larger text are found in manuscripts with varying titles (such as Suluk Tambangraras) but the conventional title, Centhini, derives from the name of one of the minor characters in it, th…
Date: 2018-07-12

Amangkurat I, Susunan

(628 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Susunan Amangkurat I (r. 1646–77) was the son and successor of Sultan Agung. During his reign he attempted to centralise the Mataram empire in ways not previously seen, and not, in fact, achievable, given the geo-political realities of Java, with its difficult geography, population centres that were often relatively isolated from one another, limited communications, and no centralised bureaucratic tradition. He was jealous of countervailing power centres and leaders and frequently employed murder …
Date: 2019-01-15

The Spread of Islam in Southeast Asia: 15th to Mid-18th Century

(6,499 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
By the beginning of the fifteenth century, gravestones and other sources show that Islamic states had been established in several areas of island and peninsular Southeast Asia. In north Sumatra there had been Islamic states since the early thirteenth century, Muslims had been found in East Java in the fourteenth century, and the Malay peninsula had seen the creation of several sultanates. In Samudra there is the gravestone of one ʿAbd Allāḥ bin Muḥammad bin ʿAbd al-Qādir, who died in 809/1406. He was a descendant of the penultimate ʿAbbāsid caliph, confirm…

Erbervelt, Pieter

(463 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Pieter Erbervelt (d. 1721) was accused of being the leader of a Muslim plot to slaughter the Christians of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Batavia (present-day Jakarta) in 1721 and was brutally executed for what was, in all probability, a trumped-up accusation. Erbervelt was born before 1671 to a European father—evidently German—and a Thai mother. He followed his father in his trade as a leather tanner in Batavia, the headquarters of the VOC. In the 1720s the VOC felt particularly under threat from its own disgruntled slaves and var…
Date: 2018-07-12

Giri, Sunan/Panĕmbahan

(714 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Sunan Giri, later known as Panembahan Giri, was one of the wali sanga (the Nine Saints), the semi-legendary initial propagators of Islam in Java, and the only one followed by a line of successors. Like the history of all the wali sanga, that of the spiritual lords of Giri is clouded in myth. The Giri gravesite in East Java remains a major pilgrimage site, but only little is known with confidence about the history of the persons buried there. According to Sejarah Banten (“History of Banten,” a text known in eighteenth-century versions), an Arab divine named Molana Usalam came …
Date: 2018-07-12

Anbiya, Sĕrat

(229 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
The Sĕrat (book) Anbiya (from the Arabic anbiyāʾ, “prophets“; sing. nabī) or Ambiya , sometimes also called Sĕrat Tapĕl Adam (“The formation of Adam”), is the title of Javanese works of literature recounting the lives of the prophets of Islam. There is a considerable variety of such works in both prose and verse, in most cases using Arabic rather than Javanese script. An Arabic book entitled ʿUmdat al-ansāb—a work written in Aceh but based on a sixteenth-century Persian text concerning the genealogy of the prophet Muḥammad—is sometimes mentioned as the authority upon which Sĕrat Anbiya r…
Date: 2019-01-15

Fatahillah

(541 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Fatahillah is remembered in Indonesia as a sixteenth-century Muslim hero who ejected the Portuguese from the port of Sunda Kalapa, in Java, and renamed it Jayakarta (or a similar name), thus becoming the founder of what is now the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta. The Portuguese came to the area in 1522, when the still-Hindu state of Banten (a major pepper port) was under threat from the Muslim state of Demak, farther east on the north coast of Java. The Portuguese agreed to build a fortified position on Banten’s eastern frontiers, at a…
Date: 2018-07-12
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