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Balambangan

(810 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Balambangan lies at the extreme southeastern tip of Java, in the area of the present-day kabupaten (administrative district) of Banyuwangi. From the sixteenth century onwards, it was sandwiched between Muslim Javanese states to the west and Hindu Balinese states to the east. Legends about early Islam in Balambangan are unique among Javanese conversion tales in that they describe failure. According to the eighteenth-century chronicle Sejarah Banten (History of Banten), a foreign holy man named Molana Usalam landed in Balambangan, whose ruler had a very ill dau…
Date: 2019-03-21

Carita Sultan Iskandar, Carita Nabi Yusuf, and Kitab Usulbiyah

(1,201 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Carita Sultan Iskandar, Carita Nabi Yusuf, and Kitab Usulbiyah are three books credited with supernatural power, written at the Javanese court of Kartasura in 1729–30 at the behest of King Pakubuwana II’s pious Ṣūfī grandmother, Ratu Pakubuwana (b. c.1657). She was the wife of King Pakubuwana I (r. 1704–19), the mother of Amangkurat IV (r. 1719–26), and grandmother of Pakubuwana II (r. 1726–49), whose reign she aimed to turn into that of a model Ṣūfī king. She was a person of great influence at the cour…
Date: 2019-03-21

Ampel, Sunan

(290 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Sunan Ampel (fifteenth century C.E.), also known as Sunan Ngampel or Sunan Ngampel-Denta, was one of the earliest and most prominent of the legendary nine walis, the saints credited with bringing Islam to Java. He is buried within the boundaries of the present-day city of Surabaya, but his life history is known only through later Javanese legends of uncertain veracity. According to some legends, his personal name was Rahmat, and he bore the title of Raden, later used for lower ranks of Javanese aristocracy. He is said t…
Date: 2019-03-21

Javanese Wars of Succession

(1,454 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
There were three Javanese Wars of Succession—a term introduced by Western historians and not employed in indigenous Javanese sources—in 1704–8, 1719–23, and 1746–57. These wars transformed the political structure of the Mataram empire, pulled the Dutch East India Company (VOC) into seriously draining conflicts, and probably inflamed Javanese senses of cultural distance from the VOC. In 1703, the Mataram dynasty ruler Amangkurat II (r. 1677–1703) died and was succeeded by his son Amangkurat III (r. 1703–8; d. 1734). The kingdom was in considerable di…
Date: 2019-03-21

Bari, Seh

(185 words)

Author(s): Ricklefs, M. C.
Seh Bari was a legendary teacher of mystical doctrines whose name is associated with one of the most important manuscripts from the early period of the Islamisation of Java, Javanese manuscript Cod. Or. 1928, kept in the collection of Leiden University. The manuscript is a sixteenth-century work and one of only two Javanese Islamic manuscripts that can be dated with certainty to before the seventeenth century. The work uses Javanese terms for concepts such as God (pangeran), asceticism (tapa), and heaven (swarga). Cod. Or. 7475, also in the collection of Leiden University, e…
Date: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

Hamengkubuwana I

(995 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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21

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: 2019-03-21
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