Ethnic Groups in Indonesia. The Javanese

Term Paper, 2015

13 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Contents


Data and Facts
Main regions
Sub-ethnic groups

History of Javanese People


Major Holidays


Javanese personality



Favorite meals
Traditional specialties


List of References

JAVANESE Introduction

There are over 300 ethnic groups and more than 700 living languages in Indonesia. Some of these ethnic groups are totally different from each other. On the other hand we can find some ethnic groups that are very similar too. With 95.2 million people, Javanese build the largest ethnic group of Indonesia. I am very interested Javanese, because I have been to Yogyakarta and was able to experience Javanese culture. That’s why I choose this ethnic group.

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1 Javanese people

Data and Facts


In 2011 there were 95.217 Million Javanese, which was 40.22% of the Indonesian population. Today there must be over 100 Million. This number makes clear, that Javanese are the biggest ethnic group of Indonesia.

Main regions

Javanese are native to Java Island, but they are predominantly located to the central and eastern part of Java. The main region where we can find them are Bengkulu, East Java, East Kalimantan, Central Java, Jambi, Lampung, North Sumatra, Riau, South Sumatra and Yogyakarta.

Sub-ethnic groups

There are many sub-group. For example the Mataram, Cirebonese, Osing, Tenggerese, Boyanese, Samin, Naganese, Banyumasan.1


Javanese people speak Javanese. It is the mother language to more than 98 million people.2 It belongs to the Austronesian language family. There are also many groups of Javanese dialects. The three main dialects of ‘Modern Javanese’ are ‘Central Javanese’, ‘Eastern Javanese’ and ‘Western Javanese’. There is a dialect change continuing from Banten, (western Java) to Banyuwangi (eastern corner of the island).

Javanese is written with Javanese script, (a descendant of the Brahmi script of India), Arabo-Javanese script, Arabic script (modified for Javanese) and Latin script.

A speaker of Javanese must adapt his "speech level" according to the status of the person addressed. There are basically two "speech levels": nikko and kromo.

Nikko is the language in which a person thinks. It is only allowed to use nikko with people of equal status. Close friends or people, whom one knows intimately, and with social inferiors.

Kromo is spoken to older people, people of higher status, and those whose status is not yet known by the speaker. Many of the most basic sentences differ markedly at the two levels. In nikko, "Where [are you] coming from?" is Soko ngendi. In kromo, it is Saking pundi. Mastering kromo is an acquired skill.

In addition to polite speech, proper respect requires appropriate body language: bowing and slow, graceful movements.

History of Javanese People

The Austronesian ancestors of the Javanese arrived perhaps as early as 3000 BC from the Kalimantan coast. Over the centuries, different native Javanese states appeared. Most were coalitions of regional lords.

In the 15th century AD., Java's north coast ports fell under the influence of Muslim Malacca, and under the rule of the descendants of non- Javanese Muslim merchants.

In 1830s the Dutch government took control of Java. In the 19th century a population explosion turned 3 million Javanese into 28 million. The Javanese took the lead in the Islamic, communist and nationalist movements that challenged colonialism from early in the twentieth century.3

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2 20th century, Dutch colonialization


Animism was the first religion of Java.4 In the northern coast area of Java, Javanese people came in contact with Islam for the first time. This took part in the Majapahit period, when Javanese traded with various states like Perlak and Samudra Pasai (today it is called Aceh). Today most of Javanese (93%) are Muslims5.

There are just a few Javanese following Christianity, even less Buddhism and Hinduism, which can be also found in the Javanese community.

Kebatinan, also called Kewjen, is a Javanese religious tradition, consisting of a combination of animistic, Hindu-Buddhist, and Islamic beliefs and practices. It is about the search for the inner self but at the core is the concept of the peace of mind, connection with the universe, and with an Almighty God. It addresses ethical and spiritual values as inspired by Javanese tradition.

Major Holidays

The first day (beginning at sunset) of the Islamic year, called Sur, is regarded as a special day. People stay up all night. They watch processions such as the kirab pusaka (parading of the royal heirlooms) in the town of Solo. Many meditate on mountains or beaches.

The birthday of Muhammad (Mulud) is celebrated in Yogya and Solo by holding the Sekaten fair the week preceding the date.

Ancient gamelans (a type of orchestra) are played at the festival. On the holiday itself, there is a procession involving three or more stickyrice "mountains" (symbolizing male, female, and baby)


Many of the Javanese ceremonies have their roots in Kebatinan. Also they can be different from one community to the other. In the following text I will explain a few of them.6

Grebeg Maulud is a traditional ceremony held by the royal court of Keraton Surakarta and Jogjakarta, to celebrate the birth of Muhammad, the Islam's holy messenger. The ceremony starts with prayers in the grand mosques, a parade and a carnival of the people.

The Javanese wedding wedding ceremonies are different from each other and depend on the social standing of the couple. Popular variations includes Surakartan, Jogjakarta, Paes Kesatrian, and Paes Ageng. The wedding rituals will include Siraman, Midodareni, Peningsetan, Ijab (for Muslims) or wedding sacrament (for Christians).7

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3 Javanese wedding



2 Kewarganegaraan, Suku Bangsa, Agama dan Bahasa Sehari-hari Penduduk Indonesia - Hasil Sensus Penduduk 2010 . Badan Pusat Statistik. 2011. ISBN 978-979-064-417-5


4 Muhaimin 2006, p. 2.

5 Geertz, Clifford (1976). The religion of Java. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-28510-8


7 ng=en

Excerpt out of 13 pages


Ethnic Groups in Indonesia. The Javanese
Udayana Universitas  (Universitas Udayana in Jimbaran)
Cross Culture Management
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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828 KB
Javanese, Indonesia, ethnic groups
Quote paper
Elisabeth Schmid (Author), 2015, Ethnic Groups in Indonesia. The Javanese, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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