Every month we are committed to introduce you, our readers, to have a glimpse of our beautiful #Indonesianculture . In this particular article, we are going to introduce you to some Javanese cultural products, may it be performances, or food or symbols, you will get to witness and experience during your visit to the island of Java.
Indonesia is blessed with different array of rich local cultures, thanks to its over 300 ethnic groups.
Java island is the second most visited island by foreign tourists, with the most visited island being Bali. Java is where the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, is located, and some other big metropolitan cities in Indonesia namely Surabaya, Jogjakarta and Bandung.
East Javanese Cultures
Ludruk is a traditional theatrical play that is performed by comedians. Actors usually will carry out their lines in Surabaya dialect of Javanese language, instead of Indonesian language. The plays are often funny in nature, and are centered around everyday life. They are often accompanied with gamelan music.
Rujak Cingur is a traditional food from Surabaya, East Java. The food is healthy and very delicious. It contains the nose of a cow or a pig. This traditional food is very famous among Indonesian people. You should try one.
Central Javanese Cultures
Ketoprak is a traditional theatrical play from Central Java. Gamelan is also used to accompany Ketoprak play, just like Ludruk. But instead of drawing inspiration from everyday life, the storylines in Ketoprak is often drawn from Javanese history and legends.
The traditional house in Central Java is called Joglo. It has 4 main pillars that are referred to as “Soko Guru”. “Soko Guru” represents 4 directions of wind: north, east, south, and west. There are 3 main parts of Joglo: pendopo that represents the front area of the house, pringgitan that represents the middle area, and omah daleman that represents the back area.
Beskap is a traditional cloth for Central Javanese men. Beskap consists of several pieces of clothing: blankon, to cover the men’s head, jarik, to cover the lower part of the body, and stagen, to cover the stomach part of the body. To complete the look, Central Javanese men will also carry keris, a traditional weapon that looks like a dagger, by slipping it on their hip part of their clothing. In contrast, Central Javanese women wear kebaya for upper part of the body. On the stomach, they wear stagen. While for the lower part of the body, they wear jarik. Their hair is set like a circle called konde or sanggul.
To name a few, some well known Central Javanese traditional dances are: srimpi, gambyong, blambangan cakil, and kendalen. Srimpi and Gambyong are usually performed by young (virgin) dancers as part of sacred rituals at a kraton, a Javanese palace. It is believed that the inspiration for Srimpi and Gambyong came from divine beings. The dance of bambangan cakil is believed to repel evil spirits and is usually performed by fine strong Javanese men. As for Kendalen is usually performed by Javanese soldiers, representing the bravery of soldiers.
West Javanese Cultures
Kujang is a traditional weapon that also functions as a cultural symbol. Symbolically kujang depicts a winged light human, because according to West Javanese culture, human is a descendent of the sun – and the sun represents God. The wings in Kujang symbol represents the good knowledge from ‘above’ or the universe. While below the wings there is an image of a man in a seated, surrender position. The position represents the submission to God the energy and all that there is. The philosophical meaning behind the symbol is that people must be humble and be mindful of the presence of God whom is the center of the universe.
West Javanese musical instrument is famous for its relaxing producing sound. Angklung is a traditional musical instrument from West Java, made of a type of bamboo called Pasundan. Suling is another famous aero musical instrument originated from West Java. You can opt to buy Angklung and Suling as souvenirs. At souvenir shops you will find angklung and suling in wide array of sizes. While you are still in West Java, learn how to play angklung or suling from the locals.
There is a phenomenal traditional dance called jaipong. This exotic dance exposes the movement of hips and bottoms. Commonly, it is performed by women. The back sound accompanies the dance in the whole performance.
Time To Go
Enrich your visit to Java Island of Indonesia by experiencing some local cultures and traditions mentioned in this article. A touch of culture is something that cannot be replicated if you visit somewhere else outside Java, and especially, outside Indonesia. Allow yourself to immerse in the beauty of Indonesian local cultures and be inspired by it. Have you had some local cultures experience during your visit to Indonesia? Are you visiting Java island in the near future? Is there any cultural experience that you want to see during your visit?