Introduction / History
The Jawa Mancanegari live primarily in the province of East Java. The name, Mancanegari, is a Javanese word meaning "outside the nation". This name was given to them by past Jawa Negarigung kingdoms in Surakarta and Yogyakarta and refers to the fact that they resided outside of those kingdoms. Although ethnographers still use the term "Mancanegari" to identify this people group, the Jawa Mancanegari people simply refer to themselves as Javanese from East Java. The Jawa Mancanegari have a rich history of which they are very proud. Two ancient Hindu kingdoms in particular, the Kediri kingdom (11th -12th c. AD) and the Majapahit kingdom (14th-15th c. AD), illustrate this heritage. The combined influence of these kingdoms extended from Vietnam to New Guinea. Relics from these eras are found throughout Southeast Asia, but are especially prevalent in East Java. Even today, Kediri and Mojokerto are the centers of Jawa Mancanegari culture.
What are their lives like?
Jawa Mancanegari are primarily farmers. They have been blessed with extremely fertile land, much of which can support four crops per year. This is due both to the rich volcanic soil and to the many rivers and tributaries which crisscross their homeland. Rice is the predominant crop; however tobacco, soybeans and corn are also farmed. There is a growing industrial sector developing, primarily in the major cities, where those who feel they don't have a future in the villages seek employment. Some of the primary industries include textile, cigarette, steel and furniture production. The Jawa Mancanegari are considered less "refined" than the other Jawa subgroups. However, they are known for their openness and straightforwardness, their "can do" attitude and their indomitable spirit. Many of Indonesia's independence leaders, including the first president, were Jawa Mancanegari. Cultural events and ceremonies include the Reog and Kuda Lumping dances. During these dances, the dancer will go into a trance by inviting spirits to enter into his body in order to perform extraordinary acts. In the Kuda Lumping dance, the dancer dances around on a woven bamboo horse while eating glass, flowers and grass. In the Reog Dance, the dancer wears a giant tiger-head mask decorated with peacock feathers that is 2 m. (6 ft.) tall and weighs about 45 kg. (100 lbs.)
What are their beliefs?
The majority of Jawa Mancanegari call themselves Muslim. However, most mix Muslim beliefs with Hindu and Pre-Hindu beliefs. This mixture of beliefs is called Agami Jawi or Kejawen. Many Jawa Mancanegari learn to read the Qur'an (Islamic Holy Book) and vocalize prayers and qur'anic recitations in Arabic. However, they seldom understand the meaning of what they are reading or vocalizing. They often use the Islamic prayers as mantras and written verses from the Qur'an as good luck charms or to ward off evil spirits. Most Jawa Mancanegari give sajian (offerings) to the Danyan (guardian spirit), which watches over the village in order to ensure the protection of their village, houses and well-being.
What are their needs?
Jawa Mancanegari need more employment opportunities due to the high unemployment rate among them. As farmers, the Jawa Mancanegari have increased needs for new farming techniques and a need to return to traditional organic farming, due to soil problems from the over-use of chemical fertilizers. Also, outside of the major cities, any type of medical care is basically nonexistent and educational opportunities are very limited.
Text source: Copyright © Indonesian Peoples Network, 2011. Used with permission.