Jawadwipa is another name of the island of Java in the past, as well as Borneo as another Borneo island, Celebes other mention of the island of Sulawesi and Suwarnadwipa or Suwarnabhumi or the island of Andalas for the nickname of the island of Sumatra.
On 2010, almost 58 percent of Indonesia’s 230 million people or roughly 133 million people, live in Java, an island whose land surface is only about seven percent of that of lndonesia. Java, as a result, is one of the world most densely populated regions.
Java, as a result, is one of the world’s most densely populated regions
The island of Java is located in the Southern Hemisphere, or south of equator. It occupies an area of roughly 132,187 square kilometers, which equals one fourteenth of Indonesia’ total. By comparison, Sumatra is three-and-a-half times as big as Java, Kalimantan between five and six times, Sulawesi one and-a half times, and Papua three times.
To the west of Java is the Sunda Strait, which separates the island from Sumatra, to its east the Bali Strait, to its north the Java Sm, and to its south the Indian Ocean.
Off Java’s north coast are the Seribu islands near Jakarta, the Karimunjawa group near Central Java, and the Bawean and Kangean islands off East Java. On the south coast are Nusa Kambangan peninsula and the island Nusa Barung.
Java’s southern seashore is vastly different from its northern. One of the world’s deepest troughs runs across the ocean floor south of the islands and parallel to it, and the huge waves of the Indian Ocean lash endlessly against the shore, pushing the shoreline slowly further and further back.
Because of this incessant pounding, caves have in many places formed in the cliffs. Such a cave is Karang Bolong, in Central Java, where thousands of swallows have built their nests which the people collect to be sold at high prices as a delicacy.
Generally, Java’s rivers are not used for navigation between towns and cities, being too small, but can be utilized for the generation of power and for irrigation.
On the hand, inter-city land transportation is very smooth, and the network of roads is generally good and all-embracing, penetrating deep into the countryside. In addition, the island’s railroad network spans a length of more than 6,000 kilometers.
Sea transportation facilities are equally satisfactory. Besides those of the state-owned shipping company PELNI, a fleet of ships belonging to private corporations offer main passenger and freight transportation services between Java and the other islands.
Air transportation facilities link almost all major towns and cities in Java with points all over Indonesia, while Jakarta, the country’s capital city and most important gateway, is connected by regular services to all major cities of the world.
Java has been a center of culture, civilization and power ever since the Hindu period of its history, a position which it retained when Islam replaced Hinduism in later centuries.
Also during period of European colonialism, Java remained the center of government, with Jakarta (Batavia) as the colonial capital. With the achievement of national independence in 1945, Jakarta became the capital city of the Republic of Indonesia.
Java has been a center of culture, civilization and power ever since the Hindu period its history.
According to archaeologist Robe Von Heine Geldern, the oldest ancestors of the present-day Indonesians lived here some 4,000 years ago. Later, beginning at around the year 1,500 B.C. peoples from what is now southern China on the Asian mainland, came to settle.
They came in waves, following two different routes. The first of them came to Java through what is now Indochina, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra. and built settlements that were scattered across the island.
Then, at around 300 B.C., came the peoples who brought what is known as the Dongson culture, a metal-using culture.
Their arrival in Java marked the beginning on the island of the megalithic period. Those people erected big stone monuments to honor the ancestral spirits.
Fossils found in caves and on lowland plains near rivers appear to support that theory. So did the various gravestones and menhirs, tall upright standing stone monuments, that were found in various places.
In 1891 , while digging near the village Trinil in Central Java, the archaeologist Eugene Dubois unearthed the fossilized remains -the roof of a skull – of an ancient, apparently upright standing and walking human like being, or hominid. He named the creature Pithecanthropus erectus.
In 1936, in Sangiran, not far from where Dubois had made his find, Von Koenigswald found the fossilized skull of another hominid. This new creature was given the name Meganthropus palaeojavanicus. It was estimated to have lived one or two million years ago. Pithecanthropus fossils were also found near Mojokerto, in East Java, and near Solo (Surakarta) in Central Java. They were Pithecanthropus modjokertensis and Pithecanthropus soloensis.
Like Pithecanthropus erectus, they are believed to have lived during the middle and late Pleistocene period of the earth’s history, between two million and 300,000 years ago.
Meganthropus was a herbivore, Pithecanthropus apparently an omnivore capable of hunting and collecting food, which it consumed raw. Then, the fossilized remains were found in Wajak, East Java, of a more or advanced hominid which eventually became known as Homo wajakensis, which lived in the post-Pleistocene, or the early Holocene, period, some 25,000 to 40,000 years ago. Those creatures made stone and bone tools, which they used for hunting. They no longer ate their food raw, but cooked them over a fire.
In the late 19th century, a Dutch scholar named H. Kern, on the basis of linguistic comparative studies, came to the conclusion that the ancestors of the present Indonesian peoples must have come from the Malayan peninsula.
Another Dutch archaeologist by the name of H.R. van Heekeren classified the metalbronze period into what he called the protohistorical period, because on the bronze nekara kettledrums which were found in Indonesia had inscriptions in Chinese characters.
It appears likely that trade relations with India were already established at around the beginning of the Christian Era, and a Hindu kingdom probably existed in as early as the 6th century AD. The meeting of the two civilizations, the indigenous and the Hindu, resulted in the emergence of what is now referred to as the Hindu-Javanese culture.
Islam made its entry into Java in the 15th century, brought here by traders, either directly from Arabia or through Persia, and gradually Islamic states arose to replace the old Hindu kingdoms. The infusion of Islamic influences into the existing Hindu-Javanese civilization again produced a mixed culture, which is today referred to as that of the Abangan, or kejawen.
The belief in man’s capability to acquire supernatural powers, known as Kesakten, remained strong. So did the belief in ghosts and spirits, good and evil, which presumably inhabit various objects.
At the end of the 16th century, the first Europeans set foot on Javanese soil, eventually turning the island into a colony. Gradually, the original nature and structure of the Javanese village society changed, and its social unity waned.
Myths and legends
The Javanese saw their village as a complete cosmic entity. Man, animals, plants, the rivers and mountains and the various spirits, they all were elements of nature that worked together to maintain the equilibrium of the universe.
They were also inseparable parts of the universe, and therefore the Javanese believed that failure to follow the natural scenario would disrupt the equilibrium and calamity would result.
That, in a nutshell, was -and often still is -the basic religious- philosophical view of the Javanese.
Before the arrival of the Hindus, the Javanese already had a culture and beliefs of their own. The teachings of the Hindus and Buddhists, however, were easily absorbed by the Javanese, as were those of Islam in later ages.
As a result, it is hard today to determine with any certainty the nature of the original beliefs that prevailed in Java before the arrival of those major world religions.
The indigenous myth of origin of the Javanese, for instance, has blended with Hindu and Moslem beliefs, and now are related to the two figures Sri and Sadono. Sri is identical with Laksmi, Lord Wisnu’s consort, while Sadono is Lord Wisnu himself. Sri and Sadono are the original ancestors, the Eve and the Adam of the Javanese people. Sri incarnated as Sekartaji or Condrokirono, the daughter of the king of Kediri, while Sadono incarnated as the son of the king of Jenggala, Panji. After surmounting many difficulties, the two finally became man and wife.
The figure of Sri is still exalted by the Javanese today in wedding ceremonies and during rice harvests. During the wedding ceremony, a couple of puppets representing Sri and Sadono are placed in front of a ceremonial bedroom, while during the rice harvest, sheaves of rice are shaped into the likeness of a couple of human beings and brought in procession to the village, where they will bestow their blessings on the villagers. Sri, therefore, is also the
goddess of the rice field, or of fertility.
The Javanese also believe in danyang, or guardian spirits. At the beginning of the rice planting season and during the harvest, offerings are made to them, too. This usually occurs in a simple family ritual known as “slametan”, which is religious thanksgiving meal.
In honor of the goddess Sri, Javanese villagers once a year hold what they refer to as “bersih desa”, which literally means ”cleaning up the village”. Houses, rice fields, irrigation ditches and other places are cleaned while offerings are made. Often, a wayang shadow play with a suitable theme is performed to luster up this village community ritual.
“Before the arrival of Hindus, The Javanese already had a culture and beliefs of their own.
The ancient Javanese text Tantu Panggelarn indicates that the Javanese believed that man is descended from the gods. There is an enduring relationship between the two.
Before the arrival of the Hindus, the Javanese apparently already had their own original-ancestor figures -their Adam and Eve. In the Hinduized version, the god and goddess Wisnu and Sri descended from the heavens onto the island of Java as Kandyawan and Kanyawan to become the original ancestor of the Javanese.
They had five children. The first-born became a farmer, the second a trader, the third a tapper or palm wine, the fourth a butcher and the youngest a ruler.