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a Malayo-Polynesian language of Central and Eastern Java



the most numerous people of Indonesia. The Javanese inhabit the island of Java (except for the western part), the adjacent regions of Kalimantan and Sumatra, several other regions of Indonesia, and regions outside Indonesia. According to a 1978 estimate, they number more than 67 million. The Javanese speak Javanese and Indonesian, the official language of the country. The majority profess Islam, which was introduced between the 15th and 17th centuries; since the mid-20th century there have been Christians as well. To a considerable extent, Hindu, Buddhist, and animistic beliefs have been preserved.

The ancestors of the Javanese arrived in Java no later than the mid-first millennium B.C.; in the first millennium of the Common Era they were greatly influenced by the culture of India. The first early feudal states arose at the turn of the third century; the greatest medieval state was the Majapahit empire, which existed from 1293 to circa 1520. The Dutch established colonial rule over the Javanese in the 17th century. A stubborn national liberation struggle of all the peoples of Indonesia, which became particularly intense in the early 20th century, led to the country’s independence in 1945. In the forefront of the struggle were the Javanese, among whom the idea of a unified Indonesian nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense) has been especially popular.

More than 80 percent of the Javanese are farmers, growing such crops as rice, maize, and tropical fruit. Fishing, fish culture, and poultry raising are also important. Such handicrafts as batik, jewelry-making, carving, and basketry are highly developed. The Javanese also account for more than half of Indonesia’s industrial workers. Since ancient times, the Javanese have had varied forms of national theater, music, and architecture. The history, economy, and culture of the Javanese are discussed in INDONESIA.

Sometimes all the inhabitants of Java are called Javanese, but this usage is not ethnographically accurate.


Narody lugo-Vostochnoi Azii. Moscow, 1966. (Contains bibliography, pages 712–13.)
Helbig, K. M. U podnozh’ia Makhameru: Stranstviia po lave. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from German.)




the language of the inhabitants of central and eastern Java and some areas of the northern coast of western Java. According to a 1970 estimate, Javanese is spoken by 40 million people. It belongs to the Western (Indonesian) branch of the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) languages.

In Javanese, consonants and vowels regularly alternate with one another; the voicing distinction between voiced and voiceless obstruents is weak. The morphemic structure of words is simple, and there is a considerable number of primary words. Analytic means of grammatical expression prevail over synthetic means. The lexicon contains numerous borrowings from the Indian languages, Arabic, Dutch, Portuguese, English, and Malay. Javanese has a number of distinct status styles that are used in varying social situations; they include ngoko, or simple language, and krama, or deferential language.

The history of Javanese is usually divided into three periods: Old Javanese (up to the 12th or 13th century), Middle Javanese (12th or 13th century to the 17th century), and Modern Javanese (17th century to the present). The earliest inscription dates from 732, and the earliest literary text from 809. Old Javanese used the Kawi writing system, from which the Javanese writing system known as Charakan was created. In the 14th and 15th centuries an Arabic script came into widespread use. In the 17th and 18th centuries the Dutch introduced the Latin alphabet, which, in due course, came to be widely used; it supplanted the other writing systems in the 20th century.


Teselkin, A. S. Iavanskii iazyk. Moscow, 1961.