Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Javanese Literature: Diamond in the Rough

Nowadays, literary work is larger, bigger, and (some) easier in such cases. This development is not only in Indonesia, but also in the world (English or America), in many areas like novels, short stories, and also poets. They are in a super-fast producing, so in a shorten time; they can publish many novels, or other works. They have great imagination, and the result they can make some great stories. For example, the serial Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling or Trilogy of The Lord of the Rings by J.J. Tolkien. Many people in the world are enjoying them, including Indonesian. Though these two stories are in the different cultural background with the Indonesian culture. As the result, the invasion of translated-literary works is very fast. The other result, the Indonesian (read: Javanese) literature become the guest in its own place.
What about Javanese literature?
Until this day, the research about Javanese literature is very limited. This may caused by that the Javanese literature is more difficult to understand. Even for Javanese people. The only research of Javanese literature in 20-21 centuries is “Serat Panitisastra” from A. Sudewa (Suryadi, 1997:101). This is a dissertation that study about “Serat Panitisastra” by Ki Yasadipura I. This dissertation talks in two areas, i.e. philology and literary.
First, Suryadi (1997: 5) divides the Javanese era into two: Javanese Renaissance I (8-15 centuries) and Javanese Renaissance II (16-20 centuries). The first also known as Ancient Java (Buddhism and Hinduism era). This era, the author of literary works called “Pujangga” and “Mpu” at the same time. For example, Mpu Prapanca, the author of the new model of Javanese literature, Negarakertagama. And the other “Mpu”. The second time (Javanese Renaissance II), also called Middle Javanese Era (Islam). In this time, the author of literary works known as “Pujangga”, and some of them are also the Sultan, or King. For example, Sultan Agung, the author of the masterpiece in Javanese literature, Serat Sastra Gendhing. And also anonym literary works like Serat Darmogandhul and Serat Gatholoco.
The characteristic of Javanese literature from the ancient java until this time is same. The use of “macapat” (see the previous article about Macapat), still dominate the writing. It may people feel bore when they read, because it just like short poet. But, with the deep understanding, Javanese literature is very high quality. Different with the modern literary works, that can be understood in a first reading. People who understand Javanese literature have “taste” not only “think”, because to understand Javanese literature, “taste” is more active. For example, this is taken from Serat Arjunawiwaha by Mpu Kanwa:

Nahan wuwus ikang kakangateraken masuka muwah ares ta sangkinona
Katon ya ta manis-manis ning waja sang pria kadi masirat-sirat madhu
Kumel to juga yan pinintakasi han wruh angiringi patangkising kale
Mene pada mene huwus pada huwus ringa-ringaning huwusnya tan humung
(pupuh 23, bait akhir Jagadnatha)

This is a model of “Suluk” (a narrative story, read by singing), in a Pedhalangan Yogyakarta:

Mesat mingis krodhanira
Senaputra sesumbar manengkeri
Geter ngakasa gumuntur
Swara lir gelap sasra
Karosane sewu dipangga mangamuk
Miris Narapati Karna
Senaputra tuhu sekti
Other example of “Suluk”
Kayon katiyup ing angin
Sumyak swarane karengyan
Samirana mawor riris
Lumrang gandaning puspita
Ae ana
Titi sonya madya ratri
Raras rumendheng akasa

The last is “Suluk” to describe a woman appearance

Wanodya ayu utama
Ngambar aruming kusuma
Wadana anawang sasi
Risedheng purnama sidhi
Ae ana
Waja kengis pindha thathit
Lathinya menggis karengat

From the examples above, it is hard to understand the meaning without know the Indonesian or English version. But, the strength of Javanese literature is using Javanese language. It will be strange when turn into other language. But not with other literary works. People can enjoy the Harry Potter in Bahasa Indonesia, and (maybe) people also enjoy the Laskar Pelangi in English. But not with Javanese literature.
With the limited people that really understand the Javanese literature, it is like a diamond in the rough. It can be used to entertain other people, but it can also used to give more understanding about the life, the nature, and the God. The Javanese literary authors not only make the literary works to entertain, but also to strength the spiritual aspects. How? By think, and the more, by taste. Think is physical area, i.e. the brain, but taste is spiritual area, i.e. in the heart and the soul. It is the different between Javanese literatures with other literary works around the world.
Reference: Suryadi, Linus. 1997. Dari Pujangga ke Penulis Jawa. Pustaka Pelajar: Yogyakarta


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