hang on to your Java
I finally decided to dip my toe into the ocean that is the mish-mash of calendars used in Indonesia. Along with their traditional systems, they’ve also added the Gregorian, the Hindu, and Muslim Calendars. Add to that that they have two names for weeks, months, years and so on (one is more formal, the other informal), and you wind up with one big mess.
At least I do. I’m sure the people in Indonesia have little problem wading through it all. The difficulty I’ve had in putting it all together, is that most sources are written for an Indonesian audience. the other is that the resources I’ve found aren’t clear or consistent about which periods start when, and so forth. I only just discovered that the Balines Pawukon (a market week calendar with 10 different time periods) began just a few weeks ago. I try to keep on top of these things but every once in a while, they get past me (who are we kidding, this happens a lot).
At any rate, I hope that I don’t confuse this even further.
Javanese Calendar – a calendar date converter, however, the terms aren’t defined, and are not correlated in other resources.
Calendar Magic – calendar conversion software – free to download
Javanese Calendar – an okay explanation
Kejawen – a traditional Javanese spiritual teaching, which claims that all religions are good, and may explain how so many religions have managed to co-exist relatively peacefully in Indonesia. Nevertheless, it offers a better explanation of the time periods,putting them into a more spiritual/symbolic context.
Wikipedia entries on the Javanese Calendar and the Balinese Pawukon
Holy Handgrenades, but this one is complicated. In essence, it is a 210-day market calendar, that combines market weeks of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 days. As 4, 8, and 9 don’t divide evenly into 210, there are special rules to make it all work. Also, the 1-day market “week” is irregular, and follows a special schedule. got all that? good.
June 17th 2012 saw the beginning of the 210-day pawukon, and the next will begin January 13th 2013.
Wikipedia has a full table displaying the pattern of days over the course of the calendar. This calendar doesn’t align itself to other calendars, and as far as I’ve been able to gather, runs 210-days consecutively over and over, without a leap year or similar consideration.
Add the pawukon to the rest of the calendars in use in Indonesia, and it really is amazing that anyone can get anything done. Every day has several names and designations, depending on whether the date is necessary for secular, Islamic, Hindu, or other reasons.
We may as well start with something familiar. The seven-day week is not the same as the seven-day week on the pawukon. Each day is given a different name with different significance. So it appears that there are two cycles of 7-days, one of which has two names.
the 7-day week runs concurrently with a 5-day week (not the same as the one on the pawukon either), and the two form a 35-day cycle of days.
- Minggu – Sunday
- Senin – Monday
- Selasa – Tuesday
- Rebo – Wednesday
- Kemis – Thursday
- Jemuah – Friday
- Setu – Saturday
As mentioned above, each of these days has two names, but I’m only writing the informal one (I think), to save on throwing too many unfamiliar terms about. If you’re Indonesian, help me out!
Each of the seven weekdays is associated with the motion of the moon toward the earth:
- Sunday – standstill
- Monday – forward
- Tuesday – backward
- Wednesday – left
- Thursday – right
- Friday – up
- Saturday – down
Each of the five days of the other market week represent the positions of the moon
- Kliwon – stand-up
- Legi – retreat
- Paing – in front of
- Pon – sleep
- Wage – sit down
The Muslims use a variation of the Hijri, the Islamic Calendar, with a few adjustments of a day here or there. This Calendar only runs 12 lunar months (wulan), which means that a full cycle is 354 or 355 days. Whereas the Hijri lunar months are based on observation, which can differ from location to location, some alternate between 29 and 30 day months. Although this may be easier, it is not universally accepted. This is the scheme that the Javanese apply to their own version.
- Sura (30 days)
- Sapar (29 days)
- Mulud (30 days)
- Bakda Mulud (29 days)
- Jumadi Awal (30 days)
- Jumadi Akhir (29 days)
- Rejeb (30 days)
- Ruwah (29 days)
- Pasa (30 days)
- Sawal (29 days)
- Sela (30 days)
- Besar (29 or 30 days)
Each tahun (a lunar year of 12 months) has its own name, and the number of days in Besar are determined according to where they fall. There are 8 tahun as follows:
- Alip (354 days)
- Ehe (354 days)
- Jemawal (355 days)
- Je (354 days)
- Dal (355 days)
- Be (354 days)
- Wawu (354 days)
- Jimakir (355 days)
Each group of 8 tahun is called a windu, and there are four of those.
the significance of these cycles is rather interesting.
the Wulan (lunar months) is attributed an idea
As I understand it, Rijal is the mystical power of life (birth-death). The first nine months represent gestation, the tenth month is birth into the world, the eleventh month is the end of his/her life in the world, the twelfth the return to the void.
Each tahun in the group of 8 has a word/idea associated with it as well. Stringing these 8 “lunar years” gives us the following sentence
starting a wish/make/work/fate/life/always return/to the direction/void
which makes a sentence as follows “It starts by making activities for the process of life, it always returns to the void.” This sentiment follows the cycle of birth, growth and death, as we’ve seen in other cultures. It is the cycle of life, intimately tied to the cycle of time over the period of 8 lunar years, repeated four times.
This is an annual calendar that has divisions of uneven but symmetrical duration which align with the seasons in Indonesia (more or less). It is unlike any other calendar system I’ve seen, and as such, makes me happy to have found it.
Pity my interest in calendars hadn’t bubble up when I visited Indonesia back in 1993.
Now thePranata Mangsa is particular to the island of Java, as it doesn’t fit with the climate in other parts of the archipelago.
The image above shows the division of the 12 periods of the year, with the date each period begins in the Indonesia version of the Gregorian calendar – it begins at the top on 22 June, then clockwise, 41 days to 2 August, 23 Days to 25 August and so on. The one anomaly is Kawolu VIII, which occurs after 3 February. It can be either 26 or 27 days, depending on whether it is a leap year or not.
- Kaso – dry season
- Karo – middle of dry season
- Katelu – end of dry season
- Kapat – rain begins
- Kalima – rain can lead to strong winds and flooding
- Kanem – rain leads to lightning and landslides
- Kapitu – peak of the rainy season
- Kawolu – rain still – rice grows, grubs abound
- Kasanga – guess what? rain
- Kasadasa – rain finally diminishes – and I thought Winter in the prairies was bad.
- Desta – dry season starts up
- Saddha – dry season – water starts to recede
there are attributations regarding plant, animal, and agricultural cycles within the shift from dry to rainy season. It’s a wonderful example of a local calendar, and alas, it has fallen out of use in the past century or so.
I’ve had a harder time resolving what this refers to. I’ve found resources referring to the Indian National Calendar (an attempt to normalize the abundance of calendars in India), and others that refer to the solilunar calendars in use in India, and yet another that claims it is the Hijri. Not helpful, especially considering the Balinese New Year celebration of Nyepi is based on it. From what I gather, it falls on the first day of the solilunar calendar, which was derived from similar Hindu Calendars.
As such, the New Year for 2012 was March 23rd. For 2013, March 11th.
The people of Java and Bali present an interesting case for the interacting of communities, cultures, religions, traditions and so on, as exemplified by the various calendar systems, including those indigenous to the archipelago, and those introduced later. It is an amazing testament to our adaptability, and one I hope theAbysmal Calendar manages to reflect to some degree.
167 Days to Dec 21st 2012