Agrarian Unrest and Millenarian Motions in Java

1800-1910

Joshua Ramon Enslin /

Millenarianism

Short Definition

Religious belief in the end of the world (as people knew it)

Characteristics

  • Belief in the coming in an approaching apocalypse
  • Based on existing religious beliefs
  • Pre-existing millenarian motions become more pronounced with disasters, famines, etc.

Millenarian Motions

  • Colonial authorities strongly feared millenarianism
  • Uprisings were not necessarily millenarian, the chain of events is however not possible without millenarian undercurrents

Agrarian Unrest

What does it mean?

Counter-movements against the current powers-that-be in areas marked by an agrarian economy.

What is their Background?

  • Stark transformations of social configurations
  • Deterioration of status
  • Commercialization

Javanese Society in the 19th Century

A Rough Overview based on Carey 1986

For comparison: Philippine colonial society

General characteristics

  • Power shifts to Dutch colonial administration
  • Already high level of monetarization of economy
  • Peasants increasingly lose control of land
  • Power struggles between villagers and higher level officials / businesses

Broad timeline of Javanese history in the 19th century

1799
Dutch East Indies Company shut down
1811-1814
British rule over the Dutch East Indies
1825-1830
Java War
-1870
Cultivation System
1901-1942
Ethical Policy

Incidents

Summaries of single incidents

  • Central Java up to Java War
  • Late 19th century East Java

Regional differences

  • Stark differences between Central Java and East Java
    • Many parts of East Java were still frontier areas
  • Kraton as an intermediary between Dutch and village society in Central Java
  • Central Java marked by toll gates
  • Disasters and epidemic in 1820s central Java
  • Late 19th century East Java is marked by internal power struggles

Umar Mahdi Affair

Bagelen, 1817 (January)

  • Sambirata resident calls for meeting; 50 followers with turbans meet
  • Orders subordination of Chinese
  • Ratu Adil as Soldier of Sultan Rum (described as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire)
  • Hopes for help by Apostle Sultan Bonang
  • Umar Mahdi declares Rebellion in unfit year

Carey 2008: 480-484

Unnamed Gathering

Ketangga, 1817 (July)

  • 4000 people gather because of prophecy of Ratu Adil coming

Carey 2008: 484

Kyai Iman Sampurna Gathering

Sréngat, 1819 (February)

  • Links to pre-Islamic sights
  • Rumours of were-tigers surrounding him
  • Spreading of prophecy in text form
  • Sampurna describes Just King’s return as triggered by arrival of anti-secularist Mataram prince
  • Later movements refer to Kyai Iman Sampura's prophecies

Carey 2008: 485-487

Sunan Waliyullah Gathering Followers

Madiun, 1822

  • Sunan Waliyullah links self to Majapahit dynasty
  • Stays at same mosque as Iman Sampurna
  • Declares followers to be invincible

Carey 2008: 490f

Uprisings in South-Central Java

1822 (January-February)

  • Prince Dipasana (Yogyakarta court) calls for uprisings

Carey 2008: 495-496


Java War


Kasan Mukmin Uprising

1904

  • Proclamation of the arrival of Ratu Adil
  • Rich, religious peasant calls for uprising
  • Little support from poor peasants
  • Movement is quickly defeated

Fernando 1995

Dermojoyo Affair

1907

  • Essentially an intrigue between different factions within village
  • Office-holders report gathering as uprising, spread rumors of Dermojoyo claiming to be the Ratu Adil
  • Administration fears millenarian uprising, shoots down Dermojoyo and the group at his house

Fernando 1999

Things to note

  • The events are connected to each other
  • It would be interesting to discuss millenarian aspects in view of the Indonesian Revolution (compare Ileto 1979 for the Philippine case)

Thank You!

References

  • Carey, Peter. 2008. The Power Of Prophecy; Prince Dipanagara And The End Of An Old Order In Java, 1785-1855. Leiden: KITLV Press. http://www.oapen.org/search?identifier=403791.
  • Lanternari, Vittorio. 1962. “Messianism: Its Historical Origin And Morphology”. History Of Religions 2 (1): 52-72. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1062037.
  • Carey, Peter. 1986. “Waiting For The 'just King': The Agrarian World Of South-Central Java From Giyanti (1755) To The Java War (1825-30)”. Modern Asian Studies 20 (1): 59-137. http://www.jstor.org/stable/312483.
  • Fernando, M. R. 1995. “The Trumpet Shall Sound For Rich Peasants: Kasan Mukmin's Uprising In Gedangan, East Java, 1904”. Journal Of Southeast Asian Studies 26 (2): 242-262. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20071717.
  • Fernando, Radin. 1999. “In The Eyes Of The Beholder: Discourses Of A Peasant Riot In Java”. Journal Of Southeast Asian Studies 30 (2): 263-285. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20072148.
  • Fernando, M.R. 2010. “Famine In A Land Of Plenty: Plight Of A Rice-Growing Community In Java, 1883—84”. Journal Of Southeast Asian Studies 41 (2): 291-320. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20778877.
  • Fields, Karen E. 1982. “Charismatic Religion As Popular Protest: The Ordinary And The Extraordinary In Social Movements”. Theory And Society 11 (3): 321-361. http://www.jstor.org/stable/657274.
  • Ileto, Reynaldo Clemeña. 1979. Pasyon And Revolution: Popular Movements In The Philippines, 1840-1910. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
  • Kerkvliet, Benedict J. 1977. The Huk Rebellion: A Study Of Peasant Revolt In The Philippines. Berkeley/Quezon City: University of California Press/New Day Press.
  • King, Victor T. 1973. “Some Observations On The Samin Movement Of North-Central Java. Suggestions For The Theoretical Analysis Of The Dynamics Of Rural Unrest.”. Bijdragen Tot De Taal-, Land- En Volkenkunde / Journal Of The Humanities And Social Sciences Of Southeast Asia 129 (4): 457-481. doi:https://doi.org/10.1163/22134379-90002714. http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-90002714.
  • Larkin, John A. 1971. “The Causes Of An Involuted Society: A Theoretical Approach To Rural Southeast Asian History”. The Journal Of Asian Studies 30 (4): 783-795. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2052987.