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deddynoer: The Sundanese

The Sundanese are an ethnic group native to the western part of the Indonesian island of Java. They number approximately 31 million. The Sundanese are predominantly Muslim. The Sundanese have traditionally been concentrated in the provinces of West Java, Banten and Jakarta, and the western part of Central Java. The provinces of Central Java and East Java are home to the Javanese, Indonesia's first largest ethnic group. Sundanese culture has borrowed much from Javanese culture, however it differs by being more overtly Islamic, and has a much less rigid system of social hierarchy.

Origins and history
The Sundanese are of Austronesian origins who are thought to have originated in Taiwan, migrated though the Philippines, and reached Java between 1,500BCE and 1,000BCE.

According to the Sundanese legend of Sangkuriang, which tells the creation of Mount Tangkuban Parahu and ancient Lake Bandung, the Sundanese have been living in the Parahyangan region of Java for at least 50,000 years.

Inland Sunda is mountainous and hilly, and until the 19th century, was thickly forested and sparsely populated. They traditionally lived in small and isolated hamlets, making control by indigenous courts difficult. The Sundanese, in contrast with the Javanese, traditionally engaged in dry-field farming. These factors resulted in the Sundanese having a less rigid social hierarchy and a more independent manner. In the 19th century, Dutch colonial exploitation opened up much of the interior for coffee, tea, and quinine production, and the highlands society took on a frontier aspect, further strengthening the individualistic Sundanese mindset. Court cultures flourished in ancient times, for example, the Sunda Kingdom, however, the Sundanese appear not to have had the resources to construct large religious monuments similar to those in Central and East Java.

The Sundanese language is spoken by approximately 27 million people and is the second most widely-spoken regional language in Indonesia, after Javanese. This language is spoken in the southern part of the Banten province, and most of West Java and eastwards as far as the Pamali River in Brebes, Central Java.[citation needed. Sundanese is more closely to Malay and Minang than it is to Javanese, although Sundanese has borrowed the language levels denoting rank and respect.
There are several dialects of Sundanese, from the Sunda-Banten dialect to the Sunda-Central Javanese dialect which mixes elements of Javanese. Some of the most distinct dialects are from Banten, Bogor, Priangan, and Cirebon. In Central Java, Sundanese is spoken in some of the Cilacap region and some of the Brebes region.

The original religious system of the Sundanese was monotheism. The best indications are found in the oldest epic poems (wawacan) and among the remote Baduy tribe. This religion is called Sunda Wiwitan ("early Sundanese"). Today, most Sundanese are Muslims.

Culture and artforms
Sundanese culture has borrowed much from Javanese culture, however it differs by being more overtly Islamic, and has a much less rigid system of social hierarchy. The Sundanese, in their mentality and behavior, their greater egalitarianism and antipathy to yawning class distinctions, their community-based material culture, of feudal hierarchy, apparent among the people of the Javanese Principality.[clarification needed] Central Javanese court culture nurtured in atmosphere conducive to elite, stylized, impeccably-polished forms of art and literature. In a pure sense, Sundanese culture bore few traces of these traditions.
The art and culture of Sundanese people reflect historical influences by various cultures that include pre-historic native animism and shamanism traditions, ancient Hindu-Buddhist heritage, and Islamic culture.[citation needed] The Sundanese have very vivid, orally-transmitted memories of grand era of the Sunda Kingdom. Traditional artforms include pencak silat martial arts, angklung bamboo music, kecapi suling music, gamelan degung, jaipongan and other dances, and wayang golek puppetry. Many forms of kejawen dance, literature, gamelan music and shadow puppetry (wayang kulit) derive from the Javanese. Sundanese shadow puppetry is more influenced by Islamic folklore than the influence of Indian epics present in Javanese versions.
Sundanese literature was basically oral; their arts (architecture, music, dance, textiles, ceremonies, etc.) substantially preserved traditions from an earlier phase of civilization, stretching back even to the Neolithic, and never overwhelmed (as eastward, in Java) by aristocratic Hindu-Budhist ideas.

Sundanese culture and tradition are usually centred around the agricultural cycle. Festivities such as "Seren Taun" harvest ceremony is held in such high importance, especially in the traditional Sundanese community in Cipta Gelar village, Cisolok, Sukabumi, and the traditional Sundanese community in Kuningan and Kampung Naga. Since early times, Sundanese have predominantly been farmers. They tend to be reluctant to be government officer and legislators