Dieny & Yusuf

Sundanese Art and Culture

Posted on: March 3, 2007

The sundanese culture of West Java area the second largest ethic group of Indonesia and are often compared to the Javanese, though significant differences do exist.

The sundanese language is notes for its liberal use of colorful interjections. Like Javanese, it features an intricate system of levels to indicate degrees of respect and formality. Likewise, though there are considerable differences between Sundanese and Javanese culture, they touch with respect to forms of literature, gamelan music, dance and puppet play. Less influenced by the strong mysticism which characterizes the Kejawen culture of Central Java, the Sundanese are more strictly Islamic.

            The social traditions of Sundanese are less rigid than those of the Javanese and they place emphasis on individual, a heritage from a time when people lived in small hamlets scattered over a largely forested area and practiced dry land cultivations as individual farmers. The ancient Sundanese societies apparently also lacked the resources, the organization, or the inclination required to construct such fabulous religious monuments as are found in central and East Java.

            Sundanese culture features a variety of performing arts traditionally associated with different social strata. The refined forms of tembang sunda (sung poetry) and gamelan degung music were meant for the aristocratic elite, whilst the catchier versions of gamelan salendro and dances like ketuk tilu and jaipongan used to entertain the masses. Nowadays, as feudal tendencies diminish, differences blurs. No matter of the interested visitor Sundanese perm forming arts are alive and well.

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