The Kingdoms Of Central Java In The Classical And Early Modern Era

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The kingdoms of central Java in the classical and early modern periods are an excellent case study of the general transition to a galactic polity system in Southeast Asia. Although these powerful polities ruled their areas from 1500 to 1800, the roots of these societies can be found in the beginning of the classical period in the 9th century. In Java, an early agrarian Hindu-Buddhist society gave way to the rise of the Kingdom of Majapahit, and later, the Kingdom of Mataram. Through the comparison of these three stages of development in Java, it is clear that broader development of the galactic polity in Southeast Asia began not in the 16th century, but instead in the classical period. The beginning of organized societies in Java began around …show more content…
(Ricklefs 64) The farmland in this region was more fertile and allowed a society to thrive on its profits. As the society of eastern Java was closer to the coast, trade began to increase between the center and the coastal hinterlands of the region. This process is very similar to the center-periphery relations that characterize galactic polities in the Mataram Kingdom of the early modern period. Religion during this time period remained heavily influenced by the ideas and practices that were being brought over from India by merchants and traders. Ancestor worship became an important tradition, along with the divinization of kings after their death. This practice was altered in the 14th century Majapahit Kingdom where kings were treated as gods during their lifetime. (Ricklefs 65) While the eastern region of Java had many kingdoms during the classical period, the Majapahit Kingdom was the most powerful and influential. The kingdom began in the late 13th century when Raden Vijaya repelled an invading Mongol army and formed a polity with its capital at the city of Majapahit. (Ricklefs 66) This state relied on a complex social structure to control the population of the area. The center of the polity was court or kraton, which interacted with the surrounding peripheral villages through a bureaucratic system known as the watek. (Ricklefs 65) These …show more content…
The three polities relied on wet rice agriculture to sustain their kingdoms. In addition, the Hindu-Buddhist practices in both the Majapahit and the early central state carried over into the rule of the Mataram, even after the introduction of Islam to the region. The culture of the region remained relatively constant throughout the classical and early modern periods. Even though the conversion to Islam altered the written script and law code of Java, the basic cultural traditions rooted in Hindu-Buddhism remained constant. By examining the progression of states in central and eastern Java, it is evident that the foundation for the galactic polities of Majapahit and Mataram were set by the early Hindu-Buddhist societies on the

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