Java is one of the island in Indonesia. The sensitive visitors to Java will want to interact harmoniously with the local people. Some knowledge of etiquette is essential for this. This does not, of course, mean trying to master all the intricacies of local customs. The Javanese do not expect this of foreigners. But a sympathetic awareness of the different code of etiquette and some evidence of an endeavour to come to terms with it – with out necessarily abandoning one’s own cultural character – is much appreciated by the local people.
In the lives of the Javanese, some rigidly stylized patterns of behaviour play an important part. In fact, so much is mastery of formal etiquette equated with Javanese identity that one who has not yet learned the intricacies of formal etiquette is often labelled as “kurang Jawani” (not yet Javanese). It is not unusual to hear Javanese refer to etiquette as the “busananing bangsa” (the garment of the nation) and to claim that the level of civilization of the people can be gauged by the refinement of its system of etiquette.
The four principal elements of Javanese etiquette are:
1. Skill in recognizing and honouring rank and age
2. Skill in avoiding upsetting and offending others
3. Skill in concealing one’s negative feelings
4. Rigid self control
The first of these skills is expressed in discourse of conversation. The Javanese language incorporates a large honorific vocabulary (vocabulary of politeness), which, to be used correctly , demands as sensitive awareness of the proper respect due to rank and age.
The second skill is expressed most characteristically in the indirectness of conversation and action. The cultivated man always endeavours to put others at their ease, and to ensure no unexpected shock or offence to a listener.
The third skill requires one to be skillful in dissimulation, the art of concealing one’s dislike or disagreement for someone or something they do not like or agree with, since open disagreement would give rise to a astrainedor uneasy atmosphere, which the true Javanese people would prefer to avoid at all cost.
Finally, the polite Javanese exercises rigid self control, not only to avoid shocking or upsetting others, but also because irregularity, jerkiness and unpredictability are signs of a lack of inner refinement; the less refined a person is seen to be, the more he falls in the estimation of his fellows.
In what follows are some basic rules of Javanese etiquette:
Appearing calm and self-controled is always recommended. When standing, one supposed to keep one’s bearing upright but not rigid. It is a good thing to smile as much as possible. But not to laugh extravagantly. Standing with one’s hands on one’s hips is considered an intimidating and aggressive posture. Sitting cross-legged on a chair or standing with one’s legs wide part in the presence of someone to be respected is considered impolite
Gestures should be measured. Never sudden, jerky or extravagant. When meeting as acquaintance. It is becoming more common to shake hands, especially after relatively long separation. Pointing with one’s index finger at a person one is talking to should be avoided. Should he point with his hand to show things or direction, he would use his the right hand. One must use only the right hand to give and receive. If he should use his left hand, he has to say “maaf” (excuse me).
One will receive what is given by an elder or superior with both hands, accompanied by a slight bow. When passing in front of an elder, superior or person of equal rank that one doesn’t know, he is supposed to bend his body slightly, especially if the person concerned is sitting
This etiquette of feeling is a kind of instrument or tool for making others peaceful with in, and then yourself also. If you meet you colleague on the street and you coast by and do not say, “where are you going ?” (a typical Javanese greeting), he will feel upset; and later his upsettedness will react back and you will feel upset.
This passage makes very clear the cause and effect link between outward and inward refinement. Refined behavior works outward, giving ease and pleasure to others, and this is turn adds to the inner peace of the giver. It also works inward, protecting the personality from becoming upset and conditioning a more tranquil inner state.
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