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The Javanese calendar is a calendar still in use by the Javanese people of Indonesia concurrently with two other important calendars, the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar. (The Gregorian calendar is the official calendar of the Republic of Indonesia and civil society, while the Islamic calendar is used by Muslims and Government for religious worship and deciding relevant Muslim public holidays.)

The Javanese calendar is used almost exclusively by the people of Java including the main ethnicities of Java island: Javanese, Madurese and Sundanese- primarily as a cultural icon, a cultural identifier and as an object and tradition of antiquity to be kept alive. The Javanese calendar is used for cultural and metaphysical purposes of these Javanese peoples [1]

The current Javanese calendar was inaugurated by Sultan Agung of Mataram in the Gregorian year 1633.
Prior, Javanese had used the Hindu calendar or Saka calendar which that starts in 78 CE and uses the solar cycle for calculating time [2]. Sultan Agung's Javanese calendar retained the Saka calendar date of origin but differs by using the same lunar year measurement system as the Islamic calendar (based on the lunar month). Occasionally it is referred by its Latin name Anno Javanico or AJ (Javanese Year).

The Javanese calendar contains multiple, overlapping separate measurements of times, called cycles. These include

  • the five-day Pasaran cycle of five days
  • the common Gregorian seven-day week
  • the month-cycles of Mangsa and Wulan month-long cycles
  • the year-cycles Tahun cycles of years
  • and octo-ennia (8 year) cycles called Windu

The Javanese derive mystical meaning from the coincidence of these multiple cycles. Coincidence is an important part of the Javanese aesthetic, for example the use of seleh and gongan metrical cycles in Javanese music.[1]


The Cycles of Time


Pasaran cycle

Signs of the Pasaran cycle

The pasaran cycle is so termed from the Javanese 'pasaran'—literally 'marketplace-related'. The pasaran cycle and week lasts five days- with villagers gathering communally at the local market to meet socially, engage in commerce, buying and selling wares, produce, foods, etc.

Itinerant merchants would visit different villages each day of the Pasaran week. Some hypothesise that the length of the week/cycle is related to the number of fingers on the hand.[3].

The Pasaran week is divided into days as follows, please note the (ngoko and krama in parentheses):

  1. Legi (Manis)
  2. Pahing (Pait)
  3. Pon (Petak)
  4. Wagé (Cemeng)
  5. Kliwon (Asih)

The origin of these terms is unclear, and their etymology remains obscure. The days are most commonly referred to by their ngoko names. Possibly, the names may be derived from indigenous gods, like the European and Asian names[3]. An ancient Javanese manuscript illustrates the week with five human figures (shown at right below the day names): a man seizing a suppliant by the hair, a woman holding a horn to receive an offering, a man pointing a drawn sword at another, a woman holding agricultural produce, and a man holding a spear leading a bull.[4]

Additionally, Javanese consider these days' names to have a mystical relation to colors and cardinal direction:

Legi represents white and East
Pahing represents red and South
Pon represents yellow and West
Wage represents black and North
Kliwon represents blurred colors and focus and 'center'.

Markets no longer operate under this traditional Pasaran cycle, instead pragmatically remaining open every day of the Gregorian week. Javanese astrological belief dictates that individual characteristics, future etc., are attributable to the coincidence of the Pasaran day and the 'common' weekdays of the Islamic calendar derived week cycle on that person's birthday. Additionally, great meaning is often attributed to specific 7-day week and Pasaran weekday concurrences. For example in Surakarta, there is Pasar Legi, Pasar Pon, and Pasar Kliwon, which had markets on the given days. The Pasaran week is an integral part of the Wetonan cycle that Javanese find of greatest interest in their astrological interpretations.

Seven-day week

The seven-day long week cycle (dina pitu, "seven days") is derived from the Islamic calendar. The names of the days of the week in Javanese are derived from their Arabic counterparts, namely:

Days of 7-Day Week
Javanese Arabic English
Senin yaum al-ithnayn (2) يوم الإثنين Monday
Selasa yaum ath-thalatha' (3) يوم الثُّلَاثاء Tuesday
Rebo yaum al-arba`a' (4) يوم الأَرْبعاء Wednesday
Kemis yaum al-khamis (5) يوم الخَمِيس Thursday
Jemuwah yaum al-jum`a يوم الجُمْعَة Friday
Setu yaum as-sabt (7) يوم السَّبْت Saturday
Minggu/Ahad yaum al-ahad (1) يوم الأحد Sunday

Wetonan cycle

The Wetonan cycle superimposes the five-day pasaran cycle with the seven-day week. Each cycle lasts 35 days. The coincindental dates of interest are read as weekday name and Pasaran day name and called Weton.

An example of a Government calendar printing the Wetonan day superimposition, the Pasaran days and Indonesian weekday but following Gregorian calendar dates:

The "Wetonan" Cycle for 2nd week of May (Mei) 2008:
English Monday 5 Tuesday 6 Wednesday 7 Thursday 8 Friday 9 Saturday 10 Sunday 11 Monday 12 Tuesday 13 Wednesday 14 Thursday 15 Friday 16 Saturday 17 Sunday 18 Monday 19
Indonesian 7 day Senin 5 Selasa 6 Rabu 7 Kamis 8 Jumat 9 Sabtu 10 Minggu 11 Senin 12 Selasa 13 Rabu 14 Kamis 15 Jumat 16 Sabtu 17 Minggu 18 Senin 19
Javanese 7 day Senin 5 Selasa 6 Rebo 7 Kemis 8 Jumat 9 Setu 10 Minggu/ Ahad 11 Senin 12 Selasa 13 Rebo 14 Kemis 15 Jumat 16 Setu 17 Minggu/Ahad 18 Senin 19
Javanese Pasaran days 28 Pon 29 Wage 1 Kliwon 2 Legi 3 Pahing 4 Pon 5 Wage 6 Kliwon 7 Legi 8 Pahing 9 Pon 10 Wage 11 Kliwon 12 Legi 13 Pahing

From the example above, the Weton for Tuesday 6th of May 2008 would be read as Selasa Wage and similarly the Weton for Thursday 14 May 2008, would be read as Rebo Pahing.

The Wetonan cycle is especially important for divinatory systems, and important celebrations, rites of passage, commemorations and so forth are held on days considered to be auspicious, known as the Weton.

An especially prominent example widely still taught at primary schools is the Weton for the Proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia on August 17, 1945,was a Jumat legi, coinciding with the Weton for the birth and death of Sultan Agung, considered one of the greatest kings of Java history, [5].

Friday Legi is considered an important night for pilgrimage.[6] There are also taboos that relate to the cycle; for example, the ritual dance bedhaya can only be performed on Thursday Kliwon.[7]

The coincidence of the Psaaran day with the common day on the day of birth is considered by Javanese to indicate the personal characteristics of that person, similar to the Western Zodiak and planetary positioning in Western astrology.[8]


Pawukon is a 210-day cycle related to Hindu tradition. Though most associated with Bali, Java refers to it for special purposes. The calendar consists of concurrent weeks, and has a set of ten weeks, which have a duration of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 days.

The first day of the year is considered the first day of all ten weeks. As 210 is not divisible by 4, 8, or 9, extra days must be added to the 4-, 8-, and 9-day weeks.


For timekeeping, days are numbered within the lunar month (wulan) as is common in other calendar systems. The date indicates the change in the moon, and symbolizes the life of a human in the world. This process of revolving life is known as cakra manggilingan or heru cakra. On the first day of the month, when the moon is small, it is compared to a newborn baby. The 14th day, called Purnama Sidhi (full moon), represents a married adult. The next day, called Purnama, occurs as the moon begins to wane. The 20th day, Panglong, symbolizes the point at which people begin to lose their memory. The 25th day, Sumurup, represents the point at which the adult requires care like when they were young. The 26th day, Manjing, represents the return of the human to his or her origin.[9]

Cycles of months

Pranata Mangsa

The solar year is divided into twelve periods (mangsa) of unequal length. Its origin lies in agriculture. The names of the first ten months are simply the ordinal numbers from 1 to 10, although the names of the 11th and 12th are unclear.[10] The cycle begins near the summer solstice, around the middle of the dry season in Java.

Pranata mangsa[11]
Starting day Name Length (days) Description
Jun 23 Mangsa Kaso 41 The dry season; leaves are falling from the trees; the ground is withered and arid, bereft of water "like a jewel that has come free of its setting."
Aug 3 Mangsa Karo 23 The dry season; parched earth lies in hard clumps; the mango and cotton trees begin to bloom.
Aug 26 Mangsa Katelu 24 The dry season; spice roots are harvested; the gadung tree begins to bear fruit.
Sep 19 Mangsa Kapat 25 Rain begins to fall, as "tears well up in the soul", marking the end of the dry season; birds are singing and busily constructing nests. The Labuh Season is at hand.
Oct 14 Mangsa Kalima 27 The rainy season, sometimes with fierce winds and flooding; mangoes are ripe; snakes are driven from their nests; "a fountain of gold falls across the earth".
Nov 11 Mangsa Kanem 43 The rainy season; lightning strikes and there are landslides; but it is also the season of many fruit.
Dec 23 Mangsa Kapitu 43 The rainy season is at its peak; birds are hard pressed to find food, and in many areas there is severe flooding.
Feb 4/5 Mangsa Kawolu 27 The rainy season; rice fields are growing and the cat is looking for his mate; grubs and larvae abound.
Mar 2 Mangsa Kasanga 25 The rainy season; rice fields are turning yellow; "happy news is spreading"; water is stored within the earth, the wind blows in one direction, and many fruits are ripe.
Mar 27 Mangsa Kasadasa 24 Rain yet falls, but is diminishing; the wind rustles and blows hard; the air is still chilly. The Mareng Season is at hand.
Apr 20 Mangsa Desta 23 The dry season has begun; farmers are harvesting the rice fields; birds tend their young with affection, as if they were "jewels of the heart".
May 13 Mangsa Saddha 41 The dry season; water begins to recede, "vanishing from its many places".

In the nineteenth century, the pranata mangsa was much better known among Javanese than the civil or religious year, described below.[12] The cycle is clearly of Javanese origin, since the specific application to their climate does not match other territories in the Indonesian archipelago, as well as the usage of Javanese names for the months.[13] Although the cycle matches the weather pattern well, it is still clearly somewhat arbitrary, as can be seen by the fact that the lengths of the first and last month, the second and eleventh, and so on, match.[14]

The pranata mangsa can be used to predict personality traits in a similar manner to sun signs in Western astrology. It is not widely used anymore for divination, but some practitioners use it as well as the other cycles in their divination.[1]


Each lunar year (tahun) is divided into a series of twelve wulan ("months", of 29 or 30 days each). This is similar to the use of months in the Islamic calendar. The names of the month are given below (in krama/ngoko):

  1. Warana/Sura (30 days)
  2. Wadana/Sapar (29 days)
  3. Wijanga/Mulud (30 days)
  4. Wiyana/Bakda Mulud (29 days)
  5. Widada/Jumadil Awal (30 days)
  6. Widarpa/Jumadil Akhir (29 days)
  7. Wilarpa/Rejeb (30 days)
  8. Wahana/Ruwah (29 days)
  9. Wanana/Pasa (30 days)
  10. Wurana/Sawal (29 days)
  11. Wujana/Sela (30 days)
  12. Wujala/Besar (29 or 30 days, depending on the length of the tahun, see below)

The cycle of months is considered metaphorically to represent the cycle of human life. The first nine months represent gestation before birth, while the tenth month represents the human in the world, the eleventh the end of his or her existence, and the twelfth the return to where he or she came from. The cycle thus goes from one spark or conception (rijal) to another, traversing through the void (suwung).[9]

Year designation

The Shalivahana era, which started in 78 CE and continues to be used on Bali, was used in Hindu times on Java, and for well over a century after the appearance of Islam on Java. When Sultan Agung adopted the Islamic lunar calendar in 1633 CE, he did not adopt the Anno Hegirae to designate those years, but instead continued the count of the Shalivahana era, which was 1555 at the time.[15] As a result, the Anno Javanico does not in effect count from any time.

Cycles of years

Eight tahun makes up a windu. A single windu lasts for 81 repetitions of the wetonan cycle, or 2,835 days (about 7 years 9 months in the Gregorian calendar). Note that the tahun are lunar years, and of shorter length than Gregorian years. The names of the years in the cycle of windu are as follows (in krama/ngoko):

  1. Purwana/Alip (354 days)
  2. Karyana/Ehé (354 days)
  3. Anama/Jemawal (355 days)
  4. Lalana/Jé (354 days)
  5. Ngawanga/Dal (355 days)
  6. Pawaka/Bé (354 days)
  7. Wasana/Wawu (354 days)
  8. Swasana/Jimakir (355 days)

The windu are then grouped into a cycle of four:

  1. Windu Adi
  2. Windu Kunthara
  3. Windu Sengara
  4. Windu Sancaya

The cycles of wulan, tahun, and windu derive from the Saka calendar.

Windu are no longer used much in horoscopy, but there is evidence that there were previously used by court officials to predict trends. The passing of a windu is often seen as a milestone and deserving a slametan ritual feast).[1]

Dino Mulyo

Dino Mulyo (literally "noble days") are celebrated by worshipping Gusti, the creator of life and the universe. Practitioners of traditional Javanese spiritual teachings have preserved five noble days:[9]

  • Satu Suro, the first of Sura, the New Year
  • Aboge (from A - alip (first year), Bo - rebo (Wednesday), and Ge - Wage of the pasaran), celebrated on Wednesday Wage in the year of alip
  • Daltugi (from Dal - Dal (fifth year), tu - setu (Saturday), and Gi - Legi of the pasaran), celebrated on Saturday Legi in the year of Dal
  • Hanggara Asih (Tuesday Kliwon)
  • Dino Purnomo: Jemuah Legi/Sukra Manis (Friday Legi)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d, The Javanese Calendar by Matthew Arciniega
  2. ^ M.C. Ricklefs. A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300, 2nd ed. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993. ISBN 0804721955. Page 46
  3. ^ a b John Crawfurd. History of the Indian Archipelago, vol. 1. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable and Co., 1820. Page 290.
  4. ^ Crawfurd, 290-291, and plate 7.
  5. ^ Joglosemar article
  6. ^ Klaus Furmann, der javanischen Pilgerschaft zu Heiligenschreinen, Dissertation for Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg i. Br., 2000, page 231
  7. ^ Kunst, Jaap. Music in Java. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1949, page 151-152.
  8. ^, More about Javanese Wetonan by Matthew Arciniega
  9. ^ a b c, Javanese Calendar and Its Significance to Mystical Life by Suryo S. Negoro
  10. ^ Crawfurd, 296.
  11. ^ Ki Hudoyo Doyodipuro, Misteri Pranata Mangsa. Semarang: Dahara Prize (1995), cited on
  12. ^ Crawfurd, 295.
  13. ^ Crawfurd, 297.
  14. ^ Crawfurd, 299.
  15. ^ Crawfurd, 301.

Further reading

  • Pigeaud, Th., Javaans-Nederlands Woordenboek. Groningen-Batavia: J.B. Wolters, 1938
  • Quinn, George The Javanese science of 'burglary' , RIMA. Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, IX:1 January-June 1975. pp.33-54.
  • Ricklefs, M.C., Modern Javanese historical tradition: a study of an original Kartasura chronicle and related materials. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1978
  • Soebardi. Calendrical traditions in Indonesia Madjalah IIlmu-ilmu Satsra Indonesia, 1965 no.3.

External links


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