1st Edition

The Javanese Travels of Purwalelana A Nobleman’s Account of his Journeys Across the Island of Java 1860–1875

Edited By Judith E. Bosnak, Frans X. Koot Copyright 2020
    292 Pages 109 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Javanese nobleman Radèn Mas Arya Candranegara V (1837–85), alias Purwalelana, journeyed across his homeland during the rapidly changing times of the nineteenth century. He travelled around 5,000 kilometres by horse and carriage between 1860 and 1875. His eye-witness account, The Travels of Purwalelana, gives an inside view of Java, at the time part of the Dutch East Indies. Candranegara explains habits and traditions of both the Javanese and the Dutch, he describes the architecture of cities and temples and he marvels about the beautiful tropical landscape as well as about the latest technological inventions such as steam trains, horse-drawn trams and gas lanterns. This Hakluyt publication, illustrated with contemporaneous images, presents the rare perspective of an Indonesian traveller living in colonial times.

    The author grew up as a member of a Javanese noble family in the hybrid world of the colonial upper class. He received a western-style education, but also learnt how to follow Javanese traditions and to be a good Muslim. In 1858 he was appointed to the high rank of Regent of Kudus by the colonial government.

    Candranegara wrote his book under the pseudonym Purwalelana, probably because he considered publishing to be an adventurous undertaking and possibly also because it gave him freedom to arrange the events in his own way. The Travels represents the first Javanese travelogue ever written and, as such, it broke with existing traditions. Candranegara used prose instead of poetry, wrote from a first-person perspective rather than a third-person, and he described present society rather than dwelling upon the common literary theme of kings in battle. The result is a lively story in which the armchair traveller shares his experiences on the road. It provides its readers with a range of people and topics pivotal to developments in nineteenth century Java, a treasure trove for historians and cultural anthropologists alike.

    The volume includes 24 colour illustrations.

    Preface and acknowledgements

    A note on Illustrations

    List of maps and illustrations

    A Note on edition, translation and orthography



    Indigenous aristocracy and colonial history

    The author Candranegara and his network in a hybrid world

    Travel bestows authority

    The literary background of The Travels

    Account of the travels of Radén Mas Purwalelana, Volume One

    Preface by the person who made the corrections to this book

    Preface by the author

    The first journey

    From Salatiga to Semarang


    From Semarang to Batavia and visit to Batavia


    The Priangan Residency

    Ciamis and Cirebon

    The residencies of Tegal and Pekalongan, and back to Semarang

    The second journey

    From Salatiga to Semarang and Surabaya


    The residency of Pasuruan

    The Tengger mountain ridge (continued) and the residency of Probolinggo

    The residency of Besuki

    Towards and in the residency of Banyuwangi

    From Sumberwaru back to Surabaya, and the regency of Mojokerto

    The residency of Kediri

    From Surabaya to Sedayu

    The residency of Rembang

    The residency of Jepara

    The regency of Demak, residency of Semarang

    The Travels of Radèn Mas Arya Purwalelana, Volume Two

    The third journey


    The regency of Pacitan and the residency of Madiun

    From Surakarta to the border of the residency of Madiun

    The residency of Madiun

    The residency of Rembang

    The regencies of Grobogan and Demak. The residency of Semarang

    The fourth journey

    The department of Ambarawa

    Mount Jambu and the residency of Kedu

    The principality of Yogyakarta

    Appendix A. A brief summary of pre-nineteenth century Javanese history

    The early Kingdoms

    New Islamic states and the VOC

    Appendix B. Alun-alun and kraton

    The kraton as centre of worldly power

    The kraton as sacred centre

    Appendix C. The Javanese calendar

    Appendix D. Colonial administration in Java

    Appendix E. Javanese titles, functions and honorifics

    Appendix F. Javanese

    The Javanese language

    Speech levels

    Appendix G. Javanese poetic conventions

    Appendix H. Weights and measurements

    Appendix I. Botanical names




    Judith E. Bosnak holds a PhD in Indonesian Literary Studies and Linguistics (Leiden University 2006) with a thesis about Javanese theatre. She has lectured in the field of Southeast Asian Studies in Leiden, in Mexico City and most recently at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. She provides language training to business professionals and diplomats from different parts of the world. She has carried out several seasons of ethnographic fieldwork in Java, Indonesia with a focus on performing arts the cultural politics of disaster. She is currently affiliated with LUCAS, the Leiden University Centre for Arts in Society, where she participates in the NWO research project ‘Voicing the Colony’ (2020–25) in which Dutch and Indonesian travel writing is studied in comparative perspective. Recent publications are: ‘Shaping Barong Dance Drama in Paradise Bali: Oriental Discourse by Miguel Covarrubias and his Networks’, Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas XLII, Núm. Extraordinario, 2020, pp. 69–92; ‘Soap Opera and Muddy Affairs in Indonesia: The Cultural Politics of the Lapindo Mudflow Case (2006–2014)’, Bijdragen tot de Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde, 171–4, 2015, pp. 455–88.

    Frans X. Koot studied Dutch and comparative literature (MA Utrecht 1963) and, after having retired from a career in education and publishing, Indonesian languages and cultures, with a specialization in Javanese (MA Leiden, 2001). His interests focus on narrative traditions and conventions in ancient and modern literatures.

    The editors published jointly a Dutch translation of The Travels of Purwalelana in 2013.