The Javanese Travels of Purwalelana : A Nobleman’s Account of his Journeys Across the Island of Java 1860–1875 book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9780367530051
Published December 30, 2020 by Routledge
292 Pages 109 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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



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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.