at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Spotlight on Javanese Art, Music, and Dance


Javaphilia: American Love Affairs with Javanese Music and Dance
Henry Spiller

Fragrant tropical flowers, opulent batik fabrics, magnificent bronze gamelan orchestras, and, of course, aromatic coffee. Such are the exotic images of Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island, that have hovered at the periphery of North American imaginations for generations. Through close readings of the careers of four “javaphiles”—individuals who embraced Javanese performing arts in their own quests for a sense of belonging. Javaphilia: American Love Affairs with Javanese Music and Dance explores a century of American representations of Javanese performing arts by North Americans. While other Asian cultures made direct impressions on Americans by virtue of firsthand contacts through immigration, trade, and war, the distance between Java and America, and the vagueness of Americans’ imagery, enabled a few disenfranchised musicians and dancers to fashion alternative identities through bold and idiosyncratic representations of Javanese music and dance.

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Old Javanese Gold: The Hunter Thompson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery
John Miksic

While ancient Javanese bronze and ironwork have long elicited interest, there is a lesser-known yet equally fascinating aspect of the Indonesian island’s history: gold artifacts, including jewelry, clothing accessories, statues, coins, and containers. Not only do these objects display exceptional craftsmanship, they also provide a significant source of information on Javanese society, culture, religion, economy, technology, and art from the 1st century BCE to 1500. This revised and expanded edition of the 1990 publication Old Javanese Gold celebrates Valerie and Hunter Thompson’s 2007 gift of Javanese gold objects to the Yale University Art Gallery and the subsequent founding of the Department of Indo-Pacific Art. Along with entirely new photography and a fresh design, the book’s essays have been updated to incorporate recent discoveries—including the Wonoboyo hoard, one of the most important gold hoards ever excavated in Southeast Asia.

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Javanese Gamelan and the West (Eastman/Rochester Studies Ethnomusicology)
Sumarsam

Javanese Gamelan and the West studies the meaning, forms, and traditions of the Javanese performing arts as they developed and changed through their contact with Western culture. Authored by a gamelan performer, teacher, and scholar, the book traces the adaptations in gamelan art as a result of Western colonialism in nineteenth-century Java, showing how Western musical and dramatic practices were domesticated by Javanese performers creating hybrid Javanese-Western art forms, such as with the introduction of brass bands in gendhing mares court music and West Javanese tanjidor, and Western theatrical idioms in contemporary wayang puppet plays. The book also examines the presentation of Javanese gamelan to the West, detailing performances in World’s Fairs and American academia and considering its influence on Western performing arts and musical and performance studies. The end result is a comprehensive treatment of the formation of modern Javanese gamelan and a fascinating look at how an art form dramatizes changes and developments in a culture. Sumarsam is a University Professor of Music at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java (University of Chicago Press, 1995) and numerous articles in English and Indonesian. As a gamelan musician and a keenamateur dhalang (puppeteer) of Javanese wayang puppet play, he performs, conducts workshops, and lectures throughout the US, Australia, Europe, and Asia.

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Stunning Males and Powerful Females: Gender and Tradition in East Javanese Dance
Christina Sunardi

In east Javanese dance traditions like Beskalan and Ngremo, musicians and dancers negotiate gender through performances where males embody femininity and females embody masculinity. Christina Sunardi ventures into the regency of Malang in east Java to study and perform with dancers. Through formal interviews and casual conversation, Sunardi learns about their lives and art. Her work shows how performers continually transform dance traditions to negotiate, and renegotiate, the boundaries of gender and sex–sometimes reinforcing lines of demarcation, sometimes transgressing them, and sometimes doing both simultaneously. But Sunardi’s investigation moves beyond performance. It expands notions of the spiritual power associated with female bodies and feminine behavior, and the ways women, men, and waria (male-to-female transvestites) access the magnetic power of femaleness. A journey into understudied regions and ideas, Stunning Males and Powerful Females reveals how performances seemingly fixed by tradition are instead dynamic environments for cultural negotiation and change surrounding questions of sex and gender.well by any of the predominant theses on Indonesia, whether as an oligarchy or a democratically liberal but economically predatory country.” – Professor Olle Trnquist, University of Oslo

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