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Social Culture and Religion

A. Social and Cultural Rights

The community life in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate has diverse social strata related to the position and role of each element in the society. The position and role are related to the rights established by the prevailing social institutions in demand of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate. The rights acquired by every member of society shows that the division of these classes are covered and traditional. The traditional hierarchy of the system in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate has been determined since the time of the Sultanate of Islamic Mataram.

The positions in the social strata formulated in a hierarchical system of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate are divided into three classes. The first class is the King and Royal family who occupied the highest social level. King is the number one in the Kingdom and an absolute figure. Other people who include in the first class are the Royal family or the people who have blood relation with the King, including his brother in law and the relatives. They are known as Sentana Dalem or Royal nobles in which including the empress, the sons and daughters of the King, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, maternal great, and wareng of King. While the descendants of the King after wareng who are namely udeg-udeg, gantung siwur, and so on are classified into ordinary people or known as kawula dalem.

The second class is for an employees and Royal officials or commonly known as Abdi Dalem. They belong to the privileged class; still relatively nobles but not high enough. Abdi Dalem itself is divided into two groups namely Abdi Dalem Istana (Palace) and Abdi Dalem Nagari (Kingdom). For the Abdi Dalem Istana (Palace) are the officials and employees who work inside the Palace, while Abdi Dalem Nagari (Kingdom) are those who serve outside the Royal capital government. The group of the privileged has some special rights, such as entitled to the positions in the administration, entitled to guarantees of life, deserves the respect of social groups under it, and so forth. The last class is the most popular class or known as kawula Dalem. This is the lowest in the social strata of society in the Kingdom and they are the people who ordered or commanded by the King and nobles.

Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate stood up and existed in the era of colonial occupation by the Dutch over the territory of archipelago (Indonesian archipelago). Therefore, the social structure of society under the government of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate should also follow the rules applied at the time, including the rules formulated by the Dutch East Indies colonial administration based on racial considerations that were divided into some level of classes. The social strata according to the legal colonial rules is divided into three main groups, which are the group of Europeans, the group of Foreign Orientals, and the group of Bumiputera (Indigenous). The Europeans occupied the top class and consists of those who meet the terms of the Dutch state regulations. This group generally occupies the important positions in the bureaucracy of colonial rule and has many privileges. Under the European group, there was the group of Foreign Orientals, which consisting the Arabians, Chinese, and Indians. Among those three groups, the Chinese or descendants of Chinese were the most amounted in the region of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate. While the lowest was occupied by the group of Bumiputera or Indigenous people, which in fact were the aboriginal people.

B. Religion

As a derivative of the Sultanate of Islamic Mataram, Islam became the official religion prevailing in the environment of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate. Susuhunan or the King of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate who enthroned is appointed as the religious leader entitled “Sayidin Panatagama Kalifatullah” besides to be a government leader and a supreme commander. The religious life is organized and led by His Majesty, while the people take the essence of His teachings (agama ageing aji). Though Islam had become the Kingdom's official religion, but the traditions of the ancestors are still being maintained. The harmonization between ancestral traditions and Islamic teachings is known as “Islam-Kejawen” (Islamic-Javanese)". This fusion arises because people commonly only follow when the King converted to Islam, but have not been realized to implement the truly Islamic teachings.

The acculturation process between Hindu-Javanese culture with the culture of Islamic boarding schools that having the character of Islamic-Javanese affected to the Royal cultures. The elements of Islamic boarding schools had been transferred and adopted to enrich the cultural heritage of the ancestors who had been being abided. Therefore, in Java generally or Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate particularly, there were two variants emerged among Moslems; devout Muslims (the people who have carried out the pillars of Islam) and abangan Muslims (the people who does not follow a religion's rituals strictly). Such conditions created the dynamics and religious power in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate emphasizes on two aspects, which were culture and Shari'a. This is what shown in traditional ceremonies that held up to now, such as kenduri, ruwatan, heritages carnival, labuhan, sekaten, and many others.

The dynasty of Islamic Mataram Sultanate, including Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate, has strong characteristics of Islamic religion, as shown the existence of the Great Mosque as one element in government cosmology as well as a center of religious events held by the court. The existence of the official position of Abdi Dalem Ngulama in the royal bureaucracy as a confidant of the King to handle religious matters is increasingly strengthen that the Islamic base in Sunanate was intense enough along with the local wisdom derived from the ancestral heritages.

In addition, one of the spiritual education methods in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate was by providing books containing the guidance to the perfection of life (sangkan paraning dumadi) based on old cultural heritage, and also providing Islamic religious books. Some books containing the guidance to the perfection of life are Serat Dewa Ruci, Serat Wirid, Purwa Madya Wasana, Manunggaling Kawula Gusti, and many others. While the teachings of loyalty, courtesy, manners are found in the books of Serat Wulang Reh, Wulang Sunu, Serat Sana Sunu, Wedhatama, Tripama, Wulang Putri, and other books that became the books of Javanese cultures which are noble, valuable, and meaningful.

C. Economy

The economy in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate is resting on the agrarian sector. Agricultural advantages possessed by the Sunanate is inseparable from the existence of a large river located in the region, namely Solo, so that the lands in Sunanate’s territory are suitable for farming as it is close to water resources. Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate’s territory is a fertile agricultural region, particularly in the western area of Pajang which located near from Kartasura.

Most of Surakarta residents live as farmers, though some of them as traders, artisans, employees, or another work sector. In addition to farming rice, they also planted a variety of other plants as their economic commodities, including plantation crops, such as indigo, fiber, or tobacco, coffee, and sugarcane.

During the colonial Dutch East Indies, many foreigners whether Europeans or Chinese rented some lands in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate’s territory to make plantation with a larger scale. In the mid-19th century, the production of various types of plants in Surakarta increased rapidly. One of the most significant is the production of coffee. Between the years 1842-1849, the number of coffee production in the region Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate reached 39,262 quintals as for the production of indigo reached 32,597 kilograms in 1863.

In the reign of His Majesty Pakubuwono VII (1830-1858), there was arranged a worKing guideline for the farmers and related elements who were engaged in agriculture. The guideline for agricultural labor made in the government of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate is called Pranata Mangsa. It has been used until the independence day of Indonesia, even since the beginning of 1970s before the government of the Republic of Indonesia in the New Order era initiated the program of agricultural intensification.

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