, Volume 4, Issue 7 Supplement, pp 15-18

Pranatamangsa, the Javanese agricultural calendar—Its bioclimatological and sociocultural function in developing rural life

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Summary

Pranatamangsa, the traditional Javanese calendar, has not been studied in depth until comparatively recently. The calendar functions as a practical guide for agricultural activities for the rural peasants, and was in use in Java before the arrival of the Hindus. Its use can be traced back to the welfare and prosperity of the old agricultural kingdoms in Central Java, such as Old-Mataram, Pajang and Islam-Mataram. The calendar reflects a significant correlation of cosmographical, bioclimatological and sociological aspects of agricultural activities in rural areas, resulting in a living dialogue between man and his natural environment.

Pranatamangsa, which means the arrangement of seasons, is very suitable for the region around the Merapi-Merbabu mountain complex in Central Java, where the wet and dry seasons are of equal length. A bioclimatological view of each season provides information on such things as the behavioural patterns of plants, animals, man, and information on non-living natural resources, enabling the peasant farmer to forecast likely seasonal deviations. The rural people are very aware of seasonal rhythms, which they believe influence physical health, additional jobs, plant varieties and land-use patterns. With the growth of modern technology in many rural areas, natural rhythms have been severely modified, and consequently jarmers have tended to neglect the value of Pranatamangsa. This paper suggests that a scientific study of the traditional calendar might lead to the derivation of new guidelines for farming activities throughout the year.