Javanese Script in Its Historical Trajectory and Development

A number of foreign students wrote Javanese script while participating in the “2019 Ubaya Summer Program” at the University of Surabaya (Ubaya), East Java, Thursday (29/8/2019). (Photo: ANTARA/Moch Asim/hp) - Javanese script or Hanacaraka (Carakan) and also called Dentawyanjana, one of the traditional Indonesian scripts that developed on the island of Java.

The Javanese script is an abugida writing system which consists of around 20 to 33 basic scripts, depending on the language used.

Each consonant represents one syllable with an inherent vowel /a/ or /ɔ/ which can be changed by providing certain diacritics.

In writing, the Javanese script is written from left to right without spaces between words, however, it is common to intersperse with a group of decorative punctuation marks.

This script is derived from the Brahmi script in India through the intermediary of the Kawi script and is closely related to the Balinese script.

The oldest root of the Javanese script, namely the Brahmi script, developed into the Pallawa script in South and Southeast Asia between the 6th and 8th centuries AD.

The history of the existence of the Javanese script in Indonesia in the past can be seen from the many finds of inscriptions and ancient texts in the archipelago with Javanese script.

The Javanese script in its history was written in a number of media which changed over time and their needs.

According to Wikipedia, the Kawi script, which is the ancestor of the Javanese script, is commonly found in the form of stone inscriptions and metal plates.

Everyday Kawi writing is written using lontar media, namely tal palm leaves (Borassus flabellifer, also called siwalan palm) which have been processed in such a way that they can be written on.

As Java began to receive significant Islamic influence in the 15th century AD, just as the Kawi script began to transition into modern Javanese script, paper became more commonly used in Java and the use of lontar survived only in a few places.

In Javanese script, there are two types of paper that are commonly found, namely locally produced paper called daluang (Javanese: dluwang) and imported paper.

Daluang, namely paper made from crushed bark of the Saéh tree (Broussonetia papyrifera) which is also called the glugu tree.

Between the 15th century and the mid-20th century AD, Javanese script was actively used by various layers of Javanese society as daily writing and literature with a wide and varied scope.

To preserve and in its development, the Javanese script is part of teaching local content in DI Yogyakarta, Central Java, East Java and a small part of West Java.

Currently, the Javanese script can also be found on the signboards of certain public places on the island of Java. (*)

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