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SUNDANESE DANCE

Like Javanese dancing, Sundanese dancing has also passed through tile following periods of development explained in previous chapters, viz.: the Period of Primitive Society, Feudal Society, and Modern Society.

In the Period of Primitive Society the development of dancing throughout Indonesia was the same. Dances in West Java were still magical and sacred and in accordance with the primitive social structure of the time, they must have been very primitive too.

During the Period of Feudal Society which began with the influence of Indian culture on Indonesia, dancing in Indonesia developed satisfactorily. This favourable development was not evenly spread, however; it took place only in certain regions. The reason for this was that at that time the centres of cultural development were only the kingdoms, or even smaller still, the palaces, causing the dances to be feudal in nature.

In this period, dancing in West Java developed most favourably into a style of its own called West Java style or Sunda style. West Java during this period was the centre of the Hindu-Indonesian and Islam-Indonesian kingdoms, which were then the centres of development of dancing, Sunda style. The oldest Hindu-Indonesian kingdom was also in West Java, the kingdom of Tarumanegara
This kingdom however did not develop as rapidly the Hindu Indonesian kingdoms in Central Java. After the kingdom of Tarumanegara had disappeared, the Hindu-Indonesian kingdom of Pajajaran took its place, but lasted only a couple of centuries. Apart from this, another Hindu-Indonesian kingdom, the kingdom of Banten, emerged in the western part of the island of Java.

From the Hindu-Indonesian period there have not been remains in the form of temples as in Central Java and East Java. Most of the religious buildings in West Java might have been built of wood, so that they were quickly damaged.

As explained in chapters 11 and III, dancing was considered important in the religious life of the Hindu-Indonesian because in the Hindu religion, dancing is a very important part of their ceremonies. We can therefore say that the development of dancing in West Java during the Hindu-Indonesian period paralleled that in Central Java and East Java.

When the Hindu-Indonesian kingdoms in Indonesia, with the exception of Bali, collapsed about 1500 A.D., and when the Islamic period began there were also two great Islamic kingdoms in West java the kingdom of Banten (formerly a Hindu kingdom) and the Cirabon kingdom.
'Historically speaking, the conversion of Banten and Cirebon to Islam was chiefly due to the Islamic kingdom in Central Java, the kingdom of Demak. It was therefore not surprising that the influence of Central Java on the two kingdoms in West Java was very great, increasing even more when the Islamic kingdom began to move its centre to the middle of Central Java (the kingdom of Mataram).
The influence of Central Java on West Java was manifested especially in the field of culture, among other things gamelan

 

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