Indonesian genealogy

+9 votes
Two of us have recently begun working on the genealogy of the leaders of Indonesia since the 1930s. we started off with President Sukarno, Indonesia's first President.I am an Indonesian speaker, so I looked around the net, following Indonesian language sites.

Sukarno's name (he only had one, like most Javanese Indonesians) tells us that he was lower nobility. The prefix Su- means "good" (ie noble). His ancestry was not difficult to follow, although the complex naming systems of the Javanese aristocracy made my head spin! And the fact that they changed names at different periods of their lives.

I did so much searching over several days, and got it back as far as I can go (not having pre-1500 permissions). It took a bit of work, because different sites had different snippets of information, and it was so hard with the alternate names that the sultans and rajas had at various points of their lives, but I think I nailed it, and came up with a possible model to work the royal names, with an alternate for the noble ones. Start at Sosrodiharjo-1. Let me know what you think.

I also made some amazing discoveries. Sukarno's line crosses itself (on his father's side, because his mother was Balinese), and he also shares a descent from the Sultans of Yogyakarta with HOS Tjokroaminoto, another of the revolutionaries, who founded the Sarekat Islam movement. I have also started the line of Raden Ajeng Kartini, held up as Indonesia's mother of women's rights. She is also descended from the Sultans of Yogyakarta. I haven't looked at President Soeharto's family yet, but I always knew from his name that he was Javanese nobility, and it appears that his father was a Prince. So, no doubt his line will also go back to the Sultans of Yogyakarta.

I even traced Sultan Hamengkubowono IV of Yogyakarta, who was the third in the triumvirate of revolutionaries alongside of Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, the man who read the declaration of Independence and became the first Vice President of Indonesia.

It is an interesting phenomenon, but hardly surprising. These were the educated elite, and born leaders. It was natural they should usher in independence. They could also network.

Of course, Hatta was an outsider, being a Minangkabau from West Sumatra, but he, too, was from the nobility of his tribe, which was educated, and he was also a natural leader.

I have no hope of tracing the full descendants of the Sultans of Yogya, though! One of them had 80 acknowledged children by 9 wives. That doesn't count the concubines! No doubt I will turn up more descendants of these kings in amongst the leaders of Indonesia to the present day.
in The Tree House by Susan Scarcella G2G6 Mach 7 (71.0k points)
Fantastic work!

I think you made a typo in the link, though: Sosrodiharjo-1
should be
thanks, Eva!

1 Answer

+4 votes
Congratulations to both of you on the success in a difficult matter.  I've known some people fro Indonesia and liked them.  You might want to add a link to one of the people you've mentioned, assuming you've added them to Wilitree.  Have you checked with anyone as far as how to adapt the Indonesian naming system to the Wikitree system?  Do the commoners have a similar naming system?
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (408k points)
The trouble is, there is  no Indonesian naming system. The islands are divided into over 400 tribal groups, each with its own naming system, sometimes more than one, depending on what level of society you come from. People use a variety of forms of their name to refer to themselves, eg a Balinese of low caste (they are Hindus) may have the name I Nyoman Sudarma. The I is his caste title, Nyoman is his position name  and Sudarma is the name he is generally known by. There is no surname, no clan name. He may call himself Darma. His friends might call him Nyoman or Man.  His colleagues might call him Pak Man (Mr Man- nothing to do with the computer game lol). Others might refer to him as Bapak Mara (father of Mara, his firstborn child).

There are four castes in Balinese Hinduism. They each have their own naming systems.

Then turn to the Javanese. Most have only one name eg Sukarno (the su tells me he is a minor noble) or Hartono (a commoner) unless they are high aristocracy where things become extremely complex as to whether they are descended through which wife (multiple marriages) and so they get what prefix in front of their name. When you get to the kings they have a birth name, and a throne name (and can also be known by several versions of it). They can also be referred to by any number of official nicknames. see for the complexity of the system.

Women are often simply referred to as "wife of..." so it is rare to know the names unless they are daughters of important nobles or kings of other dynasties.

In Sumatera, there are four or five major tribes, each with their own systems. The Batak tribe has a clan system, whereby you can identify wife giving and wife taking clans by their surnames. Many Batak are Christian, so might have Biblical first names.

On top of this, there are the Arabic names being assumed by more and more people throughout the islands, and the Chinese names. Many Chinese also assumed Indonesian names during the persecutions of the 60s, which, to outsiders, might resemble aristocratic names, but are generally translations of their Chinese names into javanese. Some Chinese modernised their names eg So Tek Haw (aka Henry to his friends) called himself Henry So.

This is the dilemma of doing Indonesian genealogy. And most indonesians are not interested in it, unless they are descended from the aristocracy of their tribe. Before Independence (1945),there aren't records for anyone but the upper classes anyway, so most people can only trace their familes to the late 1800s.

I think I have got a system of fitting the names into the Wikitree model for the Sultans and Rajas, and for the aristocracy, but it is a forced one. It is of no use to anyone wanting to look at the lineage of the Sultans of Yogya to have to search through their birth names, which are completely different and unrecognisable as belonging to the ruler whose name they do  know. I have listed their position "Sultan of Yogyakarta" as current surname, so it can be searched. I have given their throne name as birth name and their birth names as other surnames. This works for the Muslim Sultans and Hindu kings of Java.

I also have a system going for the princes and high aristocracy. I might have to discuss with the gentleman who began the work, whether or not we have to redo Sukarno's profile, as he is hard to find as Sukarno, the name most people would know him by.

If the site is going to cater for non European genealogy, we are going to have to give more options for recording names and be more flexible with the terminology. It is a challenge indeed.
And I'm working with the categorization project and following Susan developing categories for these profiles, which become especially important given the naming conventions and confusions -- if you can't find who you're looking for based on their name, you may find the person if they're in suitable categories.  

Since as Susan has said, many ordinary people can't trace their ancestry, most of the profiles who are entered are Notable.

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