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three pairs of lovers with space



In 1894, Dr. Snouck Hurgronje, a fluent speaker of Javanese who was Adviser for Native Affairs to the Dutch colonial government of the Netherlands East Indies, which had ruled Java since the 17th century, reported that pederasty "is endemic in Java, especially in the Native States."[1]

First Love: The Opening of Soetjipto’s Djalan Sampoerna”, a 22-year-old’s highly original manuscript translated and introduced by Benedict Anderson, is almost entirely about the writer’s deeply moving love affair as a boy of 13 with a student of 20. Lasting over seven months of 1923-4, the boy saw their love as a gift from the Almighty and evidence of His compassion.

A long and publicly celebrated tradition of institutionalised pederasty endured into the late 20th century in the regency of Ponorogo. Involving hyper-masculine men known as waroks, and gemblakan, boys of 8 to 15 whom they took as substitute wives, it has been studied by J.M.B. de Lyon in "Over de waroks en gemblaks van Ponorogo" in Koloniaal Tijdschrift, vol. 30 (1941), pp. 740-60, and Jerome Weiss, in "The Gemblakan: kept boys among the Javanese of Ponorogo" (American Anthropological Association Meetings, Mexico City, 1974). Local research in 1987-8 established that this tradition was still thriving with full social approval in the countryside, but that in the city of Ponorogo it was falling into disfavour under largely American influence and the gemblakan were being replaced by girls in the hitherto all-male local folk dance, the Reog Ponorogo.[2]

Java in 1855 by Kiepert

[1] Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje, The Achehnese (Leyden, 1906) III p. 318.

[2] Walter L. Williams, Intergenerational relationships in Java and Thailand (unpublished manuscript, 2008).




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