Kartini : biography
Raden AyuRaden Ayu was a title borne by married women of the priyayi or Javanese nobles of the Robe class Kartini, (21 April 1879 – 17 September 1904), or sometimes known as Raden Ajeng Kartini, was a prominent Javanese and an Indonesian national heroine. Kartini was a pioneer in the area of women's rights for Indonesians.
After Raden Adjeng Kartini died, Mr J. H. Abendanon, the Minister for Culture, Religion and Industry in the East Indies, collected and published the letters that Kartini had sent to her friends in Europe. The book was titled Door Duisternis tot Licht (Out of Dark Comes Light) and was published in 1911. It went through five editions, with some additional letters included in the final edition, and was translated into English by Agnes L. Symmers and published under the title Letters of a Javanese Princess.
The publication of R.A. Kartini's letters, written by a native Javanese woman, attracted great interest in the Netherlands and Kartini's ideas began to change the way the Dutch viewed native women in Java. Her ideas also provided inspiration for prominent figures in the fight for Independence.
There are some grounds for doubting the veracity of R.A. Kartini's letters. There are allegations that Abendanon made up R.A. Kartini's letters. These suspicions arose because R.A. Kartini's book was published at a time when the Dutch Colonial Government were implementing 'Ethical Policies' in the Dutch East Indies, and Abendanon was one of the most prominent supporters of this policy. The current whereabouts of the vast majority of R.A. Kartini's letters is unknown. According to the late Sulastin Sutrisno, the Dutch Government has been unable to track down J. H. Abendanon's descendants.
Kartini was born into an aristocratic Javanese family when Java was part of the Dutch colony of the Dutch East Indies. Kartini's father, Sosroningrat, became Regency Chief of Jepara. Kartini's father, was originally the district chief of Mayong. Her mother, Ngasirah was the daughter of Madirono and a teacher of religion in Teluwakur. She was his first wife but not the most important one. At this time, polygamy was a common practice among the nobility. She also wrote the Letters of a Javanese Princess. Colonial regulations required a Regency Chief to marry a member of the nobility. Since Ngasirah was not of sufficiently high nobility, her father married a second time to Woerjan (Moerjam), a direct descendant of the Raja of Madura. After this second marriage, Kartini's father was elevated to Regency Chief of Jepara, replacing his second wife's own father, Tjitrowikromo.
Kartini was the fifth child and second eldest daughter in a family of eleven, including half siblings. She was born into a family with a strong intellectual tradition. Her grandfather, Pangeran Ario Tjondronegoro IV, became a Regency Chief at the age of 25 while Kartini's older brother Sosrokartono was an accomplished linguist. Kartini's family allowed her to attend school until she was 12 years old. Here, among other subjects, she learnt to speak Dutch, an unusual accomplishment for Javanese women at the time. After she turned 12 she was 'secluded' at home, a common practice among Javanese nobility, to prepare young girls for their marriage. During seclusion girls were not allowed to leave their parents' house until they were married, at which point authority over them was transferred to their husbands. Kartini's father was more lenient than some during his daughter's seclusion, giving her such privileges as embroidery lessons and occasional appearances in public for special events.
During her seclusion, Kartini continued to educate herself on her own. Because she could speak Dutch, she acquired several Dutch pen friends. One of them, a girl by the name of Rosa Abendanon, became a close friend. Books, newspapers and European magazines fed Kartini's interest in European feminist thinking, and fostered the desire to improve the conditions of indigenous Indonesian women, who at that time had a very low social status.
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