The Javanese Nobility under the Dutch
The characteristics of nobilities vary considerably. However, they share the attribute which permits their identification. This quality is deference; and the nobility in any society are those who are deferred to most in most fields. A community without gradations of rank, formal or informal, is virtually inconceivable. Doubtless, the primitive tribe whose distinctions of rank are limited to specific situations and dissolve with them does not have an identifiable nobility. This, however, is best regarded as part of their lack of specialisation. Once division of labour emerges, so also does a nobility. The variable characteristics can be considered as symbols which indicate that their wielder is to receive deference, and which change with changing circumstances. Such characteristics are, for example, birth, rank and title. In studying the nobility of a community our problem is to identify the conditions which are associated with the various characteristics.