A Change in the Forest: Myth and History in West Java
The demarcation of boundaries is an important feature of the Sundanese social and geographical landscape. Markers indicating the limits of territories, ceremonial areas and the like abound. Linguistic markers indicate interpersonal social boundaries. Boundaries are generally regarded as places of danger and various supernatural entities are said to guard those between any two spheres in general. On Java generally, regularly recurring anniversaries, such as Idul Fitri and 1 Sura, the Javanese new year are marked with significant ceremonies such as bersih desa or petik laut or, in the past, rampok macan protecting the village or realm from evil.Less immediately obvious are boundaries in time, marking the transition between zaman, or eras. A change in era is of a different kind from the cyclical changes since by its very nature it is a non-repeating event. The topic of this paper is one such change in West Java, the change from Hindu rule to Islamic hegemony, and the mythology which consequently arose, providing a supernatural explanation for this quite powerful event.