The Political Use of Prophecies in Indonesia

  • Mladen Stajić Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
political prophecies, prophesying, foretelling the future, myth of the Golden Age, anthropology of time, millenniarism, Indonesia, Jayabaya


The paper analyzes through different historical periods in Indonesia the political instrumentalization of three prophetic narratives based on the prophecies of the medieval Javanese king Jayabaya, and looks at the ways in which millenniarist organizations and political activists have used the myths of the Savior and the Golden Age to achieve their own goals. The form of prophetic narratives has proved extremely productive in the process of channeling dissatisfaction and mobilizing for the purpose of political activism, and their interpretation does not only yield a clearer picture of the complex political situation and historical events, but also, through the actions of influential individuals, it provides insight into a number of other aspects of local culture, such as the forming of religious syncretism, the division of power in society or the cultural perception of time. The paper seeks to show that these prophecies do not aim to foretell future events, but rather serve as a means of ensuring the legitimacy of individuals in political struggles in the present time.


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How to Cite
Stajić, Mladen. 2020. “The Political Use of Prophecies in Indonesia”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 15 (1), 269–311.