R.A. Kartini Biography


R.A. Kartini was born in an aristocratic Javanese family on 21st April 1879, in Jepara, Central Java, Indonesia. Her full name is Raden Ajeng Kartini or Raden Ayu Kartini. Kartini’s father, Sosroningrat, was a Jepara Regency Chief; he was originally the Mayong district chief. Kartini’s mother, Ngasirah, was a daughter of Madirono and a religion teacher in Teluwakur. She was a first wife of Sosroningrat, but she was not the important one. Then, Kartini’s father married in the second time to Woerjam (or Moerjam), a descendant of Raja Madura. After marrying at the second time, Kartini’s father was elevated to replace Tjitrowikromo, his second wife’s own father, position as the Regency Chief of Jepara.


R.A Kartini’s position in her family was a fifth children and the second eldest daughter of the eleven total number of family. She was born in a family with a strong tradition of intellectualism. Pangeran Ario Tjondronegoro, her grandfather, was a Regency Chief of Jepara at the age of 25 years old while her older brother, Sosrokartono, accomplished the linguist study. Kartini’s family permitted her to attend the school until 12 years old. Among the subjects that were taught, she learnt to speak Dutch fluently; it was an unusual accomplishment for women in Javanese at that time to learn that subject.


After turning 12 years old, she lived in her home to be secluded; it is a common tradition of Javanese culture for the young girl to prepare them before marriage. During the secluding, the girls were not permitted to leave parent’s home until they got married, at which point the authority to be transferred to their husband’s house. During the secluding, Kartini’s father was very lenient and gave her such a privilege as the occasional appearance in public of special events and embriodery lessons. At that time, R.A. Kartini continued to study by herself. She had some pen friends from Dutch because she could speak in their language, Dutch. One of them, a girl who named Rosa Abendanon became her close friend. European magazines, books, and newspapers created Kartini’s thought about European feminist thinking, and fostered the interest to improve the indigenous Indonesian women conditions, which had a very low status in the society. After R.A. Kartini died in 17 September 1904, Mr. J. H. Abendanon, the Minister of Culture, Religion, and Industry in East Indies, collected and then published the letters which was sent by Kartini for her friend in Europe. The book’s name was known Door Duisternis tot Licht (or Out of Dark Comes Light) and was begun published in 1911.


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