Jamu Gendong: The Beginning

""Jamu…jamu." I quietly heard the sound of mbok jamu offering her mix of herbal medicine, the jamu. Hearing word jamu shouted, what comes to mind is always a mbok jamu carrying carrying a basket filled with bottles of herbal medicine on her back, although now many mbok jamu are following the changing times. However, did you know the beginning of jamu gendong?"

Published by : administrator  -  10/05/2020 17:03 WIB

2 Minutes read.

We find general jamu gendong peddlers in villages to urban areas. Even though there are now many jamu peddlers selling herbal medicine by bicycle or even motorbike, at the beginning it was jamu gendong peddlers. The average jamu gendong peddlers is female. Even if there are men selling jamu, they are not as many as women. This is what makes the jamu gendong peddlers synonymous with the title mbok (lit. means mom, or in this case title for an elder woman), mbok jamu gendong.

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From various historical records it is known that the culture of dispensing jamu is only known among the palace goers. Jamu is formulated for kings, empresses, princes, and palace princesses. Jamu became a drink to maintain the health, fitness, and beauty of the royal family. Along with the times, the palace people began to introduce jamu to the wider community. The introduction of jamu outside the palace is thought to have occurred at the end of the Majapahit Kingdom, continued in the kingdoms after it, and continued until the time of the Yogyakarta Sultanate and Surakarta Sunanate.

At first, herbal medicine was only made by those who were considered to have spiritual power or often referred to as ‘orang pintar (smart people)’, such as dukun (shamans), tabib (healers), or wiku. In the practice of medicine, this smart person uses herbal concoctions and ‘mantras’ or prayers. When the Mataram Kingdom split into the Yogyakarta and Surakarta kingdom, health services could not be provided to remote villages due to limited transportation. The royal health center called Dinas Kesehatan Kerajaan (Royal Health Service) is located in the Royal Capital. A hospital for modern medicine organized by the Dutch East Indies Government is also in the capital.

People who live far from the homes of ‘orang pintar ‘ need intermediaries to deliver jamu from ‘smart people’ to their homes. This is what encourages the distribution system of jamu from ‘orang pintar ‘ to people whose homes are far from the ‘orang pintar.‘ The distribution of herbal medicine to rural communities was first carried out by a man on the orders of a dukun (traditional healer) based on consumer orders.

The system carried out by bartering, exchanging jamu for food or other goods. This is considered very beneficial, both by the dukun and the user community so that this activity becomes a habit and in the end the delivery of jamu is carried out regularly. In the next development, the sale of jamu to villages was carried out by carried them around. The male jamu sellers carry the jamu by memikul (to shoulder) them and the women by gendong or carrying it on their back.

Because more men are needed for farming, the sale of jamu is mostly done by women. Over time, jamu sellers began to sell their own jamu. Recipes obtained from ‘smart people’ are then transmitted by word of mouth so that more and more people know about it.

Migration of people from rural to urban areas also influenced the development of jamu. Many rural communities try their luck in the city by becoming laborers or trading, as well as jamu sellers. The types of herbs sold in the end also adjust to consumer needs, namely jamu for more general properties, such as cabe puyang, beras kencur, papaya leaves, and so on.



Sukini. Jamu Gendong Solusi Sehat Tanpa Obat. 2018: Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan. 



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