The Republic of Suriname (South America) is among the culturally, ethnically, and religiously most diverse countries in the world. Suriname’s population of about 600,000 consists of peoples from all continents including the Javanese who arrived in the country between 1890 and 1939 as indentured laborers to work on sugar cane plantations. After expiration of their five-year contract, some Javanese returned to Indonesia while others migrated to The Netherlands (the former colonial master of both Suriname and Indonesia), but many settled in Suriname. Today, the Javanese community of about 80,000 has been integrated well in Suriname but has preserved many of their traditions and rituals. This holds true for their language, religion, cultural expressions, and forms of entertainment. The Javanese have also maintained their traditional medical practices that are based on Jamu. Jamu has its origin in the Mataram Kingdom era in ancient Java, some 1300 years ago, and is mostly based on a variety of plant species. The many Jamu products are called jamus. The first part of this chapter presents a brief background of Suriname, addresses the history of the Surinamese Javanese as well as some of the religious and cultural expressions of this group, focuses on Jamu, and comprehensively deals with four medicinal plants that are commonly used by the Javanese. The second part of this chapter continues with an equally extensive narrative of six more such plants and concludes with a few remarks on the contribution of Javanese jamus to Suriname’s traditional medicinal pharmacopeia.
Part of the book: Natural Drugs from Plants