Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Michael H. Logan

Committee Members

Micheal Betz, Benita J. Howell


This thesis examines the social patterning in the use of traditional Javanese plant medicines, collectively called jamu, within the primarily ethnic Javanese city of Yogyakarta, in central Java, Indonesia. Using both qualitative and quantitative ethnographic research methods, forty-eight common and uncommon types of jamu are discussed, and five predictions are evaluated: 1. Jamu sold daily by door to door vendors (jamu gendong) will most often be preventatives, rather than curatives; 2. Jamu sold by sedentary vendors will more often be used for specific illnesses (curatives) than those sold by door to door vendors (jamu gendong); 3. Seasonal differences (rainy versus dry seasons) will be observed in jamu use patterns; 4. Individuals of low economic standing will use both preventative and curative jamu remedies regularly for both minor health concerns and serious illnesses; and, 5. Individuals of high economic standing will generally use curative jamu only for disorders that are not effectively treated by Western biomedicine (eg., arthritis, infertility, cancer, etc.). Except for the fourth prediction, all of the above are largely supported by the ethnographic data. Some expectations are found to be oversimplified, and additional factors are suggested to explain evident social variability. With implications for health care delivery and ethnomedical theory, this thesis demonstrates that jamu use is not only influenced by provider type and user socioeconomic status, but also by the culturally patterned and seasonally-based occurrence of disease.

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