There are a number of traditional Javanese and Balinese dances that grew out of Hindu culture and Indian dances. Some traditional dances depict episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata from India. The highly stylized dances of the courts of Yogyakarta and Surakarta are some of the popular variations. Sardono Kusumo (See Modern Dance Below) is Indonesia’s best-known choreographer. Eko Supriynato is its best know dancer. He has worked with Kusumo and toured with Madonna.

Lengger is a style of dance performed in Wonosobo (Central Java) featuring men dressed as women. Kalimantan is home to mandau, a type of dance performed with knives and shields, and Manasai, a group dance that tourists are welcome to participate in. Jaipongan is a percussion-based music using instruments from the Sundanese gamelan, particularly the “rehad” and “kendang”. It has a strange but danceable 16- or 32-beat rhythm, marked by a one-note gong, and no discernable Western influence. Jaipongan is also a form of modern dance performed in western Java that features complex rhythms, break dance and martial moves and sexually suggestive movements.

The traditional Topeng Ireng dance (literally, black mask) is performed by men in feathered headdresses and bare feet. They repeat stamping steps to the music of drums and flutes. Warrior dances feature men in knee-length breeches and legless horses as props. To the beat of gongs and drums, the men snap whips and do high, staccato steps and act as if they are preparing for battle.

Male dancers play dominant roles in traditional Javanese ritual dances while female dancers dominate the court dances still performed in Yogyakarta. The prominence of male dancers is due in part to the link between these dances and warfare and the high status of warriors. Few dancers perform enough to make a living at their craft. Most work as bemo drivers, laborers or farmers in their day jobs.

Reog Ponorogo is a traditional form of Javanese dance drama performed at village events such as weddings and circumcisions. Describing a performance Jane Perlez wrote in the New York Times, “On the earthen floor of the a makeshift outdoor theater, high above the plains of Java, two dancers sway in increasingly frenetic steps to the clamorous beat of gongs and drums. Their faces are covered by outsize masks, depicting tiger heads crowned with towering sprays of green and blue peacock feathers...Suddenly the masks are put aside and the dancers fall to the ground. They move on all fours, like tigers on the prowl. The village spectators murmur with approval. The dancers, the believe are possessed with the spirits of tigers.”

Balinese Dance, See Separate Article

Early History of Dance in Indonesia

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theatre Academy Helsinki wrote: The largest of all Central Javanese Hindu temples, and indeed of all Javanese Hindu temples, is the Loro Jonggaran group, also known as Prambanan. It was constructed in A.D. 835–856 and it comprises altogether 227 temple towers, some of which are decorated with narrative series of reliefs. The exceptionally early Ramayana panels show few actual dance poses. However, they include many fixed positions related to martial arts and archery. These poses and positions found their way into the later Javanese dance techniques. Dance is more prominent on the outer walls of the central tower of the complex. There are 62 reliefs showing clearly Indian-influenced dance poses. It possible that these reliefs reflect the Indian system of karanas, the fixed dance units described in the Natyashastra, the Indian manual of dance and theatre, compiled in c. 100–200 AD. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theatre Academy Helsinki **]

“The largest Buddhist building is Borobodur, which, in fact, forms a huge three-dimensional mandala with a plan of 113 by 113 metres. Started in A.D. 775 its construction was intended to be a Hindu temple but later the plans were, however, changed and the Buddhist Borobudur got its final form in 835. The lower terraces were meant for circumambulation and were decorated with some 1300 relief panels of altogether 2.5 kilometres in length. The great number of reliefs on the walls of Borobudur include numerous dance images. Many of them depict dance performed at court by female dancers. Usually these court performances show a clear Indian influence. Some of the reliefs hint at how the Indian dance technique was transmitted to Java. **

“In several reliefs we find female dancers accompanied by one or two male figures, which bear the iconographical marks of Indian Brahman priests or dance masters. These portrayals of dance performances can give one answer as to how the dance tradition was passed on to local dancers. It was simply taught to locals by the Indian Brahmans, who had the knowledge of the Indian tradition and acted as gurus, or teacher-masters as well as spiritual guides. **

“Although fairly many of the Central Javanese dance images show an undeniable Indian influence, it does not mean that all of them are related to the Indian tradition. Among the dance-related images one can identify several types of dances or even dance traditions, such as dance rituals, communal dances, recreational dances, martial arts dances, acrobatics, and the above-mentioned court dances. As a general rule, the dances performed in a court context show a clear Indian influence. However, many of the dances do not seem to bear any resemblance to the Indian tradition and they may represent local, indigenous dance traditions.” **

Traditional Javanese Court Dance

Wayang dance-dramas and a variety of court dances are still widely performed in Java. Yogyakarta has a number of dance academies and is home to the “Ramayana” ballet. Solo also has a number of dance academies. Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theatre Academy Helsinki wrote: “Most of the court dances are traditionally attributed to sultans, and many of the rulers are themselves known to have been skilled dancers. The performers were mostly close relatives of the sultan, or members of the court and the bodyguard. The dances are of a highly aristocratic character, and consequently Central Javanese dancers have usually had an exceptionally high social status. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theatre Academy Helsinki **]

“ Many ceremonial court dances developed in the kraton palaces of Java. They include ceremonial group dances of male dancers reflecting the influence of ancient martial arts. The most famous are the beksa dances of the kraton of Yogyakarta. They were originally performed by two groups of soldiers of the royal guard, depicting scenes of warfare with a strong military spirit. The most valued court dances of are bedhaya and serimpi. They are both slow, restrained group dances performed by women to the accompaniment of choral singing and gamelan music, and their traditions are especially linked to the kraton of Yogyakarta and Surakarta in Central Java. **

“In 1918 the first public dance society was founded, extending the court traditions outside the kraton. However, the aristocratic nature of the dances has survived despite these developments. At present, the court traditions are taught and performed by several private dance societies, although the kratons of Surakarta and, especially, of Yogyakarta are still the best places to see authentic court performances.” **


Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theatre Academy Helsinki wrote: “The Bedhaya, laden with deep symbolic or even religious meaning and usually performed by nine dancers, is, along with its many variations, the most sacred of all Javanese court dances. Performances and even rehearsals are restricted to certain places and times. It is usually performed at major court festivities, such as coronations or the sultan’s birthday. The oldest existing form is the bedhaya ketawang, commemorating the bond between Senapati, the first sultan of Mataram (1584–1601) and the mythical Queen of the Southern Sea. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theatre Academy Helsinki **]

“It is still preserved as a pusaka, or royal heirloom, in the kraton of Surakarta, and is regularly performed at the kraton of Mangkunegara. Along with the three forms of bedhaya inherited from the ancient Kingdom of Mataram, there are several other bedhaya compositions, most of which were created between the mid-eighteenth century and the middle of the 20th century. Although the bedhaya is basically a monopoly of the kraton, often created by the sultans themselves, it could also be staged by high officials in its less sacred forms. **

“The bedhaya is an extremely slow and solemn dance. The dancers arrive on the scene in an orderly geometric procession formation, carrying the hems of their batik sarongs. Majestic, almost martial, music accompanies them to the scene of the performance, usually a pendopo hall open at the sides, a typical feature of kraton architecture. The dancers then kneel down in respect before beginning the actual dance. The footwork is relatively simple, but the grouping of the dancers changes almost unnoticeably, creating ever-newer and increasingly intricate patterns, like pieces on a chessboard. The face is kept strictly expressionless, and the eyes look down, while the dancers undulate to the gamelan music in a continuous flow of movement like underwater plants. **

“Indian-derived hand gestures are used, but they no longer have any direct symbolic meaning and have become extremely streamlined and decorative dance gestures. In the basic position, the dancers’ knees are bent, making the body S-shaped. This extremely demanding position, sometimes making the dancers collapse and faint, permits, however, flexibility for sharp rises and falls of the body and accentuates the otherwise continuous legato-like movement. At times, the dancers continue their uninterrupted movement crouching on their knees, and at other times they make sudden, deep asymmetric bends. In the climax the two main dancers separate themselves slightly from the group to begin an extremely stylised battle with their wavy-bladed krises (also keris: dagger), after which the dancers leave the scene in a procession-like formation similar to their entrance. **

“The bedhaya dancers wear a batik sarong, often decorated with motifs restricted to court use. The upper body is clothed by a tight-fitting dark velvet blouse, and a dance scarf is worn around the waist. This is skilfully manipulated with the tips of the fingers, the controlled handling being an essential part of the choreography. The dancers wear gilt tiaras with large brightly coloured feathers softly following their movements and delicate bends of the head. The dancers’ bodies are painted in a golden hue, and the eye make-up corresponds to the old court traditions. In the various genres of bedhaya, the even-tempoed music is performed by gamelan ensembles, which were rather small, in the earliest traditions. The text sung by the chorus usually has no direct connection with the dance or the stylised battle enacted by the principal dancers, but only sets the general mood of the performance. **

“The bedhaya still has a deep religious meaning for both the performers and the spectators. Its aesthetic principles are linked to a non-verbal, esoteric conception of beauty and strength, and the dancing of bedhaya is seen as a kind of yoga or meditation. The nine dancers have been explained as symbolising the eight cardinal points and the centre of the universe, a conception derived from ancient Indian cosmology. The number of dancers can also be seen as representing the nine human orifices, and the whole composition is thus associated with the structure of the cosmic body, discussed in connection with wayang kulit. Along with other interpretations, the bedhaya can also be regarded as a representation of the struggle between the human mind and desires.” **

Serimpi and Golek Dances

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theatre Academy Helsinki wrote: “Serimpi, sometimes called “the sister of bedhaya”, shares its basic aesthetics, dance technique, and costumes with the bedhaya, although it is performed by only four female dancers. It has been used in the Central Javanese kratons for the training of the princesses. Serimpi is also of ancient origin and with distinct symbolic connotations. Its four dancers are seen as representing the four universal elements of earth, water, fire, and air, as well as the four cardinal points of the universe. The composition depicts a battle with kris daggers between the four heroines, although the actual plot or story is only alluded to, as if taking place in a distant, mythical past. Serimpi does not, however, have quite the same aura of sacredness as bedhaya, and when court dances began to be taught outside the kraton in the 1910s, serimpi was chosen as the basis of Javanese classical female dance. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theatre Academy Helsinki **]

“There are also forms of solo dance cultivated in the kraton, which do not, however, have the same ritual connotations as the above-mentioned female group dances. The most popular one is the golek, a solo dance portraying a young girl growing into womanhood. The basic position and technique resemble bedhaya and serimpi, but the descriptive movements depict the self-beautifying of a maiden. **

“The name golek refers to wayang golek puppetry, and this genre has its parallel in the wayang golek repertoire, while the dance style reflects the movements of the wooden wayang golek puppets. The golek has traditionally been performed at festive receptions. The golek style was originally created in the 1950s and it flourished outside the court. In the 1980s a new form of dance-drama, beksa golek menak, was created by the order of the sultan of Yogyakarta. It is rarely performed today, but the golek style dance numbers are still popular and at present they have become the stock numbers of tourist shows. **

Topeng, Mask Dance and Theatre

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theatre Academy Helsinki wrote: “Java is the home of several mask theatre and dance traditions, which are commonly referred to as wayang topeng (wayang: shadow or puppet; topeng: mask). They are believed to have evolved from early shamanistic burial and initiation rites. Mask traditions universally contain shamanistic features, for when an actor puts on a mask he gives up his own identity and embodies the character of the mask, usually a mythical being such as a demon, a supernatural hero, or a god. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theatre Academy Helsinki **]

“The earliest known literary reference to wayang topeng is from 1058, and mask theatre is believed to have been very popular in the kingdoms of East Java over the following centuries. This led to the birth of wayang wwang, a spectacular form of court theatre, where some of the characters are believed to have worn masks. Two main traditions of topeng developed: the impressive dance-drama of the court, and the village traditions, which still contain ancient shamanistic elements. Throughout the history of topeng, the “major” court traditions and the “minor” village traditions have been in a constant state of interaction. **

“Topeng is often based on the Mahabharata and the Ramayana epics, among other sources, but from a very early stage The Adventures of Prince Panji has been the most popular source of its plot material. This story cycle was created in East Java during the Majapahit dynasty. Its hero, the handsome Prince Panji, combines features of earlier historical and mythical figures. Prince Panji became the Javanese ideal hero par excellence along with Arjuna of the Mahabharata and Prince Rama of the Ramayana. By the end of the fourteenth century, the Panji romance spread to Bali and other parts of South-East Asia, where it is known in several versions. **

“In all parts of Java the topeng masks share the aesthetics based on the iconography of the wayang kulit and particularly wayang golek puppets. Carved out of wood they also resemble, however, the faces of the three-dimensional wayang golek puppets. Their stylization is almost abstract, and the oval masks in downward tapering form are usually slightly smaller than a human face. The faces of the noble characters are taut, narrowing towards a delicate chin, and the noses are sharply ridged and pointed. The eyes are elongated, and the mouths are small. Strong characters, such as King Klana, wear energetic masks with upturned noses and wide-open, round eyes. The colour symbolism is the same as in the wayang golek puppets: noble characters have white or golden masks, although Prince Panji’s mask is usually green. The masks of the strong characters, like King Klana, are usually red. **

“The various local traditions clearly differ in style. In Central Java the masks are almost triangular; the masks of east Javanese wayang topeng malang retain their own archaic stylisation; and the masks of Cirebon are perhaps the most abstract with almost symbol-like faces. The mask sets and collections on display in the National Museum in Jakarta, the Museum of Yogyakarta, and in some kraton museums demonstrate not only the local variations in mask styles but also their excellent artistic level.” **

Topeng Dances and Styles

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theatre Academy Helsinki wrote: “Full-length topeng performances have become rare, but topeng dance numbers are still often presented. Popular items of the repertoire are the introductory dances of Prince Panji and Princess Candra Kirana, allowing them to display their respective psychological qualities with classical dance patterns. In topeng these are usually faster and more expressive than in other forms of Javanese dance-drama. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theatre Academy Helsinki **]

“An especially popular number is the so-called Kiprah dance of the enamoured King Klana (also Klono, Kelana) with his red mask. It most probably evolved from ancient ritual dances, and is known in several versions throughout the island of Java. For example, in the kraton of Yogyakarta it survives as the classic Klana topeng dance, and on the island of Madura it has its own highly different variants. The dance expresses the yearning of King Klana, who has fallen in love with Candra Kirana. He imagines meeting his beloved and, with extremely expressive dance movements, enacts all the gestures of a vain man in love: he spruces himself up, arranges his hair, dresses in his best clothes, and plans to give a present to the object of his affections, who never appears. King Klana’s dance is usually performed in the energetic dance style of a strong male figure, but it also exists in a noble alus version, where the character is more refined, though still a desperate lover. **

“The decreased popularity of mask theatre is usually explained by the spread of Islam. When the Central Javanese Mataram kingdom was divided into two in 1755, it was the kraton of Surakarta that inherited the ancient wayang topeng tradition of Mataram and its old masks. In Yogyakarta, wayang wong, which developed in the late eighteenth century, replaced the spectacular mask theatre performances of the court, but the old mask sets are still revered in the kraton as royal pusaka heirlooms. **

“Today, in the kraton of Surakarta and Yogyakarta, topeng is performed from time to time, although mostly as solo numbers. In addition to the rarely performed court topeng, popular forms of this genre survive and are performed, especially in the villages of western Central Java. East Java and the island of Madura have their own mask theatre traditions. Topeng mostly thrives in Sunda in West Java, where Cirebon with its small kraton has been the traditional centre of topeng. Alongside the court performances, the villages around Cirebon still have their own vital mask traditions. The folk forms of topeng include topeng batavia, a relaxed variant of topeng with a lot of elements of slapstick comedy. It has been performed in the area of the capital, Jakarta.” **

Saman Dance

The Saman dance is part of the cultural heritage of the Gayo people of Aceh province in Sumatra. Boys and young men perform the Saman sitting on their heels or kneeling in tight rows. Each wears a black costume embroidered with colourful Gayo motifs symbolizing nature and noble values. The leader sits in the middle of the row and leads the singing of verses, mostly in the Gayo language. These offer guidance and can be religious, romantic or humorous in tone. Dancers clap their hands, slap their chests, thighs and the ground, click their fingers, and sway and twist their bodies and heads in time with the shifting rhythm – in unison or alternating with the moves of opposing dancers. These movements symbolize the daily lives of the Gayo people and their natural environment. [Source: UNESCO]

The Saman is performed to celebrate national and religious holidays, cementing relationships between village groups who invite each other for performances. The frequency of Saman performances and its transmission are decreasing, however. Many leaders with knowledge of the Saman are now elderly and without successors. Other forms of entertainment and new games are replacing informal transmission, and many young people now emigrate to further their education. Lack of funds is also a constraint, as Saman costumes and performances involve considerable expense.

Saman dance was inscribed in 2011 on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. Involving a community of not only players and trainers but also enthusiasts, prominent religious leaders, customary leaders, teachers and government officials, Saman dance promotes friendship, fraternity and goodwill and strengthens awareness of the historical continuity of the Gayo people; Saman dance faces weakening informal and formal modes of transmission due to reduced opportunities for performance and the disappearance of the cultural spaces where transmission takes place, associated with social, economic and political changes that include penetration of mass media and the rural-urban migration of the younger generations; knowledge of the element is diminishing and commercial activities are increasing, posing a threat to the continued meaning of Saman dance to its community. Many important documentation on the Saman dance were destroyed in the 2004 tsunami. An educational program has been proposed to revitalize traditional modes of transmission of the Saman dance in the mersah dormitories for young men.

Sendratari, The “Ramayana Ballet”

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theatre Academy Helsinki wrote: “In the early 1960s sendratari (seni: drama, tari: dance) was developed as yet another spectacular form of wayang wong -derived dance-drama. It had none of the patriotic fervour of the 1940s and 1950s, and was mainly intended for both Javanese and foreign tourists. The first sendratari performance was staged by a group of artists from Yogyakarta and Surakarta in 1961. It was especially designed for an outdoor stage erected in front of the Hindu temple of Prambanan in Central Java with the temple’s enormous silhouette as its background. The choice of the theme and venue of this first sendratari production is self-evident: the Prambanan temple area is one of Java’s main tourist attractions and it is also related to the Ramayana through its early series of reliefs. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theatre Academy Helsinki **]

“The Prambanan spectacle has come to be known as the “Ramayana Ballet”. This is indeed an apt name for a genre where the overall dramaturgy with its impressive mass scenes and modern stage techniques is modelled after the practice of Western fairy-tale ballet. The Ramayana Festival was for a long period a yearly event, performed at the time of the full moon from May to October. The scenes and events of the epic are divided into four full-evening performances. The Abduction of Sita is presented on the first night, followed by Hanuman’s Mission to Lanka, The Conquest of Lanka, and finally the fall of Ravana and the proof of Sita’s marital fidelity. The sendratari of Prambanan turned out to be a success, perhaps partly because of the growing tourist industry focusing on Central Java. It has become an obligatory event for tour groups, and the previous modest stage has been replaced by a luxurious amphitheatre. **

“The “Ramayana Ballet” served as a model for later sendratari productions, which were staged in other parts of Java at sites of touristic interest. While the Prambanan ballet was mostly based on the Central Javanese heritage, the stories and dance styles of later innovations are based on their respective local traditions. Near Surabaya in East Java there is a huge open-air stage with a perfectly conical volcano in the background. It was especially built for a sendratari production based on an East Javanese story combining in its presentation East Javanese and Balinese elements. In Cirebon in West Java, the local sendratari is staged in front of an ancient stone garden, and its dance style is based on local topeng dances. As a kind of Pan-Indonesian state art, the sendratari has also been adopted outside Java, for example, in Bali, where the first Balinese Sendratari Ramayana was staged in 1965.” **

Modern and Contemporary Dance in Indonesia

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Theatre Academy Helsinki wrote: “Western classical dance technique, ballet, had already found its way to Java in the 1940s, mainly through Dutch ballet teachers. A decade later modern Western dance also started to interest young Indonesian artists. One of the pioneers of Indonesian modern dance was Jodjana, who in his work focused on individualism and personal impressions, aspects, which were not emphasised in the traditional dance of Java. Another pioneer was Seti-Arti Kailola, who went to study in New York at the Martha Graham studio, one of the leading institutes of American modern dance. In Jakarta she set up her own school, thus establishing the long-lasting link between the Graham technique and Indonesian modernism. The Graham technique and aesthetics were also explored by other choreographers, such as Bagong Kussudiardja and Wisnoe, who in their turn established their own dance studios by the end of the 1950s. [Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance website, Theatre Academy Helsinki **]

“Another pioneer of Indonesian modern, or more appropriately contemporary, dance, who studied in New York, is Sardono (W.Kusumo). He had a background in classical Javanese dance and he started his exceptional career as one of the star dancers in the Pramabanan Sendratari Ramayana. He established his own Sardono Dance Theatre in 1973. He has worked with artists and styles from different regions of Indonesia and has thus been instrumental for the experiments and innovations later done around the whole country. His works include, among others, environmental and site-specific productions. **

“Several governmental institutions founded since the 1960s have had a decisive role in the development of Javanese as well as Pan-Indonesian dance and theatre. The establishment of the Jakarta Arts Centre Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) in 1968 has provided an arena for contemporary as well as traditional arts. The Jakarta Arts Institute, which was opened in 1970, provided further opportunities for both art teachers and students. In 1978 TIM initiated the Young Choreographers’ Festival, which serves as a platform for choreographers and dancers working in the field of contemporary dance around Indonesia.” **

Poco Poco

Poco poco (pronounced poh-choh poh-choh) is a style of music and line dance that became popular in the 1990s and remains popular today. Based on rhythms from Papua in far eastern Indonesia, it has attracted teenagers in miniskirts, women in conservative Muslim head scarves, villagers who sway to the music while in their rice fields and nouveau riche who dance to it at fashionable nightclubs and high society weddings. Poco poco means “voluptuous.”

The poco poco music is associated with poco poco dance, a line dance with two steps t the right and two steps to the left followed by two steps back and then forward and back again. During the sometimes violent anti-Suharto demonstrations in 1998, the police sometimes played poco poco music to bring the crowds under control. Students and protestors who were ready to confront riot police suddenly found themselves dancing and even sharing in some dance steps with police.

Explaining the appeal of the dance, a middle-aged architect told the Washington Post, “We Indonesians love to dance but we’re trying to have a new way to express ourselves that comes from our own culture and own tradition, not just salsa and jive.” His wife said, “Poco-poco will make you sweat. we like it for our health and to lose wight. I’ve lost 20 pounds.”

History of Poco Poco

Poco poco music and dance is derived from tribal music and dances of the rain forest and mountains tribes of Papua. It was popularized and brought the main islands of Indonesia by the army’s much feared special forces, who picked up the music while in Papua and used it for their morning callisthenics.

The dance was jazzed and up standardized in the city of Manado in Sulawesi and dispersed with the help of a famous poco poco song by Yopie Latul, a pop star from the Maluka Islands. The lyrics to the song went, “You dance very hot. Your body is very sexy. You’re the only one I love but you’re making my head hurt.”

The song reached a nationwide audience with the help of General Agum Gumelat, for head of Kopassus, the Indonesian special forces, who soldiers perform the dance at his inauguration as commander. In an interview he said, “The dance was very helpful in establishing solidarity and togetherness among the soldiers, especially those from the special forces, who usually conduct their operations with very small numbers of team members.”

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated June 2015

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