It follows the lives and trans-Java wanderings of adolescent brothers Jayengresmi, Jayengsari, and Mas Cabolang.
Jayengresmi and Jayengsari were the sons of a 16th century East Javanese monarch who went into exile and journeyed separately.
Tradition speculates that Centhini was chaste when the scribes completed it, but the Prince “sexified” it.
Centhini was then a holy book in the royal palace, which the Prince read for pleasure at bedtime.
After a short reign of five years, the polyamorous Prince died of syphilis.
Further in the journey, Cabolang learns to look for the qualities of a good wife: a good background, good manners, patience, charm, and a compassionate heart.
That’s why in his pre-adulthood journey, Cabolang searches for his identity and soul mate.” Cabolang falls in love with four female students at a hermitage and marries them after solving a naughty riddle.
Having difficulty satisfying four women, Cabolang learns the hermit’s science of amorous play: one at a time in bed, visual and auditory pleasure, conversation, kisses, and making sure every wife gets a turn.
Most of us have heard of India’s Kama Sutra and Tunisia’s Perfumed Garden.
Every ancient agricultural society has its own celebration of fertility, sensual pleasure, and romance. But with the advent of sociopolitical conservatism in Indonesia, it is hard to imagine the existence of a Javanese sex book that “keeps it real” without losing its civilised finesse and religious compass.
Despite Centhini being an Islamic text, it refers to Hindu-Buddhist principles such as the four essentials: artha (gaining wealth), kama (worldly pleasure and harmony), dharma (practicing religious teachings and philanthropy), and moksha (liberation from worldly desires).