Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kutai Kingdom

Kutai Kingdom

1.     The History

History of Kutai Kingdom is divided into two phases: (1) Kutai Martadipura phase and (2) Kutai Kartanegara phase.

a.     Kutai Martadipura

Kutai, according to the oldest written data, constituted the oldest kingdom in Indonesia. Estimated in the 5th century/ approximately 400 C.E, the existence of the Kutai kingdom was based on seven yupa (pillar)-shaped inscriptions excavated in Kaman estuary, Kutai Kartanegara regency, East Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Using Pallawa letters and Sanskrit language, the Yupa inscription inscribed the story of a Kutai Martadipura King named Mulawarman. He was son of Aswawarman King and grandson of Maharaja (king of the king) Kudungga. Kutai stories are understood mostly from interpretation of written information carved on the inscriptions and Salasilah Kutai on which most archeologists relied their knowledge. This lack of historical legacies leads to the minimum information on the Kutai Kingdom.

b.     Kutai Kartanegara Ing Martadipura

Generally, the archeological and historical studies on Kutai are circumscribed. It is so due to most of historical sites in which Kutai inheritance was found are shattered by excessive mining activities. However, meager amount of data on Kutai Kartanegara especially during the 13th century upward can be obtained through those inscriptions. In the 13th century, the Kutai kingdom was established and Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti (1300-1325 C.E) was installed as the first King. The central Kingdom was situated in Tepian Batu or Kutai Lama. 

In the 16th century, Kutai Kartanegara King named Aji Pangeran Sinum Panji Mendapa successfully defeated Kutai Martadipura Kingdom and eventually merged it with his Kingdom. In its development, Aji Pangeran initiated to establish Kutai Kartanegara Ing Martadipura Kingdom which was originally the amalgamation of both kingdoms: Kartanegara Kingdoms and Martadipura.   

The change of king title from Raja (king) to Sultan occurred in the 17th century when Islam came to the kingdom. At the time, Islam was widely accepted by most of Kutai people and officially legitimated as the Kingdom religion. Sultan Aji Muhammad Idris (1735-1778 C.E) was the first sultan who used Islamic name.     

During his period, Sultan Aji Muhammad Idris and his followers made a trip to Wajo area for supporting his son in-law Sultan Wajo Lamaddukelleng to fight against VOC (the Dutch East India Company). To replace the king position, Dewan Perwalian (trusteeship council) was formed. Following the death of Sultan Aji Muhammad Idris In 1739 C.E who fell in a Wajo battle, internal conflict which was marked by struggle over the Kutai kingship among his descendants gradually appeared. Aji Kado, officially was not entitled to the Kutai Kingship, seized the throne of the kingdom and later on became the legal king of Kutai titled Sultan Aji Muhammad Aliyeddin. In attempt to avoid prolonged conflict, the young prince Aji Imbut, son of Aji Muhammad, was run away by remaining royalties to Wajo.        

Aji imbut, the official heir apparent to Kutai throne, who grew into an adult in Wajo eventually returned to Kutai. Bugis society and kingdom officials who were still loyal to Sultan Aji Muhammad Idris installed Aji Imbut as the Sultan of Kutai Kartanegara titled Sultan Aji Muhammad Muslihuddin. The event of coronation which was held in Mangkujenang (Samarinda Seberang) triggered the conflict between the two Kings: Aji Kado and Aji Imbut.     

Using embargo as a main war strategy, Aji Imbut successfully regained the kingship of Kutai and became the Kutai King with the previous title Sultan Aji Muhammad Muslihuddin. During the war, Aji Imbut was benefited from pirates` support for blockading Pemarangan, the capital of Kutai Kartanegara. Feeling exhorted by Aji Imbut attack, Aji kado asked VOC for military support to protect Kutai territory. However, VOC denied the request. Aji Kado then was sentenced to death and buried in Jembayan Island.        

The first step taken by Aji Imbut after being Kuta King was moving the capital of Kingdom from Pemarangan to Tepian Pandan in September 28, 1782 C.E. The moving was based on two important considerations: to erase bad memory regarding past conflict over kingship, and to mark the end of Aji Kado period. Since the King ruled the Kingdom from Tepian Pandan, the name of Capital was changed into Tangga Arung meaning King House. In 1883 C.E, Aji Imbut was replaced by Sultan Aji Muhammad Salehuddin. Kutai people gradually simplified the name of kingdom capital and merged the two words Tangga Arung to become Tenggarong. This name, until now, becomes the popularly used name.       

c.      European Colonialism Era

Kutai rapport with European people was commenced in 1844 C.E. by the coming of two British commercial ships under supervisor of James Erskine Murray. They visited Kutai land for establishing commercial posts and demanding privilege to operate steamers in Mahakam waters. Sultan Aji Muhammad Salehuddin refuted to meet all the requests and gave permission for Murray to conduct commercial trade in solely Samarinda territory. Being disappointed of Sultan`s decision, Murray opened fire to Sultan castle. Kingdom troops were encouraged to fight against British forces. Eventually, Murray was killed in the battle and most of his soldiers run away. 

News on the British shellacking in the battle, which was heard by British authorities, exploded their anger and motivated them to take revenge on Kutai Kingdom. However, the Dutch ensured the British that Kutai was under the Dutch authority which means that it was the Dutch responsibility. Hence, several military fleets and forces were sent to fight Kutai. In an attempt to defend the central Kingdom, Tenggarong, Kutai commandant Awang Lor fell in the battle and Sultan Aji Muhammad Salehudin was sent to exile in Bangun city. Since that moment on, Kutai had been under the Dutch rule.    

In October 11, 1844 C.E, Sultan A.M. Salehuddin was forced by the Dutch to sign an agreement stating his acknowledging and submission to the authority of the Dutch which was represented by delegation situated in Banjarmasin. In 1863 C.E, Kutai Kartanegara conducted for second time a meeting with the Dutch to make a treaty upon which the submission of Kutai under the Dutch East India government was agreed.       

In 1888 C.E, a Dutch engineer named J.H. Menten opened coal mining first in Batu Panggal and exploitated oil in Kutai region. Profits from this natural resources exploitation went to Sultan Sulaiman   

In 1942 C.E, when Japanese forces occupied the Kutai terrirories, Sultan Sulaiman was subject unto Japan emperor, Tenno Heika. In the meantime, the emperor honored the Sultan by giving him title Koo and name for the Kingdom “Kooti Kingdom”.    

The sultanate of Kutai Kartanegara that holded status of Swapraja region, along with other sultanates such as Bulungan, Sambaliung, Gunung Tabur and Pasir united in East Kalimantan federation. This unification occured in 1945 C.E when the republic of Indonesia gained its independence. Afterwards, this federation became Sultanate council. In December 27, 1949 C.E, Kutai integrated within the united republic of Indnesia (Republik Indonesia Serikat).  

2.     The Kings of the Kingdom

So far, archeologists are not able to reveal the comprehensive data on Kutai Kings in the era of Kutai Martadipura. However, it is believed that the founder of the Kingdom was Aswawarman. As stated in Yupa inscriptions, Aswawarman was called as Dewa Ansuman/Dewa Matahari (Deity of Sun) and perceived as Wangsakerta, the founder of family king. The statement inscribed in the Yupa shows that Aswawarman was a king who embraced Hindu as his religion and the founder of dynasty/Kutai king family. Maharaja Kudungga was the ruler of Kutai Martadipura before Aswawarman.

Unlike Kutai Martadipura, the kings of Kutai Kartanegara in the 13th century can be traced completely. Below are the kings who had ever ruled the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom 

1.      Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti (1300-1325 C.E)

2.      Aji Batara Agung Paduka Nira (1325-1360 C.E)

3.      Aji Maharaja Sultan (1360-1420 C.E)

4.      Aji Raja Mandarsyah (1420-1475 C.E)

5.      Aji Pangeran Tumenggung Bayabaya (1475-1545 C.E)

6.      Aji Raja Mahkota Mulia Alam (1545-1610 C.E)

7.      Aji Dilanggar (1610-1635 C.E)

8.      Aji Pangeran Sinum Panji Mendapa ing Martapura (1635-1650 C.E)

9.      Aji Pangeran Dipati Agung ing Martapura (1650-1665 C.E)

10.    Aji Pangeran Dipati Maja Kusuma ing Martapura (1665-1686 C.E)

11.    Aji Ragi gelar Ratu Agung (1686-1700 C.E)

12.    Aji Pangeran Dipati Tua (1700-1730 C.E)

13.    Aji Pangeran Anum Panji Mendapa ing Martapura (1730-1732 C.E)

14.    Aji Muhammad Idris (1732-1778 C.E)

15.    Aji Muhammad Aliyeddin (1778-1780 C.E)

16.    Aji Muhammad Muslihuddin (1780-1816 C.E)

17.    Aji Muhammad Salehuddin (1816-1845 C.E)

18.    Aji Muhammad Sulaiman (1850-1899 C.E)

19.    Aji Muhammad Alimuddin (1899-1910 C.E)

20.    Aji Muhammad Parikesit (1920-1960 C.E)

21.    H. Aji Muhammad Salehuddin II (1999-now)

3.     The Kingdom Period

The period of Kutai Martadipura Kingdom had commenced since the rule of Kudungga in the 5th century and ended when amalgamated with Kutai Kingdom in the 13th century due to its defeat. Afterward, the period of Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom has begun up to now.

4.     The Kingdom Territory

Kutai Martadipura Territory encompassed present eastern part of East Kalimantan, especially area where the Mahakam River flows. The territory of Kutai Ing Martadipura included present Kutai Kartanegara district, west Kutai, east Kutai, Bontang, Samarinda, and Balikpapan.  

5.     The Kingdom Structure

Archeological data that provides detailed information on the structure of Kutai Kingdom is not available. The data merely shows the Buddhism`s influence on the kingdom. Hence, it can be concluded that the kingdom was ruled by a Raja (king). However, further information on how the kings operated the kingdom, who administer the governance, who served the Kings, what were their titles, and detailed responsibilities are not available.   

6.     The Socio-Cultural life

The only reliable sources providing the information and knowledge on socio cultural life of Kutai people are seven Yupa inscriptions, and manuscript of Salasilah Kutai. Therefore, the socio cultural life related-data is very minimum

a.     Social Life

The Yupa inscription depicted social life in which harmoniuos relation of Mulawarman King with Brahmana people established. King Mulawarman presented lot of golds and gave alms, amounted 20.000 cows, to Brahmana people in their holy land called Waprakeswara. The holy land was a place at which Brahmana people worship their deity of `Syiwa`. This place was called Baprakewara in Java Island.

Where those gold and cows came from were unknown. If it is assumed that those things were gotten from outside Kutai, it means that the Kingdom had formed trade links with other kingdoms.

b.     Cultural Life

It can be said that the cultural life of Kutai can be categorized as the advanced culture. This can be seen from ceremony of Vratyastoma (blessing for those who embrace the Hindu) performed in the Kingdom. The ceremony was first conducted in the period of Aswawarman. According to some experts, this sacred ceremony is usually leaded by Brahmana (Hindu Priest) coming from India. However, it is assumed that the leader of ceremony in Kutai period did not come from India but instead it was leaded by native Brahmana. The existence of these native Brahmana indicated advanced intellectuality of Kutai people since the major condition to become a Brahmana was Sanskrit language proficiency.

In addition, there are some archeological evidences found in East Kalimantan that show the existence of advanced society in the area. Some experts estimate those societies had existed since thousands years ago, pre historic time. One of the things is caves in east Kalimantan, surrounding Marang mount, 400 km north of Balikpapan. In the cave, found several artefacts such as pieces of ceramics and burial plots. The cave, which was used also for settling, is ornamented with decoration and ancient drawings. These discoveries, supposedly, originate from pre-historic era 10.000 years ago. Another excavation in Kutai kingdom site found several artifacts such as debris of temple, ceramics, bronze statue, vessels, and beads. These findings supported the argument that the culture of Kutai at that time was an advanced culture.       


  • Prasetyo Eko Prihananto, Sejarah Kita Berawal Dari Kutai, dalam Kompas 3 November 2004.














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