August 05, 2008


(PART – 1)

Talking of the glorious of Islamic period in Indonesian history is tasteless without mentioning Banten kingdom which reached the glorious moment at the time of Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa ruled the kingdom. Here is my journey to the old Banten which called as Bantam in the European perspective long century ago.

In the 12th until 16th century, Banten has already known as a big, famous harbor as connection among the islands in Indonesia and also across the country region. Banten harbor was lively and busy with traders or merchants that came from various countries, especially from Gujarat (India), Malay, Chinese, Portuguese, England, and Dutch.

Banten already has important roles in its time. Its strategic function due to Banten was laid in the international’s voyage and trading. Banten is located in the Sunda strait coastal, made up Banten as a crossing gate of Sumatra and Java islands. Banten was also known as the exporter of black pepper during the 15th century.

The arrangement of the Banten city was also interesting. The 2nd sultan of Banten, Maulana Yusuf, placed the citizen in order based on ability and region. The foreign village was placed outside the city gate, for example “Pakojan” village in the west of Karangantu trade market was occupied by traders from mid east, “Pecinan” village was occupied by Chinese traders, “Kepandean” village was occupied by blacksmith, “Kamasan” village was the center of gold manufacturing, etc. There were also villages based on social strata, e.g. “Kademangan” for Demangs (village headman in Java); “Kesantrian” for knights, Senapati (Commander in Chief), and royal soldiers; etc.

The sultan ran his kingdom from his royal palace, known as Surosowan palace. The sultan also made his ritual religion service in Great Mosque that placed not far from the palace. However, today, the only left just the ruins, except the great mosque which until today is one of the main destinations of Indonesian people for “ziarah” (visiting sacred place). The other left behind are the great mosque, artificial lake (reservoir) “tasik Ardi”, ruins of Kaibon palace, ruins of Speelwijk fortress, and other are house of worships.

The first sultan of Banten was Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin. He is the son of “Sunan (title for the holy man who first brought Islam to Java) Gunung Jati”. Maulana Hasanuddin was succeeded by his son, Maulana Yusuf. Just after Maulana Yusuf died, there was power struggle between Jepara prince and Maulana Muhammad (son of Maulana Yusuf). Maulana Muhammad won the struggle by the support of religious leaders.

Banten kingdom reached the glorious period in the time of Abdul Fathi Abdul Fatah which is famous as Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa. In his time, Banten harbor became the international trade center. Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa is also known because his struggle to fight the Dutch Colonial. Due to his struggle, the surosowan palace was destroyed during VOC attack lead by governor general Daendles in 1808. The Banten sultanate was completely ended by the British administration under the lead of Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1813 when Sultan Syafiuddin (the last Banten dynasty) was forced to abdicate.

Feel as one of the citizen of Serang – Banten and tried to image the ancient of Banten civilization, this week August 3, 2008, me, my wife and kids went to the old Banten region where the ruins of the kingdom still exist.

Continue – Tasikardi, the nobleman recreation garden & the sophisticated water plumbing system.

1 comment:

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