The Founders of the Kutai Kingdom: History, Heyday & Legacy

The Founder of the Kutai Kingdom – Hi, Sinaumed’s, this time we will discuss the history of the Kutai Kingdom. Wow, you must be familiar, Sinaumed’s. Especially considering that when we were in junior high and high school, material was discussed about kingdoms in Indonesia.

Well, now we will get to know more about one of the kingdoms in Indonesia, namely Kutai. The Kutai Kingdom is the oldest Hindu kingdom located in East Kalimantan close to the Mahakam River.

This kingdom is estimated to have existed around the 4th century AD or 400 AD. In addition, this kingdom had very good trade relations with India, so that the spread of Hinduism occurred through trade routes that occurred. Come on, Sinaumed’s, let’s see more about the discussion below!

The founder of the Kingdom of Kutai

The Kutai Kingdom, which is known as the oldest Hindu kingdom in Indonesia, is a kingdom that has a long history as the forerunner to the birth of other kingdoms in Indonesia. The name Kutai itself is known by mythological experts after the discovery of an inscription, namely Yupa. The Yupa inscription is identified as an original relic from the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism which uses Sanskrit with Pallawa letters.

It was from this inscription that the name of King Kudungga was found as the founder of the Kutai Kingdom. The name Maharaja Kudungga is interpreted by historians as a native Indonesian name that has not been influenced by Indian languages. Meanwhile, their descendants, such as Raja Mulawarman and Aswawarman, are thought to have had a major influence on Hindu culture from India.

This is because the word “Warman” in each suffix of his name comes from the Sanskrit language which is commonly used by the people of southern India. This is what causes many people to say that the Kingdom of Kutai is a Hindu kingdom with strong Indian cultural influences. It is not surprising that the pattern of life at that time also resembled the life of the Hindu kingdoms in India.

Furthermore, from the Yupa Inscription it is also known the names of the kings who ruled the Kingdom of Kutai after the death of the founder, namely as many as 20 generations as follows:

  1. Maharaja Kudungga, posthumously titled Dewawarman (as founder)
  2. Maharaja Aswawarman (son of King Kudungga)
  3. Maharaja Mulawarman (as the famous king)
  4. Maharaja Marawijaya Warman
  5. Maharaja Gajayana Warman
  6. Maharaja Tungga Warman
  7. Maharaja Jayanaga Warman
  8. Maharaja Nalasinga Warman
  9. Maharaja Gadingga Warman Dewa
  10. Maharaja Indra Warman Dewa
  11. Maharaja Sangga Warman Dewa
  12. Maharaja Chandravarman
  13. Maharaja Sri Lanka Dewa
  14. Maharaja Guna Parana Dewa
  15. Maharaja Wijaya Warman
  16. Maharaja Sri Aji Dewa
  17. Maharaja Mulia Putera
  18. Maharaja Nala Pandita
  19. Maharaja Indra Paruta Dewa
  20. Maharaja Dharma Setia

Of these 20 generations, the famous king is King Mulawarman. However, after the legacy of King Kudungga, Kutai was led by Aswawarman. Aswawarman’s reign did not last long and was replaced by his son, Mulawarman.



The Heyday of the Kutai Kingdom

The glory during the reign of King Mulawarman is written in the Yupa Inscription. In the inscription it is said that Mulawarman had performed a very large amount of gold sacrifice. The gold was distributed to the people, besides that it was also used as an offering to the gods.

Furthermore, the heyday of Mulawarman’s reign was not only marked by written evidence in the Yupa Inscription. Many aspects pushed the kingdom to reach its golden age. As if seen from several other aspects are as follows:

1. Social Aspect

Social life in this kingdom is characterized by the presence of many educated groups. This educated group masters Sanskrit and Pallawa letters. The groups are Brahmins and Kshatriyas. The knight class consisted of relatives of King Mulawarman at that time.

This is evidenced by the existence of a blessing ceremony for someone who embraces Hinduism. Where the brahmanas use Sanskrit which is often used in certain traditional processions, but is difficult to learn. Therefore, it can be concluded that at that time, the brahmins had high intellectuals.

2. Political Aspects

During the reign of King Mulawarman, political stability was maintained. The political system becomes a force that has a great influence in leading an empire. It is also mentioned in the Yupa Inscription that King Mulawarman was said to be a powerful, strong and wise king.

The contents of the Yupa Inscription are clear: “The very noble Maharaja Kudungga has a son who is manshur, named Sang Aswawarman, he is like the Anshuman (Sun God) by growing a very noble family. The Aswawarman has three sons, just like the three sacred fires. The foremost of the three sons was Sang Mulawarman, a good, strong and wise king. The Mulawarman had done a feast with a lot of gold. It is because of this feast that this stone monument was erected by the Brahmins.” From this we can know the political power of King Mulawarman. So strong, that the people and the brahmin groups even erected monuments as proof that he was very powerful at that time.

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3. Economic Aspect

The location of the kingdom which was close to the Mahakam River made it easy for the people to grow crops. This is the main livelihood, while others are more likely to raise cattle and trade. This is evidenced by the existence of a written legacy which says that King Mulawarman once gave 20,000 cows to the Brahmins.

Apart from that, the Kingdom of Kutai also implemented a system for withdrawing gifts that had to be given to the king for outside traders who wanted to trade in the Kutai area. Gift giving is usually in the form of expensive items or tributes which are considered as taxes. Therefore, Kutai gets a lot of income from various sources.

4. Aspects of Religion

The life of the Kutai people is so thick with their belief in their ancestors. Evidenced by the existence of the Yupa Inscription which is shaped like a stone monument. If you look at its origins, the stone monuments themselves are the remains of their ancestors in the Megalithic Age.

Then there are menhirs and stepped stones, besides that in the Yupa inscription it mentions a sacred place of worship called Waprakeswara (place of worship of Lord Shiva). Therefore, it is believed that the King as a follower of the Shiva Hindu religion mixed with the Brahmin group. While the people are freed to embrace Hinduism in other streams.

This heyday did not last long, after King Mulawarman died, Kutai experienced many leadership changes. Until finally this kingdom collapsed, during the reign of King Dharma Setia. It has been reported that King Dharma Setia was killed by the ruler of the Kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara, namely Prince Anum Panji Mandapa in the 13th century AD.

It should be noted that the Kutai Kartanegara kingdom was different from the Kutai Kingdom led by Mulawarman. The Kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara is located in Tanjung Kute. Then this kingdom was mentioned in the Negarakertagama book in 1365.

Furthermore, in its development, the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom became an Islamic empire called the Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate. This was the beginning of the collapse of Kutai Mulawarman, also known as Kutai Martadipura. Furthermore, power was taken over by the Sultanate of Kutai Kertanegara.



Relics of the Kingdom of Kutai

The important and well-known remains of the Kutai Kingdom are seven Yupa inscriptions inscribed with pallawa letters in Sanskrit. This inscription tells many stories about the history of the Kutai royal family. Yupa itself is an auxiliary monument with a height of about 1 meter which is embedded in the ground, similar to a large pillar.

At the bottom of the surface, the Kutai Inscription is engraved as the oldest kingdom in Indonesia. It is believed that the ancient person’s intention in writing these sentences was to introduce his kingdom. In addition, Yupa itself has a function as an inscription, animal binding pole, and a symbol of the king’s greatness.

The contents of the seven Yupa which have been translated by experts are as follows:

  1. Contains the genealogy of kings who once ruled and had power in Kutai.
  2. The strategic location of the Kutai Kingdom is in the lower reaches of the Mahakam River, namely Muara Kaman.
  3. The spread of Hinduism during the reign of King Aswawarman.
  4. Aswawarman is said to be the founder of the kingdom with his title “Wangsekerta”.
  5. The territory of the written kingdom covered the entire area of ​​East Kalimantan.
  6. Tells about the safe and prosperous living conditions in Kutai.
  7. Tells the goodness and power of King Mulawarman who has donated 20,000 cows to the Brahmins.

The establishment of the Kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara

After the end of the reign of the Kingdom of Kutai Martadipura (Mulawarman), the Kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara was established. This kingdom stood in Tanjung Kue, East Kalimantan. However, at this time the location of the kingdom is known only left of shrubs and ancient tombs which are believed to be sacred tombs.

The kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara is also mentioned in the saga of the sand kings and the Pararaton book. In addition, the story of the people about this kingdom is set forth in the book Salasilah Kutai. Namely a book or book in Malay Arabic to tell the life of the kings at that time.

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The story of the Kingdom of Kutai begins with a chief of the sea-stitching tribe who has a problem because he has not been blessed with offspring after being married for a long time. Then he miraculously got a golden ball in which there was a boy. Then the child was named Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti.

At the same time, the head of the Hulu Dusun tribe also found a girl who was in the foam of the Mahakam River. This girl was then given the name Putri Karang Melenu or Putri Junjung Buih. The two children, namely Aji Batara and Putri Melenu, when they were adults, married and gave birth to a child.

This descendant was a boy known as Aji Paduka Nira. After his son was born, Aji Batara finally decided to travel far away to the land of Java, namely the Majapahit Kingdom. Unfortunately, because she was left alone for too long, Putri Melenu could not bear to live alone, so she threw herself into the Mahakam River.

After his return, Aji Batara was sad to learn that his wife had died. Finally he did the same thing by throwing himself into the Mahakam River like his wife. After his parents died, Aji Paduka Nira became the second legitimate king to lead the Kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara.

Aji Paduka Nira finally married a princess named Putri Paduka Suri. From this marriage, 7 children were born. That includes 5 boys and 2 girls.

It is known that his wife is a descendant of the Kutai Martadipura Kingdom (Mulawarman). He is the son of Raja Guna Perana Tungga, a descendant of the 20th generation. After his marriage, his name was known as Putri Paduka Suri, while his real name was Indra Perwati Dewi.

One of the goals of this marriage was to strengthen the political power of the kingdom. However, many conclude that this marriage was only to avoid disputes between the two kingdoms. After his leadership period was over, the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom was led by Maharaja Sultan.

To expand his knowledge and power, Maharaja Sultan went to Majapahit to gain knowledge. After returning from Majapahit, Maharja Sultan married Aji Paduka Sari and was blessed with a child named Mandarsyah. It didn’t take long for his father’s leadership to be handed over to his son, Raja Mandarsyah.

At the age of 4, his father died. Therefore, he was crowned king after coming of age as the sole legitimate heir. However, King Mandrasyah was not blessed with offspring during his reign. So he had to hand over his leadership to Tumenggung Baya-Baya, until the end of the leadership which kept changing with new successors.



The lineage of the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom

The Kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara is a kingdom that has a long lineage. This is also due to the development and transition period of changing beliefs, namely Hinduism to Islam. Therefore, this kingdom is also known as the sultanate. The following is the leadership pedigree of the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom:

  1. Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti 1300-1325 AD
  2. Aji Batara Agung Paduka Nira 1325-1360 AD
  3. Maharaja Sultan 1360-1420 AD
  4. King Mandarsyah 1420-1475 AD
  5. Prince Tumenggung Bayabaya 1475-1545 M
  6. King Makota 1454-1610 AD
  7. Aji Violated 1610-1635 AD
  8. Prince Sinum Panji Mendapa Ing Martadipura 1635-1650 AD
  9. Prince Dipati Agung Ing Martadipura 1650-1665 AD
  10. Prince Dipati Maja Kusuma Ing Martadipura 1665-1686 AD
  11. Aji Ragi Titled Great Queen 1686-1700 M
  12. Prince Dipati Tua Ing Martadipura 1700-1710 AD
  13. Prince Anum Panji Mendapa Ing Martadipura 1710-1735 AD
  14. Sultan Aji Muhammad Idris 1735-1778 AD
  15. Sultan Aji Muhammad Aliyeddin 1778-1780 AD
  16. Sultan Aji Muhammad Muslihuddin 1780-1816 AD
  17. Sultan Aji Muhammad Salehuddin 1816-1845 AD
  18. Trusteeship Council 1845-1850 A.D
  19. Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman 1850-1899 AD
  20. Sultan Aji Muhammad Alimuddin 1899-1910 AD
  21. Prince Mangkunegoro 1910-1920 M
  22. Sultan Aji Muhammad Parikesit 1920-1960 AD


Sinaumed’s, after reading the discussion above, of course we know more and more about the long history of the Kingdom of Kutai. As we have read before, Kutai is the oldest Hindu kingdom in Indonesia. It is located in East Kalimantan, close to the Mahakam River.

The Kutai kingdom was founded by Kudungga, a man who was originally considered the head of the tribe. Over time, the successor to the Kutai Kingdom, namely Kudungga’s son named Aswawarman, formed a kingdom system in Kutai. Until the heyday of Kutai led by King Mulawarman, one of Aswawarman’s children.

All the stories and legacies of Kutai are told in a stone monument called the Yupa Inscription. Finally Kutai Mulawarman collapsed at the hands of Kutai Kartanegara. So, Sinaumed’s, we have finished discussing the Kingdom of Kutai. sinaumedia will continue to maintain the spirit to become #Friends Without Borders by presenting the best books for all of you.

Author: Mutiani Eka Astutik

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