Friday, January 29, 2010

Jambi sultanate(1460-1906)

Jambi Sultanate

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The river port of Jambi, the capital of the province of that name, is situated in the central region of Sumatra on the river Batanghari which flows east into the Berhala Straits. Jambi is positioned on the busy sea route between China and India , and the region played a major part in early maritime trade. The Tang Annals record that as early as the seventh century A.D. and again in the ninth century Jambi sent ambassadors to the court of Chinese emperor ( Wang Gungwu 1958;74). These earliest records of Jambi show it to have been the original capital of Melayu ( Malaya Kingdom ) The ancient Hindu - Buddhist Kingdom of Sriwijaya also had its capital in Jambi at about this time.

The polity of Dharmasraya was located close to the present village of Sungai Langsat on the shore of the Batang Hari in the Pulau Punjung district, Sawahlunto Sijunjung regency, West Sumatra. This is the place where the above mentioned Amoghapasa Lokesvara statue was found
bearing an inscription (in contemporary East Javanese script) that the statue was presented in 1286 by King Kertanegara to King Srimat Tribuanaraja Mauliwarmadewa in Suwarnabumi (Sumatra). Chinese sources report that three kings ruled San-fo-ch’i(Sriwijaya) in 1373,namely Palembang, Dharmasraya(Jambi), and King Adityavarman (Minangkabau). The last report that mentions this kingdom dates to 1377 when the son succeeded the maharaja of Dharmasraya. In the same year Majapahit attacked Jambi, which may be the reason why Dharmasraya is not mentioned any further.

Jambi history can be divided into three periods historically
(i) prior to 640 - Malayu sultanate/Dharmasraya Kingdom/Jambi Kingdom
(ii) 640- 1288 - Vassal state of Sri Vijaya
(ii) 1460-1906 = Jambi sultanate

Geographically, Jambi can be divided into two regions:
(i) Upstream interior(ulu) area - begin at Muara Tembesi, economically essential for the lowlands, supplying exports of forest products, peppers,gold and labor in 17th & 18th century. Forest products was collected in the jungle and transport by river to the market at the coastal port of Malacca Strait.
(ii) Downsteam coastal(ilir) area - transport the products for export to outside

The original Kubu population had withdrawn into the jungle,living nomad life; Ethnic Malays had settled at the bank of Batang Hari and Tembesi. Upper Jambi was inhabited by Batin. A migrant batin group lived at Rawas, border between Palembang and Jambi. Batin means supreme chiefs,and Penghulu, though denoted separate ethnic groups(Minangkabau), actually reflected hierarchical relationship.


Melayu Kingdom (also known as Malayu, Dharmasraya Kingdom or the Jambi Kingdom) was a classical Southeast Asian kingdom that existed between the 4th and the 13th century of the common era. It was established around present-day Jambi on Sumatra. The location is approximately 200km north of Palembang. Around 688 CE, emperor Jayanasa integrated Jambi into the Srivijaya

680s - Srivijaya

Jambi was a vassal state of Srivijaya.

Under the leadership of Jayanasa, the kingdom of Malayu became the first kingdom to be integrated into the Srivijayan Empire. This possibly occurred in the 680s. Malayu, also known as Jambi, was rich in gold and was held in high esteem. Srivijaya recognized that the submission of Malayu to them would increase their own prestige

Melayu Kingdom is expected to become the first kingdom established by the Minangkabau. Some historians say that the word itself means Minangkabau two rivers, referring to a kingdom that stands between two rivers, namely Malays kingdom located on the banks of the river Batang Hari. Based Inscription Kedukan Hill, the kingdom was destroyed by the troops of Srivijaya in the year 683.

Before what is now Indonesia was colonized by the Dutch East India Company, Jambi was the site of a well-established, powerful Srivijayan kingdom that engaged in trade throughout the Strait of Malacca and beyond. It succeeded Palembang to the south, which was a frequent military and economic rival, as the later capital of the ancient kingdom. The move to Jambi was partly induced by the historic 1025 raid by pirates from the Chola region of southern India that destroyed much of Palembang.

1079-1088: Centre of Srivijaya

Between 1079 and 1088, Chinese records show that Srivijaya sent ambassadors from Jambi and Palembang. In 1079 in particular, an ambassador from Jambi and Palembang each visited China. Jambi sent two more ambassadors to China in 1082 and 1088. This suggests that the centre of Srivijaya frequently shifted between the two major cities during that period. The Chola expedition as well as changing trade routes weakened Palembang, allowing Jambi to take the leadership of Srivijaya from the 11th century onward.

1288 - The demise of the kingdom
Almost a century after taking over Palembang's role as the center of an empire, Jambi and Srivijaya experienced decline in influence. This was caused by a change of policy by the Song dynasty to no longer accept ambassadors from Srivijaya and Jambi's inability to cope with changing scenario. Instead of the Jambi controlling the trade through tributary system, traders were allowed to trade directly instead. Mahesa/Kebo/Lembu Anabrang was a General of Singhasari, conquered Srivijaya and Melayu in 1288(at the same time Siam conquered Malay Peninsular, the two combined actions practically stripped all territories owned by Srivijaya)

1347 -1377 Malayu's last prince- Parameswara
In the year 1347, Gajah Mada the military leader of Majapahit installed Adityawarman as the king of Melayu to prevent the revival of Srivijaya. Adityawarman later conquered Tanah Datar to take control of the gold trade and founded a kingdom in Pagar Ruyung(Pagaruyung Kingdom)between 1347-1375. In the year 1377, the Majapahit defeated Palembang and ended effort to revive Srivijaya. The last prince of Srivijayan origin, Parameswara, fled to Temasik to seek refuge before moving farther north, where he founded what would become the Malacca Sultanate.

Note: Modern Pagaruyung is a village in Tanjung Emas subdistrict, Tanah Datar regency, located near the town of Batusangkar, Indonesia.

Majapahit Empire(1293-1520)

The Singhasari kingdom was succeed by Majapahit Empire in 1292.Negarakrtagama,which was completed in 1365 listed 24 territories in Malay land(Sumatra) which has been subject to control by Majapahit. This included Minangkabau, Dharmasraya , Jambi, Teba and Palembang. The first 4 region was probably the core region of Malayu kingdom, Palembang was too weak. When Pamelayu Expedition returned to Java in 1294, they bought with them 2 princess, Dara Pertak and Dara Jingga, the later become the mother of King Adityawarman who ruled the Malayu kingdom from the Minangkabau Highlands between 1347 -1376. King Adityawarman left more than 20 inscriptions, and majority are found in highlands of West Sumatra. This indicated that during the reign of King Adityawarman of Minangkabau area, with the capital at Suroaso, was the heartland of the Melayu Kingdom. It was reported by 1310, the capital had shifted to highland,before that for centuries Melayu's capital must have been at coastal area,most likely Muara Jambi, on the bank of Batang Hari, about 30 km to the northeast from today's Jambi city. Dharmasraya was located at the border between Minangkabou and Jambi, would had been better location, but in view of the threat from the Mongol, the shifting of capital to inland was done. The China reported in 1397, that Malay kingdom after 1377, was ruined country.

Jambi Sultanate

Islamization at 15th century, the spread of Islam by Indian traders who were spreading Persian sect belief. Islam clothed the princes of Jambi in legitimacy. The forefather of the sultan's family are from Turkey(Elsbeth Locher-Scholten,1994).

1460 - Jambi state found. Jambi got free after the fall of Majapahit at the beginning of 16th century. The Jambi line of sultans did not boast an old age tradition. It had not consolidated the position until 16th century. Its power grew in tandem with processes of state formation, Islamization, economic growth that took place at various parts of Indonesia Archipelago at the same period.

Jambi profited from the growth of trade and coming of trade partners in 16th century. From mid 1550 to 17th century, it did a roaring trade in peppers; initially with Portuguese,and in 1615 with English and Dutch East Indies Company. Chinese, Malay, Javanese and Makassarese were the traditional partners.

In 1616 - The capital of Jambi is the 2nd richest port after Acheh. It made 30-35% on the pepper trade.

By 1666, Jambi became a significant economic power and wanted independence from Johor. From 1666, a series of wars erupted between Johor and Jambi. Johor's capital, Batu Sawar, was sacked by Jambi.

1680 - Jambi lost its position as major pepper port on Sumatra east coast due to their conflict with Johor, followed by internal unrest. Problems started between the ulu and ilir,the sultan's families represented the ilir related to foreigners,come off worst. British closed its trading post at Jambi in 1679. VOC(Vereenigde Odst-Indische Compagnie)traded little with Jambi after 1680.

1688 - Dutch arrested the sultan when he arrived at trading post, he was sent to Batavia.These action had the effect of splitting Jambi into two sultanates, upstream & downstream.Gone were the prosperity, it did not return even after unification in 1720s.

The upland people planted rice and cotton to replace peppers, and gold become the main export. But the Mingnankabou gold diggers exported their wares only when the price is higher, not necessary from Jambi capital. The court did not obtain much revenue and had no authority over them. From 1700, Jambi was bankrupt, and the ruler even pledged the pusaka/regalia as collateral. Growing migration to upland areas by Minangkabou due to gold mining, and by the end of 18th century, the upland or ulu was completely controlled by the foreign Minangkabou. The ilir, has lost its power. By the end of 18th century, Jambi become the vassal state of Minangkabou prince of Pagaruyung, whose approval has to be obtained for Jambi choice of sultan.

In the early decades of the Dutch presence in the region, when the future colonizers were just one of several groups of traders competing with the British, Chinese, Arabs, and Malays, the Jambi sultanate profitably traded pepper with the Dutch. This relationship declined by about 1770, and the sultanate had little contact with the Dutch for about sixty years.

1768 - VOC closed its trading post. The British and Dutch turned to trading in west coast like Pedang and Bengkulu(British since 1658). These port attracted the growing export of peppers and coffee.

1811 - Civil war eroded the power of sultan.In 1811,the population of capital led by Arab merchants and suku Raja empat puluh(suku of 40 raja) rose against Sultan Mohildin. There were fighting in 1817 or 1818, between sultan and his cousin, Mohildin was defeated and could not settled in Jambi for some time, although the cousin was killed shortly after that.

1819 - New trading centre established by British in Singapore

1820- Sultan controlled upper reaches of Tembesi, and pangeran ratu(crown prince)control upper reaches of Batang Hari. But pangeran spent more time in Palembang than Batang Hari,his rule was ineffective.

1821-1829 - when Mohildin's son , Fakhruddin was pronounced as sultan, he appointed his brother as pangeran ratu,thus breaching his father's promise to appoint his cousin Raden Tabun as pangeran ratu. Raden Tabun was a wealthy merchant in North Jambi. The rivals married each others sisters, looking for political alliance, but the peace making process was spoiled by the previous wives.

1833 - minor conflicts with the Dutch, who were well established in Palembang, meant the Dutch increasingly felt the need to control the actions of Jambi. They coerced Sultan Fakharuddin to agree to greater Dutch presence in the region and control over trade, although the sultanate remained nominally independent.

Sultan Taha was dethroned by Dutch

1858- the Dutch, apparently concerned over the risk of competition for control from other foreign powers, invaded Jambi with a force from Batavia. They met little resistance, and Sultan Taha fled to the upriver, inland regions of Jambi. The Dutch installed a puppet ruler, Nazarudin, in the lower region, which included the capital city.

For the next forty years Taha maintained the upriver kingdom, and slowly reextended his influence over the lower regions through political agreements and marriage connections.

Jambi War 1901-1906(or Jambi Rebellion)

1901- Dutch Resident of Palembang administrated Jambi. Under the leadership of Sultan Taha, Jambi rebelled. A Dutch battalion was sent to Jambi to establish Dutch control.

In 1904, however, the Dutch were stronger and, as a part of a larger campaign to consolidate control over the entire archipelago, soldiers finally managed to capture and kill Taha. Guerrilla continued under his successor, Winto.

1906, the entire area was brought under direct colonial rule, rebels surrendered. Dutch abolished the sultanate.

Note: Sultan Taha become a national hero of modern Indonesia.

List of rulers

1460 Jambi state founded.First king Datuk Paduko berhalo.
1899 - 190. State suppressed by Netherlands colonial government.

1790 - 1812 Masud Badruddin bin Ahmad Sultan Ratu Seri Ingalaga
1812 - 1833 Mahmud Muhieddin bin Ahmad Sultan Agung Seri Ingalaga
1833 - 1841 Muhammad Fakhruddin bin Mahmud Sultan Keramat
1841 - 1855 Abdul Rahman Nazaruddin bin Mahmud
1855 - 1858 Taha Safiuddin bin Muhammad (1st time) (d. 1904)
1858 - 1881(lower region) Ahmad Nazaruddin bin Mahmud(puppet of Dutch)
1881 - 1885 Muhammad Muhieddin bin Abdul Rahman
1885 - 1899 Ahmad Zainul Abidin bin Muhammad

1858 - 1904 (upriver) Taha Safiuddin bin Muhammad (2nd time) (killed by Dutch in 1904)
1904 - 1906 Winto

Jambi Province

Jambi today is the name of a province of Indonesia located on the east coast of central Sumatra. The capital of the province is Jambi city. The population of the province is 2.742.196 (2007 BPS)

Jambi province is divided into nine regencies (kabupaten) and two cities (kota):

* Batang Hari
* Bungo
* Jambi (city)
* Kerinci
* Merangin
* Muaro Jambi
* Sarolangun
* Tanjung Jabung Timur
* Tanjung Jabung Barat
* Tebo
* Sungai Penuh (city)

Jambi city

Sultan Thaha Airport (IATA: DJB, ICAO: WIPA) is an airport in Jambi City in the Jambi province of Indonesia. Located in the Paalmerah suburb of Jambi. The airport is named after Sultan Thaha, the last sultan of Jambi.

Candi Muara Jambi

Candi Muara Jambi is a Buddhist temple complex, in Jambi province, Sumatra, Indonesia. The temple complex was built by the Melayu Kingdom. It is situated 26 kilometers east from the city of Jambi. Its surviving temples and other archaeological remains are estimated to date from the eleventh to thirteenth century AD. The archaeological site includes eight excavated temple sanctuaries and covers more than 1500 hectacres, much of it as yet unexcavated. It is one of the largest and best-preserved ancient temple complex in South East Asia.

The start of the rise of the kingdom of Melayu can be dated to 1025 when India's Chola kingdom attacked and destroyed the capital of the Sumatran maritime empire of Srivijaya. This allowed a number of smaller Sumatran polities to expand their political and economic influence. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it seems that from its river estuarine basis along the Batang Hari, Melayu became the dominant economic power in Sumatra. The substantial archaeological remains at Muara Jambi suggest that this may have been the site of the Melayu capital. The city's age of glory came to an end in 1278 when Java's Singhasari kingdom attacked the city, even succeeding in capturing members of the royal family. The site was rediscovered by Dutch explorers in the nineteenth century. It is now protected as a national monument.

Ancient manuscript 1345-1377 found
German philologist Uli Kozok rocked the world of ancient linguistics and history in Indonesia when he discovered an ancient Malay manuscript in Kerinci, Jambi, in 2002.A radiocarbon test in Wellington, England, determined that the manuscript was produced when Adityawarman ruled the Malay kingdom in Suruaso (Tanah Datar, West Sumatra) between 1345 and 1377. It was made in the Dharmasraya kingdom, which was then under the Malay kingdom. Therefore Kozok declared that the manuscript was the oldest Malay manuscript ever found.old Malay kingdom during the Adityawarman age had a law that was recorded in great detail. Never before had there been any research result stating that the old Malay kingdom had any written law.
It revealed the hierarchy of the Malay kingdom with Suruaso as its capital. It was led by Adityawarman as the king of kings. At the middle level, there was Dharmasraya led by the great king, and under Dharmasraya there was Kerinci led by the king."However, I am sure that Suruaso and Dharmasraya had their power over Kerinci only de jure (by law) and de facto (by fact), because Kerinci had its own sovereignty. It was more about economic relations because Kerinci produced gold and agricultural products," Kozok said.

Note: A photo of the ancient manuscripts can bee seen from

Is Jambi Malay the origin of Malay/Melayu?.....

Related articles/blogs/websites:

2. Uli Kozok: Discoverer of world's oldest Malay manuscript(2008), by Syofiardi Bachyul Jb, The Jakarta Post, Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia.
3. A 14th Century Malay Manuscript from Kerinci1, by Uli Kozok,
4. Tanjong Tanah Code Law - The oldest extant Malay Manuscripts(2004),by Uli Kozok, published by Cambridge Univerisity Press, UK
6. Sumatran sultanate and colonial state: Jambi and the rise of Dutch 1830-1907(1994), by Elsbeth Locher-Scholten, published in 2004 English edition by Cornell SEAP Publications, USA

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