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Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura is a sultanate located in area known as Tenggarong, East Kalimantan Province. It is estimated to stand in the 1300s AD (14th century) and has been removed in 1960. However, the Sultanate was back to exist in 2001 with appointing the King who holds the title of Sultan Haji Aji Muhammad Salehuddin II.

A.   Historical Interaction with Majapahit Kingdom

The history of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate can not be separated from the establishment of Kutai Kingdom. The existence of Kutai Kingdom has been known by discovering seven inscriptions (stone pillar) called yupa in East Kalimantan. All those yupa written in Sanskrit and used Pallawa letters that were commonly used in the 5th century AD in the commandment of King Mulawarman. Comparing between the letters in inscriptions of Kutai Kingdom with the Pallawa letters originating from India it predicted that Kutai Kingdom had established in 4-5th century AD.

Henceforth, scientific and comprehensive study that focused on the relationship between Kutai Kingdom and Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom - now known as Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate - has never been finished. There is missing link between the establishment of the kingdom which laid adjacent to each other and become hot topic among archaeologists and historians. However, both the archaeologists and historians agreed that there are many historical correlations between Kutai Kingdom and Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom.

Kutai kingdom is located at the side of Mahakam river, to be precisely at Muara Kaman, while the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom is on more to its estuary or known as Kutai Lama near Samarinda city. The location is chosen due pragmatic issues and logical choices. Firstly, Kutai Lama is an area which traversed by Mahakam River which functionally as a trade route. Secondly, the area of ​​Muara Kaman (Kutai Lama) is widely known for its fertile soil for agricultural aspect.

The period of the establishment of the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom is still being debated among archaeologists and historians. According to the historical records, it could be identified that the first reign of King that ruled Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom was between in 1300-1325 AD. Eiseuberger in Amir Hasan Kiai Bondan’s book, Suluh sejarah Kalimantan in Soetoen (1975), stated that the first King ruled Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom was between in 1380-1410 AD. On the other hand, its name was written in the book of Negarakretagama in 1365 AD. Finally, Ibn Batuta wrote on his notes that Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom has existed in 1304-1378. According to these records, the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom should have been founded in the 14th century AD.

The name “Kutai comes from the Chinese language "Kho Thay" which means a big country”. While “Kartanegara means "to have the rules". So the meaning of Kutai Kartanegara is "big country has the rules". At the first, the name of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate is Kutai Kartanegara kingdom. The name of Kutai Kartanegara kingdom was used to differentiate from Kutai Kingdom. The founder of Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom was Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti, a young man from the area which known as Jaitan Layar.

Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti had been ruled until 1320 AD. After his death, the King of Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom was Aji Batara Agung Paduka Nira (1320-1370 AD). He had 7 children, 5 male and 2 female. Of the five male, only two of them who seem most prominent, Maharaja Sakti (the eldest boy) and Maharaja Sultan (the fifth boy).

After Aji Batara Agung Paduka Nira died, the reign of Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom was not handed over his eldest son, Maharaja Sakti, but handed over Maharaja Sultan. The decision of appointing Maharaja Sultan as the King of Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom was a collective decision of seven brothers. On the other hand, all his brothers were still in charge as the ministers of kingdom.

Maharaja Sultan had ruled the kingdom in 1370-1420 AD. In this reign, he attempted to make a close relationship with Majapahit Kingdom in Java. Maharaja Sultan and Maharaja Sakti made their visit to Majapahit Kingdom to learn about its customs and procedures of the system of government.

Majapahit Kingdom which was ruled by Hayam Wuruk welcomed the arrival of Maharaja Sultan and Maharaja Sakti. The two sons of Borneo were treated like guests and been taught about the customs and procedures to manage Royal government. When learning Majapahit Kingdom was finished, the two siblings were returned to Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom to apply their knowledge from Majapahit Kingdom.

The interaction between both kingdoms were led to a relationship which affected to each other. On one side, Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom had the Hinduism effect from Majapahit kingdom. On the other hand, the Majapahit Kingdom got its own position in Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom as the capital, and Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom is a conquered country. To emphasize this recognition, Majapahit kingdom put a governor as a representation of the recognition of their power over Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom. Therefore, the Hindu religion influenced the environment and became the official religion in Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom.

B.   The presence of Islamic religion in Kutai kingdom

In the reign of Aji Raja Mahkota (1525-600 AD), Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom had an arrival by two Islamic scholars from Makassar, Tuan Ri Bandang and Tunggang Pararang. As it was told in Salasilah Kutai , the intention of their arrival was to spread Islamic religion by inviting Aji Raja Mahkota to embrace Islam. At first their invitation was rejected by Aji Raja Mahkota under statement that the official religion in Kutai Kartanegara is Hindu.

Because the diplomatic way by inviting Aji Raja Mahkota to embrace Islam has been rejected, Tuan Ri Bandang finally decided to go back to Makassar and leave Tunggang Pararang in the Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom alone. As the final way, Tunggang Pararang offered a challenge to Aji Raja Mahkota to complain if Aji Raja Mahkota lose, then he had to embrace Islam. However, if he won then Tunggang Pararang would devote his life to his Kingdom.

Aji Raja Mahkota approved the challenge. Finally, there was held supernatural power combat between Aji King Crown and Tunggang Pararang. As the result, Aji Raja Mahkota was defeated. In addition, for the consequence of the defeat, he eventually converted to Islam. Since he converted and became Muslim, the influences which affected through interaction with Majapahit Kingdom was fade and changed slowly with the new influences of Islamic Religion. Most of people who still choosed to embrace Hinduism were eliminated and gradually moved to the suburbs of the kingdom area.

C.   From Kingdom to Sultanate

The development of Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom located near to Kutai Kingdom and much older than Kutai Kartanegara Kingdom in Muara Kaman did not initially cause significant friction. However, when the kingdom was controlled by Aji Pangeran Sinom Panji Mendapa ing Martadipura (1605-1635 AD), there was a major war between these two kingdoms. At the end of the war,  these two kingdoms merged into one kingdom with the name Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Kingdom. The first King of this new kingdom is adalah Aji Pangeran Sinom Panji Mendapa ing Martadipura (1605-1635 AD). 

In the reign of Aji Pangeran Sinom Panji Mendapa ing Martadipura, the influence of Islam which had been signed since the reign of Aji Raja Mahkota (1525-1600 AD) has deep roots. Islam was very influential in the government system of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura kingdom. The indication of Islamic influence reflected by creating the Constitution known as "Panji Salaten" which consists of 39 chapters and also the rules which called "Undang-Undang Beraja Nanti" which contains 164 articles. Both of the laws contain rules which was based on Islamic law.

The first King who used the title "sultan" is Aji Sultan Muhammad Idris. He was the son in law of Sultan Wajo La Madukelleng, a nobleman from Bugis in South Sulawesi. At that time, the people of Bugis were fighting against VOC (Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie), Sultan Wajo La Madukelleng were asking the help from Aji Sultan Muhammad Idris and it was granted. Some contingent by Aji Sultan Muhammad Idris was departed to South Sulawesi to help Sultan Wajo La Madukelleng. In that effort, Aji Sultan Muhammad Idris died.

During the leaving of Aji Sultan Muhammad Idris to South Sulawesi, the throne of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate was held by the trusteeship council. But when he was died, there was a sudden seizure of power between two princes of Aji Sultan Muhammad Idris, Prince Aji Imbut and Prince Aji Kado.

In the early struggle for the throne, Prince Aji Imbut was pressured by Prince Aji Kado and ran to Sulawesi, to the land of his grandfather, Sultan Wajo La Madukelleng. Prince Aji Imbut gathered strength to attack Prince Aji Kado which now occupy the capital of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate located in Pemarangan, because the capital of the Sultanate has been moved from Kutai Lama to Pemarangan since 1732.

Prince Aji Imbut finally attacked Prince Aji Kado in Pemarangan. Supported by the people of Wajo and Bugis, Prince Aji Kado has been defeated and the throne of the Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate was occupied by Prince Aji Imbut with the title Aji Marhum Muhammad Muslihudin (1739-1782 AD). While Prince Aji Kado was sentenced to death and buried at Jembayan island.

D.  Colonial Influence in Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate

Around the 16th century, Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate has been conquered by Banjar Sultanate who led by Prince Samudera (1526-1545 AD). Its status as the region under Banjar Sultanate delivered Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate into Vassal region of Dutch East India Company colonies. The transition of power occurred in 1787 after Sultan Tamjidillah II signed the transition of power over the regions conquered by Banjar Sultanate as the compensation for the Dutch as they their help to fight Prince Amir.

The content of the agreement between Sultan Tamjidillah II with Dutch Government were, "The Sultan of Banjar kingdom to hand over all the land to the Dutch Government, among them will come back as a loan. What remains to Dutch Government, are: Bumbu Land, Pagatan, Pasir, Kutai, Berau, Bulongan, and Kotawaringin". Through this agreement, Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate became one of areas conquered by Netherlands since 1787 in a de facto . The transition power under Banjar Sultanate to Netherlands was happened when Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Kingdom under the reign of Aji Sultan Muhammad Salehudin (1782-1845 AD).

The transition over Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate from the Banjar Sultanate to the Government of Netherlands, is basically still de facto (not de jure) considering the sultan of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate has never involved into direct sign of the transition. Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate only accepted the transition of authority as Banjar Sultanate conquered consequence.

In 1825, as the effort of G. Muller, resident of Banjarmasin, Sultan Aji Muhammad Salehudin was officially signed an agreement with the Government of Netherlands (1782-1845 AD). The content of the agreement stated that the Sultan of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate recognizes Government of Netherlands as his lordship, the sultan should hand over his court affairs, custom office, tax from Chinese, gold mining tax, and others. As the compensation, the Government of Netherlands gives 8000 gulden per year to the sultan. Since the signing of this agreement, the Government of Netherlands put a civiel gezaghebber (civil authority), H. van Dewall, in Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate.

In 1871 the central government of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate moved from Pemarangan to Tenggarong when it was ruled by Aji Sultan Muhammad Muslihuddin. The reason of this moving was the security threats, as the pirates from Sulu began to disrupt the territorial waters of Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate.

Dutch influence lasted until Japanese came in 1942. During the Japanese occupation there were not significant changes in the Sultanate government system. Japan still maintained the form of self-government of Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate in which it was ruled by Aji Sultan Muhammad Parikesit (1920-1960), the Sultan chosed to cooperate with Japanese. This was based on Japan's brutal acts by killing around 300 people of Pontianak Sultanate family as they did not cooperate with the Japanese.

E.   Abolition of Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate

End of Japanese colonial rule was marked by the Proclamation of Independence of Republic of Indonesia on August 17, 1945. In 1947, Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate whose status of autonomous regions inserted into the territory of the Federation of East Kalimantan, together with Bulungan, Sambaliung, Mount Tabur, and Pasir by forming Sultanate Council. On December 27, 1949, the Sultanate Council incorporated into the Republic of Indonesia. Then in 1953, the Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate converted into Kutai Special District through the Emergency Law No. 3 of 1953 become autonomous district level.

Under Law no. 27 of 1959 on "Establishment of Level II Areas of Borneo", the Special Region of Kutai was divided into 3 Kutai regencies, namely:

  1. Regional Level II Kutai with the capital of Tenggarong
  2. Municipality of Balikpapan with the capital of Balikpapan
  3. Municipality of Samarinda with the capital of Samarinda.

On January 20, 1960, APT Pranoto as the Governor of East Kalimantan, on behalf of the Minister of Home Affairs of Republic of Indonesia inaugurated three person as the head of the Regional Level II, one of them is Raden Aji Padmo as the District Head of Level II Kutai. One day later, January 21, 1960, at the Hall of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate in Tenggarong, held Special Session of the Provincial House of Representatives of Kutai Special Region. The main purpose of this event is transferring the government from the Head Chief of the Special Region of Kutai, Sultan Aji Muhammad Parikesit to Raden Aji Padmo as the District Head of Level II Kutai, Captain Soedjono (Mayor of Samarinda), and AR Sayid Mohammad (Mayor of Balikpapan). With the transfer of government means the Government of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate under Sultan Aji Muhammad Parikesit was ended.

F.   The Awakening Era

In 1999, the regent of Kutai Kartanegara, Syaukani Hasan Rais made an effort to revive the Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate. This effort was pursued with the reason to promote tourism as well as to keep the cultural heritage. This effort was succeed in 2001, due the Government of Republic of Indonesia whose President Abdurrahman Wahid allowed and recognized re-establishment of Kutai Kartanegara Sultanate with the appointment of the Prince, H. Aji Pangeran Praboe Anoem Soerya Adiningrat. Later on September 22, 2001, H. Aji Pangeran Praboe Anoem Soerya Adiningrat was appointed as the sultan of Kutai Kartanegara ing Martadipura Sultanate with the title of Sultan Haji Aji Muhammad Salehuddin II.

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