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Royal Household of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate

Royal Household of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate

Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate contains a large family that absolutely applied a procedure and structured system to manage it. The main family of Royal household in the Sunanate is led by the king of Surakarta, His Majesty Pakubuwono, who acts as the head of the family. As his companions are the wives consist of the Queen and the Concubines in whom sometimes neither one of them becomes the Queen or the Concubines. The other companions are the sons and daughters whom could be amounted to tens of children born from the entire King's wives as the core Royal family in Palace.

The coordination for handling the daily matters of Royal household placed some number departments, which appointed under His Majesty Pakubuwono and charged with some duties and responsibilities to organize the Royal household management within Palace. Some of the most responsible positions in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate include Sentana Dalem, Pepatih Dalem, and Abdi Dalem.

Sentana Dalem consisting of those who have relation with the King, as mentioned above are the wives, children, and descendants of the King including grandchildren (cucu), great-grandsons (cicit) or great-grandparent (buyut), great-great-grandparent (canggah), and great-great-great-grandparent (wareng). The descendants of the King before wareng, who are known as udeg-udeg, gantung siwur, and so on are not included in Sentana Dalem, but into ordinary people or Kawula Dalem. In addition, the relatives and brothers (big and little) of the King with their respective spouses and children are also included in Sentana Dalem. For those who are included in Sentana Dalem are entitled Royal nobility.

Pepatih Dalem are the Royal officials who in charge as the administrative representative in Sunanate. Their positions are synchronized with the position of Prime Minister due to responsible in running the administration of Royal Kingdom. By the Dutch Indies colonial government, Dalem Pepatih were referred to the term Rijksbestuuder, which means, "To rule the country" or mangreh Nagari. Pepatih Dalem has an authority to make the laws assisted by Royal officials who are under the order of Pepatih Dalem.

Previously, during the reign of the Sultanate of Islamic Mataram as the ancestor of the four remaining Kingdoms so far, including Kasunanan Hadiningrat Surakarta, in fact there were two departmental governor (pepatih), which are Pepatih Njaba and Pepatih Njero or later known as Pepatih Dalem. Pepatih Njaba was escorted outside the Royal capital or coordinating the conquered areas, while Pepatih Dalem was in charge of handling the administration inside the Royal capital. However, in later development, the department of Pepatih Njaba was removed and the only remaining was Pepatih Dalem.

Besides Dalem Sentana and Pepatih Dalem, there is group that has more central role in managing the system of Royal household known as Abdi Dalem. They are who devoted their self to the King and charged to protect and treat all Royal areas, both the physical and cultural wealth in the Palace, as well as Royal housework.

Not everyone can become Abdi Dalem as there are several requirements to become an Abdi Dalem, i.e. well mannered, responsible, and would devote himself to the court solely as a form of devotion to the King voluntarily. They are never complained despite they earn very small wages as they work in order to find the blessing and a dedication to the King.

The main role of Abdi Dalem in charge of implementing the royal system as well as developing the royal cultures and traditions is got an appreciation by His Majesty Pakubuwono. His Majesty stands on their lives even not in the form of material, because Abdi Dalem is more likely oriented on his devotion to the King. Abdi Dalem actually feels proud of their devotion to the Palace.

The men of Abdi Dalem are included in the privileged class or aristocracy, but still not nobles enough. They have some special privileges, such as the right to sit in administrative positions, entitled to guarantees of life, entitled to respect from the social groups under it, and so on. And the last class is common people or called Warongs Dalem, which is the lowest level in the Royal strata of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate, and they often get ordered from the royal nobles. Abdi Dalem is divided into two groups, ie, Abdi Dalem Istana (Palace) and Abdi Dalem Nagari (Kingdom). The first are the royal officials who working within the Palace, while the second are those who working outside the Palace or outside royal capital.

The total of Abdi Dalem who serves in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate could reach tens of thousand of people who have their job to maintain the royal household. Javaansche Almanac 1900 mentions that there are at least 20 sections or departments filled by Abdi Dalem who working within the Palace. The section of Suronoto, for example, consists of Abdi Dalem in charge of royal scholars, while the one who in charge taking care of the religious matters are classified into the section of Pamutihan. Other section is Bedhaya consisting of royal dancers entertaining the great guests who came to visit or just for the entertainment of royal family.

Other sections of Abdi Dalem in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate are royal officials, royal chefs, royal medics, tax collector, tomb keeper, horses and pets care, horseshoe makers, gamelan players, lighting section, heritages protectors, the committees of royal traditions and ceremonies, guardian of the gate, court staff, the executor of punishment, reception staff, royal artisan, royal carpenters, and much more.

There is also Abdi Dalem in charge of managing the running of the administration in the society under the territory of Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate or classified as Abdi Dalem Nagari. They are in charge of administrative matters and divided into several departments and structures to their respective regional authorities. Concerning who include on this group are Jajar, Bekel Enom, Bekel Tuwa, Lurah, Wedana, Riyo Bupati, Bupati, Bupati Enom, Bupati Kliwon, Bupati Nayaka, and Kanjeng Pangeran Harya. Apart from the local community, Abdi Dalem in Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate is also come from outside the Palace, such as comes from other nations, outside of Java, Dutch, Arabian, or Chinese. 

Photo source:

Surakarta Hadiningrat Sunanate's collections in Marleen Heins, Edition, 2004, Karaton Surakarta.Surakarta: Yayasan Pawiyatan Kabudayan Karaton Surakarta

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Comment Form

Naima Khoiru Nisa March 21, 2013 10:54

Boleh saya tanya, saya sangat penasaran dengan kain warna kuning dengan kelir merah yang dikalungkan di leher abdi dalem, mohon informasi itu namanya apa ya?


Admin KerajaanNusantara.com March 21, 2013 10:54

Kain yang dipakai oleh para abdi dalem berbentuk selendang kecil atau selempang berwarna merah, bergaris kuning, yang melingkar di leher, dan menyilang di dada disebut kain samir.