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Brief History of Jambi

The first source mentioned about Malay was from Nan-hai Chi-kuei Nei-fa Chuan and Ta-T’ang Hsi-yu Ch’iu-fa Kao-seng Chuan by I Tsing (or I Ching) in 671, but the oldest story about Malay was found on T'ang-Hui-Yao by Wang P'u's record describing about envoy from Malay to China in 645. Since Srivijaya put its hegemony in Sumatera, no records about any envoy sent by Malay. Jambi as main part of Malay culture have been experiencing big changes from time to time, regional dominions changes affected the way of life, religion and economic motives found their way to create new dynasty, new power, and new interest but all on the same land, the land where Malay cultures started to spread like we see today.

There are four episodes of Jambi history which each episode has its typical characteristic. The first episode describes Jambi since its prehistory line to be as part of (blurry) Srivijaya's long history, the next one is episode of Jambi as part of Majapahit Empire and central of Ancient Malay Kingdom (Dharmasraya), the third episode is about Jambi as sultanate, and the last episode is about Jambi as part of Dutch occupation until declared as a province of Republic of Indonesia or we may say Jambi in present modern Indonesia.

Episode 1: Part of (Blurry) Srivijaya Empire Period, 600's-1088.
Srivijaya empire was known as maritime kingdom that once ruled a huge archipelago areas in southeast Asia, from south Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaya Peninsula, Sumatera, Java, coastal of Kalimantan (Borneo), Moluccas, Sulu, Visayas (south modern The Philippines), and Madagascar in Africa. Known and stated by many scholars, Srivijaya ruled southeast Asia for centuries but precise location about their capital has been still in debates and what people know was Srivijaya once had a capital in Sumatera but it is so blurry about how Srivijaya developed and conquered their initial region in Sumatera. Other fact that most scholars know was about their influence to region of southeast Asia since years of 600 AD both for trading and spreading (Buddha) religion and then continued to their Java based era by Syailendra dynasty before central of kingdom moved back again to Sumatera.

The popular theory says that first capital or heartland of Srivijaya Kingdom (before moved to Java in Syailendra dynasty) perhaps was located near to modern Palembang City, the capital of Sumatera Selatan Province, Indonesia. But there is another theory says that it could be Muara Jambi Regency or Tebo Regency in Jambi Province, which those areas are along riverside of Batanghari River, was the capital of Srivijaya. Proponents of this theory claimed that many archeological findings (like Muara Jambi Temple, the largest Buddhist temple complex in southeast Asia, and Karang Berahi Inscription in Merangin Regency) drive to alleged scenarios while Palembang perhaps was only a big and main port (city) that acts as trading lines hub to other regions and kingdoms for the empire like Kadaram (Kedah of modern Malaysia) in Malay Peninsula and Indrapura in Mekong riverside of Vietnam. If the second opinion applied to be accepted as official (and formal) history line then we may take Jambi was once part of what we know as the most powerful kingdom in southeast Asia, at least, Jambi was a vassal kingdom that had big influence to Srivijaya Empire which had contributed in form of what Malay culture brought in the future, especially how Buddha religion flourished in Sumatera and Java which from its influence masterpieces like Temple of Borobudur and Temple of Kalasan built, and what we can see today that Malay language have been being used as lingua franca in southeast Asia.

The decline of Srivijaya was started since Rajendra Chola I from ancient Coromandel Kingdom, southern India, made raid campaign to Malay Peninsula and Sumatera (1017 and 1025) in attempt to conquer and dominate the region, even though the raids failed but this condition weakened Srivijaya and caused satellite kingdoms try to extricate or even liberate themselves from influence of Srivijaya, including Jambi that metamorphosed to be part of Ancient Malay Kingdom with Dharmasraya as capital. Srivijaya as kingdom still existed until early 13th century and really ended since last prince of Srivijaya origin, Sri Maharaja Sang Utama Parameswara Batara Sri Tribuwana (Sang Nila Utama), built a small colony in Tumasik (or Temasek, ancient name for modern Singapore) in 1324 and a raid by Majapahit then pushed the dynasty to move to Malay Peninsula, later Sang Nila Utama's grandson, Paduka Sri Maharaja Parameswara, founded Malacca Sultanate in 1402.

A note in Srivijaya era is about interfaith relationships that were developed fairly by its rulers. Srivijaya was a Buddhist kingdom with Hindu and Islam could live together in harmony. In 718, there was a correspondence between king of Srivijaya, Maharaja Sri Indravarman and ruler of Arabia, Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz, that contains a king's request about bringing in Islamic scholar to Srivijaya to lecture him about Islam and its code of law. This correspondence has marked in history line of Indonesia that Islam entered to the archipelago was not since Samudera Pasai Kingdom rules Malacca (as popular storyline taught in Indonesia schools) but it was not far since the prophet Muhammad SAW formed foundation of Islamic culture successfully in Arabia.

Episode 2: Central of Ancient Malay Kingdom and Vassal of Majapahit Empire, 1088-1347.
Fading of Srivijaya's influence in the region emerged new power from vassal kingdoms. After Palembang experienced hard (failure) attacks by ancient Coromandel Kingdom (King Rajendra Chola I), control of Srivijaya moved to Jambi. In Java, Kediri played more role to dominate Java region, in the future, this kingdom expanded its domination in Java as Singhasari Kingdom which later, after an internal royal rebellion by Raden Wijaya, a new kingdom, Majapahit, founded from ruins of Singhasari, designated the second glorious era of ancient Indonesia.

Since control of Sumatera moved from Palembang to Jambi, these two major cities sent ambassadors to China represented as Srivijaya Kingdom. China sources recorded that Palembang sent their ambassador to China in 1079 while Jambi sent their ambassador to China 3 times in 1079, 1082, and 1088. This fact shows us that Jambi had role more than as Srivijaya's vassal, or it could be Jambi was also central of Srivijaya while Palembang was a major city that administering an international port.

In the other mainland, Java, there was Kediri (1042-1222), developed into more dominant power in the region, later led by Ken Arok, Rajasa Dynasty's ancestor, Kediri was seized and Singhasari was founded. This Singhasari Kingdom only lasted for decades (1222-1292) as a rebellion triggered by royal family ended on new power for new kingdom, Majapahit. The fifth of Singhasari's king, Kertanegara perhaps was the only king of Singhasari that expand the kingdom's territory significantly and he dared to oppose Mongol Empire's king (Mongol Empire was called as Yuan Dynasty in China, a super power imperium at that time), Kublai Khan, by refusing to pay the tributes. He was almost success for what he had done except he never expected that a revolt had been being prepared for him and his throne by former Kediri's royal family, Jaya Kwatang, a vassal king who was ruling Daha (another name of Kediri). On that revolt, Jaya Kwatang was assisted by Arya Wiraraja, a regent from Sumenep on the island of Madura who had different view in political with his king. Kertanegara was successfully killed and the rest of royal family were in exile. Kertanegara's son in law, Raden Wijaya (Nararya Sanggramawijaya) was approached by Arya Wiraraja to surrender for Jaya Kwatang's amnesty and Jaya Kwatang gave his forgiveness by giving Raden Wijaya a plot of land formed a forest in northern Mount of Arjuna (modern Jawa Timur Province) which one day because he found many maja fruits that were tasted bitter then he named his land as Majapahit, a name belong to an empire that later replaced role of Srivijaya in southeast Asia.

Raden Wijaya along with Ranggalawe, Sora, and Nambi (he is son of Arya Wiraraja, the regent of Madura who finally switched side from Jaya Kwatang to Raden Wijaya) made retaliation by using Mongol's force who came to north coast Java (Tuban) in early 1293. This Mongol's force was actually in duty to punish Kertanegara for refusing paying tribute to Yuan Dynasty (Kublai Khan). The legions had never known about death of Kertanegara, and Raden Wijaya saw a chance to use their power by building alliance with to seize Singhasari's Jaya Kwatang. March 1293, assisted by Raden Wijaya, the alliance attacked Kediri and success to execute Jaya Kwatang as the result. By toppling Jaya Kwatang, Raden Wijaya took over the throne and moved the central of kingdom to his land, Majapahit. Later, Raden Wijaya moved to drive out the Mongol's force by launching sudden attack to them back to the coast. Confused and tired made Mongol's troops were not ready for a betrayal from former alliance, they were surrounded easily by Raden Wijaya's force. On May 31, 1293, Raden Wijaya succeed to drive Mongol back to their homeland and on November 12, 1293 he throned himself as king of kings to start great Majapahit Empire with new name, Kertajasa Jayawardhana, and for next 200 years Majapahit was the strongest power in southeast Asia.

When Singhasari's king Kertanegara was expanding influence of his kingdom in effort to build hegemony in archipelagos, he sent many forces and expeditions. In 1275, Kertanegara sent an expedition named Pamalayu Expedition to Sumatera led by his general Kebo Anabrang (also called as Lembu Anabrang or Mahisa Anabrang) with goals to have recognition and alliance from former Srivijaya's vassal kingdom Dharmasraya (located in headwaters of Batanghari River) ruled by Mauli Dynasty. This act was prepared to give more pressing to weakened Srivijaya. In 1293, as alliance approval from Dharmasraya to Singhasari, Pamalayu Expedition went home to Java with 2 princess, Dara Petak and Dara Jingga, who were brought for political marriage to Singhasari. But since Singhasari was seized by Raden Wijaya then Dara Petak was married by Raden Wijaya as concubine while Dara Jingga was married by a highest nobility knight. Later, marriage of Raden Wijaya and Dara Petak gave a royal birth, Jayanegara who became the second king of Majapahit, this happened since other wives of Raden Wijaya could not give any princes to the throne. Need to underline here that Pamalayu Expedition did not show us an expedition of war nor an expedition to conquer Dharmasraya since we know that Kertanegara was in effort to dominate the archipelagos but he had found that Mongol's Kublai Khan, the strongest superpower in the world at that time, wanted him to submit to them. Instead of conquering Dharmasraya, Kertanegara preferred to have supports and alliance from the kingdom, it would let him play safety towards his obsession in building hegemony in the archipelagos.

From storyline above, we can see here that Malay had influence on continuity of Majapahit's throne that led by a king, even later Majapahit had a queen for its throne because the real king was still a child. This continuity was very important as connection to golden age of Majapahit, the first is about a king for the empire. The second is about alleged theory about Gajah Mada origin which one of them says he was from Sumatera. This theory explains us about Pamalayu Expedition's homecoming with 2 princess which there was royal family's guard from Dharmasraya themselves to secure the princesses and to strengthen the troops, and allegedly young Gajah Mada was among them. Later, after the royal marriage, Majapahit had special royal guards called Bhayangkara that had been formed by former those Dharmasraya troops, that is why Gajah Mada was always on first circle of royal family, included when Jayanegara was ruling the empire. Gajah Mada also played a big part on mystery of Jayanegara's death. And the third is about what Gajah Mada had done to unite the archipelagos to Majapahit Empire.

Since Majapahit with its strongest vassal in Sumatera, Dharmasraya, built alliance, that was about time to give hits to Srivijaya. And by 1293 Majapahit conquered Srivijaya completely. By 1347, a descendant of Dara Jingga, Prince Adityawarman was sit as ruler of Sumatera by Majapahit's queen, Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi. Later, Adityawarman, a prince of Majapahit who has Srivijaya, Malay (Dharmasraya), and Majapahit ancestors, moved his capital from Dharmasraya to Suruaso (now in Tanah Datar Regency, Sumatera Barat) describing himself as Srimat Sri Udayadityawarman Pratapaparakrama Rajendra Mauli Warmadewa the ruler of Sumatera and he also changed the name of kingdom to be Malayapura.

Episode 3: Jambi Sultanate Period, ????-1904.
Decline of Majapahit came along with the arrival of Islam in Java. In Sumatera, although Islam entered to the island since early 8 AD but the first sultanate in Sumatera was founded in 840. Pereulak Sultanate (840-1292) in Aceh was a small kingdom founded by an Arabic descendant who married local woman. Later, by a political marriage this sultanate was united to bigger kingdom, Samudera Pasai Sultanate (1267-1521) which after seized by Portuguese in 1521, their territories were taken by Aceh Sultanate in 1524. Domestic archipelagos trading lines helped Islam from Sumatera spread to the southeast Asia archipelagos, reached Celebes (Sulawesi), Papua and Moluccas (Maluku), Ternate, Borneo (Kalimantan), The Philippines, Java, Bali, and Nusa Tenggara brought by traders from Arabia, China, Gujarat (India), and Malayan from Sumatera or Peninsula.

In Jambi, former ancient Malay Kingdom (Dharmasraya) liberated their vassal status to be Malayapura in 1347 and later it was converted to Islamic state as Paguruyung Sultanate. As Dharmasraya's capital was moved to further inland, Suruaso, influence of Dharmasraya to region of modern Jambi, Riau, and Sumatera Utara had been getting weakened since then. Later, abandoned Dharmasraya power in Jambi let native settlers (Bathin Tribe, Anak Dalam Tribe, Kerinciness, and former Srivijaya's nobles who had fled to Jambi from Coromandel attacks and formed their own social system) built their own tribal and ethnic influence and domination although not powerful enough to find an independent kingdom or to have power to find a small kingdom that lasted for decades only. This situation had impact to inter-community relationship among them as well as how they write down their lineage and history line as we know that their tendencies to insert and mix more myths and facts from other communities to their folktales made what should be historical facts changed to a (cloudly) legend.

Jambi Sultanate was built by a descendant of a Malacca's Persian origin preacher, Sayid Ahmad Tajjudin aka Datuk Paduka Berhala aka Ahmad Salim aka Ahmad Qadir aka Datuk Putih, born circa 1465 in Pasai, Aceh, and grew up in Malacca. Another name of Sayid Ahmad Tajjudin was Panglima Alang Daik Hitam, a military appellation given by Malacca Sultanate. He was son of Shaikh Sultan Arifin Saiyid Ismail from Baghdad and had lineage to Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani, a famous Islamic preacher. Shaikh Sultan Arifin Saiyid Ismail married a daughter of Malacca Sultanate's Islamic preacher, Maulana Ishaq, named Syarifah Siti Maimunah when he was staying in Malacca to preach Islam. When he was 20, Sayid Ahmad Tajjudin was given task of preaching in southern Sumatera along with his cousin. Since fall of Malacca to Portuguese in 1511, the seized sultanate caused most of royal family and Islamic preachers to flee to safer territories to northern Peninsula or Johor and Sumatera. In 1513, Sayid Ahmad Tajjudin was also displaced from Malacca, he and his cousin sailed to southern Sumatera but their ship wrecked near an isle whose pagan inhabitants (today it is called Berhala Island). He used the isle to continue his preaching duty, and he also spreading Islam to mainland, he finally implemented Islamic community successfully in area that today belongs to modern eastern Jambi (Tanjung Jabung Barat Regency and Tanjung Jabung Timur Regency). Later, this community grew and extended its influence to the area although it was not declared to be any independent or vassal kingdom but basics of sultanate had been implemented to the community, we may say that the origin of Jambi Sultanate had found its way at that time.

There is a few versions about who, where, and how princess or sultanah (a lady sultan) from Pagaruyung Sultanate met with Paduka Berhala including about their marriage but whatever it is, this sultanah came from and part of Paguruyung Sultanate. During Paduka Berhala's work to preach, Malayapura had changed their state and name to Paguruyung Sultanate and being ruled by a sultanah, named Selaras Pinang Masak (another folklore version says that Pinang Masak could be just a regent for Jambi area). Sultanah had heard what Sayid Ahmad Tajjudin or Datuk Paduka Berhala had been done about preaching and spreading Islam to people in eastern coast and wanted him to meet her as royal guest and later the sultanah fallen in love to and married him. The marriage gave them 4 children, Orang Kayo Pingai, Orang Kayo Pedataran, Orang Kayo Hitam (Sayid Ahmad Khamil), and a daughter, Orang Kayo Gemuk. Among them, Orang Kayo Hitam was the most famous descendant of Paduka Berhala who eventually married his distant cousin from his mother side, a royal Pagaruyung family (daughter of Datuk Merah Mato, a Turkish origin) named Mayang Mangurai. Later, by a traditional ceremony, Orang Kayo Hitam opened a new land situated in Batanghari riverside between Pagaruyung Sultanate and eastern coast of modern Jambi to run his own kingdom named Tanah Pilih (or Tanah Terpilih, means 'the chosen land') and his time to the throne marked the beginning of Jambi Sultanate. About how name of Jambi came from, a folklore says that when Orang Kayo Hitam was building his Tanah Pilih he had found so many areca nut or betel nut trees there which in local language was called 'Jambe'. This version actually is still in disputes on how a Javanese language taken to name a thing where Malay language had been being used widely, 'Pinang' for Malayan should be more suitable for betel nut than 'Jambe' a word picked from Javanese, beside at the same time term of 'Jambi' had been known since Srivijaya era.

Most important events on Jambi Sultanate timeline, firstly was about its rivalry with Johor Riau Sultanate since mid of 16th century on getting domination to Kuala Tungkal Port (today is capital of Tanjung Jabung Barat Regency). And the second was about Dutch's arrival in early 17th century until defeat of Jambi Sultanate in 1904. These both events had connected to each other since Johor Riau Sultanate were asked by VOC to repel Portuguese from Malacca and on contrary Johor and VOC had same interest to capture Kuala Tungkal from Jambi and Portuguese influence (Dipati Anom title Sultan Agung Abdul Jalil of Jambi Sultanate, 1643-1665, had given trading concession to VOC in Kuala Tungkal). Jambi-Johor rivalry ended when Jambi Sultanate ruined Johor Sultanate on April 4, 1673 and made Johor Sultanate kept move their capital from place to place.

It is hard to trace timeline of Jambi Sultanate began, in popular (and official) source, Jambi Sultanate founded was coincided with Orang Kayo Hitam sit to the throne in Tanah Pilih, recorded as 1500-1515. But if this timeline applied then the relationship between Paduka Berhala to Orang Kayo Hitam would be missed because Portuguese seized Malacca in 1511 and next 2 years Paduka Berhala just fled to southern Sumatera. Another confused folklore is about Paduka Berhala who is often referred to Orang Kayo Hitam itself, it means most people of Jambi thought that another name of Paduka Berhala is Orang Kayo Hitam, but there are 2 tombs discovered for each figure (or one of them was fake) and there would be no father-son relationship could be seen here beside things related to Selaras Pinang Masak and Mayang Mangurai as wives to each persona would be broken. On contrary, another storyline tells us that before Orang Kayo Hitam had his right to rule the sultanate there was Orang Kayo Pingai, his elder brother, inherited the throne. However, Sultanate of Jambi had been standing there until April 27, 1904 when Dutch colonial set Jambi Sultanate to their territory following death of its last sultan, Thaha Saifuddin in a battle. Almost 400 years of sultanate and more than 900 years of ancient Malay (Jambi Srivijaya, Jambi Dharmasraya or Jambi Majapahit, and Jambi Paguruyung) put Jambi as one of the oldest kingdom in history of Indonesia.

Episode 4: From Dutch Colonial to Province of Republic of Indonesia, 1904-1958.
From sultanate, the romance of Jambi had been continuing to another form, Dutch colonial period, since Nederlandsch Indie decreed Jambi as its residency. This Dutch colonial was lasted for about 36 years only when March 9, 1942, Japanese took over the control of colony in most of southeast Asia, including Indonesia. The defeat of Japan from Ally gave Indonesia a vacuum of colonial power that changed into independence efforts by Indonesian Nationalist which ended as declaration of independence on August 17, 1945 and Jambi administered as residency (led by Segaf Yahya) of Sumatera Province (led by Teuku Muhammad Hasan) as well.

The first arrival of Dutch in Jambi was in 1615 by VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or Dutch East India Company) a fusion of six small Dutch companies that had supports from Dutch government to monopolize on the trade in far east. The VOC requested to build a trading post in Muara Kumpeh to Sultan Abdul Kohar (1615-1643). Next request of VOC to sultan was land area and permission to grow pumpkins which eventually VOC cultivated other plants that never granted by sultan. Conflicts had been occurred since VOC grabbed lands belonged to local and native inhabitants. Contravention were more widened, triggered resentment on people and caused closure of Dutch trading post in 1625.

At time of next sultan, Abdul Jalil (ruled in 1945-1965), rivalry of Jambi-Johor was increasingly peaked and Dutch pressure on Jambi to have trading monopoly had started, these both conditions forced Jambi Sultanate to suffer setbacks resulted the crown prince, Pangeran Ratu Raden Penulis, signed a trading cooperation agreement to grant VOC have trading activities in Jambi. Later, the prince became Sultan Abdul Mahyi Sri Ingolongo, ruled 1665-1690 which in this period an incident had killed a head of VOC trading post that led VOC to arrest sultan and exiled him to Banda unilaterally. What VOC had done to sultan caused anger on sultanate people and the war resistance against the Dutch (VOC and next Dutch colonial) had began which ended in 1904 when the last sultan, Thaha Syaifuddin (ruled 1856-1904) killed in a battle, since then Jambi was added to Dutch's colonial map. But the Dutch never really captured Jambi until 1925, resistance war had been continuing led by killed sultan's generals like Raden Mattaher, Depati Parbo, Haji Umar, Raden Pamuk, Raden Perang, and Wahid.

As independence of Republic of Indonesia declared then Jambi was administered as regency of Sumatera Province. On April 18, 1946, a committee named Komite Nasional Indonesia Sumatera (Indonesia National Committee for Sumatera) convened in Bukittinggi (a city in modern Sumatera Barat) and decided to divide Sumatera Province into three provinces, Sumatera Utara, Sumatera Tengah, and Sumatera Selatan which Jambi mapped into Sumatera Tengah. In April 19, 1954, demand of Jambi as province submitted to Muhammad Hatta, vice president of Republic Indonesia, by youth coalition of Jambi people. From April 30 to May 3, 1954, a congress held by youth coalition brought in an envoy to central government with purpose of establishment of Jambi Province talks. On June 14-18, 1955, a congress run by all components of Jambi people obtained an united organization to contend Jambi as province named Badan Kongres Rakyat Djambi (Jambi People Congress Agency). This BKRD on January 6, 1957 had a plenum to announce Jambi withdrawal from Sumatera Tengah to find their own province as Province of Jambi, this date later set as the day of birth of Jambi Province. And finally to facilitate and to legitimate Jambi as province, Soekarno, president of Republic of Indonesia, issued several regulations relating to establishment of Province of Jambi officially. And the last act, Undang-undang Nomor 6 Tahun 1958 (Act. No. 6 of 1958) legalized Jambi as one of province in Indonesia.

Compiled from any sources.