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Indonesia History - Kediri Kingdom (10451221 / 1042-1222)

In the region of Modjokuto, the regional capital of Kediri, in the fertile Brantas River basin, was the center of one of the early kingdoms. Modjokuto itself, northeast of Kediri, is at the edge of the basin in the foothills of the volcanic mountain area, where wet rice and dry rice villages are clustered about a small urban center.

The famous 'Calcutta Stone', dating from AD 1041, describes a terrible calamity which befell the East Javanese kingdom of Isana in the early years of the 11th century. A rebellion incited by a jealous vassal king resulted in the destruction of the capital of Watugaluh. The reigning king, Dharmawangsa, successor to Sri Makutawangsawardhana, was murdered along with his entire family. Only the young Airlangga, who was aged about 16 at the time, managed to escape unharmed.

Airlangga, as the closest surviving relative to Dharmawangsa, emerged to take over the throne in about 1020. The early part of his reign was spent putting down rebellions and securing the borders of his kingdom. Among his successful military campaigns were those against King Wishnuprabhawa of Wuratan, King Wijaya of Wengker, as well as the subjugation of a powerful queen in the south. In 1032 Airlangga attacked and defeated the ruler of Wurawari, who is believed to have been responsible for the earlier destruction of the old capital of Isana.

During the reign of King Erlangga both East Java and Bali enjoyed a lucrative trade with the surrounding islands, directly relating to a period of artistic advancement and mastery. Parts of the Mahabarata epic were translated and re-interpreted to conform closer to an East Javanese philosophy and view of life, and it was from this era that East Java inherited much of its treasure of temple art. By the end of Airlangga's reign, in the mid 11th century, the kingdom which he had established is believed to have stretched from Pasuruan in the east, to present day Madiun in the west.

Towards the end of his life, Airlangga was faced with the problem of succession. The rightful heir, the princess Sanggramawijaya, refused the throne, preferring to live her life as a hermit. She is traditionally associated with the legend of Dewi Kilisuci and the cave of Selomangleng at Kediri. Airlangga's realm was, as a result, eventually divided between two of his sons, giving rise to the separate kingdoms of Janggala and Kediri. It was Kediri, however, which was to become the dominant power until the rise of Singosari in the early 13th century.

The new state of Kediri, in eastern Java, became the center of Javanese culture for the next two centuries, spreading its influence to the eastern part of island South East Asia. The kingdom of Kediri, established in eastern Java in 1049, collected spices from tributaries located in southern Kalimantan and the Maluku Islands, famed in the West as the Spice Islands or Moluccas. Indian and Southeast Asian merchants among others then transported the spices to Mediterranean markets by way of the Indian Ocean. The spice trade was now becoming of increasing importance, as the demand by European countries for spices grew. (Before they learned to keep sheep and cattle alive in the winter, they had to eat salted meat, made palatable by the addition of spices.) One of the main sources was the Molucca Islands (or "Spice Islands") in Indonesia, and Kediri became a strong trading nation.

Based on inscription on a stone to the south of the main building, Palah Temple was probably built early in the 12th century AD by King Srengga of Kediri. Yet, Panataran Temple had always undergone ongoing development and renovation until, or even after, the ruling of King Hayam Wuruk. This assumption is founded on different dates inscribed on a number of places in this temple, which range between 1197 and 1454 AD. The entire area of Panataran, except the southeast yard, is divided by two-line walls that cross north to south into three sections.

King Jayabaya was an oracle-king who lived in the early history of Java. A famous prophecy of his which gave tremendous strength and faith during the brutal Japanese occupation of this century predicted that a white buffalo (the Dutch) will come to rule Java, followed by a yellow monkey (the Japanese). Jayabaya's prophecies have all been fulfilled without exception and are believed to be still valid.

Under Jayabhaya, East Java and beyond was re-united. According to Chinese reports, the king of Kediri in the 12th century was only second in wealth to the Caliph of Bagdad. He is said to have travelled around on an elephant, or in a carriage, surrounded by at least 500 guards. The people would all squat down and lower their heads when the king passed.

Javanese temple complexes of the 13th to 15th centuries were mainly built of brick, constructed especially between AD 1260 and AD 1450. Many of these are found along the Brantas River, which begins near Malang, then ?ows west past Blitar, then north through Kediri, then northeast to the sea at Surabaya. These four areas (Malang, Blitar, Kediii, and Surabaya) each contain concentrations of temples of this period. Malang and Kediri were capitals of rival kingdoms [known mainly from inscriptions and Chinese sources] which were unified in AD 1222 to form the kingdom of Singasari.

In the 13th century, the Kediri dynasty was overthrown by a revolution, and another kingdom arose in east Java. The last ruler of Kediri, Kertajaya, was defeated by Ken Angrok, the founder of the dynasty of Singosari in AD 1222. The domains of the new state expanded under the rule of its warrior-king Kartonagoro. He was killed by a prince of the previous Kediri dynasty, who then established the last great Hindu-Javanese kingdom, Majapahit.




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