Kediri (historical kingdom)

Kediri (historical kingdom)

Kediri was an Indianized kingdom based in East Java from 1042 to around 1222. Despite the seeming lack of archaeological remains, the age of Kediri was one which saw much development in field of classical literature. [cite book | last =Bullough | first =Nigel| title =Historic East Java: Remains in Stone| consulting editor: Mujiyono PH| publisher =ADLine Communications| date =Indonesian 50th independence day commemorative edition - 1995 | location =Jakarta| Printed in Singapore| pages =page 19 ] . Several notable classic literature such as Mpu Sedah's "Kakawin Bharatayuddha", Mpu Panuluh's "Gatotkacasraya", and Mpu Dharmaja's "Smaradahana" were blossoming in this era. Marking Kediri as the era of Javanese literature renaissance, era of high development of culture and refinement.


In 1045 Airlangga divided his kingdom, Kahuripan into two kingdoms, Janggala (based on contemporary Malang) and Kediri, abdicates in favour of his sons to live the life of an ascetic. He died four years later. For 50 years after the resignation of Airlangga, the fate of two kingdoms were unknown. Later only Kediri who leave historical records, while Janggala seems non existence or probably already absorbed by Kediri.

Reign of Kediri kings

The first king of Kediri that leave historical records was Çri Jayawarşa Digjaya Çāstaprabhu (reign 1104 - 1115). In his inscription dated 1104, just like Airlangga, he claim himself as the incarnation or avatar of Vishnu.

The second king was Kameçwara (reign 1115 - 1130). His formal stylized name was "Çri Maharaja Rake Sirikan çri Kameçwara Sakalabhuwanatustikarana Sarwaniwaryyawiryya Parakrama Digjayottunggadewa". "Lanchana" (royal seal) of his reign was a skull with crescentmoon called "chandrakapala", the symbol of Shiva. During his reign Mpu Dharmaja has written the book of "Smaradahana". In this book the king was adored as the incarnation of Kamajaya, the god of love, and his capital city Dahana (later called Daha) was the most beautiful city admired throughout the known world. In this book, Kameçwara's wife, queen Çri Kirana the princess of Janggala was celebrated as the woman with extraordinary beauty, the incarnation of Kamaratih, goddess of love and passion. The couple Kameçwara and Kirana later is well known as the main character in the tales of Panji in Javanese literature, then spread throughout Southeast Asia as far as Siam.

The successor of Kameçwara is Jayabhaya (reign 1130 - 1160). His formal stylized name was "Çri Maharaja çri Dharmmeçwara Madhusudanawataranindita Suhrtsingha Parakrama Digjayottunggadewa". "Lanchana" (royal seal) of his reign was Narasingha. The name "Jayabhaya" was immortalized in mpu Sedah's "Kakawin Bharatayuddha", a Javanese version of the "Mahabharata" written in 1157. This Kakawin later being perfected by his brother mpu Panuluh. Mpu Panuluh was also the author of the book of "Hariwangsa" and "Gatotkacasraya". Jayabhaya's reign was considered as the golden age of dn|Javanese|Old Javanese] literature. The "Prelambang Joyoboyo", a prophetic book ascribed to Jayabhaya, is well known among Javanese as the book that predicted certain event that took place in the future of Java (and in wider sense, the future of Indonesian Archipelago). The popular prophecy was that the archipelago would be ruled by a white race for a long time, then a yellow race for a short time, then be glorious again. The Jayabhaya prophecies also mention the Ratu Adil, the "Just Prince", a recurring popular figure in Javanese folklore. During the reign, Ternate was a vassal state of Kediri.

Jayabhaya's successor was Sarwweçwara (reign 1160 - 1170), followed by Aryyeçwara (reign 1170 - 1180) who used Ganesha as his royal "Lanchana". The next monarch was king Gandra, his formal stylized name was "Çri maharaja çri Kroncarryadipa Handabhuwanapalaka Parakramanindita Digjayottunggadewanama çri Gandra". An inscription from his reign (dated 1181) bears interesting fact. In this inscription we witnessed the beginning of the adoption of animal names as the name of important officials, such as "Kbo Salawah", "Menjangan Puguh", "Lembu Agra", "Gajah Kuning", "Macan Putih", etc. Among these high ranked official mentioned in the inscription, there's a tittle "Senapati Sarwwajala", or laksmana, a title reserved for navy general, thus this gave the suggestion that Kediri owned navy fleet.

From 1190 to 1200 king Çrngga was the monarch of Kediri, with official name "Çri maharaja çri Sarwweçwara Triwikramawataranindita Çrngga lancana Digwijayottunggadewa". He uses cangkha (winged shell) on crescent moon as royal seal.

The last king of Kediri was Kertajaya (reign 1200 - 1222). His royal seal was Garudamukha, the same as Airlangga's. On 1222 he was forced to surrender his throne to Ken Arok and lose the sovereignty of his kingdom to the new kingdom of Singhasari. This was the result of his defeat on the battle of Ganter. This event marked the end of Kediri era, and the beginning of Singhasari era.

Srivijaya and Kediri

In 1068, Virarajendra, the Chola king of Coromandel or Tamil Nadu, conquered Kedah from Srivijaya. Virarajendra's records from his seventh year mention that he conquered Kadaram from Srivijaya on behalf of a king who had come to ask for help and protection and handed it over to him. The possible date for this occurrence is 1068 C.E. There is not any more information to be gleaned from this inscription. As yet we have no knowledge of the Srivijaya king who asked for help and the details of this naval campaign. The Cholas continued a series of raids and conquests throughout what is now Indonesia and Malaysia for the next 20 years. Although the Chola invasion was ultimately unsuccessful, it gravely weakened the Srivijayan hegemony and enabled the formation of regional kingdoms, like Kediri, based on agriculture rather than trade. And later Kediri even manage to control spice trade routes to eastern spice islands (Maluku).

According to a Chinese source in the book of "Chu-fan-chi" written around 1200, Chou-Ju-Kua describe that in Southeast Asia archipelago there was two most powerful and richest kingdoms; Srivijaya and Java (Kediri). In Java he founds that the people adhere two kinds of religions; buddhism and the religions of brahmins (hinduism). The people of Java are brave and short tempered, dare to put a fight. Their favourite pastimes was cockfighting and pigfighting. The curency was made from the mixture of copper, silver, and tin.

The book of "Chu-fan-chi" mentioned that Java was ruled by a maharaja, that rules several colonies: Pai-hua-yuan (Pacitan), Ma-tung (Medang), Ta-pen (Tumapel), Hi-ning (Dieng), Jung-ya-lu (Hujung Galuh), Tung-ki (Jenggi, west Papua), Ta-kang (Sumba), Huang-ma-chu (Southwest Papua), Ma-li (Bali), Kulun (Gurun, identified as Gorong or Sorong in Papua or an island in Nusa Tenggara), Tan-jung-wu-lo (Tanjungpura in Borneo), Ti-wu (Timor), Pingya-i (Banggai in Sulawesi), and Wu-nu-ku (Maluku). [cite book | author= Drs. R. Soekmono,| title= "Pengantar Sejarah Kebudayaan Indonesia 2", 2nd ed. | publisher = Penerbit Kanisius | date= 1973, 5th reprint edition in 1988 | location =Yogyakarta| pages =page 60 ] .

About Srivijaya, Chou-Ju-Kua reported that Kien-pi (Kampe, in northern sumatra) with armed forced rebellion has liberated themselves from Srivijaya, thus has coronated their own king. The same fate goes to some Srivijaya's colonies at malay peninsula that liberated themselves from Srivijaya domination. However Srivijaya still the mightiest and wealthiest state in western part of archipelago. Srivijaya's colony are: Pong-fong (Pahang), Tong-ya-nong (Trengganu), Ling-ya-ssi-kia (Lengkasuka), Kilan-tan (Kelantan), Fo-lo-an (?), Ji-lo-t'ing (Jelutong), Ts'ien-mai (?), Pa-t'a (Batak), Tan-ma-ling (Tambralingga, Ligor), Kia-lo-hi (Grahi, northern part of Malay peninsula), Pa-lin-fong (Palembang), Sin-t'o (Sunda), Lan-wu-li (Lamuri at Aceh), Si-lan (Sailan?). According to this source in early 13th century Srivijaya still ruled Sumatra, Malay peninsula, and western Java (Sunda). About Sunda the book describe it further that the port of Sunda (Sunda Kalapa) is really good and strategic, pepper from Sunda is among the best quality. People work on agriculture and their house are build on wooden piles (rumah panggung). However the country was invested by robbers and thieves. In sum, this Chinese source from early 13th century suggested that the Indonesian archipelago was ruled by two great kingdom, western part was under Srivijaya's rule, while eastern part was under Kediri domination.


Celebrated as the era of blossomming literature and culture, Kediri gave Javanese culture significant contributions in the field of Javanese classic literature. Next to literary works that has been mentioned earlier, there's also other important literary works, such as the book of "Lubdhaka" and "Wrtasancaya" by Mpu Tanakung, "Krisnayana" written by Mpu Triguna, and "Sumanasantaka" by Mpu Monaguna.

The book of "Ling-wai-tai-ta" composed by Chou K'u-fei in 1178 gave the glimpse of everyday life of Kediri that can not be found from any other sources about the government and the people of Kediri. [cite book | author= Drs. R. Soekmono,| title= "Pengantar Sejarah Kebudayaan Indonesia 2", 2nd ed. | publisher = Penerbit Kanisius | date= 1973, 5th reprint edition in 1988 | location =Yogyakarta| pages =page 59 ] . According to this Chinese source, people wear clothes covered down to their legs, their hairstyle are drop and released loosely. Their houses were clean and well arranged with floors made from green or yellow cut stones. Agriculture, animal farming, and trading flourished and gained full attention from government. He reported that silkworm farms to produce silk and cotton clothes production are already adopted by Javanese. There's no physical punishment (jail or torture) for criminals. The people who committed unlawful act was forced to pay fines in gold, except for thieves and robbers who straightly punished with death sentence. In marital customs, the bride's family received some amount of gold as the bride price from the groom's family. Currency of Kediri was native silver coins. Instead of developing medical treatment, people who were sick was praying for health to gods or Buddha.

On the fifth month of the year the water festival was celebrated, people travel in boats on the river to celebrate the festival. On the 10th months, the annual festival was held at the mountain area. People gather there to have fun and perform musical festival with instruments such as flutes, drums, and wooden xylophone (ancient form of gamelan).

Still according to Chinese account, the King was wearing silk garments, wearing leather shoes and ornately golden jewelry. The king's hairstyle was arranged up high. Everyday he received state officials who were managing his kingdom. The shape of king's throne was square. After the audiency, the states official will bow three times to the king. If the king travel outside the palace, he ride an elephant, accompanied by 500 to 700 soldiers and officials, while his subjects, the people of Kediri prostrate along the sideways until the king passed the road.


Initially Kediri economy was mainly rely on agriculture, especially rice cultivation. Daha, the capital city of Kediri (suggested at the same site as modern Kediri) is located inland, near the fertile Brantas river valley. From the predecessor kingdom of Airlangga's Kahuripan, Kediri inherited irrigation systems, including Wringin Sapta dam. According to Chinese source the main occupation of Kediri people is agriculture (rice cultivation), animal farming (cattle, boar, poultry), and trading. Kediri economy was partly monetized, and silver coins currency of Kediri was issued by the royal court.

On later period, Kediri economy grow to also rely on trading aspect, especially spice trade. Kediri manage to have navy fleet unit, thus gave them opportunity to control spice trade routes to eastern islands. Kediri collected spices from tributaries in southern Kalimantan and the Maluku Islands, known to the West as the Spice Islands or Moluccas. Indian and Southeast Asian merchants among others then transported the spices to Mediterranean and Chinese markets by way of the Spice Route that linked a chain of ports from the Indian Ocean to southern China.

Rulers of Kediri

* Unknown ruler 1042 - 1104 (the era of twin kingdoms: Janggala and Kediri)
* Çri Jayawarşa Digjaya Çāstaprabhu 1104 - 1115
* Kameçwara 1115 - 1130
* Jayabhaya 1130 - 1160
* Sarwweçwara 1160 - 1170
* Aryyeçwara 1170 - 1180
* Gandra 1180 - 1190
* Çrngga 1190 - 1200
* Kertajaya 1200 - 1222



* Soekmono, R, Drs., "Pengantar Sejarah Kebudayaan Indonesia 2", 2nd ed. Penerbit Kanisius, Yogyakarta, 1973, 5th reprint edition in 1988

Further reading

* Saidihardjo, Dr. M. Pd., A.M, Sardiman, Drs., "", Tiga Serangkai, Solo, 1987, 4th reprint edition in 1990


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