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Kutai Martadipura Kingdom

Updated on April 25, 2013

Kutai Yupa inscription

A Yupa with inscription in the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta
A Yupa with inscription in the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta | Source


Kutai Martadipura Kingdom is the first Hindu kingdom in Indonesia ( Nusantara ) which has the oldest historical evidence. It was established at around the 4th century. The kingdom is located in Muara Kaman, East Kalimantan, precisely in the Mahakam river. Kutai name given by the experts based on the name of the place where they discover the inscription which indicates the existence of the kingdom. There is no inscription that clearly mention the name of this kingdom and indeed very little information that can be obtained.

In this Article, i will try to cover any information about this kingdom. Here's the point that i will try to cover :

  1. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Location
  2. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Source of Information
  3. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Politic
  4. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Religious / Believe System
  5. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Socio-Cultural Life
  6. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Economic
  7. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom a brief history
  8. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom list of king
  9. Kutai Martadipura as the first Kingdom in Indonesia

Note : Please don't confuse Kutai Martadipura with Kutai Kartanegara, Kutai Kartanegara is another kingdom that established in the end of 13-th century.

1. Location of Kutai Martadipura Kingdom

Kutai kingdom was established in the 5th century AD in Muara Kaman, East Borneo, Indonesia. The exact location is the Valley of Mahakam River, Kutai name taken from the name of the area where the discovery of Kutai inscriptions. Form of the inscriptions in the form of seven large stone monument called Yupa. This is the seventh Yupa is the source of Kutai history.

Kutai Martadipura Kingdom

Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Area
Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Area | Source

Muara Kaman / Kaman Estuary

Muara Kaman / Kaman Estuary, the predicted location where Kutai Mardipura Kingdom located.
Muara Kaman / Kaman Estuary, the predicted location where Kutai Mardipura Kingdom located. | Source

2. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Source of Information

The only evidence that can be used to uncover the history of the Kutai kingdom as the oldest Hindu kingdoms in Indonesia, is the discovery of 7 Yupa inscriptions. It is predicted to originate from around 4th century. Yupa is a monument and a memorial stone where sacrificial animals in Hindu sacrificial ceremonies were put. Yupa inscription lettered in Pallava, Sanskrit.

The Kutai Yupa Inscription mentions of Kutai Martadipura genealogy of kings with it's greatest kings is Mulawarman. The sound of the inscription is as follows.

"The Maharaja Kudungga very noble, has an outstanding son, Aswawarman is his name, which as Ansuman (sun god) fosters a very noble family. The Aswawarman have three sons, such as three fire (sacred). The famous from the three son is Mulawarman, the civilized king, good, strong, and powerful. The Mulawarman have held receptions which call very much gold. For this festivity, a memorial stone pillar then founded by the brahmin. "

Yupa Inscription of Kutai Martadipura

Two from Total seven Yupa Inscription that use as Kutai Martadipura Kingdom source of history
Two from Total seven Yupa Inscription that use as Kutai Martadipura Kingdom source of history | Source

3. Politic of Kutai Martadipura Kingdom

Indonesia's involvement with the outside world began in the first century AD. They have held communication, trade, and allegedly also married to Indian people. Marriage led the Indians to settled in the territory of Indonesia and start a change.

Indian cultural influences especially Hindu culture influences led Kutai that originally shaped as tribal communities changed it's system of government. Head of government which was originally a chieftain turned into a king. Evidence of Indian influence in the Kutai community is the use of indian name on one of their leaders in one of the Kutai Yupa inscriptions.

At one of the inscriptions, it is mentioned that Kutai Martadipura ruler is Mulawarman, Aswawarman children, grandchildren of Kudungga.

Based on the analysis of Prof. Dr. Purbacaraka, Kudungga is the original name of Indonesia. Thus, at the time that Kudungga ruled, the cultural influence of India is not yet reach them. However, at the time Aswawarman began to reign, it seems Hindu influence began to come. Proven at one of the inscriptions found, Aswawarman called Wangsakarta which is Sanskrit from India. Wangsakarta means forming a family. Also the name "Warman" is derived from Sanskrit. The word is usually used for last names in southern Indian population.


Another Kutai Yupa Inscription
Another Kutai Yupa Inscription | Source

4. Kutai Martadipura Kingdom Religious / Believe System

Based on his pedigree, it is certain that the Kudungga not yet follow Hinduism and still retain the original culture of Indonesia. Aswawarman on the hand, have come to know Hindu, it can be seen from his name. He is regarded as Wamsakarta (founder of the royal family). Hindu culture was obtained from India. At Aswawarman time, was known a ceremony called Vratyastoma, that is a ceremonial ablution (granting caste) which held every time someone entered Hinduism in Indonesia. The importance of the influence of Brahmin in Kutai shows the domination of Shiva religion influence, which also appears in sacrifice ceremony.

5. Socio-Cultural Life of Kutai Martadipura Kingdom

Kutai community began to recognize text and culture from the outside due to the influence of Hindu religion. Thus, the Indonesian nation Prehistoric era has ended and began to enter the era of history because Kutai Martadipura as a part of Indonesia has come to know writing.

Evidence supporting this statement is the discovery of 7 pieces of Yupa that use Pallawa Sanskrit letters. Inscription carved in Yupa is writing commonly used by the Brahmans in South India.

Relics inscription of the kingdom of Kutai, written in a Pallawa letter and in Sanskrit shown that there are some people who live in Kutai that known or live Indian civilization. Sanskrit is not a language of the common people, but it is commonly used by the brahmins. There are possibility that Sanskrit also used by the brahmins in Kutai. Thus, the Brahmins may also have a specific communities in Kutai.

Other community groups that arise due to the influence of Indian culture is a group of knights. In Kutai, the Knight ( Kshatriyas) group consists of Mulawarman relatives or limited to persons who are closely related to the king. People outside the group of Brahmins and Kshatriyas are still alive in the atmosphere and traditions of native ancestors community.

6. Economic Life of Kutai Martadipura Kingdom

Not much information is obtained about the economic activities in the Kingdom of Kutai Martadipura. However, it is estimated that their live from agricultural produce and livestock. Agricultural possibilities of life are based on the location of the Kingdom of Kutai Martadipura which located in the interior of Borneo and near the Mahakam River. Farm life is also a a main way of their lives, bases on how often the king held a dedication ceremony. For example, the king had presented 20,000 cows to the brahmins. In the Kingdom of Kutai Martadipura, it is often performed Asmawedha ( Asvamedha ) ceremonies or release horse ( horse sacrifice ) ceremonies to determine the boundaries of the empire.

Asvamedha Ceremonies

illustration of Asvamedha Ceremonies in Ramayana by Sahib Din, 1652. Kausalya is depicted slaying the horse (left) and lying beside it (right).
illustration of Asvamedha Ceremonies in Ramayana by Sahib Din, 1652. Kausalya is depicted slaying the horse (left) and lying beside it (right). | Source

7. A Brief History of Kutai Martadipura Kingdom

Kundungga is a dignitary from the Kingdom of Champa (Cambodia) who came to Indonesia. Kundungga itself allegedly has not embraced Buddhism and has not affected by India / Hindu culture.

Kundungga then had a son named Aswawarman. Aswawarman also known as the founder of Kutai Martadipura dynasty. Because of it, he was given the title of Wangsakerta, that means forming a family. Aswawarman have 3 sons, and one of them is Mulawarman. Aswawarman and Mulawarman name have very thick influence of Sanskrit when viewed from how to write it.

From Yupa, it is known that in the reign of Mulawarman, Kutai kingdom Martadipura experiencing the golden age. He ruled over almost the entire region of East Kalimantan. Kutai Martadipura folk live well and prosper.

After Mulawarman, Kutai Martadipura kingdom gone from history as if it was doesn't exist anymore if it viewed by the outside world. This happened because the lack of communication with foreign parties, which make very few of people heard it's name.

Kingdom of Kutai Martadipura ended when King Kutai Martadipura named Maharaja Setia Dharma was killed in battle at the hands of the 13th, Kutai Kartanegara King, Aji Pangeran Anum Panji Mendapa. Keep in mind that this Kutai (Kutai Martadipura) is different from the Kutai Kartanegara kingdom which had a capital at Kutai Lama (Tanjung Kute).

This Kutai Kartanegara kingdom, in 1365, which is the kutai kingdom that mentioned in the Javanese literature Negarakertagama. Kutai Kartanegara further become into the Islamic empire. Since in 1735 the original Kutai royal title prince turned into a king title of Sultan (Sultan Aji Muhammad Idris) and until now called Kutai Sultanate.

Map of Kutai Kertanegara Kingdom territory

Map of Kutai Kertanegara Kingdom territory between 1300-1960 AD.
Map of Kutai Kertanegara Kingdom territory between 1300-1960 AD. | Source

8. List of Kutai Martadipura King

Here is the list of Maharaja that lead Kutai Martadipura Kingdom

  1. Maharaja Kudungga, gelar anumerta Dewawarman ( Founder )
  2. Maharaja Aswawarman ( Kundungga Son )
  3. Maharaja Mulawarman ( Aswawarman Son )
  4. Maharaja Marawijaya Warman
  5. Maharaja Gajayana Warman
  6. Maharaja Tungga Warman
  7. Maharaja Jayanaga Warman
  8. Maharaja Nalasinga Warman
  9. Maharaja Nala Parana Tungga
  10. Maharaja Gadingga Warman Dewa
  11. Maharaja Indra Warman Dewa
  12. Maharaja Sangga Warman Dewa
  13. Maharaja Candrawarman
  14. Maharaja Sri Langka Dewa
  15. Maharaja Guna Parana Dewa
  16. Maharaja Wijaya Warman
  17. Maharaja Sri Aji Dewa
  18. Maharaja Mulia Putera
  19. Maharaja Nala Pandita
  20. Maharaja Indra Paruta Dewa
  21. Maharaja Dharma Setia

9. Kutai Martadipura as the first Kingdom in Indonesia

Kutai Martadipura kingdom is known as the first Kingdom in Indonesia. It was decide like that because Kutai Martadipura has the oldest historical evidence.

There are actually some other opinion / rumor about other kingdom in Indonesia that are much older then Kutai Martadipura. Some of them are Kandis Kingdom ( BC ), Salakanagara Kingdom ( 130 - 362 AD ), Melayu Tua Jambi ( 2nd Century ) and Sekala brak Kingdom ( 3rd century ). But as far as now, those claim about other Kingdom being older than kutai martadipura actually without historical proof.It only based on story, folklore and assumptions.

So with that being said, i think Kutai Martadipura deserve the right to be called the first Kingdom in Indonesia.There might be a possibility of other kingdom older than Kutai Martadipura exist ( which might never make any inscription ), but we can never know for sure.

Ok, that's all

Ok that's all information About Kutai Martadipura Kingdom that i can cover. Hope it could help you in any way. I will try to talk about the Tarumanegara Kingdom in the next article. I cannot promise when it will launch, but i'm positive that it could be finish less than two week.


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      4 years ago

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      5 years ago from Indonesia

      for those who want to know about Tarumanegara Kingdom, please click this link


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