History prabu Siliwangi

History prabu Siliwangi



Siliwangi is a legendary great king of the Sunda kingdom in West Java. The Sunda kingdom flourished between 669 to 1759 CE. He brought the kingdom greatness and prosperity. Some accounts of his life are taken from the Pantun Sunda oral tradition that describe his reign as a glorious era for the Sundanese people. Traditions associated him with the tiger and sometimes the black and white Javan leopard.

The character of King Siliwangi is semi-mythology since in Sundanese oral tradition simply identify the great king of Sunda as “King Siliwangi” regardless the era or historical periods. As the result the tale of this king spanned greatly from the mythical era of Sundanese gods to the coming of Islam to the land of Sunda and the fall of the kingdom.

Some historians suggest that this legendary King can be identified with an actual historical figure: Sri Baduga Maharaja (reigned 1482 to 1521). This great king complete stylized name is “Sri Baduga Maharaja Ratu Haji di Pakwan Pajajaran Sri Sang Ratu Dewata”, as mentioned in Batutulis inscription, he is the son of Rahyang Niskala and the grandson of Rahyang Niskala Wastu Kancana. This suggestion is based on the liguistical theory that Siliwangi is derived from the Sundanese words of Silih Wangi, meaning a descendant of King Wangi.

According to Kidung Sunda and Carita Parahyangan, King Wangi is identified as King Lingga Buana, a king of Sunda that died at Majapahit in 1357 AD in the Battle of Bubat. Hayam Wuruk, the Majapahit king, intended to marry Dyah Pitaloka Citraresmi, a daughter of King Lingga Buana. The Sunda royal family came to Majapahit to marry the princess to Hayam Wuruk. However, Gajah Mada, prime minister of the Majapahit Empire, saw this event as an opportunity to demand Sunda’s submission to Majapahit. He demanded that the princess not be treated as the queen of Majapahit, but merely as a concubine, as a sign of Sunda’s submission. Angered by Gajah Mada’s insult, the Sunda royal family fought the overwhelming Majapahit forces to the death to defend their honor. After his death, King Lingga Buana was named King Wangi (king with a pleasant fragrance) because of his heroic deed to defend his kingdom’s honor. His descendants with the same quality of greatness were called Silihwangi (successor of Wangi).


Some other historians are of the opinion that Siliwangi is derived from the Sundanese word Asilih Wewangi, meaning changing title.

There are many legends about King Siliwangi as the great king of Sunda. Most of the legends tell the story of the rise of a young prince to seize his rightful throne and later becoming a great king of Sunda Pajajaran, bringing his people prosperity, justice and greatness.

One of the stories tells about prince Ratu Jayadewata, the son of Prabu Anggalarang, king of Galuh, who ruled from Surawisesa Palace (today Karang Kamulyan site, location of Kawali inscription). During his youth the prince was known as Raden Pamanah Rasa (the archer of feelings of love). The name suggests that he was a charming and strikingly handsome young man. People easily fell in love with him. The tradition says he was a master of literature, music, dance, and the arts, as well as pencak silat martial arts and the princely arts of sword fighting and archery.

Kujang ciung_pakuan_perah_maung_siliwangi

An usurper of evil ambition overthrows King Anggalarang and murders him, taking over the throne. The prince Jayadewata is poisoned, drugged, and cast under a black magic spell that caused him to suffer amnesia and insanity. The powerful but insane prince wandered around and caused trouble in many villages, until Ki Gedeng Sindangkasih, the chief of Sindangkasih village, managed to pacifize him. With the love of Nyi Ambetkasih, Ki Gedeng’s daughter, the prince is finally cured from his illness. Prince Jayadewata married Nyi Ambetkasih. Later, prince Jayadewata managed to gain support of the people and succeeded in reclaiming his rightful throne. He become the king of the unified kingdom of Sunda and Galuh. He transferred the capital city from Kawali Galuh to Pakuan Pajajaran.

One of the Pantun legends tells vividly about a beautiful royal procession of queen Ambetkasih and her courtiers moving to the new capital of Pakuan Pajajaran, where her husband awaits. King Siliwangi ruled justly from his palace of Punta Bima Sri Narayana Suradipati Madura at Pakuan Pajajaran and his reign is celebrated as the golden age for Sundanese people.

Besides Ambetkasih, King Siliwangi had other wives, Nyai Subang Larang, Nyai Cantring Manikmayang, and Nyai Aciputih. Nyai Subang Larang was the daughter of Ki Gedeng Tapa, port master of Muara Jati (today Cirebon). Nyai Cantring Manikmayang was a princess from a noble family in Galuh. While Nyai Aciputih was the daughter of Ki Dampu Awang, a rich Muslim Chinese merchant.

Nyai Subang Larang was a Muslim woman and a student of the Quro Islamic school in Karawang, and she bore him three children: prince Walangsungsang, princess Rara Santang, and prince Kian Santang. Walangsungsang, later known as Cakrabuana, was the founder of the Sultanate of Cirebon. Rara Santang married a Muslim Egyptian prince and changed her name to Syarifah Mudaim, while Kian Santang become a famous Muslim ulama in western Java. The legend of King Siliwangi’s Muslim children from Subang Larang explains the change from Hinduism to Islam around the time of the fall of Sunda kingdom. Queen Ambetkasih was childless, and the heir of the throne was Prabu Surawisesa Jayaperkosa or Ratu Sang Hyang, the son of Nyai Cantring Manikmayang.

The traditions link Siliwangi with the mythical tiger, and sometimes the black and white leopard, as his guard. According to legends after the Sultanates of Cirebon and Banten sacked the capital of Pakuan Pajajaran, the king refused to convert to Islam, yet he also refused to fight the invading Muslim forces, since the Sultan of Cirebon was his own kin. Tradition tells that after the fall of Pakuan, the last king of Sunda, accompanied by his faithful followers, retreated to Mount Salak located south of the capital to avoid further bloodshed. Then the king is ngahyang (he disappeared) to become a hyang or spirit. He turned into a mythical beast, the sacred tiger.

The compiled legends of King Siliwangi do not always correspond with historical facts and records, since some events are vague and do not correspond to the lifetime of the historic Sri Baduga Maharaja. For example, the fall of Pajajaran occur in later times, during the reign of later Sunda kings, the great-great grandson of Sri Baduga. Some legends seem to simply identify the series of last Sunda kings as Siliwangi. However these legends try to explain the historical events of the Sunda kingdom and its relationship with the Sultanates of Cirebon and Banten.


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