MAJAPAHIT KINGDOM

MAJAPAHIT KINGDOM

The Majapahit Kingdom (1293-1520) was perhaps the greatest of the early Indonesian kingdoms. It was founded in 1294 in East Java by Wijaya, who defeated the invading Mongols. Under the ruler Hayam Wuruk (1350-89) and the military leader Gajah Mada, it expanded across Java and gained control over much of present-day Indonesia—large parts of Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Borneo, Lombok, Malaku, Sumbawa, Timor and other scattered islands—as well as the Malay peninsula through military might. Places of commericial value such as ports were targeted and the wealth gained from trade enriched the empire. The name Majapahit stems from the two words maja, meaning a type of fruit, and pahit, which is the Indonesian word for 'bitter'.

An Indianized kingdom, Majapahit was the last of the major Hindu empires of the Malay archipelago and is considered one of the greatest states in Indonesian history. Its influence extended over much of modern-day Indonesia and Malaysia though the extent of its influence is the subject of debate. Based in eastern Java from 1293 to around 1500, its greatest ruler was Hayam Wuruk, whose reign from 1350 to 1389 marked the empire's peak when it dominated kingdoms in Maritime Southeast Asia (present day Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines). [Source: Wikipedia]

The Majapahit Kingdom Empire was centered at Trowulan near the present-day city Surubaya in East Java. Some look upon Majapahit period as a Golden Age of Indonesian history. Local wealth came from extensive wet rice cultivation and international wealth came from the spice trade. Trading relations were established with Cambodia, Siam, Burma and Vietnam. The The Majapahits had a somewhat stormy relationship with China which was under Mongol rule.

Hinduism fused with Buddhism were the primary religions. Islam was tolerated and there is evidence that Muslims worked within the court. Javanese kings rules in accordance with wahyu, the belief that some people had a divine mandate to rule. People believed if a king misruled the people had to go down with him. After Hayam Wuruk’s death the Majapahit Kingdom began to decline. It collapsed in 1478 when Trowulan was sacked by Denmark and the Majapahit rulers fled to Bali (See Bali), opening the way to Muslim conquest of Java.

Majapahit flourished at the end of what is known as Indonesia's "classical age". This was a period in which the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism were predominant cultural influences. Beginning with the first appearance of Indianised kingdoms in the Malay Archipelago in the A.D. 5th century, this classical age was to last for more than a millennium, until the final collapse of Majapahit in the late 15th century and the establishing of Java's first Islamic sultanate at Demak. [Source: ancientworlds.net]

Singhasari: Between the Mataram and Majapahit Kingdoms

After the Mataram kingdom collapsed In Java, continued population growth, political and military rivalries, and economic expansion produced important changes in Javanese society. Taken together, these changes laid the groundwork for what has often been identified as Java’s—and Indonesia’s— “golden age” in the fourteenth century. [Source: Library of Congress *]

In Kediri, for example, there developed a multilayered bureaucracy and a professional army. The ruler extended control over transportation and irrigation and cultivated the arts in order to enhance his own reputation and that of the court as a brilliant and unifying cultural hub. The Old Javanese literary tradition of the kakawin (long narrative poem) rapidly developed, moving away from the Sanskrit models of the previous era and producing many key works in the classical canon. Kediri’s military and economic influence spread to parts of Kalimantan and Sulawesi. *

In Singhasari, which defeated Kediri in 1222, there arose an aggressive system of state control, moving in new ways to incorporate local lords’ rights and lands under royal control and fostering the growth of mystical Hindu- Buddhist state cults devoted to the powers of the ruler, who came to be accorded divine status.

The greatest and most controversial of Singhasari king was Kertanagara (r. 1268–92), the first Javanese ruler to be accorded the title of dewaprabu (literally, god-king). Largely by force or threat, Kertanagara brought most of eastern Java under his control and then carried his military campaigns overseas, notably to Srivijaya’s successor, Melayu (then also known as Jambi), with a huge naval expedition in 1275, to Bali in 1282, and to areas in western Java, Madura, and the Malay Peninsula. These imperial ambitions proved difficult and expensive, however: the realm was perennially troubled by dissent at court and rebellion both at home and in the subjugated territories. [Source: Library of Congress *]

After defeating Srivijaya in Sumatra in 1290, Singhasari became the most powerful kingdom in the area. Kertanagara provoked the new Mongol rulers of Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) China to attempt to check his expansion, which they considered a threat to the region. Kublai Khan challenged Singhasari by sending emissaries demanding tribute. Kertanagara, the-then ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, refused to pay tribute and so the Khan sent a punitive expedition which arrived off the coast of Java in 1293. Before the Mongol fleet of allegedly 1,000 ships and 100,000 men could land on Java, Kertanagara had been assassinated by a vengeful descendent of the Kediri kings.

Raden Wijaya and the Founding of Majapahit

The founder of the Majapahit Empire, Raden Wijaya, was the son-in-law of Kertanagara, the last ruler of the Singhasari kingdom. After Kertanagara was assassinated, Raden Wijaya, succeeded in defeating both his father-in-law’s principal rival and the Mongol forces. In 1294 Wijaya ascended the throne as Kertarajasa, ruler of the new kingdom of Majapahit. *

Kertanagara’s killer was Jayakatwang, the Adipati (Duke) of Kediri, a vassal state of Singhasari. Wijaya allied himself with the Mongols against Jayakatwang and, once the Singhasari kingdom was destroyed, he turned hsi attention the Monols and forced them to withdraw in confusion. Thus, Raden Wijaya managed to establish the Majapahit Kingdom. The exact date used as the birth of the Majapahit kingdom is the day of his coronation, the 15th of Kartika month in the year 1215 using the Javanese saka calendar, which equates to November 10, 1293. On that date, his title has changed from Raden Wijaya to Sri Kertarajasa Jayawardhana, commonly shortened to Kertarajasa.

After Kertanagara was killed Raden Wijaya, was given the land of Tarik timberland and pardoned by Jayakatwang with the aid of Madura's regent, Arya Wiraraja. ,Raden Wijaya then opened that vast timberland and built a new village there. The village was named Majapahit, which was taken from a fruit name that had bitter taste in that timberland (maja is the fruit name and pahit means bitter). When Mongolian Yuan army sent by Kublai Khan arrived, Wijaya allied himself with the army to fight against Jayakatwang. Once Jayakatwang was destroyed, Raden Wijaya forced his allies to withdraw from Java by launching a surprise attack. Yuan's army had to withdraw in confusion as they were in hostile territory. It was also their last chance to catch the monsoon winds home; otherwise, they would have had to wait for another six months on a hostile island. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In A.D. 1293,Raden Wijaya founded a stronghold with the capital Majapahit. The exact date used as the birth of the Majapahit kingdom is the day of his coronation, the 15th of Kartika month in the year 1215 using the Javanese çaka calendar, which equates to November 10, 1293. During his coronation he was given formal name Kertarajasa Jayawardhana. The new kingdom faced challenges. Some of Kertarajasa's most trusted men, including Ranggalawe, Sora, and Nambi rebelled against him, though unsuccessfully. It was suspected that the mahapati (equal with prime minister) Halayudha set the conspiracy to overthrow all of the king's opponents, to gain the highest position in the government. However, after following the death of the last rebel Kuti, Halayudha was captured and jailed for his tricks, and then sentenced to death. Wijaya himself died in A.D. 1309. +

Majapahit Empire

Majapahit is generally regarded as having been the largest premodern state in the Indonesian archipelago, and perhaps the most extensive in all of Southeast Asia. At its zenith under the fourth ruler, Hayam Wuruk (known posthumously as Rajasanagara, r. 1350–89), and his chief minister, the former military officer Gajah Mada (in office 1331–64), Majapahit’s authority appears to have extended over 20 eastern Java polities as direct royal domain; tributaries extending beyond those claimed by Singhasari on Java, Bali, Sumatra, Kalimantan, and the Malay Peninsula; and trading partners or allies in Maluku and Sulawesi, as well as present-day Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China. Majapahit’s power was built in part on military might, which Gajah Mada used, for example, in campaigns against Melayu in 1340 and Bali in 1343. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Its reach by force was limited, as in the failed campaign in 1357 against Sunda in western Java, however, making the kingdom’s economic and cultural vigor perhaps more important factors. Majapahit’s ships carried bulk goods, spices, and other exotic commodities throughout the region (cargoes of rice from eastern Java significantly altered the diet of Maluku at this time), spread the use of Malay (not Javanese) as a lingua franca, and brought news of the kingdom’s urban center at Trowulan, which covered approximately 100 square kilometers and offered its inhabitants a remarkably high standard of living. *

Majapahit Rule

Following the example of its predecessor, Singhasari, Majapahit was based on the combined development of agriculture and large scale maritime trade. According to ancientworlds.net: “In the eyes of the Javanese, Majapahit represents a symbol: that of the great concentric agrarian kingdoms relying on a solid agricultural base. More importantly, it is also the symbol of Java's first claim to pre-eminence in the Malay Archipelago, even if Majapahit's so-called tributaries were, more often than not, places known to the Javanese of that period rather than actual dependencies. [Source:ancientworlds.net]

The Majapahit kingdom grew to prominence during the reign of Hayam Wuruk from 1350 to 1389. Its territorial expansion can be credited to brilliant military commander Gajah Mada, who helped the kingdom claim control over much of the archipelago, exerting suzerainty over smaller kingdoms and extracting trading rights from them. After Hayam Wuruk’s death in 1389, the kingdom began a steady decline.

The Majapahit Kingdom was not without its intrigues. Gajah Mada helped defeat rebels that killed King Jayanegara and then later arranged the murder of the king after the king stole Gajah Mada’s wife. Wijaya's son and successor, Jayanegara was notorious for immorality. One of his sinful acts was taking his own stepsisters as wives. He was entitled Kala Gemet, or "weak villain". In AD 1328, Jayanegara was murdered by his doctor, Tantja. His stepmother, Gayatri Rajapatni, was supposed to replace him, but Rajapatni retired from court to become a bhiksuni (a female Buddhist monk) in a monastery. Rajapatni appointed her daughter, Tribhuwana Wijayatunggadewi, or known in her formal name as Tribhuwannottungadewi Jayawishnuwardhani, as the queen of Majapahit under Rajapatni's auspices. During Tribhuwana’s rule, the Majapahit kingdom grew much larger and became famous in the area. Tribhuwana ruled Majapahit until the death of her mother in AD 1350. She was succeeded by her son, Hayam Wuruk. [Source: Wikipedia]

Rulers of the Majapahit kingdom

Rajasa Dynasty: 1293-1309: Raden Wijaya (Kertarajasa Jayawardhana); 1309-1328: Jayanagara; 1328-1350: Tribhuwanatunggadewi Jayawishnuwardhani (Queen) (Bhre Kahuripan); 1350-1389: Rajasanagara (Hayam Wuruk); 1389-1429: Wikramawardhana (Bhre Lasem Sang Alemu); 1429-1447: Suhita (Queen) (Prabustri); 1447-1451: Wijayaparakramawardhana Sri Kertawijaya (Bhre Tumapel, converted to Islam)

Girindrawardhana Dynasty: 1451-1453: Rajasawardhana (Bhre Pamotan Sang Singanagara); 1453-1456: throne vacant; 1456-1466: Giripatiprasuta Dyah/Hyang Purwawisesa (Bhre Wengker); 1466-1474: Suraprabhawa/Singhawikramawardhana (Bhre Pandan Salas). In 1468, a court rebellion by Bhre Kertabhumi forced him to move his court to the city of Daha, Kediri.; 1468-1478: Bhre Kertabhumi; 1478-1519: Ranawijaya (Bhre Prabu Girindrawardhana). He is Suraprabhawa's son and managed to regain the Majapahit throne lost to Kertabhumi. In 1486, he moves the capital to Kediri.; 1519- c.1527: Prabhu Udara

Golden Age of the Majapahit Kingdom

The power of Majapahit reached its height in the mid-14th century under the leadership of King Hayam Wuruk and his prime minister, Gajah Mada. Some scholars have argued that the territories of Majapahit covered present-day Indonesia and part of Malaysia, but others maintain that its core territory was confined to eastern Java and Bali. Nonetheless, Majapahit became a significant power in the region, maintaining regular relations with Bengal, China, Champa, Cambodia, Annam (North Vietnam), and Siam (Thailand).[Source: ancientworlds.net]

Hayam Wuruk, also known as Rajasanagara, ruled Majapahit in AD 1350–1389. During his period, Majapahit attained its peak with the help of his prime minister, Gajah Mada. Under Gajah Mada's command (AD 1313–1364), Majapahit conquered more territories. In 1377, a few years after Gajah Mada's death, Majapahit sent a punitive naval attack against Palembang, contributing to the end of the Srivijayan kingdom. Gajah Mada's other renowned general was Adityawarman, known for his conquest in Minangkabau. [Source: Wikipedia +]

According to the book of Nagarakertagama pupuh (canto) XIII and XIV mentioned several states in Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara islands, Maluku, New Guinea, and some parts of Philippines islands as under Majapahit realm of power. This source mentioned of Majapahit expansions has marked the greatest extent of Majapahit empire. +

The Nagarakertagama, written in 1365 depict a sophisticated court with refined taste in art and literature, and a complex system of religious rituals. The poet describes Majapahit as the centre of a huge mandala extending from New Guinea and Maluku to Sumatra and Malay Peninsula. Local traditions in many parts of Indonesia retain accounts in more or less legendary from 14th century Majapahit's power. Majapahit's direct administration did not extend beyond east Java and Bali, but challenges to Majapahit's claim to overlordship in outer islands drew forceful responses. +

The nature of the Majapahit empire and its extent is subject to debate. It may have had limited or entirely notional influence over some of the tributary states in included Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, Kalimantan and eastern Indonesia over which of authority was claimed in the Nagarakertagama. Geographical and economic constraints suggest that rather than a regular centralised authority, the outer states were most likely to have been connected mainly by trade connections, which was probably a royal monopoly. It also claimed relationships with Champa, Cambodia, Siam, southern Burma, and Vietnam, and even sent missions to China. +

Although the Majapahit rulers extended their power over other islands and destroyed neighboring kingdoms, their focus seems to have been on controlling and gaining a larger share of the commercial trade that passed through the archipelago. About the time Majapahit was founded, Muslim traders and proselytizers began entering the area. +

Majapahit Culture

Majapahit’s writers continued the developments in literature and wayang (shadow puppetry) begun in the Kediri period. The best-known work today is Mpu Prapañca’s Desawarnaña, often referred to as Nāgarakertāgama, composed in 1365, which provides us with an unusually detailed view of daily life in the kingdom’s central provinces. Many other classic works also date from this period, including the famous Panji tales, popular romances based on the history of eastern Java that were loved and borrowed by storytellers as far away as Thailand and Cambodia. Many of Majapahit’s administrative practices and laws governing trade were admired and later imitated elsewhere, even by fledgling powers seeking independence from Javanese imperial control. [Source: Library of Congress]

"Negara Kertagama," by the famous Javanese author Prapancha (1335-1380) was written during this golden period of Majapahit, when many literary works were produced. Parts of the book described the diplomatic and economic ties between Majapahit and numerous Southeast Asian countries including Myanmar, Thailand, Tonkin, Annam, Kampuchea and even India and China. Other works in Kawi, the old Javanese language, were "Pararaton," "Arjuna Wiwaha," "Ramayana," and "Sarasa Muschaya." In modern times, these works were later translated into modern European languages for educational purposes. [Source: ancientworlds.net]

The main event of the administrative calendar took place on the first day of the month of Caitra (March-April) when representatives from all territories paying tax or tribute to Majapahit came to the capital to pay court. Majapahit's territories were roughly divided into three types: the palace and its vicinity; the areas of east Java and Bali which were directly administered by officials appointed by the king; and the outer dependencies which enjoyed substantial internal autonomy.

The capital (Trowulan) was grand and known for its great annual festivities. Buddhism, Shaivism, and Vaishnavism were all practiced, and the king was regarded as the incarnation of the three. The Nagarakertagama does not mention Islam, but there were certainly Muslim courtiers by this time. Although brick had been used in the candi of Indonesia's classical age, it was Majapahit architects of the 14th and 15th centuries who mastered it. Making use of a vine sap and palm sugar mortar, their temples had a strong geometric quality.

A description of the Majapahit capital from the Old Javanese epic poem Nagarakertagama goes: "Of all the buildings, none lack pillars, bearing fine carvings and coloured" [Within the wall compounds] "there were elegant pavilions roofed with aren fibre, like the scene in a painting... The petals of the katangga were sprinkled over the roofs for they had fallen in the wind. The roofs were like maidens with flowers arranged in their hair, delighting those who saw them".

Indonesia Trade and the Influence of China

Medieval Sumatra was known as the “Land of Gold.” The rulers were reportedly so rich they threw solid gold bar into a pool every night to show their wealth. Sumatra was a source of cloves, camphor, pepper, tortoiseshell, aloe wood, and sandalwood—some of which originated elsewhere. Arab mariners feared Sumatra because it was regarded as a home of cannibals. Sumatra is believed to be the site of Sinbad’s run in with cannibals.

Sumatra was the first region of Indonesia to have contact with the outside world. The Chinese came to Sumatra in the 6th century. Arab traders went there in the 9th century and Marco Polo stopped by in 1292 on his voyage from China to Persia. Initially Arab Muslims and Chinese dominated trade. When the center of power shifted to the port towns during the 16th century Indian and Malay Muslims dominated trade.

Traders from India, Arabia and Persia purchased Indonesian goods such as spices and Chinese goods. Early sultanates were called “harbor principalities.” Some became rich from controlling the trade of certain products or serving as way stations on trade routes.

The Minangkabau, Acehnese and Batak— coastal people in Sumatra— dominated trade on the west coast of Sumatra. The Malays dominated trade in the Malacca Straits on the eastern side of Sumatra. Minangkabau culture was influenced by a series of 5th to 15th century Malay and Javanese kingdoms (the Melayu, Sri Vijaya, Majapahit and Malacca).

After the Mongol incursions in 1293, the early Majapahitan state did not have official relations with China for a generation, but it did adopt Chinese copper and lead coins ( pisis or picis) as official currency, which rapidly replaced local gold and silver coinage and played a role in the expansion of both internal and external trade. By the second half of the fourteenth century, Majapahit’s growing appetite for Chinese luxury goods such as silk and ceramics, and China’s demand for such items as pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and aromatic woods, fueled a burgeoning trade.

China also became politically involved in Majapahit’s relations with restless vassal powers (Palembang in 1377) and, before long, even internal disputes (the Paregreg War, 1401–5). At the time of the celebrated state-sponsored voyages of Chinese Grand Eunuch Zheng He between 1405 and 1433, there were large communities of Chinese traders in major trading ports on Java and Sumatra; their leaders, some appointed by the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) court, often married into the local population and came to play key roles in its affairs.

Muslims and the Majapahit Empire

Although the Majapahit rulers extended their power over other islands and destroyed neighbouring kingdoms, their focus seems to have been on controlling and gaining a larger share of the commercial trade that passed through the archipelago. About the time Majapahit was founded, Muslim traders and proselytisers began entering the area. [Source: ancientworlds.net <+>]

Muslim merchants from Gujarat (India) and Persia began visiting what is now-called Indonesia in the 13th Century and established trade links between the area and India and Persia. Along with trade, they propagated Islam among the Indonesian people, particularly along the coastal areas of Java, like Demak. At a later stage they even influenced and converted Hindu kings to Islam, the first being the Sultan of Demak. <+>

This Muslim Sultan (Raden Fatah) later spread Islam westwards to the cities of Cirebon and Banten, and eastward along the northern coast of Java to the kingdom of Gresik. Feeling threatened by the rise of the Demak Sultanate, the last king of Majapahit, Prabhu Udara attacked Demak with the help of the King of Klungkung on Bali in 1513. However, Majapahit's forces were driven back. <+>

Decline of the Majapahit Kingdom

Majapahit did not unify the archipelago in any modern sense, however, and its hegemony proved in practice to be fragile and short-lived. Beginning shortly after Hayam Wuruk’s death, an agricultural crisis; civil wars of succession; the appearance of strong trading rivals, such as Pasai (in northern Sumatra) and Melaka (on the Malay Peninsula); and restive vassal rulers eager for independence all challenged the political-economic order from which Majapahit had drawn much of its legitimacy. Internally, the ideological order also began to falter as courtiers and others among the elite, perhaps following popular trends, abandoned Hindu-Buddhist cults centered on a supreme kingship in favor of ancestral cults and practices focused on salvation of the soul. In addition, new and often intertwined external forces also brought significant changes, some of which may have contributed to the dissolution of Majapahit’s paramountcy. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Following Hayam Wuruk's death 1389, Majapahit power also entered a period of conflict over succession. Hayam Wuruk was succeeded by the crown princess Kusumawardhani, who married a relative, Prince Wikramawardhana. Hayam Wuruk also had a son from his previous marriage, crown prince Wirabhumi, who also claimed the throne. A civil war, called Paregreg, is thought to have occurred from 1405 to 1406,of which Wikramawardhana was victorious and Wirabhumi was caught and decapitated. Wikramawardhana ruled to 1426 and was succeeded by his daughter Suhita, who ruled from 1426 to 1447. She was the second child of Wikramawarddhana by a concubine who was the daughter of Wirabhumi. [Source: Wikipedia +]

In 1447, Suhita died and was succeeded by Kertawijaya, her brother. He ruled until 1451. After Kertawijaya died. After Bhre Pamotan, who used the formal name Rajasawardhana, died in 1453 there was a three year kingless period possibly the result of a succession crisis. Girisawardhana, son of Kertawijaya, came to power 1456. He died in 1466 and was succeeded by Singhawikramawardhana. In 1468 Prince Kertabhumi rebelled against Singhawikramawardhana promoting himself king of Majapahit. Singhawikramawardhana moved the Kingdom’s capital to Daha and continued his rule until he was succeeded by his son Ranawijaya in 1474. In 1478 he defeated Kertabhumi and reunited Majapahit as one Kingdom. Ranawijaya ruled from 1474 to 1519 with the formal name Girindrawardhana. Nevertheless, Majapahit's power had declined through these family conflicts and the growing power of the north-coastal kingdoms in Java.

End and Legacy the Majapahit Kingdom

Majapahit found itself unable to control the rising power of the Sultanate of Malacca. Demak finally conquers Kediri, the Hindu remnant of Majapahit state in 1527; from then on, the Sultans of Demak claims to be successors to Majapahit kingdom. However, the descendants of the Majapahit aristocracy, religious scholars and Hindu Ksatriyas (warriors) managed to retreat through the East Java peninsula of Blambangan to the island of Bali and Lombok. [Source: ancientworlds.net]

Dates for the end of the Majapahit Empire range from to 1527. After a series of battles with the Sultanate of Demak, the last remaining courtsmen of Majapahit were forced to withdraw eastward to Kediri; it is unclear whether they were still under the rule of the Majapahit dynasty. This small state was finally extinguished at the hands of the Demak in 1527. A large number of courtiers, artisans, priests, and members of the royalty moved east to the island of Bali; however, the crown and the seat of government moved to Demak under the leadership of Pengeran, later Sultan Fatah. The Muslim emerging forces defeated the local Majapahit kingdom in the early 16th century.

In the 1920s and 1930s Indonesian nationalists resurrected the memory of the Majapahit Empire as evidence that the peoples of the archipelago had once been united under a single government, and so could be again, in modern Indonesia. The modern national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (roughly, “Unity in Diversity”) was drawn from Mpu Tantular’s poem “Sutasoma,” written during Hayam Wuruk’s reign; independent Indonesia’s first university took Gajah Mada’s name, and the contemporary nation’s communication satellites are named Palapa, after the oath of abstinence Gajah Mada is said to have taken in order to achieve unity throughout the archipelago ( nusantara). [Source: Library of Congress]

Reconstruction of a Majapahit-Era Ship

In July 2010, he Spirit of Majapahit, a reconstruction of a 13th-century Majapahit-era merchant ship copied from the relief panels at Borobudur set sail for Brunei, the Philippines, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. The Jakarta reported: The ship, built by 15 craftsmen in Madura, is unique because of its oval shape with two sharp ends designed to break through waves of up to five meters. Made from old and dry teak, petung bamboo, and a type of wood from Sumenep, East Java, the vessel, Indonesia’s largest traditional ship, is 20 meters long, 4.5 wide and two meters tall. It has two wooden steering wheels at the stern and an outrigger on both sides that serves as a counterweight. The sails are attached to poles forming an equilateral triangle, and the stern of the vessel is higher than the front porch. But unlike the traditional ship on which it was modeled, this modern-day version is equipped with state-of -the art navigation equipment, including Global Positioning System, Nav-Tex and a marine radar. [Source: Jakarta Globe, July 5, 2010 ~/~]

“The reconstruction was the result of advice and recommendations from the “Discovering Majapahit Ship Design” seminar held by the Majapahit Japan Association, a group of entrepreneurs in Japan who pay tribute to the history and culture of the Majapahit Empire . The association is a vehicle for developing cooperation and researching the history of the Majapahit Empire more thoroughly so that it can be admired by Indonesians and the international community. ~/~

“The Spirit of Majapahit is skippered by two officers, Major (Navy) Deni Eko Hartono and Risky Prayudi, with three Japanese crew members, including Yoshiyuki Yamamoto from the Majapahit Japan Association, who is the leader of the expedition. There are also some young Indonesians aboard the vessel and five crew members from the Bajo tribe of Sumenep. The vessel made it as far as Manila, but there members of the crew refused to sail on, claiming the ship was not seaworthy enough for the trip to Okinawa. ~/~

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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