Wednesday, November 19, 2014



Nama                       :SS.Sitoebondo
Type                         :Steam merchant /Kapal Dagang
Total Barat              :7,049 tons
Tahun pembuatan   :1916 - NV Scheepswerf v/h Bonn & Mees, Rotterdam Pemilik :Koninklijke Rotterdamsche Lloyd NV (W. Ruys & Zonen), Rotterdam
Homeport                :Rotterdam
Tanggal serangan    :30 Jul 1941
Bendera                   : Belanda
 Fate                        :Di tenggelamkan oleh U-371 (Heinrich Driver) German
 Posisi tenggelam    :35° 19'N, 23° 53'W - Grid CF 7945
 Kerugian                :77 (19 tewas and 65 selamat).
 Convoy                  :OS-1 (dispersed)
 Route                     :London (14 Jul) - Oban (21 Jul) - Capetown - Calcutta
Berat Cargo            :3545 tons of general cargo
History                   : Selesai di buat pada November 1916

                SS Sitoebondo adalah sebuah kapal pengangkut barang barang hasil perdagangan dan hasil bumi di jajajahan Belanda,Kapal ini pernah memuat hasil bumi indonesia di Jawa dan pulau pulau di Hindia belanda antara tahun 1920-1925 yang selanjutnya di operasikan di jajahan belanda di West indie (hindia Belanda Barat) termasuk berperan dalam pengangkutan warga jawa untuk melakukan tanam paksa di suriname.SS Situbondo merupakan kapal besar yanng di babtis di homeport di Rotterdam Belanda,kapal berbendera Belanda ini di miliki oleh NV. Rotterdam Lloyd yang di miliki oleh W.Ruys dan Anaknya.
                Pembabtisan nama kapal ini sangat Istimewa karena begitu besar peran Situbondo dalam mencukupi suplay kebutuhan gula di Eropa dan Amerika bahkan Afrika selatan pada masa itu,kapal SS Situbondo pernah bersandar di Pelabuhan Panaroekan dan Djangkar pada awal 1930, yang pada saat itu di sambut meriah oleh warga setempat dan pejabat pemerintahan kolonial. Andai saja saat ini kapal itu masih ada dan bisa di sandarkan di salah satu pelabuhan di Situbondo akan membuat bangga warga kota ini,sayangnya SS, Sitoebondo tengelam oleh kapal U boat Jerman.

 Detail Kejadian :

Pada jam 02.45 tanggal 30 July 1941  Kapal SS.SITOEBONDO berlayar tanpa pengawalan melintas barat Portugal dengan di nahkodai  (kpt. A Verhoef) SS.SITOEBONDO terpencar dari Convoy OS-1,dan tertembak oleh terpedo dari U boat Jerman U-371 sebelah tenggara pulau Azores Portugal.
Kurang dari satu jam sebelumnya SS Situbondo menjadi saksi tenggelamnya kapal Shahristan yang di teggelamkan oleh terpedo U boat yang sama.SS Sitoebondo tenggelam setelah di hantam 2 terpedo pada jam 02.54 dan jam 03.37 waktu setempat.71 ABK dan 6 penumpang menyelamatkan diri menggunakan perahu sekoci pada hantaman terpedo pertama ketika SS.Situbondo mulai miring ke arah depan. 2 sekoci dan orang orang yang selamat di temukan oleh kapal tanker spanyol “Campeche”pada hari berikutnya,sedang 2 abk yang terapung apung di liferaft di selamatkan oleh kapal tanker spanyol “Campero”setelah 6 hari terombang ambing di laut.sedangkan 1 sekoci lainya yang selamat dari terpedo dengan 17 abk tidak pernah di ketemukan.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The Self-immolation of Women in Java and Bali

Her deep sorrow became intolerable) and as there seemed
nothing else to wait for, she. hurriedly prepared herself for
death. She drew the dagger she had been holding all the
while, which sparkled now taken from its sheath. She then
threw herself fearlessly on it,.and her blood gushed forth
like red mineral.
(Bharatayuddha.45.1-45.2, Supomo 1993:242.1)

With this, Satyawati, the wife of the hero Salya, cruelly slain in the battle
between the Pandawas and Korawas, ends her life in the ultimate display of
love and fidelity, choosing to follow her husband to the next world rather
than remain in this one without him.
On hearing the news of Salya's death, Satyawati sets out to join him, firm
in the knowledge that 'her life began to end the moment she fell asleep the
night before', when &alya slipped from her bed and left her, and although she
'still had a body [...] it was just like a casket, for her spirit had gone when the
king went into battle' {Bharatayuddha 42.4).
Accompanied by her maid, Sugandhika, she wanders the battlefield, slip-
ping in its 'river of blood' and stumbling over 'stinking corpses' as she search-
es in vain for Salyas body. In despair, she is on the point of stabbing herself
with her kris, when the gods take pity on her and show her where Salya is
lying. Holding him close, she tries to revive him, berating him for leaving her
and accusing him of never having really loved her. Imploring him to wait for
her on the swaying bridge to heaven, she then stabs herself. Satyawati's
death is immediately followed by that of her loyal servant Sugandhika, who
draws the kris( a javanesse blade using for self defenses and important religius ceremonies) from her mistress's breast and plunges it deeply into her own.
Ksiti-Sundari throws herself onto the funeral pyre. Scene from the Bhara-
tayuddha, in which Ksiti-Sundari is accompanied by three male companions, Pan
Senteng, Nang Klicur and I Mredah, while her female servant, I Padma, stands weep-
ing on the right. (Van der Tuuk collection, Leiden University Library Cod. Or 3390-
147. Late 19th-century Balinese painting by an unknown painter from Badung, South
Bali (Hinzler 1986:229-30).)

In this way, she can follow her to the afterlife to care for her as she has always
done on earth {Bharatayuddha 44-45).
Satyawati is not the only wife in the Bharatayuddha to follow her hus-
band in death. Mpu Sedah, the author of the first part of the kakawin,
describes the grief of those left behind when Abhimanyu, Arjuna's son, is
killed, especially that of his mother, Subhadra, and of his wives, Ksiti-
Sundari and Uttari. After Abhimanyu's death, the most sorrowful person is
Uttari, who, because she is eight months pregnant, is unable to follow her
husband in death. Her co-wife Ksiti-Sundari, on the other hand, eagerly
makes the necessary preparations to accompany Abhimanyu to the next
world. Taking leave of Uttari, she goes to the battlefield, throws herself onto
the funeral pyre and is cremated with her husband (Bharatayuddha 15.4-
15.19; see Figure 1).
The sacrifices of Ksiti-Sundari and Satyawati, so poignantly described by
these twelfth-century Javanese poets in the Bharatayuddha, echo the reality of
a social institution that appears to be as ancient as human settlement of the
Indonesian archipelago and which survived, at least in Bali, into the twentieth
century. Descriptions of women, occasionally mistresses, seeking to follow
their husbands in death are so common in both kakawin and kidung liter-
ature, that it is difficult not to see their inclusion as mere poetical convention.
Yet, the historical and literary record confirms the existence of this social prac-
tice in pre-Islamic Java as well as in Bali for a period of over one thousand
In this essay, I wish to explore both historical and literary images, at times
supplemented by visual representations (see Figures 1-4), of the deaths of
noble widows and their retainers and servants in the final gesture of loyalty
towards their lords. The Old Javanese literary corpus constitutes a rich
resource for the study of both the practice of self-immolation itself and the
cultural construction and justification of this brutal resolution of the prob-
lems presented to society by the presence of sexually experienced single
women. In addition to this, a comparison of the historical and literary
accounts confirms the value of the study of these literary sources in recon-
structing the cultural and social history of Java and Bali.

Widow sacrifice in India
Throughout recorded history, there is evidence for the practice of burying or
burning a man's wives and concubines, horses, goods and valuables follow-
ing his death to sustain and succour him in the afterlife. Ancient civilizations
where such funerary rites prevailed include Sumer, ancient Greece, a number
of early Indo-European societies, and China (Basham 1954:187). In India, the
practice of sati, whereby women followed their husbands in death by ascend-
ing their funeral pyres, appears to have existed since at least the fourth cen-
tury BCE, with the earliest datable references being found in accounts of
Alexander the Great's expedition to the Indus valley in 326 BCE. Whether sati
was an indigenous practice in India or was adopted from another culture is
not known (Kane 1941:624-6). References to the practice of sati are sparing in
Vedic and Sanskrit epic literature. Only much later, from the sixth century
onward, did Sanskrit scriptures and literature condone the practice. Even
then, opinion amongst commentators remained sharply divided. P.V. Kane
(1941:627) concludes that satiwas never widely practised in India and that its
use was largely confined to the families of royalty and great warriors.
The earliest historical reference to sati in India is found in a brief memor-
ial inscription dated 510/which tells of the death of a woman whose hus-
band, Goparaja, has died in battle. Epigraphical records, inscriptions and
commemorative sati stones attest to the practice of sati at the individual level
in India across the centuries (Kane 1941:629).
In addition to being mentioned in Indian historical and literary sources,
the practice of sati attracted the attention of all foreign visitors to India. De-
scriptions are found in both Chinese and European sources from the thir-
teenth century onward.3 Under British colonial rule, in the late eighteenth and
early nineteenth centuries, these descriptions soon progressed from tales of
an exotic practice to outright condemnation of sati. The practice was finally
abolished by law in 1829. In spite of the legal prohibition, it has, in fact, con-
tinued into the late twentieth century, as evidenced most recently by the high-
ly publicized sati of eighteen-year-old Roop Kanwar. on 4 September 1987 and
by a number of cases of attempted sati in the 1990s.4 The ongoing practice of
sati has also become the subject of intense debate and conflict between Hindu
fundamentalist nationalists and liberal and feminist factions in India.

From India to the Indonesian archipelago
In India itself, the practice of sati became more common in the fifth and sixth
centuries, possibly from the influence of invasions at that time by nomads
from central Asia who were known to have practised the custom (Basham
1954:187). The increase in the incidence of satiin India coincides with the ini-
tial wave of the spread of Indian culture throughout Southeast Asia, but only
in Java and Bali does it appear to have had a lasting resonance in actual social
practice The Old Javanese literary textual record contains many references to
women following their husbands in death. These descriptions are found in
sources from the entire period of Old Javanese literature, from the earliest
extant kakawin, the ninth-century Old Javanese Ramayana, right up to
Balinese descriptions in the early twentieth century. In some cases, such as
the death of Ksiti-Sundarl by fire as described above, these literary accounts
reflect the form of sati known from Indian sources, namely death by fire.
Satyawati's death by the /en's, however, reflects a very different method of
self-immolation, one apparently unknown in India.
It is tempting to see the existence of these two different methods of self-
immolation as evidence for an underlying indigenous tradition of ritual sui-
cide by means of a kris, on which the Indian practice of death by fire has been
layered.6 However, the extant evidence is insufficient to allow us to fully
reconstruct the origins and development of this custom in the Indonesian
archipelago. The extant literary sources, rich though they are, reflect only the
culmination of this process of development, long after indigenous and Indian
elements had blended together.
At first glance, the widespread Hindu influence on the cultures that
developed in pre-Islamic Java and Bali might suggest that the Indian practice
of sati provided the model for a similar practice here. The Javanese appear to
have known about the existence of sati in Indian traditions from at least the
ninth century. However, before the sixteenth century, reliable documentary
evidence that sati was practised in the Indonesian archipelago is fragment-
ary. At that time, European explorers noted that this custom was known in
Java as well as India, though few actually witnessed it themselves.

From the beginning of the nineteenth century, the sources are more numerous. They
provide detailed accounts of Balinese widow sacrifice, and as J. Crawfurd
noted, there were substantial differences between Indian and Balinese forms
of sati:
Of the Hindu customs which obtain among the Balinese, the only one of which the
certainty has been long ascertained among foreigners, is the sacrifice of the widow
on the funeral pile of the husband. In Bali this practice is carried to an excess
unknown even to India itself. (Crawfurd 1820:241.)
This difference was not merely one of degree, but extended to the method of
suicide used. Both indigenous and European accounts indicate that the prac-
tice of self-immolation in the Indonesian archipelago took a number of dif-
ferent forms, some women choosing self-immolation on the pyre, others by
stabbing themselves first, or both simultaneously, or, in effect, allowing them-
selves to be executed at the hands of officiating priests and male relatives.
Crawfurd identified two terms that were used to describe those women
who followed their husbands in death, noting that the distinction was linked
to the status of the woman concerned. He writes: 'When a wife offers herself,
the sacrifice is termed Satya; when a concubine, slave or other domestic, Be la,
or retaliation' (Crawfurd 1820:241).
Some years later, R. Friederich (1849) further refined the definition of
these two different forms of widow sacrifice in terms of the method of self-
immolation employed.
Satya is the burning of a wife, who, from a platform erected for the purpose,
throws herself into the fire with her husband, committing suicide with the creese
at the same time [...] Bela, on the contrary is the burning of a wife, who is burnt in
a separate fire not with her husband, jumping into it alive, without using the
creese. (Friederich 1959:92.)
Neither definition in fact matches the reality of the practice as revealed by
either eyewitness accounts or the literary works of Java and Bali.7 Despite the
efforts of Crawfurd and Friederich to define the terms bela and satya precisely,
the words themselves appear in indigenous sources as interchangeable
From Sanskrit, Old Javanese adopted the term satya, the adjectival form
of sati, which means 'sincere, honest, loyal, faithful (to one's husband, king;
in observing one's vows, and so on), virtuous, good' (Zoetmulder 1982:1714).
This word and its derivatives refer generally to the performance of any act of
'loyalty', and such acts of loyalty may include self-immolation, but it is not
used exclusively in that sense. The word most frequently used in Old
Javanese is bela? It usually occurs as a verbal form {mabela) meaning 'to lay
down one's life, be prepared to die with another person, die for and with
another person' (Zoetmulder 1982:239). It describes women (sang mabela)
who seek to follow their slain husbands in death, and the same term is used
of soldiers and servants who die for their lord in battle.9
Over a period of many centuries, the custom of noble women following
their husbands in death was endorsed and perpetuated in Javanese and
Balinese court society, as the literary sources reveal. For historians, these lit-
erary sources might prove somewhat problematic for drawing conclusions
about actual social practice. Even though it is difficult to prove their reliabil-
ity, they' are an important resource, however, particularly in view of the
paucity of other documentary evidence. Moreover, it is worth noting that
there are striking parallels between indigenous poetical descriptions and
Chinese and European accounts. These parallels, sometimes down to the
level of trivial detail, suggest that the often neglected indigenous literary
record can be of value in the task of describing the Indonesian past. In the
sections that follow, I will first review the evidence available from more con-
ventional historical sources before turning to a detailed examination of the
literary sources.
Javanese sources
For pre-Islamic Java, there are only two fragmentary non-literary indigenous
sources that might confirm the existence of the practice of women seeking to
end their lives by self-immolation independently. The earliest reference
occurs in the Gunung Kidul inscription issued by King Lokapala in 802 Saka
(= 880 CE). The inscription, which concerns the granting of a freehold over
the village of Watuan Tija to the king's son, Dyah Bhumi, begins by noting
that Rakryan Manak, who was abducted by the enemy, Rakryan Landhayan,
and was then set down at Tangar, later ascended a pyre at Taas. The motiva-
tion for this drastic course of action is not revealed in the inscription, so it is
of limited use in indicating the social or historical circumstances in which the
act was performed. We can only speculate that the shame of the abduction
triggered this suicide. A second piece of evidence pointing to the actual existence of the practice
of sati in pre-Islamic Java is found in a relief on the first terrace of Candi Jago,
near Malang, in East Java. The original construction of Candi Jago took place
between 1268 and 1280, although it seems probable that it was later rebuilt in
the mid-fourteenth century. Candi Jago contains a series of six Tantri reliefs
depicting the suicide death of Satyawati, the wife of Angling Darma. This sad
turn of events occurs after Angling Darma is granted the boon of being able
to talk to the animals. His wife tries to find out his secret and, when he re-
fuses to reveal it, throws herself in the fire. In this story, the grief-stricken
king decides to follow her in death but is dissuaded from doing so on over-
hearing a ram and a ewe observe how foolish such an action would be when
there are so many other beautiful and worthy women in the kingdom. On
further reflection, Angling Darma changes his mind. In the final scene depict-
ed in the reliefs, Angling Darma is sitting in a pavilion beside the blazing fire
while his queen, who has mounted the tower, prepares to throw herself off
(see Figure 2).11
This story, however remarkable for its suggestion that a man might follow
his wife in death, instead of the reverse, is more important for the physical
representation of the scene of Satyawati's death. The tower with its leaning
stairway bears a remarkable resemblance to more recent Balinese representa-
tions, as in the late nineteenth-century Balinese wayang-style painting of the
death of Ksiti-Sundarl (see Figure I).12
Equally striking are the parallels between the physical structure visible in
this fourteenth-century relief and a similar platform described in the early
nineteenth century by Pierre Dubois. Dubois was present at the cremation in
1829 of Gusti Gde Ngurah Pamacutan, one of the rulers of Badung, and
described the events he witnessed in minute detail. At this cremation seven
women died. Dubois depicts the physical structure of the cremation tower as
Right at the eastern end of the pavilion you see a kind of stairway or leaning
bridge. This bridge stands at an angle of about forty-five degrees to the ground
and it rises towards the east to a perpendicular height of more than one hundred
feet. The bridge is about four feet wide and is made of bamboo and rattan [...]
There is a screen along the entire bridge furnished every eighteen inches or so
with projecting crosspieces [...] The handrails of about three feet in height prevent
people from falling sideways. Finally, we see on the level space at the top of the
bridge, a little house made very pretty with gilting, festoons and bouquets. (Van
der Kraan 1985:99.)
Although widow burning was abolished in Bali in 1903, the same structural
features can still be observed in Balinese cremation towers in the twentieth
century (see Figure 3). It seems reasonable to conclude that for the Candi Jago
relief, the Javanese sculptor can only have been drawing on a real-life model
of a: cremation tower from his own world, that of thirteenth- or fourteenth-
century Java.
• .
Chinese sources
While there may be no contemporary Javanese first-hand accounts to con-
firm the existence of widow suicide, there are two Chinese sources that testi-
fy to the practice of widow burning in early fifteenth-century Majapahit Java.
These are the accounts of two Chinese travellers, the Muslim convert, Ma
Huan, and the Buddhist pilgrim, Fei Hsin. Ma Huan travelled to Java with
the third Chinese expeditionary force in 1413-15. In the 1416 preface to his
account, 'The overall survey of the ocean's shores', first published in 1451, Ma
Huan, a member of several Ming dynasty expeditions to Asia under the
leadership of the grand eunuch Cheng Ho, says that he 'saw [these countries]
with my own eyes.and walked [through them] in person [...] and collected
[notes about] the appearance, of the people in each country [and about] the
variations of the local customs' (Mills 1970:69-70). Ma Huan spent some time
in Java, and during his visit travelled inland to the Majapahit capital. He
noted that:
[...] when rich men and chiefs and persons of high standing are about to die, the
most intimate serving girls and concubines under their care first take an oath to
their lords, saying 'in death we go with you'; after the death on the day of the
funeral, they build a high wooden framework, under which they pile a heap of
firewood; [and] they set fire to this and burn the coffin. The two or three serving-
girls and concubines who originally took the oath wait till the moment when the
blaze is at its height; then, wearing grasses and flowers all over their heads, their
bodies clad in kerchiefs with designs of the five colours, they mount the frame-
work and dance about, wailing, for a considerable time; [then] they cast them
selves down into the flames, and are consumed in the fire with the corpse of their
lord, in accordance with their rite of sacrificing the living and the dead. (Mills
Ma Huan's reference to the construction of a high wooden framework from
which the women threw themselves into the fire, together with the evidence
of the Candi Jago relief, indicate that the practice of widow sacrifice in
Majapahit Java took much the same form as it did in Bali in the more well-
documented nineteenth century.
Although Ma Huan's account is the most detailed source for the period,
that of his contemporary, Fei Hsin, 'The overall survey of the star raft', also
provides useful information. Fei Hsin, who also accompanied the envoy
Cheng Ho oh a number of expeditions, travelled with Ma Huan on the sev-
enth expedition in 1431-33. His account contains a foreword dated 1436: Fei
Hsin 'utilized the text of Ma Huan', and his account is generally less reliable
than that of Ma Huan (Mills 1970:55, 59-63). Nevertheless, Fei Hsin confirms
the practice of widow burning in Java:
As to their mourning when a chief dies of old age, all his slave girls and concu-
bines pledge themselves to each other to die. So when the day of the funeral comes
about, the wives, concubines, and slave girls, their heads covered with grasses and
flowers, and draped in coloured stuffs, follow the corpse to the sea-shore or to a
deserted place, where they put it in a sandy spot convenient for the dogs; if they
devour it clean/it is held to be good, but if they do not clean (the corpse) then they
have songs of grief and lamentations. (After this) they pile up fire-wood beside the
corpse and all the women, having sat on it for a long time set fire to the pile and
die in the flames, and the ceremony of being burnt with the dead is completed.
(Rockhill 1915:248.)
Sixteenth-century travellers'accounts of Java
With the beginning of the European age of exploration and expansion, the
number of accounts increases. A number of sixteenth-century European com-
mentators refer to or comment on the Javanese custom of widow sacrifice.
Few of their reports appear to be eyewitness accounts. Most comprise
hearsay evidence gleaned from a variety of sources. That women chose to fol-
low their husbands in death was just one among many exotic, and to these
European travellers often bizarre, social practices and customs in the region.
Tome' Pires, writing in 1515, for example, reports:
It is the custom in Sunda for the king's wives and nobles to burn themselves when
he dies; and so when anyone of lower rank dies in his house the same thing is
done, that is if they wish to do so, not because the women are persuaded by words
to die, only those who want to do it of their own accord. And those who do not
are Beguines leading a life apart and people do not marry them. Others marry
three or four times. These few are outcasts in the land. (Pires 1944:167.)

While for Java he notes:
It is a custom of Java, and of the countries which we shall describe later, that when
the king dies, many of his chief wives and concubines burn themselves alive, and
some of the king's people; and this is also done when the lords die, and any other
important man. This is among the heathens and not among the Javanese who are
Moors. And the women who do not burn themselves, drown themselves of their
own free will with music and feasting. And when their husbands die, the most
important women and men, when they are nobles, die by the kris, and so do the
noblemen who want to die with the king. The common people drown themselves
in the sea or burn themselves. (Pires 1944:176.)
Pires (1944:198) noted a similar practice in eastern Java, particularly in
Blambangan and Gamda (the present-day Surabaya-Panarukan region). He
makes it clear that there were at least two different kinds of self-immolation,
in which both fire and the kris played a role - a distinction already noted in
the account of the deaths of Ksiti-Sundari and Satyawati in the
Bharatayuddha. There appear to have been differences in death ritual prac-
tices according to the social status of the individuals concerned. Death by
drowning is not mentioned by any of the observers, although Ma Huan
noted a century earlier that the common people could choose whether after
death they wished their bodies to be 'devoured by dogs, or consumed by fire,
or cast away in the waters' (Mills 1970:95), and.Fei Hsin, as noted above, also
mentions the seashore as a site for funeral rites (Rockhill 1915:248).
. Later sixteenth-century explorers such as Antonio Pigafetta provide more
detail. In his account of 1524, he hints at the motivation, and the willingness
of women to perform acts of self-immolation. Their reasons match those stat-
ed in kakawin well:
We have been told that in Java it is customary to cremate the body of a dead leader
and that his'most favoured wife is destined to be burnt alive in the same fire.
Decorated with flower garlands, she allows herself to be carried on a litter
through the village by four men, and with a laughing and tranquil expression she
consoles her parents, who are weeping over her impending death/and says to
them:-'This evening I will dine with my husband and tonight I will lie with him'.
Arriving at the funeral pyre, she consoles them once again with the same words
and throws herself into the flames that devour her. If she refuses, she will not be
regarded as either a virtuous woman or a good spouse.13
The English explorer Thomas Cavendish, who passed between Java and Bali
in the course of his circumnavigation of the world at the end of the sixteenth

century, relates that he heard an account from the Portuguese of the way in
which widows in Blambangan, in the eastern tip of Java, followed their hus-
bands in death. Unlike the self-immolation in Pigafetta's account, this form is
by stabbing with a kris, and there is no mention of death by fire. Cavendish
The custome of the countrey is, that whensoeuer the king doth die, they take the
body so dead, and burne it, and preserue the ashes of him, and within fiue days
next after, the wiues of the said king so dead, according to the custome and vse of
their countrey, eury one of them goe together to a place appointed, and the chiefe
of the women, which was nearest vnto him in accompt, hath a ball in her hand,
and throweth it from her, and to the place where the ball resteth, thither they goe
all, and turn their faces to the eastward, and euery one, with a dagger in their
hand, (which dagger they call a crise, and is as sharp as a razor) stab themselues
to the heart, and with their hands all to bebathe themselues in their owne blood,
and falling grouelling on their faces, so ende their dayes.
As Pires' report of 1515 makes clear, at the beginning of the sixteenth century
it was only the 'heathen' and not the 'Moors' who practised sati. This indic-
ates that by this time, Islam must already have had a considerable impact on
social practices in Java. One of the most fundamental and immediate conse-
quences of the conversion to Islam was the change in funeral practices, as
Hindu cremation was replaced by Islamic burial. By the time the Dutch
became involved in Javanese affairs at the beginning of the seventeenth cen-
tury, both the coastal kingdoms and the Central Javanese courts, including
the former Majapahit heartland, had become Islamic and the practice of self-
immolation apparently had been abandoned in all areas except Blambangan
in the most easterly part of the island and on the neighbouring island of
The first detailed Dutch account of the burning of women in Bali was
included in Lodewycksz' report of the first Dutch voyage to the East Indies
of 1597 (Lintgensz 1856; Rouffaer and IJzerman 1915:202), though Lode-
wycksz acknowledged that the Dutch did not witness the ritual themselves.
An illustration of Balinese women immolating themselves on a funeral pyre
was included in the first published edition of this report (see Figure 4).
Stylistically, the drawing is reminiscent of contemporary Dutch biblical illustrations.

First Dutch representation of Balinese women following their husbands in
death, from the report of the first voyage to the East Indies, 1597 (Rouffaer and
IJzerman 1915: Plate 42).
trations and shows little resemblance to anything Balinese.16 But however
inaccurate it may be, it is of interest both as one of the earliest representations
of Balinese customs by westerners and for its wide divergence from indigen-
ous representations (see Figures 1-3).
The first Dutch eyewitness account of widow sacrifice in Bali was written
by the Chief Merchant Jan Oosterwijk in 1633, during a visit to the Balinese
court to seek Balinese support against the Islamic Central Javanese Mataram
ruler. Oosterwijk, who attended the rituals himself, describes the deaths of
the queen's twenty-two women followers, who:
[...] were divested of all their garments, except their sashes; and four of the men
seizing the victim, two by the arms, which they held out extended, and two by the
feet, the victim standing, the fifth prepared himself for the execution, the whole
being done without covering the eyes.
Some of the most courageous demanded the poignard themselves, which they
received in the right hand, passing it to the left, after respectfully kissing the
weapon. They wounded their right arms, sucked the blood which flowed from the
I am grateful to Jan van den Veerdonk for pointing out this connection. wound, and stained their.lips with it, making with the point of the finger a bloody
mark on the forehead. Then returning the dagger to their executioners, they
received a first stab between the false ribs, and a second, from the same side,
under the .shoulder blade, the weapon being thrust up to the hilt, in a slanting
direction, towards the heart [...]. The nearest relations, if they be present, or per-
sons hired for the occasion if they are not, come after the execution and wash the
bloody bodies, and having sufficiently cleaned them, they cover them with wood
in such a manner that the head only is visible and having applied fire to the pile
they are consumed to ashes.
at the funeral of the king's two sons who died not long ago, forty-two women of
the one and thirty-four of the other were stabbed and burnt. Women of royal
blood, however, leap themselves into the flames, as did recently the principal
wives of the two princes.17
Following the failure of their initial overtures to win Balinese support, the
Dutch took little further interest in Bali until the nineteenth century. For the
next two hundred years, there are only incidental references to the practice of
widow sacrifice in the Indonesian archipelago in European sources.
Nineteenth-century European eyewitness accounts
In the early nineteenth century, the practice of sati in Bali once again came
under European scrutiny. During the brief British interregnum in Java (1811-
1816), British officials such as the Lieutenant Governor, Thomas Stamford
Raffles, and the Resident of Yogyakarta, John Crawfurd, drew attention to
the burning of widows in Bali. Both Raffles (1988:238) and Crawfurd (1820:
241) record their concern and amazement at the extent to which the practice
was carried out in Bali. Crawfurd notes that he was told by the raja of Blelling
(Buleleng, North Bali) that when his father, the ruler of Karangasem, died,
seventy-four women had sacrificed themselves, while in-1813 twenty women
had died with Wayahan Jalanteg (Wayan Jlantik); another member of the
same royal house. This British moral concern should be seen in the context of
the sati debate in India that galvanized the British opposition to sati in the
first part of the nineteenth century. British concern with Indian sati undoubt-
edly also stimulated latent Dutch humanitarian concern to resolve the di-
lemmas posed by the island's 'heathen' Hindu religious practices. With the end of the Napoleonic wars and the increased awareness of the
British threat to Dutch commercial interests in the region, the potential bene-
fits to be gained from Balinese trade in rice and slaves became apparent to the
Dutch. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Dutch colonial govern-
ment dispatched a succession of officials to Bali to seek information and gain
concessions. In their wake came other Europeans eager to record the customs
and manners of the Balinese people. In the course.of their duties and travels,
a number of these visitors witnessed royal cremations at which women died
ritually either by fire or by the kris.
A number of the Dutch accounts, published and unpublished, have been
translated into English and discussed by Alfons van der Kraan (1985). In
addition to Oosterwijk's seventeenth-century report, Van der Kraan discuss-
es four accounts written in the nineteenth century, namely those by Dubois
(1829), Zollinger (1846), Helms (1847), and Friederich (1847). These accounts
are similar in content, if not in all details.18
Dubois, the aim of whose mission to Bali was to purchase slaves, de1
scribes the events he witnessed at the cremation of the Raja of Badung in 1829
in minute detail. His description of the cremation platform has been cited
above. At this cremation, seven women died. From the decorated platform,
Dubois watched each of the seven women enter the pavilion accompanied by
her relatives. The first woman then took her father's kris to inflict a wound in
her .arm and smeared the blood" on her forehead before returning the kris to
her father, and, folding her arms across her breasts, fell down into the pit of
fire. Five of the remaining women went through more or less the same ritual.
Only one chose 'to die by means of a-fens-thrust to the heart'; 'surrounded by
her closest relatives', she took the kris from her father and ran herself
through, 'straight down from the top of her shoulder'. She was then thrown
down into the fire by her father and brothers. One of the women, the former
king's nurse, Dubois notes, was old and white-haired and took less than four
seconds to follow her master in death.
Zollinger's account of a similar ceremony in Lombok in 1846 describes a
woman, dressed in white, who was stabbed first by her brother and later,
when his resolve failed, by others present. Her body was then cremated with
that of her husband. By contrast, in Helms' description of the cremation of
Dewa Manggis of Gianyar on 20 December 1847, the three queens, also
dressed in white, adorned themselves as they were carried to the cremation
ground, and leapt into the flames without first stabbing themselves. Frie-
derich, who attended the same cremation, gives a similar account, but

describes the women as the king's 'concubines' rather than his wives.
The European observers in Bali were struck by the pageantry of the cre-
mation ceremony, the spectacle of the ritual itself, and the approbation of rel-
atives and spectators for those involved. Each of them questioned the evid-
ence of his own eyes and ears concerning the apparently voluntary nature of
the women's deaths. In a somewhat contradictory fashion, each also stressed
the prominent role of each victim's relatives and of the priests and other
attendants in ensuring that the women all went through with the sacrifice. As
has been noted in the discussion of sati in India in the nineteenth century,
underneath these authors' evident moral outrage and condemnation runs a
current of admiration for the loyalty and bravery of these women, who are
portrayed as both heroic and as pathetic victims (Hawley 1994:3; Mani
1998:160). Even Van der Kraan, writing in the late twentieth century, seeks to
capture that blend of fascination and horror, as the title of his article suggests,
with the stated aim of demonstrating that, while this ritual 'was not practised
by all Balinese' and 'did not equal "widow-burning"', 'the sacrifices were not
genuinely voluntary' (Van der Kraan 1985:91).
. There is no doubt that the Dutch accounts and definitions of widow sac-
rifice provide valuable primary source material on nineteenth-century
European perceptions of the practice. What is missing from all these sources,
however, including Van der Kraan's recent analysis of the practice of 'human
sacrifice in Bali', is any attempt to acknowledge the discourse of Balinese
themselves about these crucial events. It is for this purpose that the present
discussion now turns to the kakawin and kidung in which Javanese and
Balinese views of the practice are articulated. :
Deaths of women in Javanese kakawin literature
So frequently is a description of a distraught woman on the point of follow-
ing her lover in death included in kakawin, that it is difficult to escape the
impression that the insertion of such scenes was considered a poetical re-
quirement by any poet hoping to emulate the work of the master poets. These
displays- of ultimate loyalty provided a counterpoint to the other major role
of women in kakawin, that of perfect wife and lover. They enabled poets to
paint poignant farewell scenes - often poems in their own right - and create
dramatic moments in their poems. More importantly, these descriptions were
powerful evocations of wifely duty that allowed poets to extol the values of
fidelity and selflessness on which social relationships were founded.
There are a considerable number of female characters in kakawin who do
not appear to have counterparts in Indian literature, even in those cases
where the stories themselves mirror the Sanskrit sources. A number of these
figures serve as wives to princes and thus allow the poets to depict the scenes
of love-making that are so central to kakawin, but many others seem literally
born to die. Satyawatl is one of these, but so too, at least in the Bhara-
tayuddha, is Ksiti-Sundari, although she is central and very much alive in
Mpu Panuluh's later poem, the Ghatotkacas'raya. Another heroine who has
no clearly defined role in the text other than to follow her husband Jaya-
wikrama, the king of Singhala, in death, is Mpu Tantular's heroine Marmma-
wati from the fourteenth-century Sutasoma.
The account of Marmmawatl's death (Sutasoma, Cantos 103-107) forms a
story within a story that is related to Prince Sutasoma in the course of his
travels, and has no direct connection with the main plot of this kakawin. The
description of Marmmawatl's death here begins with an explanation of why
she has not immediately followed her husband in death. It is not because she
does not love Jayawikrama, but because she has been staying with her father
in his hermitage and the news of his death does not reach her until some time
The poet then explains the misunderstandings that have brought about
this sad turn of events. One day Marmmawati copied a poem from a pudak,
the petal of a pandanus flower, which she found in a pavilion. When the king
heard his wife murmuring this love poem, he became suspicious and
thought she had taken a lover. Marmmawati explained that, she had merely
copied the poem from a pudak flower, but when Jayawikrama went out into
the garden to see it, he could find no trace of it, as the writing had been
washed away by the rain. In a jealous rage, he banished his wife forever.
Deprived of his beloved, Jayawikrama then rushed headlong into battle
to lay down his own life in a bloody war. In spite of his harsh treatment of
her, Marmmawatl's only thought, as soon as she hears of her husband's
death, is to follow him. She leaves her father's hermitage and goes to the
battlefield, which is strewn with the bodies of the fallen heroes. She descends
from her chariot and, supported by an attendant, looks in vain for Jaya-
wikrama's body.
Lamenting, she wanders about, passing many other weeping women
searching for their slain husbands, and stumbling over the bodies of many
others who have already plunged the knife into their own bodies. Thinking
that Jayawikrama does not want her to find his body because he is still angry
with her, she calls out to him, reproaching him for hiding from her when she
has come to follow him in death and prove her loyalty. A devoted retainer,
who has miraculously escaped death by being buried under a pile of corpses,
hears her laments and comes to her to explain why she is unable to find
Jayawikrama's corpse. He tells her that so powerful was the king that, when
he died, a great fire burst forth from his body and he was instantly burnt to
ashes. With this:

1. The queen ordered a fire to be made at once.
The official in charge was devoted to her
and swiftly obeyed her order.
The fire blazed up instantly.
2. As for the queen,
she prepared to follow the king:
The weeping of her lady companions,' nurses and servants increased,
as they sadly prostrated themselves at her feet.
3. All were filled with sadness
at the sight of her bejewelled chariot,
which they drew to the edge of the fire.
She stood undismayed with the expression of one victorious in battle.
4. The flames of the fire lit up her face,
as though urging her to follow [the king] in death.
Her kain was of fine floral silk;
her black and oiled hair hung loose.
5. She held a dagger,
sharp as a point of flame.
No fear was visible on her,
for she longed so much to follow the king.
Canto 107 .

1. [... S]he levelled.her kris and thrust it into her breast.
Her blood spurted up but rather than fetid it was fragrant.
Then bathing her face in blood, steadfastly and bravely paying homage>
• she leapt swiftly into the marvellous fire.
(Sutasoma 105-7, Santoso 1975:440-52.) ., .
• •
Another elaborate scene of the death of a loyal wife centres around the figure
of Tantular's second heroine, CitrawatI, the wife of the ruler of Mahispati,
Arjuna Sahasrabahu, in the Arjunawijaya (63.7-67.6). CitrawatI meets with a
happier solution to her despair. After she mistakenly kills herself, she is
revived by the goddess of the Narmada river and reunited with her husband.
This dramatic event takes place when the royal couple and their entourage
are on a royal tour in spring. They come to the Narmada river, where the
queen wishes to bathe. As the water is too deep to bathe in safely, Arjuna
assumes his divine form with a thousand arms and dams up the river.
• It so happens that the demon Dasamukha is worshipping a jewel lingga
on an island upstream. When Arjuna dams the river, the island is flooded
and Dasamukha has to scramble up a hill to safety. Angrily he decides to
attack Arjuna and, although he is warned by his prime minister of Arjuna's
formidable power, he marches against the king with the whole demon army.
A fierce battle takes place and eventually Arjuna manages to render
Dasamukha unconscious. Bound in chains, he is then carried away.
When Arjuna returns to the place where he left Citrawati, he finds her lying
dead with all her attendants beside her. A demon, disguised as a messenger,
had informed her that Arjuna had been killed, and so she had chosen to imme-
diately follow him in death by plunging a dagger into her heart. Her maid,
who has remained behind to inform Arjuna of what has happened, having
carried out her mistress's last wish, immediately follows her in death. Arjuna
broken-heartedly weeps for his queen. The goddess of the river then appears
to him and, telling him that Citrawati can only die when he has died himself,
revives all those who are dead, and Arjuna and Citrawatlare reunited.
The death scene in the Arjunawijaya apparently struck one later copyist
or poet as too brief. For in the sole manuscript belonging to the Javanese tra-
dition, two extra cantos comprising fourteen additional stanzas have been
added, elaborating the queen's poignant lament and death scene.19
Citrawati is not the only kakawiriwite to be tricked by her husband's en-
emies into an attempt to follow him in death. Sita, wife of Rama, falls victim
to such a ruse not once but twice in the Ramayana kakawin. On two separate
occasions Sita, believing Rama to be dead, makes preparations to follow him
• in death. The first is in Sarga 17.20-17.77. In this episode, Rawana presses Sita
to surrender to him, but she adamantly refuses. He then shows her illusory
images of the heads of Rama and his brother Laksmana, telling her that they
are both dead, in the hope that she will then consent to be his consort. The
trick has the opposite effect. Instead of turning to Rawana for comfort, Sita,
weeping and lamenting, reproaches Rama for making promises about their
shared.future that he is unable to keep. She begs Rawana to end her life, but
he refuses and goes away in anger. When all are asleep that night, she orders
her companion, Trijata, to prepare a fire. The latter, warned by the twitching
of her eyebrow - an auspicious sign - urges Sita to wait until she has been to
see her father, Rawana's brother, Wibhisana, to make sure that Rama is really
dead. She comes back to tell Sita that both Rama and Laksmana are alive and
well, and so saves her from mistakenly throwing herself into the fire.
On the second occasion, following the battle between the demon forces
and Rama, Sita is conducted to the battlefield, where she sees Rama lying
ensnared in the snake arrow launched by Rawana's son Indrajit. Believing
him to be dead, she swoons. With protestations of undying love, she once
more expresses her desire to follow her husband in death. She orders Trijata
to prepare a fire. Trijata, as her truly loyal companion, wishes only to follow
Sita in death, but first goes to take leave of her father Wibhisana, who
informs her that Rama is not dead, and once again Sita is saved.
Another well-known heroine from Indian traditions also finds herself
unable to face life alone. This is Rukmini in the twelfth-century Old Javanese
version of the Krsna-Rukmini story related in Mpu Panuluh's HariwangSa
(Teeuw 1950). Krsna's abduction of Rukmini on the eve of her wedding pro-
vokes a fierce counter-attack led by her rejected suitor, Jarasandha. After the
battle, the women in Krsna's palace at Dwarawati are broken-hearted and
bewildered. Many want to follow their husbands in death and set off for the
Because he has not returned, Rukmini believes that Krsna too has died,
and she spends the night wandering sorrowfully about in the garden. Her
anguish and grief are described at length. She tears at her hair and wants to
follow her lover in death. Her maid, KeSarl, advises her to wait until she
hears news confirming his death, but in reply to this Rukmini laments bit-
terly, saying that Krsna obviously does not love her anyway, since he has
refused to allow her to accompany him into battle.' She has no one to protect
her now or to look after her, so she might as well be dead. She takes her dag-
ger and is about to plunge it into her heart when Krsna, who has returned
safely, comes into the garden. Seeing his beloved with the kris gleaming in
her hand, he seizes her arm and prevents her from killing herself. By telling
Rukmini how much he loves her, he finally consoles her, and they spend the
night together in passionate love-making {HariwangSa 46.1-50.9).
In Mpu Monaguna's thirteenth-century kakawin, the Sumanasantaka,
there are two women who seek their own deaths.20 The first death is only
briefly mentioned where Indumati's father, the king of the KrthakeSika
people, dies and her mother follows him in death. No details are provided.
Indumati also wishes to follow her father in death, but is prevented from
doing so by her brother, prince Bhoja. The second case of belq is the death of
Indumati's maid, Jayawaspa, who kills herself after her mistress dies.
The Sumanasantaka contains the only reference in a kakawin to a daugh-
ter seeking to follow her father in death, although such scenes are common
in kidung. It is also the only kakawin in which the heroine precedes her hus-
band in death. It is interesting to note that the same degree of loyalty is not
required of kakawin heroes. Neither Aja nor his servant, Jayawaspa's hus-
band Kawidosa, is so heart-broken that they are moved to follow their wives
in death. In spite of their profound sorrow, they go on to live prosperous and
relatively contented lives for many years before finally being able to join their
beloved wives in heaven.
Even in kakawin that do not contain elaborate descriptions of the ritual
death of women, passing reference is made to this in many contexts. The lit-
erary examples discussed above show the popularity of such scenes among
Old Javanese poets over the centuries. The frequency as well as the detail of
such.scenes, particularly where they are entirely absent from known Indian
sources or where a brief reference becomes a lengthy poem, suggest that the
incorporation of such scenes represented a specifically Javanese adaptation
of Sanskrit literary ideals.
The Ramayana, for example, is based on the Sanskrit Bhattikavya, but only
follows the Sanskrit text fairly closely up until Sarga 17, the point in the story
at which Sita first tries to follow Rama in death. The author of the Old Javanese
Ramayana has created an episode tens of stanzas long from an episode cov-
ered in just a few lines in the Sanskrit model. All the Bhattikavya has to say on
the subject of Rawana's unsuccessful attempt to win Sita's heart is:
The ten-headed, whose soul was agitated with love, was thereupon informed by
his spies about the military might of the Enemy: he decided to vex Sita mentally
by resorting to an illusory image of Rama's head, then he sent an army in order to
wage war. (Bhattikavya 14.1, Leonardi 1972:138.)
The second occasion on which Sita mistakenly almost follows Rama in death,
in Sarga 21.1-21.48, has no parallel in the Bhattikavya at all. Nor, in spite of
the popularity of Krsna stories, has any direct Indian model been found for
Rukmini's actions in the Hariwangia; while the death of Ksiti-Sundari in the
Bharatayuddha has no parallel in either the Mahabharata or other Indian
sources. In fact, most of the episodes of heroines seeking to follow their hus-
bands or their mistresses in death appear to be purely Javanese creations.
This includes the heroines whose stories have been related above - Ksiti-
Sundari, Satyawati, Citrawati and Marmmawati - as well as the entire cast of
loyal female servants and companions described in the kakawin texts. In the
depiction of these acts of ultimate loyalty, Javanese poets were apparently
able to give free rein to their creative talents to write mini-poems describing
the laments of separated lovers.21 On the other hand, it is interesting to note
that few of the rare examples of sati that are found in the Indian literary

sources and were also known in Java have become the focus of these elabor-
ate descriptions.
One exception is the long description of Ratih's grief when Kama (Smara)
has been burnt up by Siwa in the Smaradahana, a thirteenth-century kaka-
win by Mpu Dharmaja (Cantos 13-23, Poerbatjaraka 1931:20-31). When she
hears the news of Kama's death, Ratih wishes to follow him immediately.
After heaping reproaches on the gods for causing his death, she sets off for
Mt Meru accompanied by two servants, Nanda and Sunanda. There is a
lengthy description of their journey. When finally they find the place where
Kama has died,- all that is left of him are his ashes and a pillar of smoke.
Taking pity on her, Siwa causes the fire to flare up and, as she begs Kama to
meet her on the long road to heaven, Ratih ascends the fire followed by her
two faithful maids.
Other kakawin in which Indian traditions appear to provide Javanese
poets' with source material include the Bhomakawya, where Yajnawari
prefers death by fire to life without Darmadewa (Teeuw 1946; Ando 1991:68-
70). The death of the abbess Wedawatl,- who jumps into the fire to avoid
Rawana's advances in the Arjunawijaya, is found in.both the Sanskrit and
Old Javanese versions of the Uttarakanda (Kane 1941; Supomo 1977). Both
these incidents are passed over in a few lines in each of these kakawin; and
do not become the focus of detailed descriptions. The death of Madrl, the
wife of Pandu, is one of the few. instances of sati recorded in the Sanskrit
Mahabharata. Yet, in spite of the inclusion of this episode in the Old Javanese
Adiparwa, no Javanese or Balinese poets have told her story. Instead, they
show a marked preference for young, beautiful and dramatically tragic hero-
ines, even if they must create them for themselves.
Before leaving pre-Islamic Java and turning to more recent Balinese texts,
the last of the Javanese kakawin, Mpu Tanakung's Siwaratrikalpa, must be
mentioned. This poem dates from the closing decades of the Majapahit
period, having been written in about 1478. While most kakawin heroines are
princesses of noble birth, in the Siwaratrikalpa (9.3-9.9, Teeuw et al. 1969:86-
9) a low-caste woman follows the example of her more illustrious counter-
parts. When the hunter Lubdhaka dies from an illness, his.wife sits lament-
ing at his bedside, reproaching him for leaving her alone with the children.
She beseeches him to let her come with him, wherever he may be going, and
concludes.that only death will satisfy her, no matter where she may have to
follow him. Whether or not she does actually follow him is not told, for after
a brief mention of Lubdhaka's cremation in Canto 10, a canto of only one
stanza, the poet leaves the fate of Lubdhaka's wife and children and turns to
the tale of Lubdhaka's soul hovering in the air and the struggle between the
gods and Yama, Lord of Death, for its possession, which is the subject matter
of the rest of the kakawin. .
A number of Balinese kakawin, including the Krsnantaka, Krsnakalantaka,
Ramaparas'uwijaya and Narakawijaya, contain descriptions of women fol-
lowing their husbands in death. The oldest extant Balinese kakawin date
only from the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. As I have dis-
cussed elsewhere (Creese 1998, 1999), Balinese poets appear to have made
considerable use of the prose and poetic works of pre-Islamic Java as guides
for their own writing. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that many of the
Balinese heroines are known from earlier Javanese literary sources. Related
briefly in the final part of the Ramaparas'uwijaya (18.2) is the death of Citra-
wati, from the Arjunawijaya, who does eventually follow Arjuna Sahas-
rabahu to heaven after his death in battle at the hands of Rama Bhargawa.
Rukmini, whose narrow escape from death as a young woman is recounted
in the HariwangSa, finally follows Krsna in death in the Krsnantaka, a
kakawin dating from no later than the mid-eighteenth century (Ando 1991),
which relates the destruction of the Yadu tribe and Krsna's death. The
Balinese poet has followed the frame story of the events related in the
A&ramawasaparwa, Mosalaparwa, and Prasthanikaparwa closely. After
Krsna's death, Rukmini, together with his other wives, Jambawati and
Satyabhama, casts herself into the flames (23.1). No details are provided by
the poet; but the mode of death they choose is death by fire, in conformity
with the details recorded in the Sanskrit and Old Javanese parwa. • . .•
In his poem, however, the author has also included an elaborate scene of
widow self-immolation that is not found in the prose original. Like the
Javanese heroines described earlier, Yajnawati, • when seeking to follow
Samba in death (Canto 20), wanders the battlefield, where she passes many
other women in search of their husbands; each of whom, on finding her
beloved, stabs herself with her kris and dies immediately (20.8). When she
finds Samba's body, Yajnawati tries desperately to revive him and finally
stabs herself with her kris, lying with her face on his as she goes to join him
in heaven.
Yajnawati also features in another Balinese kakawin, the Narakawijaya,
which begins with an account of her life before she meets Samba. She is born
as the daughter of king Uttara, but when the demon Bhoma attacks the
palace, her father is defeated and slain and her mother follows him in death,
dying over his body (48.15). The orphaned Yajnawati is then adopted by
Bhoma. Similarly in the Krsnakalantaka, a story set at the time of the great
war between the Pandawas and the Korawas but apparently unknown in
Indian traditions, Krsna slays the demon Kalantaka, whose wife laments
over his body and then stabs herself over his corpse (76.6).
For Balinese descriptions of the practice of widow suicide, we may also

examine kidung literature in which such scenes play a prominent role. The
kakawin and kidung genres flourished simultaneously in Bali in the eight-
eenth and nineteenth centuries. Kidung do not tell of Indian heroes and hero-
ines. Instead, most deal with the princes of Java in the Kadiri and Majapahit
periods, both historical and mythological. In spite of their Javanese setting,
most kidung are of Balinese origin, and the descriptions of women taking
their own lives to be with their husbands in the next world appear to reflect
actual practices in Balinese court society.
There are many references to bela in kidung literature.22 In the Harsa-
wijaya (1.11-1.30, Berg 1931:51-4), for example, the king of Singhasari, Nara-
singha, dies in battle and his wife follows him in death by taking her kris and
dying at his feet. The same happens in the Rangga Lawe (13.1, Berg 1930:176).
After Rangga Lawe's rebellion against king Harsawijaya has been sup-
pressed and Rangga Lawe himself has been killed, all his wives (sang bela),
having asked the king's forgiveness, stab themselves over their husband's
. •
. •

' •
The Kidung Sunda tells of the planned marriage between the king of
Majapahit, Hayam Wuruk, and the daughter of the king of Sunda. When the
king of Sunda dies in the battle that follows the breakdown of negotiations,
both his wife and daughter prepare to follow him in death. Fearing that her
daughter will be prevented from performing bela if she is seen, the queen
urges her to precede her quickly in death there in the camp, rather than go to
the battlefield. The princess accedes to this request, and the queen and the
king's second wife and all the wives of the state ministers then go to the
battlefield and. stab themselves over the bodies of their husbands (Kidung
Sunda 5-12, 25, Berg 1927:47-8).
In addition to these semi-historical kidung stories, there are a number of
Pafvji kidung that present fictionally the theme of the futility of life without a
husband. In the Wargasari (3.2a-3.3a, Fletcher 1990), Wargasari's first wife,
Narawati, resolves to end her troubles when her husband abandons her and
elopes with the beautiful Wedarasmi, and prepares herself ritually for death
in exactly the same way as the Balinese women described by the' Dutch -
bathing and washing her hair, putting on an underskirt of beautiful Chauli
muslin with an overskirt of white silk, and combing out her hair softly. She
then sets out for the wilderness to end her life. She is rescued and eventually
finds happiness as a co-wife with Wedarasmi.
When the queen of Lasem resolves to follow her husband in death in the
Wangbang Wideya, the description of her sacrifice captures the festive
atmosphere of cremation rituals, which are depicted as occasions for celebra-
tion by large numbers of spectators. At the same time, the poignancy of the
tragic outcome is not lost on the one responsible for the death of the king in
battle, Wangbang Wideya himself.
The ones faithful to their husbands straightaway came attended by servants with
swollen eyes. There were four suicides, but it was the queen who was foremost in
She wore a white wastra of filmy material while her kain was of white silk.
They were conveyed in a cart, attended by men of the Wisnuwredana corps [...]
she had now reached the place where lay he who had died in battle, and the queen
made an obeisance to her beloved husband [...].
Thus she spoke and unsheathed her dagger. Her hair hung loose as a sign that
she was no longer attached to the world. She then stabbed herself through the
chest. Her blood rushed forth, while she took a ritual bath in blood that welled in
her mouth. The queen then performed an act of worship to her husband.
She constantly used her disordered locks as petals for scattering, having as
lingga her dim eyes and as ash she used the dust at her husband's feet. A moment
later she performed the yoga of oblivion, which was followed by her death. When
she fell she bent forward over the face of her beloved.
Then the three others ran themselves through equally brave. That most excel-
lent of warriors [Wangbang Wideya] shuddered to see it, and his heart was heavy;
he could not help thinking of the princess. All the spectators praised those who
were loyal to their husband. (Wangbang Wideya 2.72a-2.78a, Robson 1971:151.)
Ritual suicide as practice; An analysis
The foregoing survey of the kakawin and kidung corpus reveals a number of
variations on the same theme. All poetic descriptions of widow sacrifice have
much in common. There is evidence of both regional and temporal variation,
but this is hardly surprising, given that the sources span more than a millen-
nium and cover a geographical area stretching • from Central Java to the
Balinese courts of Western Lombok.
In these descriptions are found women who cast themselves onto their
husbands' funeral pyres as a reflection of the Indian practice of sati. There are
those who have dressed in white, their hair unbound, and who choose to use
a kris; those who wound themselves and anoint their faces with their own
blood; those who allow others to take their lives; and, most prominently,
given the thematic importance of war in kakawin and kidung literature,
those who must first seek out their husbands' bodies amidst the carnage of
the battlefield.
Although knowledge of Indian sati appears to have been widespread,
most literary texts that portray scenes of widow suicide depict widows and
retainers killing themselves by means of a kris. Stories where fire is the only
means of death appear to be those that can be directly traced to Indian liter-
ary models such as the Ramayana and Smaradahana. Where Javanese and
Balinese poets are freer to use their own creativity there is a marked prefer-
ence for elaborate depictions of death by a kris.
Despite the formalized, stylistic poetic language in which the kakawin
and kidung descriptions are couched, and notwithstanding the vast cast of
largely fictional characters who enact the death scenes, it seems probable that
the descriptions of women following a loved one in death are modelled on
actual Javanese and Balinese customs. Strikingly, similar kinds of details and
minor variations abound in the more 'factual' accounts of foreign observers
from the fourteenth century onward. Of course this does not mean that the
scenes of death depicted in these fictional poetic works mirror the 'reality' of
Javanese and Balinese life exactly. The number of distraught widows actually
wandering the battlefields was undoubtedly quite limited. Nevertheless, the
literary sources do suggest the existence of a practice of self-immolation in
which both a kris and fire were used. By the nineteenth century in Bali stab-
bing appears to have become a ritual precursor to leaping from a cremation
tower platform into the fire below. The fourteenth-century Candi Jago relief
described earlier suggests that the cremation platforms of Java were similar
in style to those that have remained in use in Bali until the present day.
These fictional representations are imbued with a number of deeply held
cultural beliefs about women, their place in the world, and their relationships
with men.23 What the literary texts reveal necessarily applies only to high-
status women. Yet, the depictions of a patriarchal social order that provided
women with no alternatives but marriage or death which continued over
such a long period of time can only have been possible if the social mores
they embodied continued to be highly valued. Kakawin and kidung poetry
and the court cultures and poets who produced this poetry over the centuries
therefore not only bear witness to the practice of widow suicide, but also
were complicit in inculcating and perpetuating the underlying values at all
levels of society.
The death of Satyawati in the Bharatayuddha, though it is not the earliest
example of self-immolation in the textual record, may well have been central
to the development of the depiction of the death of a loyal wife as a poetic
requirement of kakawin poetry. Satyawati herself, whose name means 'Loyal
One', was also perhaps pivotal in shaping the moral universe that made such
actions both acceptable and laudable. With her dying breath, Satyawati her-
self beseeches her maid to:
Implore the prince of poets to write a lyrical poem about my suffering, so that the
lovesick women will hear and know what I have done. I hope that they will be
moved and will shed tears. (Bharatayuddha 45.4, Supomo 1993:242.)
In his twelfth-century creation of a role model who was not only 'one who
died faithfully' but also 'a worthy example to noble and praiseworthy
women' (Bharatayuddha 46.1), Mpu Panuluh appears to have assured Satya-
wati's future in the ideological world of Javanese and Balinese gender rela-
tions for all time.
The Bharatayuddha is one of the earliest extant kakawin, and one that has
remained important in its own right as a source of themes and characters for
later poetic works and performance genres, including wayang. Its influence
appears to have been enduring and there is an echo of its didactic role in Bali
in the mid-nineteenth century. Friederich (1959:93) notes that a woman who
chose to end her life by following her husband in death 'is called a Satyavati,
a true faithful woman who has performed in all things her duty to her hus-
band'. This is probably what Mpu Panuluh had in mind when he created the
character of Satyawati.

Satyawati is held up as a model for women in poems as diverse as the
thirteenth-century Old Sundanese Sri Ajnyana (Teeuw 1998) and the eight-
eenth-century Balinese Krsnantaka. She appears also to have been the name-
sake of Satyawati, the wife of Angling Darma, whose death is depicted on
Candi Jago and whose story is recorded in the Kidung Angling Darma
(Drewes 1975). Her character also appears to have provided inspiration for
the fourteenth-century poet Mpu Tantular's Marmmawatl. Mpu Tantular
probably knew the Bharatayuddha quite well, for his description of
Marmmawati's death is very similar to that given by Mpu Panuluh of
Satyawati's death. He may even have used the Bharatayuddha as a model for
this passage, as the two descriptions, separated from each other by two cen-
turies, agree even in the smallest details: both women go to the battlefield in
a chariot, then wander around supported by an attendant, looking for their
husbands' corpses; in both cases a faithful servant who has miraculously
escaped death by hiding under a pile of corpses tells them the details of their
respective husbands'- deaths; both are unable to find the bodies and lament
bitterly, asking if the reason they refuse to be found is because they are angry;
then, having implored their husbands to wait for them and help them on the
arduous journey to heaven, both plunge a dagger into their hearts.
The impact of literary genres like kakawin and kidung in shaping the
moral universe of members of the Javanese and Balinese courts should not be
underestimated. In contrast to European cultures, where epic tales and sagas
were largely esteemed as entertainment, in the Indonesian archipelago texts
were imbued with a sacredness that made their composition and recitation
an act of religious worship bringing merit to all, whether they were poets,
performers or members of the audience (Zoetmulder 1974). This applied to
apparently secular texts as well as more esoteric, specifically religious ones..
As models of right conduct or dharma, kakawin and kidung heroes and
heroines provided examples of appropriate behaviour for all levels of "society.
For women of the court this included the desirability of following their hus-
bands, fathers, and, on occasion, sons in death. In many cases these literary
role models appear to have been created specifically for this task. Satyawati
is the most obvious example, but Ksiti-Sundarl too is an outstanding
example. Like Satyawati, she wishes to be remembered and tells Uttarl that:
My ashes should be offered as a sacrifice on a delicate writing board [inscribed]
with a piece of slate-pencil. My purpose is none other than that they be offered to
eminent poets, and they be asked to compose a poem about our husband and
myself. (Bharatayuddha 15.6, Supomo 1993:191.)
This is, in fact, what the Javanese 'prince of poets', Mpu Panuluh, does in his
third kakawin, the Ghatotkacdžmya.
Other exemplary heroines include Mpu Tantular's queens Citrawati and
Marmmawatl, the heroines of the Arjunawijaya and Sutasoma respectively.
As they describe the deaths of these heroines, the poets overtly assume their
didactic role and comment specifically on how proper their behaviour is and
how vital it is that virtuous women should follow their example.
Marmmawati's death, for example, is specifically said to please her father:
We do not describe the conduct of those who praised the faithful one.
They arrived at the hermitage. The great monk was very pleased
When he heard of the greatness of the queen.
(Sutasoma 107.4, Santoso 1975:454.)
In the Krsnantaka, Krsna directly encourages his daughter Yajnawati to fol-
low Samba in death, urging her:
0 my child, what should I say? Go and follow your husband and die with him,
for it is proper for an excellent wife, for whom nothing surpasses fidelity to her
1 will tell you, who are very courageous and composed, that it is the most excel-
lent way to find final liberation. (Krsnantaka 20.4, Ando 1991 240-1.)
And no less than in Javanese kakawin, her death is considered 'a model of
proper conduct, to ease the heart' (Krsnantaka 20.16). Ksiti-Sundari too is
convinced that hers is the proper course of action. Her death and her desire
to follow Abhimanyu differ in several ways from those in other descriptions.
In the first place, it is not so much Abhimanyu who is the focus of her lament
as her co-wife Uttarl, who, because she is pregnant, is unable to follow her
husband in death. The farewell scene between the two co-wives is a lengthy
one and slightly unusual in kakaioin terms, for it is the separation of 'sisters'
rather than the more usual parting of lovers that is portrayed here. It is not
too difficult to read this particular part of the text as a model for the proper
conduct of co-wives in a polygynous society, its author, Mpu Sedah, taking
the opportunity to exercise his didactic function and portray the close rela-
tionships in the ideal menage a trois. At the same time, the poet leaves his
audience in no doubt that it is Ksiti-Sundan who is the more fortunate in
being able to follow Abhimanyu in death.
. In most cases the explicit motivation for women to follow their husbands
in death is the desire to be with them in the next life. In the world of the ima-
gination, where love is perfect and lovers beyond compare, separation is
unthinkable. The idea of being able to be with one's lover forever is a power-
ful motivating force. The power of the human emotions of love and grief
should not be underrated. Love of the deceased was usually the reason given
to Dutch observers in the nineteenth century, and the accounts of early
explorers such as Pires and Pigafetta also touch on this aspect.
At the same time, it is difficult not to share the horror felt by those who
were eyewitnesses to the death of women in this fashion. However deep and
loving a relationship may have been, however successful the culture in per-
petuating the value of such an act, to actually stab oneself or leap into the fire
must have required tremendous courage and resolution. While the choice to
take such a momentous step may always have rested with the woman her-
self, there is some evidence to suggest that, as well as the more noble mo-
tivation of love and duty, despair of the future may have played a part. In the
kakawin and kidung world of the court, the alternatives for women were
severely limited.
One possible path for those who had lost their partners was to withdraw
to the mountains, as Warastrasari's servants vowed to do if she did not return
(Wangbang Wideya 1.20b, Robson 1971:69). Similarly in the Krsnantaka,
when Krsna dies his wives ascend his funeral pyre, but those who choose not
to die in this way are also lauded, provided they are prepared to withdraw
from the world; The poet comments:
Let us pass over the death of those ladies who were brave and faithful.
The rest of the ladies who did not die retreated into the wooded mountain.
Dressed in garments made of bark they followed the way of life of the great sages.
They were called satya as they held firmly to sacred precepts. (Krsnantaka 23.2,
Ando 1991:247.)
Tome Pires also comments on the fate of women who choose not to seek
death by fire:
Many Javanese women do not marry and [remain] virgins. They have houses in
the mountains and there they end their lives. Others become Beguines after they
have lost their first husband - those who do not want to burn themselves to death.
And they say that there are large numbers of these in Java, and there must be more
than a hundred thousand women; and afterwards they live in chastity, and they
die in this, and they have houses in place for such retreat; and so the women, like
the men, ask for food for love of God. (Pires 1944:177.)
Marriage with widows is said to be strictly forbidden. Tome Pires notes
(1944:167) that in Sunda, widows 'are Beguines leading a life apart and
people do not marry them. Others marry three or four times. These few are
outcasts in the land.' In the Malat, when Paflji refuses to marry a widow
named Nawang Rum, she is shamed and stricken and chooses to kill herself
(Vickers 1986:166). The world may think she has followed her husband in
death, and only her maid Madukara knows that, spurned by Panji/her mis-
tress has died of a broken heart. She then quickly follows her mistress in
In reality the position of widows in society was undoubtedly difficult.
Although there is no evidence to suggest that widows in Java and Bali faced
as difficult a future as their counterparts in India, it is likely that for many the
only choice was to become a second, third or fourth wife or, in order to con-
tinue to have access to their children, to provide services to their husband's
family. There are hints of the difficult position of widows in Balinese court
society in the literary texts.
For high-caste women whose husbands had been defeated in battle, the
choice to follow them in death may have seemed preferable tolife as a con-
cubine in the household of a victorious enemy. This must have been a con-
stant threat in a society where many widows were young and comely. Just as
marriageable daughters were pawns in the politics of dynastic marriage, so
too unprotected wives and daughters were valuable currency. There are
glimpses of this in several kidung, where a number of women, including
wives, daughters and sisters, actively resort to death by fire or the kris to save
themselves from the usual fate of captive women, namely that of being divid-
ed as booty among the officers and soldiers of the victorious army. Such
scenes are graphically described in kidung such as the Kidung Harsawijaya,
where Pusparasmi, Princess of Singhasari, resolves to follow her father in
death. So too in the Wangbang Wideya the queen of Lasem declares, when
her dying husband entreats her to be loyal to him and follow him into the
next world as she has promised:
Why should I not be true to you? For I decline, furthermore to become a captive,
because I would be ashamed to be scorned. Heaven would be to die with you.

For Balinese women, and presumably also for their Javanese counterparts in
the pre-Islamic period, following one's husband in death appears to have
been not only a'practice that was supported by society at large, but one that
they themselves were convinced was right. Kakawin and kidung provide a
window through which this indigenous world view can be glimp.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Dari Besuki,ke Hari Jadi Kota Situbondo ....?

September 5 2009

Tulisan Ini saya Post-kan buat memperingati Hari jadi Kota situbondo.

Secara administratif, Besuki masuk wilayah kecamatan di Kabupaten Situbondo, namun budaya dan dialek bahasa Madura masyarakatnya justru sama dengan orang di Kabupaten Bondowoso.

Masyarakat Besuki dan Bondowoso memiliki budaya dan dialek yang sama dengan masyarakat di Pamekasan, Madura, sedangkan masyarakat di wilayah Panarukan, Kabupaten Situbondo ke timur memiliki kesamaan budaya dengan Sumenep.

Kesamaan budaya itu, menurut tokoh masyarakat Besuki, karena kedekatan Ke Pate Alos, demang pertama di Besuki dengan pembabat Alas di Bondowoso, yakni Ki Bagus Asra atau dikenal Ki Ronggo.

Ia menjelaskan, pada perkembangan pemerintahan di Besuki yang dipegang oleh Raden Sahirudin Wiroastro alias Wirodipuro II tersingkirkan setelah Belanda menerapkan politik adu domba.

Saat itu Belanda mendirikan pemerintahan di Panarukan yang pimpinannya masih ada hubungan keluarga dengan Raden Sahirudin. Akhirnya keluarga dan keturunan Sahirudin Wiroastro lari ke Bondowoso.

Keluarga itu, mendapatkan tempat terhormat dari keluarga Ki Bagus Asra (Ki Ronggo) yang juga berasal dari Madura. Ki Ronggo memiliki ikatan yang kuat dengan Ke Pate Alos karena pernah berguru kepadanya.

Bahkan ketika Ki Ronggo membabat alas di Bondowoso juga atas perintah Ke Pate Alos.

ketika di Bondowoso dibentuk pemerintah, maka bupati pertamanya adalah Raden Abdurahman Wirodipuro yang merupakan cicit dari Ke Pate Alos. Hal itu dilakukan sebagai bentuk balas budi dan penghormatan Ki Ronggo kepada gurunya, Ke Pate Alos.

Raden Abdurahman Wirodipuro itu dilantik menjadi Bupati Bondowoso tahun 1850 M berdasarkan besluit Nomor 3 tertanggal 17 Oktober 1850 yang dikeluarkan Belanda. Beliau memerintah hingga tahun 1879 dan kemudian digantikan oleh menantunya, Raden Aryo Tumenggung Wondokusumo.

Tidak hanya ikatan antar keturunan guru dengan muridnya, pada perkembangan berikutnya, tidak sedikit masyarakat Besuki yang lebih memilih Bondowoso untuk memenuhi kebutuhannya, termasuk ketika keluarganya sakit. Mereka banyak yang memilih berobat ke Bondowoso, meskipun jarak Besuki ke Kota Situbondo dengan jarak Besuki ke Kota Bondowoso sama-sama sekitar 35 Km.

Mantan Kepala Seksi Kebudayaan pada Dinas P dan K Kabupaten Bondowoso, Hapi Tedjo Pramono mengakui bahwa masyarakat Besuki memiliki akar sejarah yang sama dengan Bondowoso.

Kota Besuki, memiliki letak yang sangat strategis karena berada di perlintasan utama kota besar di Jawa, seperti Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang dan Surabaya menuju - Bali lewat jalur darat.

Kota kecamatan yang kini menjadi bagian dari Kebupaten Situbondo, Jawa Timur itu sebetulnya memiliki sejarah panjang sebagai salah kota penting di Nusantara ini.

Namun, nasib kota itu seperti mengulang kisah masa lalu yang pernah digadaikan oleh Belanda kepada seorang saudagar keturunan Tiong Hoa di Surabaya. Kota itu kini seolah tetap tergadaikan meskipun masyarakatnya sebetulnya tidak menginginkan hal itu.

Misalnya, Besuki hanya dijadikan nama untuk polisi wilayah (Polwil) yang markasnya ada di Kabupaten Bondowoso atau badan koordinator wilayah (Bakorwil) di bawah Pemprov Jatim.

Kebesaran nama Besuki itu hanya digunakan sebagai penanda, sementara sang pemilik sepertinya tidak memperoleh "imbalan" apa-apa, misalnya sekedar melestarikan warisan kebesaran sejarahnya.

Kepala Dinas Perindustrian, Perdagangan dan Pariwisata Kabupaten Situbondo, Agus Cahyono mengakui bahwa dari sisi sejarah, Besuki merupakan aset nasional.

"Besuki itu dulunya kota yang cukup besar, namun kemudian statusnya 'melorot' (turun) terus hingga kini menjadi kecamatan. Karena itu, sampai sekarang di kepolisian masih menggunakan nama Polwil Besuki, meskipun markasnya di Bondowoso," ujarnya.

Ia mengemukakan, Besuki pernah menjadi keresidenan dan pada saat lembaga itu diubah menjadi nama pembantu gubernur, kantornya tidak lagi di Besuki, melainkan di Bondowoso.
Setelah itu pindah ke Jember dan saat ini bergabung dengan Bakorwil di Malang.

Sejarah Kota Besuki bermula dari diangkatnya Raden Bagus (RB) Kasim Wirodipuro sebagai demang pertama di Besuki. Kasim kemudian dikenal dengan nama Ki Pati Alos dan masyarakat Besuki menyebut Ke Pate Alos.

RB Kasim dilantik menjadi Demang Besuki oleh Tumenggung Joyo Lelono yang berkedudukan di wilayah Kabupaten Probolinggo sekarang. Beliau dilantik pada Sabtu manis, 8 September 1764 M, atau 12 Robiul Awal 1184 H. Pada Saat itu lah Nama Besuki di sebut sebut.

Tumenggung Joyo Lelono pernah berpesan, dengan nama Besuki, maka siapa yang berniat jelek terhadap Ke Pate Alos, maka perbuatan itu akan kembali ke dirinya sendiri. Mengenai arti Besuki itu sendiri, saya belum mendapat kejelasan.

Mungkin saja itu dari Bahasa Jerman ”Besuch” karena menurut informasi, tentara Belanda zaman dulu juga banyak yang berasal dari Jerman. Mungkin Besuki itu dulu tempat untuk membesuk, meskipun belum jelas maksudnya membesuk apa,?

Dalam perkembangannya, pemerintahan pimpinan Ke Pate Alos, Besuki bertambah maju. Ke Pate Alos yang memimpin kademangan itu dengan berlokasi di utara alun-alun Besuki atau dikenal sebagai "dalem tengah" mendapatkan penghargaan dari Tumenggung Joyo Lelono.

Ke Pate Alos kemudian dilantik menjadi Patih Besuki pada tahun 1764. Dengan pengangkatan itu, maka status Besuki sebagai wilayah kedemangan naik menjadi setingkat kabupaten.

Pada perkembangan berikutnya, menurut dia, Besuki digadaikan oleh Belanda kepada seorang saudagar Cina muslim di Surabaya bernama, Han Boei Sing, sekitar tahun 1770. Diduga Belanda menggadaikan wilayah Besuki karena membutuhkan uang dalam jumlah banyak.

Namun belum ditemukan fakta berapa nilai uang yang diterima Belanda saat itu. Karena Besuki berada di bawah kekuasaan Han Boei Sing, maka ia mengangkat seorang wali dengan pangkat Ronggo di Besuki dan berlanjut hingga sekitar enam Ronggo. Ronggo itu adalah pangkat.

Menurut dia, pada saat Ronggo di Besuki dijabat oleh Suro Adiwijoyo yang juga Cina muslim, pada sekitar tahun 1805, didirikan bangunan bersejarah di Besuki, seperti gedung keresidenan dan kewedanan serta masjid jamik," katanya.

Besuki kemudian ditebus oleh Gubernur Jenderal Raffles pada tahun 1813 senilai 618.720 Gulden. Data itu ia dapatkan dari catatan yang ditulis J. Hageman, J. Cz. dengan titel Soerabaia, Februari 1864 .

Sekitar 13 tahun sebelum tebusan itu dilakukan, Ke Pate Alos meninggal. Pemerintah selanjutnya diteruskan oleh anak keturunannya. Ke Pate Alos dimakamkan di Kauman Barat atau Kampung Arab, Besuki.

Makam itu kini dikeramatkan dengan dikunjungi banyak orang untuk ziarah. Pada setiap malam jumat, Moh. Hasan Nailul Ilmi memimpin istighasah di makam tersebut bersama ratusan jamaahnya.

Namun, kemungkinan tidak banyak dari peziarah itu tahu, bahwa Ke Pate Alos itu dulunya pernah menjadi 'penguasa' di Besuki, kota tua yang dulu pernah "tergadaikan"

Menurut Beberapa sumber mengatakan tonggak berdirinya Besuki menjadi tonggak hari jadi kota Situbondo pula,namun ada yang mengatakan Hari jadi kota Situbondo adalah 19 September...terlepas dari perbedaan Presepsi tersebut menurut saya harus di kaji lebih Dalam,mangambil titik temu beberapa presepsi adalah penting,tapi yang harus lebih di pentingkan adalah apa yang telah dan akan kita Lakukan Untuk kemajuan Kota ini.


Fajar D Herdian

dari berbagai sumber
dan arsip Nasional.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Situs Bersejarah di Puncak Gunung Argopuro

Argopura bisa diartikan "Gunung Pura" atau barangkali bisa disebut Pura di Puncak Gunung, seperti banyak ditemukannya struktur bangunan berarsitek mirip Pura (tempat peribadatan umat Hindu) dikawasan puncak, berawal dari situlah gunung ini beroleh nama Argopuro.Di puncak Gunung nan indah ini di jumpai reruntuhan bangunan dan tinggal puing-punig yang berserakan dan ditumpuk begitu saja seolah tak bernilai sejarah. sisa-sisa reruntuhan itu masih nampak jelas, ada beberapa situs purbakala di sekitar kawasan puncak Argopuro.

kawasan puncak yang dimaksud meliputi ketinggian 3.088 meter dari permukaan laut ke atas, yang didalamnya mencakup areal seluas hampir satu km persegi, yang didalamnya terdapat komplek bukit dan alun-alun, komplek kawah dan komplek candi.

Komplek bukit dan alun-alun merupakan pintu masuk kawasan puncak, sebuah alun-alun yang luas dipegunungan Hyang Argopuro. Alun-alun ini dibatasi langsung oleh sebuah kawah dengan lubang dalam., sedangkan disebelah timur masih terdapat lima kawah, baik lubang maupun tempat yang dinamakan alun-alun SIJEDING.

Komplek candi yang dimaksud bukan candi dalam arti sebenarnya, melainkan merujuk dari jenis peninggalan dan struktur bangunan sejarah kepurbakalaan yang terdapat di gunung ini. Jumlah seluruhnya ada tujuh komplek meliputi situs kolam dan taman sari, Situs Puncak Rangganis, dua bangunan candi, dan tiga bangunan pura.

Masyarakat sekitar lebih mengenal Rengganis ketimbang Argopuro. Rengganis sebuah nama seorang DEWI yang begitu melekat di hati masyarakat kaki gunung Argopuro. Konon menurut legenda penduduk setempat, dari sanalah Dewi Rengganis tinggal dan memerintah kerajaannya. Diceritakan pula bahwa alun-alun Rawa Embik adalah sebuah padang rumput dibawah alun-alun puncak adalah sumber mata air yang terus mengalir sepanjang tahun. Tempat itu merupakan padang penggembalaan hewan ternak yang mensuplai kebutuhan keraton di puncak.

Dituturkan bahwa Dewi Rengganis adalah salah seorang Putri dari Prabu Brawijaya ke….? yang lahir dari salah satu selirnya. Karena tidak diakui keberadaannya, pada saat dewasa ia didampingi seorang Patih dan pengikut-pengikutnya yang setia melarikan diri dan mendirikan kerajaan keraton di puncak gunung ini.

Diperkirakan puing-punig yang terdapat di Rengganis suatu peninggalan tertinggi yang ditemui di Pulau Jawa adalah bekas Kuil Hindu abad ke 12 Masehi. Situs Rengganis memperlihatkan aspek rancang bangun jaman prasejarah dan jaman klasik akhir di pulau Jawa. Salah satu hal yang paling menonjol dari peninggalan kepurbakalaan di Rengganis, adanya tembok pagar luar yang mengelilingi bangunan serta struktur bangunan lebih memperlihatkan struktur Pura daripada Candi.

Satu hal yang tidak dijumpai pada peninggalan kepurbakalaan masa Majapahit akhir yang berada di gunung-gunung lain seperti Gunung Penanggungan, dan Gunung Arjuna. Benarkah struktur bangunan yang disebut PURA sesuai dengan Pura dalam arti dan fungsi yang sesungguhnya pada saat ini? Ataukah Pura itu adalah sebuah Candi dengan model lain. Benarkah Komplek kuno yang ada dalam pesantren dimana para Resi, Pendeta atau Biarawan menghabiskan waktu untuk tinggal dan belajar di Puncak ini?
Ataukah memang suatu komplek keraton?

Tempat peribadatan disini belum bisa memastikanbentuk tradisi dari aliran dan sekte apa para Rahib itu semua. Terlepas apakah itu keraton atau karesian dapatkah dibayangkan bagaimana Perikehidupan dan aktifitas yang dilakukan sehari-hari di Puncak Gunung yang indah, dingin, dan terpencil itu pada jaman alam masih liar yang waktu itu masih buas.

Legenda tinggallah cerita turun temurun dari mulut ke mulut yang semakin bias dan sulit dibuktikan secara ilmiah. Hipotesa dari penyelidikan terdahulu belum seluruhnya terbukti. Sebagian besar data masih berupa misteri dan beberapa benda-benda bernilai sejarah itu telah hilang dan dihancurkan. Menurut penduduk sekitar sekitar tahun 80-an Situs Purbakala di Gunung Argopuro masih nampak terawat dan masih belum banyak benda yang hilang, selepas itu kini situs Purbakala itu semakin rusak, kotor dan bangunan dengan teras-teras berdinding batu itu tinggalah batu-batu berserakan yang dihiasi bungkus mie instan. Sejumlah Arca dari Gunung ini telah terpencar oleh ulah orang-orang yang tak bertanggungjawab sebagian ada yang ditemukan di Gunung Semeru dan tempat lainnya. Justru para peziarah lokal yang memberi sesajen persembahan dan membersihkan lingkungan ini, secara tidak langsung telah menjaga dan merawat keberadaan benda-benda yang bernilai sejarah?
Sebelum tahun 80-an di kabarkan bahwa komplek candi di puncak Argopuro hampir tak tersentuh tangan usil, bersamaan dengan banyaknya orang yang berkunjung bersamaan dengan itu pula mulai hilang satu persatu bentuk candi itu perlahan lahan hanya menyerupai tumpukan batu,bahkan ada arca yang hilang kepalanya!??
Bagai mana dengan Kita? Pedulikah kita akan situs bersejarah yang jelas jelas berada di wilayah kota ini? ada kah Peninggalan berbentuk candi di kota ini selain di sini?


Fajar Dwi herdiyan