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09 februari 2010 04:26

Washing Heirlooms of Mempawah Kingdom

Report on Robo-Robo Tradition in Mempawah, West Kalimantan
Washing Heirlooms of Mempawah Kingdom

Mempawah, MelayuOnline – The procession of washing heirlooms of Mempawah Kingdom, West Kalimantan, took place in solemn reverence on Monday (2/8) daytime. The tradition that is part of the Robo-Robo Ceremony was carried on in Amantubillah Palace, Mempawah, West Kalimantan. It will be followed by a carnival of heirlooms to let people see the cultural heritage of Mempawah Kingdom in the next morning.

Among the heirlooms were a couple of spears, a couple of swords, a kris, and 3 canons. According to the minister of foreign affair who is also the army commander of Mempawah Kingdom, Karaeng Oe Saiful Ansari, each of the heirlooms has its own name. The spears are called Tombak Lancar, the swords are Pedang Mugul and Pedang Sterling, while the kris is entitled Keris Tanjung Lada.

The three canons, still according to Karaeng Oe Saiful Ansari, are named Sigonda, Raden Mas, and Maryam. Sigonda symbolizes a man who was believed to come from Java’s Majapahit. The Raden Mas canon is a symbol of a woman who came from Bugis, the origin of Opu Daeng Menambun, one of the most legendary kings of Mempawah. While Maryam is a canon that is a symbol of Sigonda and Raden Mas’s child.

Saying Prayers before Washing the Heirlooms

Mempawah Kingdom  is said to have diplomatic relations with Majapahit Empire in Java. Based on historic records, during the reign of Patih Gumantar in about the year of 1380, Mahapatih Gajah Mada once visited the kingdom to later bring some heirlooms as gifts for the king. Some say that Patih Gumantar and Gajah Mada even set for a journey together to Thailand in attempts of anticipating attacks from Mongolian Empire under the leadership of Kubilai Khan.

Karaeng Oe Saiful Ansari himself thinks that there was indeed some relation between Mempawah and Majapahit. In his opinion, Mempawah had not recognize the term “patih”, a title that was usually used in the tradition of Javanese kingdoms. It is strongly believed that “patih” in the name of Patih Gumantar is one of the evidences that a long time a go, Mempawah Kingdom from West Kalimantan and Majapahit Empire whose center in East Java had a close and harmonic connection. Moreover, there are elements of Javanese and Bugisnese as well as Dayak and Chinese culture in Malay tradition in Mempawah Kingdom. This explains that the kingdom is indeed culturally rich and not compartmentalizing the prevailing ethnic groups, races, and religions.

The minister of foreign affair also explained that there are actually many other heirlooms, yet not all of them brought out and displayed in public. Some of the heirlooms were washed by the King of Mempawah, Pangeran Ratu Mulawangsa Mardan Adijaya Kesuma Ibrahim whose title is Panembahan XIII.

The Procession of Mempawah Kingdom’s Heirlooms

Gusti Ulyanto, a royal relative, in an interview with after the procession said that the objective of the ritual was merely to preserve traditions and to get the people more familiar with the kingdom’s cultural heritages. It is expected that through traditional activities, such as the Robo-Robo Ceremony, people will know better the culture of Mempawah in particular, and of other kingdoms in West Kalimantan in general.

Traditional ritual of Robo-Robo is held annually as a form of tracing back the history of Opu Daeng Menambun’s first arrival in Mempawah. Opu Daeng Menambun, a Bugisnese nobleman, is believed to come to Mempawah in the fourth week in Safar month. Some literatures state that he had come there since 1740 and later led the Mempawah Kingdom, bearing the title Pangeran Mas Surya Negara. Opu Daeng Menambun died in 1761, in the month of Safar, and was buried in Sebukit Rama. Based on this reason, the traditional ritual of Robo-Robo is held annually, precisely in Safar month in accordance to the time of Opu Daeng Menambun’s arrival and death.

(Iswara N. Raditya/Brt/01/02-2009)

Translation by Reza Daffi (terj/06/02-10)

Source of Photos: Collection of (Photographer: Aam Ito Tistomo)

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