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Kediri was an Indianized kingdom based in East Java from 1042 to around 1222. Despite the seeming lack of archaeological remains, the age of Kediri saw much development in classical literature. . Mpu Sedah's Kakawin Bharatayuddha, Mpu Panuluh's Gatotkacasraya, and Mpu Dharmaja's Smaradahana blossomed in this era.


In 1045, Airlangga divided his kingdom, Kahuripan into two, Janggala (based on contemporary Malangmarker) and Kediri and abdicated in favour of his sons to live as an ascetic. He died four years later. For 50 years after the resignation of Airlangga, the fate of two kingdoms were unknown. Later only Kediri who leave historical records, while Janggala seems non existence or probably already absorbed by Kediri.

Reign of Kediri kings

Eastern Java, Kediri period, 10th/11th century CE, bronze, 19.5 x 11.5cm.
The first king of Kediri to leave historical records was Çri Jayawarşa Digjaya Çāstaprabhu (reign 1104 - 1115). In his inscription dated 1104, just like Airlangga, he claim himself as the incarnation or avatar of Vishnu.

The second king was Kameçwara. His formal stylized name was Çri Maharaja Rake Sirikan çri Kameçwara Sakalabhuwanatustikarana Sarwaniwaryyawiryya Parakrama Digjayottunggadewa. Lanchana (royal seal) of his reign was a skull with a crescent moon called chandrakapala, the symbol of Shiva. During his reign, Mpu Dharmaja wrote Smaradahana, in which the king was adored as the incarnation of Kamajaya, the god of love, and his capital city Dahana was admired throughout the known world. Kameçwara's wife, Çri Kirana was celebrated as the incarnation of Kamaratih, goddess of love and passion. The tales of this story is known as Panji cycle spread throughout Southeast Asia as far as Siammarker.

Jayabhaya (reign 1130 - 1160) succeeded Kameçwara . His formal stylized name was Çri Maharaja çri Dharmmeçwara Madhusudanawataranindita Suhrtsingha Parakrama Digjayottunggadewa. The Lanchana (royal seal) of his reign was Narasingha. The name Jayabhaya was immortalized in Sedah's Kakawin Bharatayuddha, a Javanese version of the Mahabharata written in 1157. This Kakawin was perfected by his brother, Mpu Panuluh. Mpu Panuluh wrote Hariwangsa and Gatotkacasraya. Jayabhaya's reign was considered the golden age of ] literature. The Prelambang Joyoboyo, a prophetic book ascribed to Jayabhaya, is well known among Javanese as the book that predicted events that took place in the future of Java (and in wider sense, the future of the Indonesian Archipelago). The popular prophecy was that the archipelago would be ruled by a white race for a long time, then a yellow race for a short time, then be glorious again. The Jayabhaya prophecies mention Ratu Adil, the Just Prince, a recurring popular figure in Javanese folklore. During the reign, Ternatemarker was a vassal state of Kediri.

Jayabhaya's successor was Sarwweçwara (reign 1160 - 1170), followed by Aryyeçwara (reign 1170 - 1180) who used Ganesha as his royal Lanchana. The next monarch Gandra, his formal stylized name was Çri maharaja çri Kroncarryadipa Handabhuwanapalaka Parakramanindita Digjayottunggadewanama çri Gandra. An interesting inscription from his reign (dated 1181) documents the beginning of the adoption of animal names for important officials, such as Kbo Salawah, Menjangan Puguh, Lembu Agra, Gajah Kuning, Macan Putih, etc. Among these high ranked official mentioned in the inscription, there's a title "Senapati Sarwwajala", or laksmana, a title reserved for navy generals, implying he commanded a navy.

From 1190 to 1200, King Çrngga ruled Kediri, with the official name Çri maharaja çri Sarwweçwara Triwikramawataranindita Çrngga lancana Digwijayottunggadewa. He uses a cangkha (winged shell) on crescent moon as his royal seal.

The last king of Kediri was Kertajaya (reign 1200 - 1222). His royal seal was Garudamukha, the same as Airlangga's. On 1222 he was forced to surrender his throne to Ken Arok and lose the sovereignty of his kingdom to the new kingdom of Singhasari. This was the result of his defeat on the battle of Ganter. This event marked the end of Kediri era, and the beginning of Singhasari era.

Srivijaya and Kediri

In 1068, Virarajendra, the Chola king of Coromandel or Tamil Nadumarker, conquered Kedahmarker from Srivijaya. Virarajendra's records from his seventh year mention that he conquered Kadarammarker from Srivijaya on behalf of a king who had come to ask for help and protection and handed it over to him. The possible date for this occurrence is 1068 C.E. There is not any more information to be gleaned from this inscription. As yet we have no knowledge of the Srivijaya king who asked for help and the details of this naval campaign. The Cholas continued a series of raids and conquests throughout what is now Indonesiamarker and Malaysiamarker for the next 20 years. Although the Chola invasion was ultimately unsuccessful, it gravely weakened the Srivijayan hegemony and enabled the formation of regional kingdoms, like Kediri, based on agriculture rather than trade. And later Kediri even manage to control spice trade routes to eastern spice islands (Maluku).

According to a Chinese source in the book of Chu-fan-chi written around 1200, Chou-Ju-Kua describe that in Southeast Asia archipelago there was two most powerful and richest kingdoms; Srivijaya and Javamarker (Kediri). In Java he founds that the people adhere two kinds of religions; buddhism and the religions of brahmins (hinduism). The people of Java are brave and short tempered, dare to put a fight. Their favourite pastimes was cockfighting and pigfighting. The curency was made from the mixture of copper, silver, and tin.

The book of Chu-fan-chi mentioned that Java was ruled by a maharaja, that rules several colonies: Pai-hua-yuan (Pacitanmarker), Ma-tung (Medang), Ta-pen (Tumapel, now Malangmarker), Hi-ning (Diengmarker), Jung-ya-lu (Hujung Galuh, now Surabayamarker), Tung-ki (Jenggi, West Papuamarker), Ta-kang (Sumbamarker), Huang-ma-chu (Southwest Papuamarker), Ma-li (Balimarker), Kulun (Gurun, identified as Gorong or Sorong in West Papuamarker or an island in Nusa Tenggaramarker), Tan-jung-wu-lo (Tanjungpuramarker in Borneo), Ti-wu (Timormarker), Pingya-i (Banggaimarker in Sulawesi), and Wu-nu-ku (Malukumarker)..

About Srivijaya, Chou-Ju-Kua reported that Kien-pi (Kampe, in northern Sumatramarker) with armed forced rebellion has liberated themselves from Srivijaya, thus has coronated their own king. The same fate goes to some Srivijaya's colonies at Malay Peninsula that liberated themselves from Srivijaya domination. However Srivijaya still the mightiest and wealthiest state in western part of archipelago. Srivijaya's colony are: Pong-fong (Pahangmarker), Tong-ya-nong (Trengganumarker), Ling-ya-ssi-kia (Langkasuka), Kilan-tan (Kelantanmarker), Fo-lo-an (?), Ji-lo-t'ing (Jelutong), Ts'ien-mai (?), Pa-t'a (Batakmarker), Tan-ma-ling (Tambralinga, Ligor or Nakhon Si Thammaratmarker), Kia-lo-hi (Grahi, northern part of Malay peninsula), Pa-lin-fong (Palembangmarker), Sin-t'o (Sunda), Lan-wu-li (Lamuri at Acehmarker), and Si-lan (Sailan?). According to this source in early 13th century Srivijaya still ruled Sumatra, Malay peninsula, and western Java (Sunda). About Sunda, the book describe it further that the port of Sunda (Sunda Kelapa) is really good and strategic, pepper from Sunda is among the best quality. People work on agriculture and their house are build on wooden piles (rumah panggung). However the country was invested by robbers and thieves. In sum, this Chinese source from early 13th century suggested that the Indonesian archipelagomarker was ruled by two great kingdoms, western part was under Srivijaya's rule, while eastern part was under Kediri domination.


Celebrated as the era of blossomming literature, Kediri produced significant contributions in the field of Javanese classic literature. Next to the literary works already mentioned, Lubdhaka and Wrtasancaya by Mpu Tanakung, Krisnayana written by Mpu Triguna, and Sumanasantaka by Mpu Monaguna are also notable.

The book of Ling-wai-tai-ta composed by Chinese author Chou K'u-fei in 1178 gave a glimpse of everyday life in Kediri that cannot be found in any other source material, about the government and people of Kediri. . According to Chou K'u-fei, people wore clothes that covered them down to their legs, with a loose hairstyle. Their houses were clean and well arranged with floors made from green or yellow cut stones. Agriculture, animal farming, and trading flourished and gained full attention from government. He reported that silkworm farms to produce silk and cotton clothes production had been adopted by Javanese by that time. There was no physical punishment (jail or torture) of criminals. Instead, the people who committed unlawful acts were forced to pay fines in gold, except for thieves and robbers who were executed. In marital customs, the bride's family received some amount of bride price from the groom's family. Instead of developing medical treatment, the Kediri people relied on prayers to Buddha.

On the 5th month of the year a water festival was celebrated, people would travel in boats on along the river to celebrate. On the 10th month, another festival was held in the mountains. People would gather there to have fun and perform musical with instruments such as flutes, drums, and wooden xylophones (an ancient form of gamelan).

The King wore silk garments, leather shoes and ornately golden jewelry. He wore his hair up high on his head. Everyday he would receive state officials managers of his kingdom on a square throne. After an audience, the state official would bow three times to the king. If the king traveled outside the palace, he rode an elephant, accompanied by 500 to 700 soldiers and officials, while his subjects, the people of Kediri prostrated themselves as the king passed.


According to Chinese sources, the main occupations of the Kediri people revolved around agriculture (rice cultivation), animal farming (cattle, boar, poultry), and the spice trade. Daha, the capital city of Kediri, (suggested to be at the same site as modern Kedirimarker) is located inland, near the fertile Brantas river valley. From the predecessor kingdom of Airlangga's Kahuripan, Kediri inherited irrigation systems, including the Wringin Sapta dam. Kediri economy was partly monetized, with silver coins issued by the royal court.

On later period, Kediri economy grew to rely more heavily on trade, especially the spice trade. This resulted from Kediri development of a navy, thus giving them the opportunity to control the spice trade routes to eastern islands. Kediri collected spices from tributaries in southern Kalimantan and the Maluku Islandsmarker, known to the West as the Spice Islandsmarker or Moluccasmarker. Indianmarker and Southeast Asian then transported the spices to Mediterraneanmarker and Chinesemarker markets by way of the Spice Route that linked a chain of ports from the Indian Oceanmarker to southern China.

Rulers of Kediri



  • Soekmono, R, Drs., Pengantar Sejarah Kebudayaan Indonesia 2, 2nd ed. Penerbit Kanisius, Yogyakarta, 1973, 5th reprint edition in 1988

Further reading

  • Saidihardjo, Dr. M. Pd., A.M, Sardiman, Drs., Sejarah untuk SMP, Tiga Serangkai, Solo, 1987, 4th reprint edition in 1990


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