Kutai is the traditional
name of a historic region in East Kalimantan in Indonesia on Borneo, a Dayak people of the region with a language of the same
name and their historic states.
Today the name is preserved
in the names of three regencys in East Kalimantan, the Kutai Kartanegara Regency
West Kutai Regency
East Kutai Regency
. The major river of the
region was and is the Mahakam River.
The history is usually divided into two periods, that of the early
Kutai Martadipura phase some time around 350-400 and the later
Kutai Kartanegara phase beginning around 1300.
An ancient yūpa of Mulawarman, king of
stone pillars, or yūpa (“sacrificial posts”), have been found in
Kutai, Kaman Estuary, near the Mahakam River.
A Yupa with inscription in the
National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta
The plinths bear an inscription in the
of India reading "A
gift to the Brahmin priests
". The style of the script has been dated to
the last half the fourth century. It is believed these religions were
brought to Indonesia around the second and fourth centuries, respectively, when Indian
traders arrived on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi.
The names of three rulers are known from the inscriptions. The
first ruler mentioned is Kuṇḍungga, the “lord of men” (narendra),
his son Aśwawarman, styled the “founder of the dynasty”
(vaṇśa-kartṛ) and grandson of the first and son of the later,
Mūlawarman called the “lord of kings” (rājendra). As Kuṇḍungga does
not seem to be a name of Sanskrit hinduistic style while the other
two are, it is presumed he was a leader of local origin and it was
his son Aśwawarman that adopted the hinduistic belief. It was
Mūlawarman who let these inscriptions be made. While nothing of the
military actions of his two predecessors is known, "Raja"
Mūlawarman is stated to have conquered his neighbours in battle.
The name of his kingdom is not mentioned on the inscriptions nor do
any other documents in other countries relate to a kingdom at this
time in this region. It is not known what became of the kingdom
after these pillars had been erected. It may be possible that the
name Kutai, as in Tuñjung Kute of the 1365 Javanese Majapahit
is as ancient and reflects
the original name used a thousand years earlier.
Around the end of the 13th century the kingdom of Kutai Kartanegara
was established in the region of Tepian Batu or Kutai Lama. The
first known ruler is Aji Batara Agung Dewa Sakti, who is thought to
have ruled from 1300 to 1325. Aji Pangeran Sinum Panji Mendapa, who
ruled 1635-1650, was able to conquer the kingdom of Kutai
Martadipura and merged the two realms thus Kutai Kartanegara Ing
the Dutch V.O.C. attacked
Makassar on the
island of Sulawesi leading to
the downfall of the Bugis Kingdom of Gowa.
Some of the Bugis under the leadership of
Lamohang Daeng Mangkona or Pua Ado I immigrated to Kutai on
neighbouring Borneo(Kalimantan) and the ruler of Kutai allowed them
to settle in Kampung Melantai around the Karang Mumus River, now
known as Kampung Selili. This settlement eventually developed into the
modern town of Samarinda.
took hold in the region since the 17th
century (most of the Bugis where moslems) and Aji Muhammad Idris,
ruling 1732-1739?, was the first ruler to have an Islamic
After a civil war Aji Imbut, after finally becoming the ruler as
Aji Muhammad Muslihuddin in 1780, moved the capital in 1782 from
Pemarangan to Tepian Pandan. The name of the capital city
eventually developed from Tangga Arung to its present form of
In 1844 the Dutch defeated the Sultan Aji Muhammad Salehudin,
forcing him into exile, and took direct control of Kutai.
Japanese invaded the region in 1942 and acknowledged a
"Kooti Kingdom", that was a subject of the Tenno.
In 1945 Kutai joined, along with its
neighbours, into the East Kalimantan federation.
In 1949 Kutai finally became part of the United Republic of
The Kutai Language
The traditional language of the region is referred to as Tanggarong Kutai Malay
considered a local malay
, such as Banjarese
to the south, Kota Bangun Kutai Malay
to the west,
to the north and others
more distant. As such Tanggarong Kutai belongs to the large
languages. It is part of the Sunda-Sulawesi languages
together with Malay
as well as Buginese
from southern Sulawesi that is
also spoken in Samarinda. It is somewhat less related to the
branch that can be found upstream of Kutai such as
- Kutai Martadipura
- (Vogel, J.Ph. 1918 The yūpa inscriptions of King Mūlavarman
from Koetei (East Borneo). Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en
- Chhabra, B.Ch. 1965 Expansion of Indo-Aryan culture during
Pallava rule (as evidenced by inscriptions). Delhi: Munshi Ram
Manohar Lal. 50-52, 85-92;
- Casparis, J.G. de 1975 Indonesian palaeography: a history of
writing in Indonesia from the beginning to c. A.D. 1500. Leiden:
E.J. Brill. 14-18