Kediri Kingdom

Janggala and Panjalu (Kediri) kingdom, later unified as Kediri kingdom
Capital Daha or Kadiri (modern Kediri)
Languages Old Javanese, Sanskrit
Religion Kejawen, Hinduism, Buddhism, Animism
Government Monarchy
   1104–1115 Jayawarsa
  1200–1222 Kertajaya
   Airlangga divided his kingdom into Janggala and Panjalu (Kediri) 1045
   Kertajaya defeat to Ken Arok of Tumapel 1221
Currency Native gold and silver coins
Preceded by
Succeeded by
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Kediri or Kadiri (also known as Panjalu) was a Hindu Javanese Kingdom based in East Java from 1042 to around 1222. Despite the lack of archaeological remains, the age of Kediri saw much development in classical literature.[1] Mpu Sedah's Kakawin Bharatayuddha, Mpu Panuluh's Gatotkacasraya, and Mpu Dharmaja's Smaradhana blossomed in this era. The kingdom's capital is believed to had been established in the western part of the Brantas River valley, somewhere near modern Kediri city and surrounding Kediri Regency. Other than Kadiri, its capital was also often referred to as Daha or Dahana.

Founding of Kediri

The Kingdom of Kediri is the successor of Airlangga's Kahuripan kingdom, and thought as the continuation of Isyana Dynasty in Java. In 1045, Airlangga divided his kingdom of Kahuripan into two, Janggala and Panjalu (Kediri), and abdicated in favour of his sons to live as an ascetic. He died four years later.[2]:146–147,158 The name "Kediri" or "Kadiri" derived from Sanskrit word Khadri which means Indian Mulberry (Morinda citrifolia), locally known as pacé or mengkudu tree. The bark of morinda produces a brownish-purplish dye for batik-making, while its fruit have medicinal values. Similar named city also known, Kadiri in Andhra Pradesh, India.

Reign of Kediri kings

Statue of Vishnu. Kediri, East Java, circa 12th–13th century

The first king of Kediri to leave historical records was Çri Jayawarşa Digjaya Çāstaprabhu (reigned 1104–1115). In his inscription dated 1104, like Airlangga, he claimed himself to be the incarnation or Avatar of Vishnu.

The second king was Kameçvara. His formal stylised name was Çri Maharaja Rake Sirikan çri Kameçvara Sakalabhuwanatustikarana Sarwaniwaryyawiryya Parakrama Digjayottunggadewa. The 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 Smaradhana, 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. Kameçvara's wife, Çri Kirana, was celebrated as the incarnation of Kamaratih, goddess of love and passion. The tales of this story, known as Panji cycle, spread throughout Southeast Asia as far as Siam.

Jayabhaya (reigned 1130–1160) succeeded Kameçwara. His formal stylised name was Çri Maharaja çri Dharmmeçwara Madhusudanawataranindita Suhrtsingha Parakrama Digjayottunggadewa. The Lanchana (royal seal) of his reign was Narasingha. The name Jayabhaya was immortalised 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 Old Javanese literature. The Prelambang Joyoboyo, a prophetic book ascribed to Jayabhaya, is well known among Javanese. It predicted 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, Ternate was a vassal state of Kediri.

Jayabhaya's successor was Sarwweçwara (reigned 1160–1170), followed by Aryyeçwara (reigned 1170–1180), who used Ganesha as his royal Lanchana. The next monarch was Gandra; his formal stylised name was Çri maharaja çri Kroncarryadipa Handabhuwanapalaka Parakramanindita Digjayottunggadewanama çri Gandra. An inscription (dated 1181) from his reign documents the beginning of the adoption of animal names for important officials, such as Kbo Salawah, Menjangan Puguh, Lembu Agra, Gajah Kuning, and Macan Putih. Among these highly ranked officials mentioned in the inscription, there is a title Senapati Sarwwajala, or laksmana, a title reserved for navy generals, which means that Kediri had a navy during his reign.

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

The last king of Kediri was Kertajaya (1200–1222). His royal seal was Garudamukha, the same as Airlangga's. In 1222 he was forced to surrender his throne to Ken Arok and so lost the sovereignty of his kingdom to the new kingdom of Singhasari. This was the result of his defeat at the battle of Ganter. This event marked the end of Kediri era, and the beginning of the Singhasari era.[2]:185–187,199

According to Jiyu and Petak inscriptions, during the end of Majapahit era in the 15th century, there was a brief resurrection of Daha (Kediri) as the centre of political power, which was led by Girindrawardhana in 1478 after he managed to defeat Kertabhumi. But it short lived since descendant of Kertabhumi who became ruler of Demak crushed Daha in 1527.

Relations with regional powers

Srivijaya and Kediri around 12th to early 13th century AD

The Kediri kingdom existed alongside the Srivijaya empire based in Sumatra throughout 11th to 12th-century, and seems to have maintained trade relations with China and to some extent India. Chinese account identify this kingdom as Tsao-wa or Chao-wa (Java), numbers of Chinese records signify that Chinese explorers and traders frequented this kingdom. Relations with India were cultural one, as numbers of Javanese rakawi (poet or scholar) wrote literatures that been inspired by Hindu mythology, beliefs and epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana.

In 11th-century, Srivijayan hegemony in Indonesian archipelago began to decline, marked by Rajendra Chola invasion to Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. The Chola king of Coromandel conquered Kedah from Srivijaya. The weakening of Srivijayan hegemony has enabled the formation of regional kingdoms, like Kediri, based on agriculture rather than trade. Later Kediri managed to control the spice trade routes to Maluku.

According to a Chinese source in the book of Chu-fan-chi written around 1225, Chou Ju-kua described that in the Southeast Asian archipelago there were two powerful and rich kingdoms: Srivijaya and Java (Kediri). In Java he found that people adhere two religions: Buddhism and the religion of Brahmin (Hinduism). The people of Java were brave and short tempered, daring to put up a fight. Their favourite pastimes were cockfighting and pigfighting. The currency was made from the mixture of copper, silver, and tin.

The book of Chu-fan-chi mentioned that Java was ruled by a maharaja, who ruled several colonies: Pai-hua-yuan (Pacitan), Ma-tung (Medang), Ta-pen (Tumapel, now Malang), Hi-ning (Dieng), Jung-ya-lu (Hujung Galuh, now Surabaya), Tung-ki (Jenggi, West Papua), Ta-kang (Sumba), Huang-ma-chu (Southwest Papua), Ma-li (Bali), Kulun (Gurun, identified as Gorong or Sorong in West Papua or an island in Nusa Tenggara), Tan-jung-wu-lo (Tanjungpura in Borneo), Ti-wu (Timor), Pingya-i (Banggai in Sulawesi), and Wu-nu-ku (Maluku).[3]

Regarding Srivijaya, Chou-Ju-Kua reported that Kien-pi (Kampe, in northern Sumatra) with armed forced rebellion had liberated themselves from Srivijaya, and crowned their own king. The same fate befell some of Srivijaya's colonies on the Malay Peninsula that liberated themselves from Srivijaya domination. However Srivijaya was still the mightiest and wealthiest state in the western part of the archipelago. Srivijaya's colonies were: Pong-fong (Pahang), Tong-ya-nong (Trengganu), Ling-ya-ssi-kia (Langkasuka), Kilan-tan (Kelantan), Fo-lo-an, Ji-lo-t'ing (Jelutong), Ts'ien-mai (?), Pa-t'a (Paka), Tan-ma-ling (Tambralinga, Ligor or Nakhon Si Thammarat), Kia-lo-hi (Grahi, northern part of Malay peninsula), Pa-lin-fong (Palembang), Sin-t'o (Sunda), Lan-wu-li (Lamuri at Aceh), and Si-lan. According to this source, in the early 13th century Srivijaya still ruled Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, and western Java (Sunda).

Regarding Sunda, the book details that the port of Sunda (Sunda Kelapa) was excellent and strategically located, and that the pepper from Sunda was among the best quality. The people worked in agriculture; their houses were built on wooden piles (rumah panggung). However the country was infested with robbers and thieves.


Vajrasattva. Eastern Java, Kediri period, 10th–11th century CE, bronze, 19.5 x 11.5 cm
Ganesha and a fragment of a temple at the residency in Kediri, 1866-1867

Celebrated as an 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.[4] 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 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 with people travelling in boats 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 music with instruments such as flutes, drums, and wooden xylophones (an ancient form of gamelan).

The King wore silk garments, leather shoes and ornate golden jewellery. He wore his hair up high on his head. Every day, 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 travelled outside the palace, he rode an elephant and was accompanied by 500–700 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 Kediri) 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 monetised, with silver coins issued by the royal court.

In later periods, Kediri economy grew to rely more heavily on trade, especially the spice trade. This resulted from Kediri development of a navy, giving them the opportunity to control the spice trade routes to eastern islands. Kediri collected spices from tributaries in southern Kalimantan and the Maluku Islands. Indians and Southeast Asians then transported the spices to Mediterranean and Chinese markets by way of the Spice Route that linked a chain of ports from the Indian Ocean to southern China.

Rulers of Kediri

See also



Further reading


  1. Bullough, Nigel (1995). Mujiyono PH, ed. Historic East Java: Remains in Stone. Jakarta: ADLine Communications. p. 19.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Cœdès, George (1968). The Indianized states of Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824803681.
  3. Drs. R. Soekmono, (1988) [Originally printed in 1973]. Pengantar Sejarah Kebudayaan Indonesia 2, 2nd ed. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius. p. 60.
  4. Drs. R. Soekmono, (1988) [Originally printed in 1973]. Pengantar Sejarah Kebudayaan Indonesia 2, 2nd ed. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Kanisius. p. 59.

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