Thursday, October 25, 2012

Village Tells Tale Of A Mighty Royal Past

The Old Kingdom of Pejanggik was one of the most powerful and influential empires in all of Lombok’s recorded history.

The roots and reign of the kingdom can be traced through a visit to the Central Lombok village of Pejanggik, not far from Lombok’s international airport.

The village consists of around 900 households. It is relatively arid and since most households subsist on farming, it is poor. But the village is intrinsically linked to Lombok’s colourful and sometimes violent past.

The powerful Pejanggik Kingdom once extended from the east coast to the west coast, across the centre of Lombok, and co-existed with the better known Kingdom of Selaparang in the island’s east.

“Discussing the history of Lombok without reference to Pejanggik village is a big mistake,” said village chief Mustamin.

Evidence of the regal heritage of the village is found at the Seriwa complex of graves which is believed to include the tomb of the last King of Pejanggik. “Seriwa” is a term derived from the Sasak (ethnic Lombok) word “serio’”, which means to observe or see.

The King’s tomb, occupying an elevated position in a gated complex of tombs beyond a public cemetery, has existed for hundreds of years and has been declared a cultural heritage site. The complex is surrounded by very old frangipani trees.

The graveyard is in the centre of Pejanggik village, on the road between Praya in Central Lombok and Keruak in East Lombok.

“There are many versions of Pejanggik history,” said Mustamin. “But we believe that this is where the King was last viewed.” The King’s tomb is the only one that is not walled and the only one dressed with white fabric.

The sacred tomb attracts pilgrims from throughout Lombok and beyond, especially on Muslim holy days such as Eid al-Fitri (Idul Fitri in Indonesia).

As well as the royal tomb, Pejanggik village has the Toro watercourse where the King is believed to have hidden royal heirlooms. Some villagers claim to have antiques such as fabrics and home furnishings from the days of the empire.

When the waterway dries up, it attracts believers who use it as a venue for rituals.

According to historical literature, the Pejanggik Kingdom stemmed from the arrival of Deneq Putra Mas Pengendengan Segara Katon and his son, Deneq Mas Komala Sempopo, in the Rambitan area of Central Lombok. From 1648, the kingdom began to expand.

Relations between Pejanggik and the East Lombok Kingdom of Selaparang were good until political estrangement developed under its ninth king when relations soured at the hands of Pejanggik powerbroker Arya Banjar Getas.

Arya Banjar Getas clashed with the King’s son, Meraja Kusuma, and sought support from the Balinese Kingdom of Karangasem in a war that resulted in the fall of Pejanggik.

The King of Pejanggik was captured and exiled to Karangasem where he later died. Many Pejanggik nobles fled to Sumbawa.

The alliance of King Anak Agung Karangasem and Arya Banjar Getas systematically battered the Lombok kingdoms, one by one, conquering Parwa, Sokong, Langko and Bayan.

Many of the Lombok kingdoms surrendered without resistance and the entire island was conquered in 1740.

Pejanggik village commemorates its heritage with the annual Perat Timbung tradition – a war ritual involving timbung, a Lombok snack made of glutinous long rice. The ritual symbolises society’s obedience to the old kings.

Common opinion is that the tradition stemmed from both internal turmoil within the Pejanggik Kingdom and tension with Selaparang.

At the time, the king’s counsellors advised him to gather his people in a mutual giving of timbung in order to promote unity and friendship.

Today, the annual Perang Timbung ritual is staged along with Sasak cultural exhibitions and parades including traditional percussion music. Unlike the similar Lombok tradition of Perang Topat (Rice Cake War), Perang Timbung is a “war” between men and women.

The village’s history and colourful re-enactments of historical events have attracted international interest. “Tourists are coming to our village to uncover the heritage of the Pejanggik Kingdom,” said village youth leader Ilham.



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