Milestones in the History of Kutai, Kalimantan Timur, BorneoBorneo is the first among the islands in the Indonesian Archipelago with a known history. In fact the oldest known inscriptions in the Archipelago were found in Kutai. These consist of four stone sacrificial poles (Sanskrit: yupa) dating from about 400 A.D., on which in Pallawascript, metrical Sanskrit, King Mulawarman's generosity towards the Brahmins is commemorated. King Mulawarman's father, Acwawarman, was the founder of the royal dynasty and it seems likely that the Brahmins referred to in the inscriptions were Agnihotrins, followers of the Veda, a branch of the Hinduism. (As a comparison it is worth noting that the oldest dated inscriptions in Java are only from the year 732 A.D.)
Subsequent to these inscriptions nothing is known about Kutai for nearly 1000 years. Then, in 1365, we find the name Kutai mentioned in the old-Javanese historical poem Nagarakertagama verse 14.1. It is also around this time that the saga-period of ths Kutai-dynasty begins and the Kingdom of Kutai begins to take shape. The mythical origin and genealogy of this royal house are described in the Salasilah of Kutai. There are five known manuscripts of this genealogical register, which is written in literary Malay, showing traces of the language of Kutai and including Javanese words and phrases.
The original Salasilah was probably written, at least partly, during the reign of the eighth Sultan, Pangeran Sinum Panji Mendapa ing Martapura, ca. 1600-1635. Kutai evolved most likely from the joining of four regions, Jahitan Layar, Hulu Dusun, Sembaran and Binalu, presumably settletments of Hindu-Javanese. Especially after the introduction of Islam ca. 1606 by Tuan Tunggung Parangan, the Sultanate expanded more inland, annexating three small countries Muara Kaman (on the Mahakam, 15 miles above Samarinda), Kota Bangun (near Muara Kaman) and Muara Pahu (37 miles above Samarinda). From that time on the Sultans of Kutai have borne the royal insignia of Kota Bangun.
The genealogical line of the Kutai dynasty begins with Adji Batara Agung Maharadja Dewa Sakti as first Sultan of Kutai and ends with Adji Mohammed Parikesit, the 20th Sultan, who still lives at Tenggarong.
On November 7, 1635, Gerrit Thomassen Pool was the first Dutchman to sail up the river Mahakam. Kutai was again visited by Dutchmen in 1671 and 1673, but after that it had no further contact with the Dutch, although it was indirectly via the Kingdom of Banjarmasin, tributary to the East-India Company. This remained however a dead letter because they did not live up to the contracts.
Samarinda was founded ca. 1739, and in 1825 the Dutch, in the person of Georg Muller, made their first direct contract with the Sultan of Kutai. This contract also did not last.
The first half of the 19th century brought to Kutai the presence of several English merchant-adventurers: Dalton, Murray, King, Carter, and Morgan. There was a busy trade at that time between Kutai and Singapore, and proas from Kutai took rattan, gutta-Percha and beeswax to Singapore and returned with, among other things, cotton, textiles, and arms. During the last quarter of the 19th century the Scotsman Gray played a role in the development of navigation on the Mahakam and also within the native Community of Samarinda. It was not until 1846 that Dutch rule was established with the arrival of H. von Dewall, first civil administrator of the east coast of Borneo. From that time on the Sultans of Kutai comported themselves as loyal vassals of the Dutch. This was especially obvious during the War of Bandjarmasin (1859-1863) . The extent of Dutch power was enhanced gradually through supplementary treaties.
In 1888 the mining-engineer J. H. Menten began, with the exploitation of coal along the Mahakam, the Steenkolen Maatschappij Oost-Borneo with its first mining venture at Batu Panggal, some miles up the river past Samarinda. Menten also laid the foundation for oil exploitation in East Borneo by leasing his concessions to Samuel & Co., of London, founder of the Shell Company. This is also the time of the abolition of slavery in Kutai (1895) and of Dr. A. W. Nieuwenhuis famous expeditions across Borneo.
The first Roman Catholic, mission was established at Laham in 1907. One year later Kutai ceded the district of Upper Mahakam to the Dutch government in exchange for a yearly compensation of 12,990 guilders "for the sultan and his princes of the Kingdom."
By the end of the 13th century trade and industry were being developed by small trading companies. But It was in the beginning of the 20th century that the economy of Kutai flourished as a result of the establishment of the Borneo-Sumatra Trade Co. , with offices along the whole archipelago. In these years the capital of the "landschapskas," or regional treasury, grew at a steady pace through annual surplus. By 1924 the Kutai treasury held a reserve of 3,280,000 guilders--for those days a tremendous amount for this self-governing territory with a size of 45,190 square kilometers and a population of only ca. 179,900. (by: J.R. Wortmann* | Source: Borneo Research Bulletin, June 1971)
* J. R. Wortmann is a member of the Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology in Leiden, The Netherlands and is currently at work on a study of the history and socioeconomic relations of the Sultanate of Kutai during the period of Dutch administration. Mr. Wortmann resided at Balikpapan between 1947 and 1950, as a member of the Dutch Expeditionary Forces, at which time he established a postal service in Kutai