Banten: brief history

Madrasah LebakBanten is a province of Indonesia. Bordering Jakarta, it is the westernmost province on the island of Java, and its capital is Serang. The population of Banten is over 10.6 million during the 2010 census. Formerly part of the province of West Java, Banten became a separate province in 2000. The province is a transit corridor to Sumatra. Historically, Banten has had a culture distinct from the rest of Java and that of the broader Indonesian archipelago. In recent years, however, the northern half, particularly those areas near Jakarta and the Java Sea coast, have experienced rapid rises in population and urbanization, while the southern half, particularly that facing the Indian Ocean, maintains more of its traditional character.

The history of Banten is a complex narrative of trade, political change, and cultural interactions.

Succession of kings @Banten Girang

Banten was one of two major ports of the 14th century Sundanese kingdom of Pajajaran. In the 5th century, Banten was part of the Kingdom of Tarumanagara. The Lebak relic inscriptions contain lines of poetry with Pallawa script and Sanskrit language. The inscriptions speak of the courage of king Purnawarman. After the collapse of the Tarumanagara kingdom, due to an attack by Srivijaya, power in the western part of Java fell to the Kingdom of Sunda (Pajajaran). Pajajaran was a Hindu kingdom located in western Java from 669 to around 1579, covering the area of present-day Banten,Jakarta, West Java, and the western part of Central Java. According to primary historical records, the Bujangga Manik manuscript, the eastern border of the Sunda Kingdom was the Pamali River (Ci Pamali, the present day Brebes River) and the Serayu River (Ci Sarayu) in Central Java. Most accounts of the Sunda Kingdom come from primary historical records from the sixteenth century.

In a Chinese source, Chu-fan-chi, written circa 1200, Chou Ju-kua mentioned that in the early 13th Century, Srivijaya still ruled Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, and western Java (Sunda). The source identifies the port of Sunda as strategic and thriving, pepper from Sunda being among the best in quality. The people worked in agriculture and their houses were built on wooden poles (rumah panggung).

Tower@Old Banten, Serang

The Sundanese began trading with the Portuguese in Melaka in the early 16th century. Muslim expansionism from the kingdom of Demak pushed toward Banten during this time. Hasanudin seized Banten and took control of the area for the Muslim power. The Sultan of Demak named Hasanudin the king of Banten and married him to his sister. This act created a new dynasty of which Banten was the capital of the new Muslim kingdom.The watu gilang,a stone slab, that was to serve as the king’s throne for public address, still stands to this day and is a reminder of the powerful Muslim state that existed in Southeast Asia, centering in Banten.


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Bantenesia is an online-newspaper providing up to date information around Banten in Indonesian language since 2012.

for e-newspaper please visit Bantenesia.




Banten bears a resemblance to a big laboratory of a mixture of social-humanity sciences. This is due to the fact that the area possesses unique characters, characterised by conditions as follows:

  1. Historical remains and artefacts of a number of socio-cultural periods (megalithic, Hindu, Islam, colonial and post-colonial) can be found in Banten.Information with reference to this area is fairly well recorded in colonial archives and local manuscripts.
  2. Banten has a high number of  adat-bounded (a set of cultural norms, values, customs and practices found among a number of ethnic groups in Indonesian Archipelago) people compared to the surrounding areas.
  3. The area is also known for its wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and religions, covering cultures and ethnicities of, among other things, Javanese-Bantenese; Sundanese-Bantenese; Baduy; Betawi; Bugis; and Chinese, while in terms of religious orientations, besides adhering to Islam, some are influenced more by local mystical belief systems, and some adhere to ethnic religion, such as Sunda Wiwitan.
  4. In terms of geographical characters, the southern part of Banten is mainly upland and sparsely populated, while the northern part is more apt to be lowland and is highly populated. Banten also has two national parks that  fall under the category of world heritage: Taman Nasional Ujung Kulon and Taman Nasional Gunung Halimun Salak, and two nature reserves: Rawa Dano and Pulau Burung.

Unfortunately, much of the general Bantenese population, including local governments of Banten, seem not to have paid close attention to the above facts in order to make the most of the situation for the conservation of natural environment; historic preservation of artifacts and historical remains; preservation of archival sources and local manuscripts; and for the preservation of socio-cultural richness of the people.

In relation to the above facts and in order to safeguard the common values of the Bantenese, in 1990s a need to set up an institution concerned with things related to Banten and Bantenese society arose at the State School for  Islamic Studies (STAIN) “Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin Banten”.

M.A. Tihami, the then chairman of the school was the mastermind of the idea. The institution was called Bantenologi when it was established in 2000 with the decree (Surat Keputusan – SK) of the chairman of STAIN “Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin Banten” No. ST.29/hk.00.5/206/2000 dated 29 February 2000. On 3 March 2000, Bantenologi was inaugurated by the Minister of Marine Exploration and Fisheries of Republic of Indonesia, Sarwono Kusumaatmadja. In 2007, Bantenologi was revitalized through a decree No. In.10/HK.005/38a/2007 dated 8 January 2007. Based on this decree, Bantenologi was transformed into Laboratorium Bantenologi, the official name that has been used up to now.

Laboratorium Bantenologi is the only institution in Banten and Indonesia that specifically and consistently conducts the study and research of the history and culture of Banten and Bantenese society.


to view a slideshow of my visits to the Baduy Ancestral Domain please follow the link here Baduy Ancestral Domain or the posts in my blog



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