The Yogyakarta Sultanate or Kasultanan Ngayogyakarta
Hadiningrat with Javanese pronunciation: is a Javanese monarchy in Yogyakarta Special
Region, Indonesia. The current head of the Sultanate is Hamengkubuwono Tenth. Yogyakarta existed as a state since 1755 on
the territory of modern Indonesia in the central part of Java Island. The Sultanate became
the main theater of military operations during the Java war of 1825–1830, following which
a significant part of its territory was annexed by the Dutch, and the degree of autonomy was
significantly curtailed. In 1946–1948, during the war of independence of Indonesia, the
capital of the republic was transferred to the territory of the sultanate, in the city
of Yogyakarta. In 1950, Yogyakarta became part of Indonesia
as a special region, on the status equal to a province. At the same time, the hereditary
sultan’s title and some ceremonial privileges were legally secured for its rulers. The sultanate
is claimed to own almost 10% of Yogyakarta’s land.
History After Sultan Agung, the Sultanate of Mataram
was declining due to power struggle within the sultanate itself. To make things worse,
VOC (Dutch East India Company) exploited the power struggle to increase its control. At
the peak of the conflict, the Mataram Sultanate was split in two based on the Treaty of Giyanti
of 13 February 1755: Yogyakarta Sultanate and Surakarta Sunanate.
The Giyanti Treaty mentioned Pangeran Mangkubumi as Sultan of Yogyakarta with the title of:
Translates as His Highness the Sultan, Commander in the
Battlefield, Servant of the Most Gracious, Cleric and Caliph that Safeguards the Religion.
During the era of Dutch occupation there were two principalities, the Yogyakarta Sultanate
(Kasultanan Yogyakarta) and the smaller Pakualaman Duchy / Principality (Kadipaten Pakualaman.
The Dutch Colonial Government arranged for the carrying out autonomous self-government,
arranged under a political contract. When the Indonesian independence was proclaimed,
the rulers, the Sultan of Yogyakarta and Prince of Pakualaman made a declaration they would
become part of the Republic of Indonesia. Those two regions were unified to form the
Yogyakarta Special Region and the sultan became the Governor of Yogyakarta and the Prince
of Pakualaman as the vice-governor; both were responsible to the President of Indonesia.
The Special Region of Yogyakarta was created after the independence war ended and legalized
on 3 August 1950. Princes and princesses of the Yogyakarta Sultanate
(1870) In carrying out the local government administration
it considers three principles: decentralization, concentration and assistance. The provincial
government carries out the responsibilities and authorities of the central government,
while on other hand carrying out its autonomous responsibilities and authorities. The Regional
Government consists of the Head of the Region and the Legislative Assembly of the Region.
Such construction guarantees good co-operation between the Head of Region and the Legislative
Assembly of Region to achieve a sound regional government administration. The Head of the
Special Region of Yogyakarta has got responsibility as the Head of the Territory and titled as
a Governor. The first Governor was the late Hamengkubuwono
IX, Sultan of Yogyakarta and continued by Paku Alam VIII as acting governor until Hamengkubuwono
X ascended in 1998. Unlike the other heads of regions in Indonesia,
the governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta has the privilege or special status of not
being bound to the period of position nor the requirements and way of appointment. However,
in carrying out their duties, they have the same authority and responsibilities. On 5 May 2015, following a Royal Decree issued
by the Sultan, Princess Mangkubumi (previously known as Princess Pembayun) received the new
name Mangkubumi Hamemayu Hayuning Bawana Langgeng ing Mataram. This denotes her as the heiress
presumptive to the Sultanate The title Mangkubumi was formerly reserved
for senior male princes groomed for the throne, including the reigning Sultan. The decree
thus admits female royals into the line of succession for the first time since the inception
of the Sultanate. According to the current Sultan, this was in line with his prerogatives;
his action was nonetheless criticized by more conservative male family members such as his
siblings, who were thus displaced in the line of succession.
The Sultan of Yogyakarta holds a powerful political and spiritual position on the Indonesian
island of Java. He is manoeuvring to make his eldest daughter his heir, sparking a bitter
feud, as the BBC’s Indonesia editor Rebecca Henschke reports.
From generation to generation the sultan who reigns over Yogyakarta seems to adapt himself
to the changing of times. He is one of the nearly 1,500 abdi dalam,
members of the royal court. A keris, a sacred Javanese dagger, is tucked into his sarong.
“In the past it was not difficult to choose a prince, because in the past, the sultan
had more than one wife, But you know it’s always been women that hold the real power
in Javanese households As is required of anyone entering the palace,
I have been traditionally dressed and groomed for over an hour. I am in a tight batik sarong,
with a black silk blouse known as a kebaya. My hair has been pulled back and tied into
tight bun, a sanggul. Everything in this palace, from the placement
of trees to the movements made by the royal court, has meaning.
In Javanese culture, things are not said directly, but instead conveyed by symbolism.
The sultan, who is 72, recently changed his own title so that it is gender neutral and
has given his eldest daughter the new name Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Mangkubumi – which means
The One Who Holds the Earth. The Javanese royal rule stretches back to
the 16th Century and while the family is now Muslim like most Indonesians, the rituals
they carry out are steeped in mysticism, a product of Hinduism, Buddhism and animism
of the past. I am sure the sultan will make a wise decision
for the people of Yogyakarta.” Challenging times
The Sultan of Yogyakarta also has to make decisions about more earthly matters as the
governor of the city and the surrounding area. When Indonesia gained independence, Jakarta
allowed the Yogyakarta royal family to keep its power, out of gratitude for their role
in fighting the colonial Dutch rulers. So Yogyakarta is the only place in Indonesia
where residents don’t get to directly elect their leader. When it was suggested by Jakarta
that this should change in 2010 there were angry protests on the streets of Yogyakarta
and the central government backed down. The Sultan of Yogyakarta is the last in Indonesia
with real political power. But Sultan Hamengkubuwono X has been a controversial
modern leader with wide ranging political and business ambitions.
When Mount Merapi started erupting in 2006 he told villagers to listen to scientists
rather than the palace-appointed gatekeeper of the volcano about when to evacuate. And some in Yogyakarta accuse him of turning
this cultural, once sleepy, capital into a city of shopping malls, billboards and high-rise
buildings. Sultan Hamengkubuwono X is a prominent moderate
Islamic leader in Indonesia. “This is an Islamic kingdom, it’s not about
walking around looking like someone from the Middle East and just sounding very religious.
Islam is woven into everything we do daily.” “This is not about religion, it’s about protecting
our culture and tradition and society understands that. The Sultan is above all religions.
Architecture The palace’s chief architect was Sultan Hamengkubuwono
I, who founded the Yogyakarta Sultanate. His architectural expertise was appreciated by
the Dutch scientist Theodoor Gautier Thomas Pigeaud and Lucien Adam, who considered him
a worthy successor of Pakubuwono II (founder of the Surakarta Sunanate).
The palace layout, which followed the basic design of the old city of Yogyakarta, was
completed in 1755-1756; another building was added by a later Sultan of Yogyakarta.
Javanese architecture uses floral patterns, such as this relief on the palace ceiling.
The complex consists of a courtyard covered with sand from the south coast, a main building
and a secondary building. The buildings are separated by a wall with a regol in semar
tinandu style. The palace door is made of thick teak. Behind
(or in front of) a gate in Javanese architecture is usually an insulating wall (Renteng or
Baturono), sometimes with a distinctive, traditional ornament. The wooden buildings of the complex have a
traditional Javanese architectural style, decorated with flora, fauna, or nature motifs.
Foreign influences (Portuguese, Dutch, and Chinese) are also seen. The buildings are
of joglo construction. The trapezoidal joglo roof is usually covered
with red or gray shingles, tiles, or zinc. It is supported by a central pillar (soko
guru) and secondary pillars. Pillars are usually dark green or black, with yellow, light-green,
red or gold highlights. Other wooden building elements match the pillars in color.
For the stone pedestal (Ompak), the black color is combined with gold ornamentation.
White dominates the walls of the building and the complex. The floor, usually made of
white marble or patterned tiles, is higher than the sandy courtyard. Some buildings have
a higher main floor.Other buildings have a square stone (Selo Gilang) for the sultan’s
throne. Each building is classified by use. The main-class
building (used by the sultan) has more ornamentation than the lower-class buildings, which have
simple ornamentation or none at all. Symbolism
White monument at an intersection Gilig Golong Monument, popularly known as Tugu Yogyakarta
A kraton is a palace. Keraton is the living quarters of the royal family.
Tamarind and Spanish cherry trees line the road from Krapyak Hunting House to the palace,
which runs from Tugu Yogyakarta to the palace. Tugu Yogyakarta (the Gilig golong monument),
on the north side of the old city, symbolizes “unification between the king (golong) and
the people (gilig)” (Javanese: manunggaling kawulo gusti). It also symbolizes the final unity of the
creator (Khalik) and his subjects. The Gate Donopratoro (gate to the Kedaton quarter)
represents “a good person is someone who is generous and knows how to control his lust”,
and the two Dwarapala statues (Balabuta and Cinkarabala) represent good and evil. The
palace’s artifacts are believed to have the power to repulse evil. The current Sultan of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan
Hamengku Buwono (HB) X is the father of five daughters. The Sultanate has customarily been
inherited through the male line. Following that tradition, it was widely assumed that
at the end of the current Sultan’s reign the Sultanate would pass to his half-brother.
Since the position of Sultan is automatically granted the office of Governor of Yogyakarta
Province, this would also mean the Sultan’s half-brother would assume this position.
The privilege of government office without elections is unique to Yogyakarta. It is also
a relatively new phenomenon. The current Sultan’s father, Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono (HB) IX,
held the position of Governor of Yogyakarta from the period of Indonesian independence
until the time of his death in 1988. However, he had not been entitled to the position by
law. The linking of the Yogyakarta governorship to the position of Sultan as an inherited
position became national law in 2012. Gender equality
On 30 April 2015, Sultan HB X issued a royal proclamation indicating that the position
of Sultan could be held by a female. As the only royal house in Indonesia left
with political power, the affairs of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta has always caught the interest
of many Indonesians, even among those who reside out of Yogyakarta. Deeply rooted in
the patriarchal Javanese society, the ruling monarch has never been a female. However,
if Sultan Hamengkubowono X (HB X) – the current sultan – has his way, which might
change in a few years’ time Sultan HB X, who has five daughters but no
son, have always been known to initiate reformeven before he started his reign.
Recently, the Sultan sparked division among the internal royal family through two controversial
decisions. On April 30, he issued a sabda raja (king’s proclamation) which dropped
the title buwono from his full royal name and changed his suffix from buwono to bawono.
Buwono means senior spiritual leader, which in Islam is associated with men . Buwono is a Javanese suffix that implies
a male, while bawono is a gender-independent term. Later on May 5, he declared a dhawuh raja (king’s
command), changing his eldest daughter’s name from Gusti Kanjeng Ratu (GKR) Pembayun
to GKR Mangkubumi, a title traditionally bestowed only to the crown prince
Interestingly, Sultan does not portray his decisions as an issue of gender equality.
Instead, he claimed that the two decrees – arguably the most profound changes ever in the sultanate
– were made based on a revelation by God delivered through his ancestors, kings of
the ancient Mataram kingdom. Although his brothers have repeatedly criticized his move,
he has stressed that the decrees were not his own decision, stating “I don’t mind
getting scolded or questioned by my brothers. I will not do anything about it because I
would have been afraid of getting scolded by God if the decisions were not made. These two changes were seen as efforts by
HB X to set Pembayun as his heir, which will most certainly be met with resistance from
both the royal family and some elements of the Yogyakarta people. Unlike its counterparts
in Europe, Yogyakarta monarchy do not (or has not yet) adopted absolute primogeniture,
a rule which determines throne succession purely based on order of birth and not on
gender. Both the law that give Yogyakarta its special
autonomy and the implied duties of a sultan assume that he is a male. The last time the
Sultanate faced a situation where the current sultan has no male hair was in the era of
HB V. At that time, the throne was passed to his younger brother
Legal Hurdle Meanwhile, Indonesia government have stated
that the central government will respect the sultanate’s sovereignty and not meddle in
its internal affairs. Separately, historians and analysts from Yogyakarta’s academia
has warned the people not to let this dispute be carried over into a political issue.