Sunday, May 01, 2005

Kanoman - Cirebon, Jawa Barat

Sultan Elang Emirudin, Kraton Kanoman, Jawa Barat. Posted by Picasa

Sultan Elang Muhammad Emirudin
Rival-Sultan (since 6-3-2003) of Cirebon-Kanoman (West-Java)

The Sultan, The Concubine and the Successor.

Once there was a king in Cirebon in the west of Java. Sultan Djalaluddin was his name, he had 4 wives and 16 children. When he died a few months ago, he left a letter, in which was written ....


Alan Sipress said...

Feud May Tear a Sultanate Asunder
Father's Unusual Choices Leave 2 Indonesian Princes Claiming a Kingdom in Decline
By Alan Sipress
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, July 12, 2004; Page A12

CIREBON, Indonesia -- There was once a crown prince, Djalaludin, who was being groomed as the sultan in a kingdom called Kanoman.

As he lazed in a courtyard one day beneath the broad canopy of a banyan tree, the prince spied a girl cutting across the palace grounds on her way home from school. She was 15 years his junior and the lowly daughter of a local restaurant owner, a commoner more comfortable in short skirts than finery and robes.

But the prince fell deeply in love with her.

Over the protests of his parents, the reigning sultan and queen, Djalaludin married the girl, abandoning the palace for a time and risking his chance at the throne.

Djalaludin's decision to follow his heart planted the seeds for a conflict that decades later threatens to rip the kingdom asunder. It pits his two sons, one born to the beautiful commoner, the other to a woman of royal breeding. Both young princes claim to be the 12th in a line of sultans tracing their ancestry back to the first holy men to reach Indonesian shores.

The story of their lives was assembled in interviews with members of the royal family and people close to them.

The Sultanate of Kanoman now faces not only the prospect of filial bloodshed but a threat to the very existence of a 300-year-old kingdom that many on Indonesia's main island of Java still consider the essence of their culture.

The sultanate, like other royal courts sprinkled across the Indonesian archipelago from Java and Bali to Borneo and the Spice Islands, long embodied aristocratic traditions that predate Dutch colonialism. Kanoman was a center for the arts, painting, batik, music and masked dance. Its sultan traditionally presided over Muslim rituals, serving as a unifying symbol, according to local scholars.

Like most of Indonesia's royal courts, the sultanate was stripped of its political power after the country's independence, then deprived of much of its property nearly a generation later. The leafy grounds of Kanoman became overgrown. Weeds pushed through the cobblestones and took root above on walls discolored by mold. Paint chipped and plaster crumbled, baring brick below.

Yet the throne remained a prize jealously sought.

It was 1970 when Djalaludin was first entranced by the commoner named Suherni. At age 33, the prince had been married twice before, but for her he would willingly gamble away the crown. They were wed a year later in a simple ceremony at her relatives' home outside the port city of Cirebon, she recalled. His family refused to attend.

But his mother, the queen, was determined to return her wayward son to the royal fold, members of the court now recall. She tracked him to the couple's humble nest in a quarter outside the palace and urged him to take an additional wife, allowed under Islam, one of royal descent. She proposed a distant relative.

Djalaludin acquiesced. Out of duty, he married that cousin, Sri Mulya, who was destined later to become his queen because of her royal blood. It was an extravagant affair of music and dance that drew guests from across Java. But out of love, he insisted that Suherni return to the palace with him as well.

Suherni was the first to give him a son. Their child, Saladin, was born in April 1973. Two months later, Sri Mulya also gave birth to a son, Emirudin.

continue on next comment....

alan sipress said...

Feud May Tear a Sultanate Asunder

The young two princes grew to be friends, playing soccer and flying kites together in the gardens. Their mothers also became close, breast-feeding each other's younger children, family members said.

But Djalaludin made no secret of whom he favored. Saladin accompanied the sultan when he would meet government officials or participate in civic events. He proved comfortable in aristocratic circles and adept at dealings with local officials. Emirudin, by contrast, was already showing signs of the diffidence that would later make him a recluse.

Still, many in the royal court assumed Emirudin would someday become the next sultan by virtue of his mother's blue blood.

Djalaludin died in late 2002, reportedly from complications of diabetes. Forty days after the sultan's death, following the traditional period of mourning, more than 100 members of the Kanoman family were summoned to the royal reception hall, according to family accounts. There, beneath the carved wood ceiling and crystal chandeliers, the late sultan's brother produced a testament that had been secretly stowed in a small black case. To a stunned audience, he declared the sultan's heir to be Saladin.

Many in the hall hooted in protest. Emirudin's partisans called the final testament a fraud, though Emirudin himself said little in public. A slight man with a dark goatee, he only rarely ventures outside the palace grounds in his used 1980 Toyota, instead letting relatives, courtiers, lawyers and royal retainers argue his case.

"According to Islam, there is no blue-blood family, no distinction between a mother who has a royal background and one who does not. According to Islam, all wives should be equal," said Saladin, chain-smoking Marlboros from the pack he keeps in his T-shirt pocket. The late sultan's wishes must be honored, he insisted.

But one evening in March 2003, Saladin donned his royal black jacket with gold trim and had himself installed as sultan. The next morning, Emirudin put on similar attire and, despite efforts by his brother's loyalists to disrupt the ceremony, was likewise declared sultan.

Yet neither could rightfully claim the throne. Neither had yet acquired the famed sacred dagger of the Kanoman court, explained the late sultan's brother, Prince Imamudin, 50, who confided that he had locked away the heirloom and other royal weapons until the dispute was resolved.

"Both sides have supporters, and they're ready to fight," said Imamudin. "I'm waiting for a miracle from God and praying we can solve this without violence."

Until early last month, an uneasy truce prevailed inside the palace. Neither prince moved into the sultan's quarters, still occupied by Sri Mulya, but instead kept living with their immediate families under the same roof in the stately white building inhabited over the centuries by royal offspring. Only a pair of heavy green doors separated the rivals.

Yet fear invaded the inner sanctum. Intimidated by Emirudin's superior supporters within the court, Saladin began to counsel his visitors to bypass the main gates, instructing them to slip onto the grounds through a back alley that winds through an adjacent neighborhood.

During the standoff, the palace continued its decline. The electric company threatened to turn off the power for non-payment and some phone service was suspended, royal family members reported. Sheep grazed in front of the royal apartments.

On June 6, Emirudin issued a decree expelling Saladin and his immediate family, including his aging mother, Suherni. Saladin refused to budge, vowing to die first.

The people of Cirebon warned that the Kanoman court is ominously reprising a dispute that almost destroyed the sultanate during colonial times, when the son of the sixth sultan secretly took up with the daughter of a Dutch official. Years later, when the couple's son was about to be crowned, the royal court erupted in protest, ultimately securing the throne for the son of another wife with royal blood.

Imamudin, Djalaludin's brother, recalled that his ancestors had prophesied a repetition of this excruciating history.

"They predicted that one day a thousand pains would merge into one, and what's happening now reflects that," Imamudin said. "My ancestors also said that after Kanoman overcomes this problem, we will regain our glory again."

But he added with a melancholy smile, "I don't know how."

Raja Muda Kuno said...

Translated by D.P. Tick from the Dutch daily "Het Parool" of 29-4-2003, by journalist Mrs. Step Vaessen, who visited both new Sultans of Cirebon-Kanoman.

The Sultan, The Concubine and the Successor.

Once there was a king in Cirebon in the west of Java. Sultan Djalaluddin was his name, he had 4 wives and 16 children. When he died a few months ago, he left a letter, in which was written, that the eldest son of his 3rd wife had to be his succesor (1st wife only had a daughter). This aroused a row. The 3rd wife was not of royal descent, she was only a selir, a concubine ,according to some negative statements.

It required a bit searching to the kraton of the Sultanate of Cirebon-Kanoman. The entrance to the palace is more or less a sort of blocked by a market, which is thronged by becaks (bicycletaxi). Passing by the fish and meat stalls, suddenly the stone enclosure looms up. The nobility is ensconced within
The family of Sultan Emiruddin (foto above) is already ready for the interview under the candelabras in the nicest part of the palace.The wood in the palace has not a clear colour,the canape shows signs of a long history. "The Queen",calls someone and we all stand up fast. Queen Sri Mulya wears a lightgreen veil ,the persons ,who are present bow. I ask where the Sultan is, her son. "You can't talk to him",she tries. But after some extra requests His Highness himself appears.The people present bow again and kisses his hand.He has a little goatee and wears western cloathes.His arm trembles,when I shake his hand.His sister; the princess, feels responsible to excuse for his appearance. "Sorry", that is the way the succesion works. In the wayangplay, there is also a handicapted king. He is blind. When I ask the Sultan; via his sister in signlanguage, what he thinks of his new dignity/job,he only shrugs his sholders.Family members of the other Sultan look secretly at the scene. When Sultan Emiruddin and his family have left, they appear. "Here,here",someone hisses from behind a door. "Here is Sultan Saladin".The Sultans and their family both live in the palace, a few rooms separated from each other. But since the dramatic developments they don't speak with each other anymore. Only, when one Sultan has left the scenery, the other appears.

It nearly went wrong on the day of the installation of Sultan Emiruddin.The evening before the 30 years old Prince Saladin had been himself a bit in haste as the 12th Sultan Kanoman (Sultan Kanoman XII). It was a little ceremony; the president of the local parliament in Cirebon was the only guest of honour (was in fact the president of the government of the town area of Cirebon-D.P.T.)

But the installation happened however with the traditional age old royal keris.Also Prince Saladin had the possesion of the most important paper of the deceased king, on which was written, that he had to be the succesor.

The next day; as if it was quite natural; the other Sultan was installed.,without the keris, because that is in the possesion of his rival. (I had understood however,that the most important royal keris was in the hands of a 3rd candidate with conviction:the younger brother of their father :the Pangeran Patih;Pangeran Raja Haji Muhammad Imamuddin,who was transit-Sultan in the time between the death of his brother and both the installations of the new Sultans on the 5th and 6th of march.DPT.) Halfway the ceremony the sister of Sultan Saladin;Princess Mawar;dashed into the room with some family members. The hunderds of invited guests were firghtened a lot."This is a coup d'etat", she screamed and she began to to read the paper of her father with exalted voice.The police had to act then very carefully to prevent, that the installation would not result in a fight. Since then both the parties live seperated strictlly. When I write now this article,I know,that afterwards the letter of the king was examined in a forenzic way,but the family of Sultan Emiruddin keeps on stating, that the letter is false.

Prinses Mawar is a young lawyer with a talent to express herself very good.She isn't a person,who you would expect in a dusty palace.Together with her younger brothers; the Sultan and a prince; she goes through dusty documents,which she shows as evidence. Her goal is to safe the palace from the destruction. "Since long the Sultan has no political role,but still the people in Cirebon find him important(of course not all.DPT) They still kiss his hand. They come to him for advise. More the less we have to safeguard the Javanese traditions.

In the museum of the palace is a coach decorated in the front and further by a mythical dragon,which is still used every year for traditional Javanese festivities.

"We have hold an inquiry",says the Princess,"the majority supports Sultan Saladin.You have seen the other Sultan,he is only a puppet of his family".But the old Sudjana,who for many years is the spiritual advisor of the kraton,doesn't agree with that statement.He belongs to the party of Sultan Emiruddin,because according to the adat(the tradition)the mother of the Sultan always had to have blue blood"(in the neighbouring palace of the Sultan of Cirebon-Kasepuhan that adatrule isn't used.DPT).
"That is nonsense",says Sultan Saladin,"already before there were Sultans of not royal mothers.One Sultan was even married with the daughter of the Dutch Resident(Mimmi Heidenreich was married with the 2nd Sultan of Cirebon-Kanoman,who was only titular-King:Sultan Anom VII Muhammad Kamaruddin(1852-1871);the greatgreatgrandfather of the 2 present rival-Sultans.DPT.) He shows a decission of the Dutch King from 1844,in which is written,that the succesion of the Sultan goes via the line of the father.
Outsiders say,that the trouble is only about the riches of the Sultanate.But these riches are since 1960 in the hands of the government.Under president Sukarno most of the possesions of the royalty and nobility were taken away.More than 30.000 ha. of land the Sultan of Cirebon-Kanoman had to give away.Most of it was used by the state,but also whole kampongs(villages)are built on it.

Both the Sultans Emiruddin and Saladin want to try now to get that land back."The Sultanate can not survive without possesions"., says Princess Mawar."The palace will tumble down more or less,when not fast something happens"(The Indonesian government has introduced in 1999 local autonomy laws,which resulted in the coming back in the social system of the Royalty.The Indonesian government agrees,that giving back some possesions is indeed necessary for the Royalty,so that in preserving the for the culture very important palaces and the like can be conserved in a self-sufficient way.DPT)
From all over Indonesia people intervened with the problematic succesion.1000-ends of descendants of previous Sultans of Cirebon-Kanoman live dispersed all over the country.They are in business or politics,but still take their pride in their blue blood.

"We must gather the whole Family together and ask which Sultan they recognize as the only real one",suggests Princess Arinbi,the sister of Sultan Emiruddin.But Princess Mawar has another solution:If we can't work it out,than a judge had to come into the picture."