THE HISTORY OF INDONESIAN PAPUA (PROVINCE OFPAPUA AND PROVINCE OF WEST PAPUA)

Pre-European History of Papua

Despite scant records of interaction between the people of Papua and other Indonesian ethnic groups, trade and social contacts. had already begun since the early centuries after Christ. The earliest record of the island dates back to the 8th century during the period of Sriwijaya, the first kingdom whose territory. approximately covered the whole of the present-day Indonesia, with its capital in the vicinity of present-day Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province. King Sri Indrawarman sent many gifts to the emperor of China, including some birds of paradise indigenous of Papua, which was then known as Janggi.

Five centuries later, a Chinese traveler by the name of Chau Yu Kua visited the Nusantara (the old name of for Indonesian archipelago) island of Tung-ki. Experts believe that Tung-ki was the Chinese transliteration of Janggi. He noted that the people of the island had a close relationship with the people of the Molluca Islands.

The second major archipelagic kingdom in Indonesia was Majapahit of East Java. During the reign of King Hayam Wuruk (1292-1521), many lesser kings of the archipelago came to the capital to pledge allegiance and form an alliance with the mighty king, including the kings of the Mollucas whose territory included the island of Papua. In 1365, Gajah Mada, prime minister to the court of Hayam Wuruk, commissioned a book on the history of Majapahit to the court-chronicler Prapanca. In the book titled Nagarakertagama, Prapanca wrote about places in Majapahit’s eastern territories, including Papua. Evidently, by the mid 14th century Papua was an integral part of Nusantara.

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