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Nusa Tenggara Barat

Bima Sultanate





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Nusa Tenggara Barat (Southeastern Islands West) often abbreviated to NTB, is a province in south-central Indonesia. It covers the western portion of the Lesser Sunda Islands, except for Bali.

The two largest islands in the province are Lombok in the west and the larger Sumbawa island in the east. Mataram, on Lombok, is the capital and largest city of the province. The province is administratively divided into eight regencies (kabupaten) and two municipalities (kotamadya).

Formerly Sumbawa was a part of Timor Residency.

Lombok  was a part of the Balinese monarchy from 1750 until 1894. It was liberated from Balinese rule by the K.N.I.L. in 1894 and annexed by the Dutch in 1895.as a part of Bali and Lombok Regency. In 1938 both residencies became a part of the Groote Oost province which, after Japanese occupation in WWII, became the Negara Indonesia Timoer in 1946. The Negara Indonesia Timoer became a part of the Republik Indonesia in 1950. In 1958 Nusa Tenggara Barat province was established by law No 64/1958.




In colonial times  the national emblems of the Netherlands, Japan and East Indonesia respectivelely were also valid on the Lesser Sunda Islands. On Lombok the Balinese heraldic system was valid until 1894.  An emblem specific for the province was adopted after its establishment in 1958.



The arms of Nusa Tenggara Barat are:


Arms: Per fess Azure and Vert, a volcano smoking, charged with a deer saliant proper, in base a chain of nine shackles Gules.

Crest: A five-pointed star Or

Garland: A branch of cotton and an ear of rice proper.


Backshield: Azure


ð See illustration in the head of this essay.


The volcano is Gunung Rinjani (3726 m) on Lombok, the deer is living in Gunung Rinjani National Park.

The crest is for the five national philosophical principles, the Pancasila.

The garland and the chain make the date 17. August 1945, the date of the proclamation of the Republik Indonesia.




Bima was an ancient Hindu kingdom on the eastern seaboard of the island of Sumbawa. According to legend the Bimanese dynasty was founded by Sang Bima, grandson of the deity Bantara Sang Bima, in the 13th century (Bima is the wayang warrior prince among the Pandawa princes in the Bratayudha cycle). Early in the 17th century the kingdom of Makassar, newly converted to Islam, subjugated Bima and converted it to Islam as well.

Only in 1792 the Dutch persuaded Sultan ‘Abdul’Hamid Muhammad Shah to sign a definitive contract, making Bima a protectorate, first of the VOC (indirect rule by charter) and later of the Netherlands Indies, but the colonial hand weighed lighter than in most Indonesian princely states.[1]

Several parts of the royal treasure of Bima have been preserved. They are of Makassarese manufacture thus illustrating the relations of Bima with Makassar.

A crown, a keris, tombaks and a ritual knife (golok), partly dating from the time before Islamisation, are preserved in several collections. They are published by Helen Ibbitson Jessup in Court Arts of Indonesia, 1990 from which I borrow the following:




Crown of Bima, 1790 or earlier

22-carat gold stained red, diamonds, cloth lining. 17.2 Í 10.5 cm

Kabupaten Bima, East Sumbawa, for the Sultan of Bima. [2]


The name of this crown, the state crown of Bima, is Songko Masa Sangajikai (king’s golden crown). Symbolizing the precept of dou la-o dana na (the raja upholds society and the state), it is one of the three pusaka (heirlooms) legitimizing the installation of the ruler as Sangaji, or Sultan. The others are the state kris and the ceremonial umbrella of lontar (palm leaf) decked with gold fittings symbolizing the ruler’s protection of the realm. The form of the crown shows Bugis influence, but it was made in Bima, either copying an earlier one dating from the sixteenth century (made by the twelfth Raja of  the pre-Islamic dynasty known as Dewa Maja Paruwa) or restoring it. The first ruler to be consecratred with it was Syafuddin (1791-95) Sultan IX of the Dewa Dalam Bawa dynasty of the colonial era.






A. State Kris


State Kris “Tatarapa Sangajikair” or “Samparaja”, 1634.

Iron, nickle, gold, diamonds. 50 Í14.4 Í 6.1 cm.


The precise date of this kris is contained in the cryptic symbols of a chonogram (candra sangkala). The sheath shows the influence of Makassar which had the hegemony of Bima and Sumbawa. The influence of Bali which dominated neighbouring island of Lombok is apparent in the anthropomorfic grip representing a Bima figure. This image invokes the protection of Sang Bima. [3]


B. Tombaks


Arms of State of Bima Sultanate. 17th Century.  

Gold, iron, nickel pamor, silver, sawo wood. 204 Í 4.2 Í 3 cm


Tombaks, spears or lances used both for fighting and ceremony, are prominent in collections of court pusaka weapons. This pair, probably made in Makassar, once flanked the ruler of Bima on formal occasions. [4]


C. Golok


Golok “La Nggunti Rante”.

Iron, silver alloy, copper, horn or wood. 28.5 Í 5.4 Í 2.3 cm.               


Knife belonging to the regalia of the royal family of Bima, 15th century (?).

This golok (knife) probably came from Bali where its first user is claimed to have been the deity Bantara Sang Bima, grandfather of Sang Bima. It was the official weapon of the Sultan before the existence of the State kris. Its name means “cutter of chains”. [5]

The crouching lion on the blade suggests that it belonged to a high-ranking warrior of Ksatriya (warrior) caste, probably the commander-in-chief of the Bima army. The phoenix on the hilt is the symbol of the head of state or governor (not necessarily the ruler) in hindu-buddhist heraldic symbolism.






After 1895 the islands were supervised by the K.N.I.L. and in WWII by the Japanese Navy. After the war the Dutch Army Command Timor and Onderhoorigheden was stationed on West Timor.

Today Nusa Tenggara Barat is controlled by TNI Kodam IX/Udayana.


Arms of Troepencommando Timor and Onderhoorigheden



Arms of Kodam IX /Udayana

The horse and horse-shoe were chosen because good carrying horses for the army were bred on Timor.

The bird in the arms of Udayana is the Sang Raja Walik from the achievement of the Republc. On its breast is a corrupted version of a viśvajra or double thunderbolt, the arms of the (buddhist) heaven, from the Acintya-sculpture in the Bali Museum.





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© Hubert de Vries 2011-03-10

[1] More history in: Noorduyn, J.: Bima en Sumbawa. In: Ligtvoet, A. & Rouffaer, G.P.: Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van de Sultanaten Bima en Sumbawa. Dordrecht, 1987.

[2] Court Arts of Indonesia (= CAI) N° 133 fig. 174.

[3] CAI, fig. 173 / no. 138.

[4] CAI, fig. 168 / no. 10.

[5] CAI, fig. 55. no. 25.

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