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The PontianakSultanate was founded in 1771 by a group of Arab adventurers led by al-Sayyid Sharif ĎAbduíl Rahman al-Kadri. This descendant of the Prophet had been drawn to Borneo by tales about diamonds and other riches.

Allying himself with the Dutch, he received former Bantam territories as a fief by contract made with the V.O.C. commissioner Willem Adriaan Pauw and recognition as Sultan of Pontianak in 1778. Although the Dutch made his son, by the Mempawa princess, Panembahan, he too failed to secure that throne.

ĎAbduíl Rahmanís successors maintained close relations with the British at Singapore, even after the return of the Indies to the Dutch. The latter concluded firm contracts with the Sultan during the 1820ís and then began to increase effective control. New contracts with the Dutch were made in 1822, 1879.

Soon after Sharif Muhammad had ascended the throne at the age of 23 in 1895, the traditional arab style of court life was abandoned and replaced by a more western style.

On 13 June 1911 a last contract was made which was approved by the N.I. Government by decision of 8 January 1912 no. 44 jį and ratified by decision of 26 March 1912, no 23.By this contract the N.I. Government extended its legislative rights and took the responsibilty for the payment of the ruler, the gentry and the civil servants of the selfgovernment.

Together with the Westerafdeeling van Borneo Pontianak was occupied by Japan in 1942. Several members of the aristocracy who had helped the Dutch and allied forces in clandestine operations were publicly beheaded in 1944. Sultan Muhammad, his heir apparent, and twenty-nine other members of the Pontianak Royal Family and their senior officials were amongst that number.


On their return to Borneo, the Dutch restored the sultanate to al-Sayyid Sharif ĎAbduíl Hamid II [Max], younger son of Sultan Muhammad who was kindly disposed towards the Dutch. He supported the Indonesian Federation in opposition to the Javanese republic, serving both as President of West Kalimantan and as a federal minister.

It took the diplomatic and persuasive powers of his brother prince, the Sultan of Yogyakarta, to bring him over. After the amalgamation with the Indonesian Republic on Java in 1950, the sultanate was abolished.


Sharif Abduír Rahman

Pangeran 1771-1778

Dutch Fief1778

Abduír Rahman

Sultan 1778-1808



Usman I


Hamid I






Usman II


Hamid Alkadrie II


State of Pontianak abolished1950




Like many other Muslim rulers the Sultans of Pontianak used a seal to authenticate their official writings and acts. The one of Pontianak was octogonal with the name and titles of the sultan surrounded by a legend, probably of a sura from the Quran.

Also the name of the Sultan was written in the form of a tughra, a calligraphic rendering of the name of the Sultan. Two early seals and tughras from British collections are shown below.


Head of a letter from Sultan Sharif Kasim of Pontianak (1808-í19)

to T.S. Raffles, showing the tughra and the seal of the Sultan. (Brit. Lib. MSS Eur. D. 742/ 1, f. 33a.) [1]


Another print from the seal of Kasim (Brit. Lib)


Head of a letter from Sultan Sharif Usman of Pontianak(1819-í55)

to van der Capellen, 1825, showing the tughra and seal of the Sultan. (Cambridge Un. Lib. Or. 638b.)





Sultanís flag(1881)


According to a missive dated 3 March 1881 no. 1236 the sultan had a yellow flag. The pangeran bendahara or head of state at the same time flew a of three breadths orange, yellow and orange 1:2:1, and the regent five breadths of yellow, white, yellow, white and yellow. [2]


†† ††††††††††

Pangeran Bendahara and Regentís flag (1881)


Sharif Yusuf was styled Pangeran Bendahara of Matan before his accession in 1872


A set of European style political emblems was probably designed after the accession of Sharif Muhammad (1895-1944)


Sultan Muhammad in official dress (1895?)

From the collecion of the review ĎOedayaí, about 1918


This can be seen on the headdress of the sultan and shows a royally crowned crescent-and-mullet supported by two lions (?). A crescent-and-mullet is the islamic symbol of a head of state, the crescent symbolizing the state and the star the ruler.

Somewhat later, the heraldic achievement was changed by placing the crescent and mullet on a shield. This can be seen on the thrones in the Throne Hall of Istana Kadriah in Pontianak. Two thrones, each decorated with a heraldic achievement, are placed in a pavilion. According to the example of the Dutch Royal Achievement the lions are crowned.


Photo Max Alkadrie, 2009

Achievement of Pontianak

on the thrones in the Throne Hall ofthe Istana Kadriah in Pontianak, 19th-20th c.


Arms: A crescent and mullet.

Crown: A crown with five hoopscrested with a crescent-and-star .

Supporters: Two crowned lions standing on a ribbon


The thrones are under a pavilion with a roof and canvases of yellow cloth, strewn with golden crescents and mullets.


In some other places the palace is decorated with crescents and mullets.


Sharif Muhammad




When, at the accession of Sharif Muhammad a more western style court life was introduced in Pontianak, the sultan was dressed in Dutch official dress. This consisted for the Governors of the Outer Possessions of a blue dress-suit richly embroided with orange- and oak leaves and with buttons charged with the letter ďWĒ, a white waistcoat and trousers and a sword with a golden hilt. This was completed with a plumed cocked hat. [3]

As can be seen on this picture of Sharif Muhammed, the cocked hat was replaced for the occasion by a fez-like headdress decorated with ostrich feathers and a royal crown of Dutch fashion, consisting of a diadem set with five leaves and four pearls andwith five hoops. On top is a crescent and star instead of the orb and cross common for European royal crowns. The crescent and star is the symbol of the head of state in Muslim political symbolism.


Sharif Muhammad in official dress


Wearing the collar of the order of Bintang Dubus.

The Order of Bintang Dubus was founded by Sultan al-Sayyid Sharif Usman ca. 1819.

The collar of the Bintan Dubus consisted of crescents-and-stars separated by texts in arab lettering. Its jewel consisted of a twelve-pointed star charged with the crescent-and star, pending from a royal crown.

The royal crown of Pontianak

On a watch of Sultan Muhammad [4]


Usman II




Succeeded on the death of his maternal grandfather, under Japanese auspices, 24th June 1944. Installed 18th August 1945. Deposed by the Dutch authorities after their resumption of authority over Borneo, 23rd October 1945.

Kesultanan Pontianak, Kalimantan Barat

Usman II at the age of 18

when installed in 1945 [5]


On his cap a royal crown, on his side a (dutch) sword of state with the arms of Pontianak on the hilt.


Hamid Alkadrie II

*1913-Ü 30.III.1978

Governor of the Special Territory of West Borneo 1945-1950


Banner of the Sultan of Pontianak [6]


The banner of the sultan consisted of a yellow cloth charged with a green crescent and mullet. It is not known when this banner was introduced but it is likely that it is a creation of Hamid II.


The achievement was:


Arms: Or, a crescent, between its horns a mullet, Vert.

Crown: An islamic royal crown

Supporters: Two lions rampant Or, langued and armed Gules

Compartment: An arabesque, Vert.

Mantle: Vert, lined with yellow silk, fringed Or, crowned with an islamic royal crown.


The arms are identical with the flag of the Sultan. The supporters are taken from the Dutch Royal Arms. The crown is the adaptation of the Dutch Royal Crown introduced about 1895, the leaves and the orb-and-cross on top being exchanged for crescents-and-mullets.


The picture is taken from a diplom for the purveyors of the Sultanís Household, designed by Dirk Ruhl about 1947. [7]


ū see illustration in the head of this essay


Ū As a Minister without Portfolio Hamid II was made responsible for the design of the achievement of the Federal Republic and the Republic of Indonesia. Original drawings of the designs for the seals and the achievements of the R.I.S. and the R.I. by Dirk Ruhl are in the collection of the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie in The Hague. These drawings are now in the National Archives of Indonesia.


Photo Max Alkadrie, 2017

Achievement on the signet ring of Crown PrinceMax Nico


The achievement of the crown prince Max Nico Alkadrie (*1942-Ü2018) shows the royally crowned arms supported by two lions, that is to say the achievement of his father, the mantle omitted.


The present-day achievement of Pontianak is an adaptation of the arms of Sultan Hamid II and is in the colours of the Republic red and white, the shield and the lining of the mantle white, the crescent and mullet, the lions and the mantling red.

After the accession of the present sultan, the original colours were restored.




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© Hubert de Vries 2010-01-27. Updated 2015-09-04; 2017-05-15; 2017-07-26; 2018-08-12




[1]Teh Gallop, Annabel: Golden Letters - Surat Emas. Writing traditions of Indonesia - Budaya Tulis di Indonesia. London/Jakarta, 1991

[2]RŁhl, Dirk: Vlaggen van den Oost-Indischen Archipel (1600-1942). In: Jaarboek van het Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie. Dl. VI, 1952. pp. 136-148. Also for the flags of the royal household, the members of the royal family and officials

[3]See: http://www.ambtskostuums.nl/frameset.htmū Grootkostuum BB 1854.

[4] The watch was a gift from Queen Wilhelmina, together with other treasures from Pontianak it was confiscated by the Japanese and put in the National Bank of Tokyo, Japa,n and later disappeared. It unexpectedly showed up on an American auction in 2017. The crown and other regalia were rendered in 1947 but later sold in the Hague.

[5] Usually this picture is thought to be of Sultan Muhammad 1895-1944.

[6]RŁhl, Dirk, op. cit..

[7]Some copies of which are in theCentraal Bureau voor Genealogie in The Hague.

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