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The Achievement

The Royal Cypher

The Armed Forces:

The Legion of Mangku Negoro


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In the first millennium A.D. several Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms sprang up on the eastern half of Java. The nucleus of power at first was in Central Java but shifted in the 10th and 11th century to what is now East Java Province.

After the islamization of Java in the 15th and 16th centuries the nucleus of power shifted again to Central Java where the Kingdom of Mataram developed on the ruins of the former Empire of Majapahit. Refugees from Majapahit settled on Bali where they continued Majapahit culture  and could maintain their sovereignty until 1908.

In the 17th century the Dutch established themselves in Jacatra on the western half of the island and expanded into the kingdom of Bantam and in the 18th century into the kingdom of Mataram.

In the beginning of the 18th century the power of Mataram Sultanate waned because of the increasing power of the Dutch V.O.C. In 1705 Mataram had to cede Sumenep and Pamekasan on Madura to the Dutch and in 1743 all of Madura, including Bangkalan and East Java followed.

In 1744 the Susuhunan (He to Whom Homage is Paid) of Mataram, Sri Paku Buwana II, backed a Chinese rebellion against Dutch rule and his court at Kartasura was sacked for that reason. A new spot was chosen to rebuild his capital and in 1745 the entire court was dismantled and transported in a great procession to Surakarta, on the banks of the Kali (river) Solo.

On 11 December 1749, nine days before his death, Pakubuwana II ceded his kingdom to the VOC.


The Sultanate of Surakarta is the result of a long succession dispute after the death of Susuhunan Paku Buwana II in 1749. After six years of war Prince Mangku Bumi controlled the South West of the Sultanate and the ‘legal’ successor Paku Buwana III controlled, with Dutch military support, the North and East. The Dutch, tired of the costs of the dispute, then decided to divide the empire between the combattants. Surakarta came under the Susuhunan and a new Sultanate of Yogyakarta under Mangku Bumi. The division was ratified on 13 February 1755.

The sultans of Surakarta, as a vassal of the V.O.C. always have been pro-dutch and this has resulted in good relations between the royal houses of the Netherlands and of Surakarta. In the war of independence after Japanese occupation however, hearing about the proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia both the Susuhunan Paku Buwana XI and the Mangku Negoro VII declared Surakarta a part of  the Republic. As a reward for this support Sukarno made Surakarta a Daerah Istimewa (a Special Territory). When the Dutch had reconquered Yogyakarta and Surakarta in 1948, Paku Buwana XII (1945-2004) held a reception for the Dutch Troops. Angered by this, Sukarno withdrew the special status of the Sultanate and degraded it to a Protectorate which meant that the self-government was postponed. In 1960 the sultan was stripped of his administrative power and the sultanate was incorporated in Central Java Province.


Rulers of Surakarta

Pakubuwono II Komboel


V.O.C. possession 1749 -1797

Pakubuwono III Swarga


Pakubuwono IV Bagoes


Pakubuwono V Soegih


Pakubuwono VI Bangoen Tapa


Dutch Protectorate 1830-1945

Pakubuwono VII Poerbaja


Pakubuwono VIII Angabehi


Pakubuwono IX Bangopen Kadaton


Pakubuwono X


Pakubuwono XI


Autonomous 1945-1948

Indonesisian Protectorate 1948-1960

Pakubuwono XII


Susuhanate Abolished 1960



Keris Nagasapto

Made for Pakubuwono VII (1830-’58). [1]


The heraldry of ancient Mataram was certainly of Hindu Buddhist origin. Many of the symbols used in this heraldry have been preserved in Surakarta but they are embedded in the arts stimulated and flowering after the pacification of the sultanate. A quasi heraldic achievement for example is on the great gong stand of a gamelan set. It shows the royal crown of Surakarta supported by two crowned naga or snakes. Also, the naga is the usual decoration of the royal keris or dagger. Certainly, the snake has remained the royal emblem of Surakarta through the ages. As a consequence, the royal arms always have been a keris charged with a snake (whereas in European heraldry it would have been a shield with a crowned snake).

On the other hand, European influence started to take effect soon after the V.O.C. had settled on Java.

An informative example of how European influence was effected is given by the way the Company tried to play a role in the “coronation”of Mangku Rat as an “Emperor of Java” in 1678.[2]

A golden crown was a part of the booty when Kediri was looted by the Dutch. It was thought that this crown was the “Imperial Crown of Majapahit” by which the pretender of the throne of Java had to be crowned to become “Emperor of Java”. This idea, of course was borrowed from the way the Holy Roman Emperor had to be crowned with the Imperial Crown at his coronation to become the legal ruler of the Empire.

As a result the crown was offered to Mangku Rat II (1677-1703) who was, again seen from a Dutch perspective, the pretender of the Empire of Java. Indeed, the Susuhunan accepted the crown at a ceremony on 27 November 1678 and placed it on his head to please the Dutch.

However, according to Mangku Rat II himself, he had been given the title Susuhunan Amangkurat Sinapatti Ingalaga and a gong of command, a keris and a lance, wesende de rijcx regalien (being the Imperial regalia) by his father Mangku Rat I Tegal-Wangi  fleeing from his Kraton in Kediri in July 1677. Other precious things, amongst others a golden crown, had not been judged important enough to take with him. These were captured by the Dutch and Javanese on 25 November 1678.

In 1705, the  successor of Mangku Rat II, Mangku Rat III (1703-’08) was chased from his Keraton and on his flight to the east  took the pusaka with him. These consisted, according to his own testimony, of  the keris kjai Belabar, the lance kjai Baroe, the jacket kjai Goendil, the gong Sekar Dalima and the cymbal  kjai Bitjak. [3]

The son of Mangku Rat II, Paku Buwana I (1703-‘19), at his Joyous Entry in his Keraton Karta Sura (with the help of the Dutch), was soon presented with the Majapahit crown but the pusaka’s legitimizing his rule were lost for a long time. In 1708 they were transported by Mangku Rat III († 1734) to Ceylon, the island to which he had been banned by the Company.

The crown, according to the mother of Mangku Rat IV, Ratu Ibu, certainly did not belong to the pusaka’s legitimizing rulership. Asked about the pusaka’s and the crown she said that:


“men de thans benoemde rijxcroon onder de pousaka’s niet mogt rekenen, vermits die tot cieraat en oppronkinge der Javaanse speelders eerst gepractiseerd en tot geen andere als ten dien eijnde gebruijkt, maar niet tot een croon des rijx geprojecteert, ofte daarvoor g’estimeert is geworden, te meer nooijt een rijxcroon op Java bekent, off bij een der oude vorsten was berustende of g’useert geweest.”


(the socalled imperial crown cannot be counted as a pusaka, because it was first used as a jewel and embellishment of the Javanese players and not for anything else, but it has not been made a crown of the empire, nor has been valued as such the more so because an Imperial crown was never known on Java nor has been posessed or used by any of the ancient princes).


Nevertheless, there has been a crown in the royal treasury of Mataram. It is thought that it has been lost in 1742 at the sack of Karta Sura by Cakra Adininggrat IV of Madura (1718-1745). [4] The crown itself would have had “the shape of two intertwined dragons - heads in front, being of pure gold, very beautifully made in a Manilla fashion of thick wire-work and set with beautiful pearls and diamonds”.....[5] This, in fact, is the shape of a Ming Chinese Imperial crown (1368-1644). [6]


Only a few years after the supposed disappearance of the Majapahit Imperial Crown a crown of Dutch fashion appears in Mataram. It is of the shape of a European royal crown consisting of a diadem set with precious stones and five hoops set with pearls. It has never existed in concreto but is on the Royal Mataram Achievement.


The Achievement





A flag of Mataram is given by the “Nieuwe Tafel van Alle de Zeevarende Vlagge des Werelts op nieuws van alle voorgaande Fouten gesuyvert” (about 1750). It shows a crescent and two kerises in saltire on a red cloth. The legend below the flag reads: Pav: Impere de Iapare. This Iapare is today’s Japara and was a part of Mataram in the 17th and 18th century. [7] The V.O.C. had a trading station in Japara and (not only) for that reason was well informed about Mataram. Japara was abandoned in 1708 when the trading station was moved to Semarang.


An achievement European style is on the carriage used at the transport of the Royal Court from Kartasura to Surakarta in 1745. At this occasion the king sat on his royal wagon, Kyai Grudo escorted by high ranking officials, troops, regalia carriers, bringing the pusaka’s and other important things to be used in his new palace. The convoy included also the sacred gamelan, waringin (Banyan) trees, horses, elephants and a special chamber Bangsal Pengrawit. Upon arrival at the new keraton, he announced that starting from today the capital city of the kingdom was Surokarto Hadiningrat (suro: brave, valiant; karto: prosperous; Hadi: great, precious; rat: state).


The Kyai Grudo has the cypher of the V.O.C. on its doors which makes it likely that it was given to the Susuhunan by the V.O.C. [8]


Mataram Royal Achievement on the front of the Kyai Grudo, early 18th century


At the front of the coach there is an achievement European style, difficult to read nowadays, which shows a blue royally crowned shield charged with a star, a sun and a crescent. Shield and crown are placed on a trophy of flags, banners and arms. It reflects the intensive relations of Mataram with the V.O.C..

On the other hand, sun, moon and star are from the islamic repertory of socio-political symbols symbolizing the empire, the state and the ruler.


From this achievement all later achievements of Surakarta are derived.




A first version of the achievement of Surakarta is on the Kori Kamandungan of the Keraton Hadiningrat in Solo. This Keraton has been built by Pakubuwono II in 1745 but the achievement itself is of an uncertain date. The crown, topped by a fleur de lys suggests that it was made by a french artist, probably in the time of the Kingdom of Holland (1806-‘11) when the Netherlands were ruled by Louis Napoleon. The achievement is:



Achievement above the entrance Kori Kamandungan of the keraton of Surakarta.


Arms: Argent, a five-pointed star, a crescent and a sun radiant Or.

Crown: A crown of five hoops topped by a fleur the lys

Garland: Of branches Vert.

Supporters: A trophy of flags, banners, swords and cannon, in base a drum and a gong (of command), cannon balls etc.


At the end of the nineteenth century the arms were restyled and augmented by Pakubuwono X (1893-1939). The field of the arms were made blue and was augmented with a globe showing the easter hemisphere and pierced at the pole with a nail. In the middle there is the royal cypher of Pakubuwono X: PBX.

On the shield, surrounded by a ornamental border charged with ten six-pointed stars, is a royal crown European style. The shield is supported by a trophy of flags etc.. The achievement is:




Achievement of Surakarta on the door of the Kyai Manikounok (1890-1900) [9]


Arms: Azure, a six-pointed star, a crescent and a sun radiant Or, in base a globe showing the eastern hemisphere, pierced at the pole by a nail. proper, and in nombril point the royal cypher PBX, Or.

Crown: A royal crown.

Supporters: The shield surrounded by an ornamental bordure charged with ten six-pointed stars Or and placed on a trophy of swords, banners and flags, cannon, drums and cannon balls proper.


The globe pierced by a nail is a pun on the name Pakubuwono which means ‘Pivot of the World’.

The Royal cypher in the middle makes the achievement a Royal Achievement.



Somewhat later the achievement was simplified by replacing the ornamental bordure and the trophy by a garland of coffee and sugar (the main cash crops of Java). At the same time the crown of European style was replaced by a crown Javanese style commonly called a makuta. Also the royal cypher in the middle was omitted, thus making the achievement the National Achievement.




The National Arms of Surakarta

Left: On a writing-desk presented by Pakubuwono X to Queen Wilhelmina for the 25th anniversary of her rule in 1923. [10] 

Right: Coloured version on the Gapura Kraton of Surakarta (1931-’32).


After the Proclamation of Independence of the Republic of Indonesia the arms of Surakarta were changed again. The change consisted of the replacement of the garland by a garland of cotton and rice tied by a ribbon of the national colours red and white.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay.  [11]




The makuta as on the national arms of Surakarta is, indeed, inspired by the crowns of the wajang kulit and wajang wong figurines.





The Royal Cypher



The royal cypher is in the tradition of the royal cypher of European rulers, as well as in the tradition of the tughra of Islamic rulers. It is the personal emblem of a ruler

In the case of Surakarta the royal cypher consists of the letters P or PB

The earliest royal cypher known is in a room in the Keraton of Solo. A photography of the cypher published on Internet shows the cypher PB in a 18th century European calligraphic style as a charge on a shield, covered with a helmet affrontée and placed on a trophy of arms. Because the cypher consists of twice the letters PB, it is the emblem of Pakubuwono II (1726-’42/1743-49) and was made between 1745 and 1749.


Royal cypher in the Keraton of Solo.



Of the same tradition is the achievement with the cypher of Pakubuwono VIII on his carriage Kyai Kencana presented to him in 1859 This shows the Imperially crowned Royal Cypher ‘PB’ on a disc placed on a shield, and a trophy on a royal, uncrowned mantle. The uncrowned mantle was mainly used in the first half of the 19th century.


Photo H.d.V. 1980

Royal Cypher within an achievement on the door of Kyai Kencana, about 1859.



The achievement, the mantle replaced by a sun radiant, the shield omitted, is repeated on the inner side of the roof, the crown an imperial crown.


Photo H.d.V. 1980

Royal Cypher on the inner side of the roof of Kyai Kencana, about 1859.


The original royal cypher may have been of Pakubuwono VIII (1858-’61) and in that case the “X” has been added by his successor Pakubuwono X (1893-1939)



On the doors of the coach Kyai Retnosewoko from the time of Pakubuwono VII (1830-58) appeared an achievement of the royal cypher in a later style, placed on a crowned mantle. It is of significance that the trophy is omitted.  We may suppose that the cypher has been of Pakubuwono IX (1861-1893). The achievement is:



Arms: Azure, the cypher ‘P’ Or.

Crown: A princely crown of five leaves, three hoops and a low velvet cap.

Mantle: Gules, lined ermine, fringed and tasseled Or and crowned with a princely crown.


The arms are on a Victorian style shield. [12]



The royal cypher of Pakubuwono X (1893-1939) is also on the door of a carriage. It consists of the letters P.B.X. on a royally crowned vaulted mantle:




The Royal cypher is on a mantle of  late-ninteenth / early 20th century European fashion also used for the Dutch Royal arms of 1907.


Later in his reign the cypher was Javanized by replacing the Dutch royal crown by the Makuta of Solo.


Photo Timur Tunggadewa

Royal cypher PB X crowned with the royal Makuta of Solo and surrounded by some foliage.




Photo Timur Tunggadewa

Royal cypher of Paku Buwono X Javanese style.

The cypher crowned with the Makuta of  Solo and surrounded by a garland of cotton branches  and ears of rice




Still later the cypher itself was Javanized and spelled in Javanese Aksara Antiqua script: Pa-gede, Ba-gede 10.

The same cypher can be seen on the Bintang Kraton (The Kraton Star), instituted by Paku Buwono X  on 21st January 1932 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his coming of age and installation with full ruling powers.

No royal cypher is known of Pakubuwono XI, XII and XIII.















ï Bintang Kraton, First Class, 1932. The legend reads: Tanggal 12 Ramelan Tahun JE, 1822-1862  [13]


The Armed Forces



The Legion of Mangku Negoro


Part of the armed forces of Surakarta were under the command of the Mangku Negoro who had  received a hereditary appanage of 4000 households on Surakarta territory. In 1803, in the time of the Batavian Republic the corps was refounded. It was named the “Legion of the Mangku Negoro” by Daendels in 1808.

After WWII the Legion was revived again in 1949 with the name of Territoriaal Bataljon Soerakarta. It was transferred to the Republic in 1950.




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© Hubert de Vries 2010.10.21

Updated 2011-04-26; 2011-05-17


[1]  Picture from: Ibbitson, Helen: Court Arts of Indonesia. New York 1991. Fig. 122.

[2]  Graaf, H.J. de: Over de kroon van Madja-Pait. In: Bijdragen tot de Taal- Land- en Volkenkunde van Neder­landsch Indië. 1947-1948 pp. 573-603.

[3]  De Graaf op. cit. 1947 p. 581.

[4]  De Graaf op. cit. 1947 p. 585

[5]  De Graaf op. cit. 1947 p. 577.

[6] The crown on official imperial portraits covered with a black silken cap. The weight of the Majapahit crown, 80 reales (about 450 g) matches the weight of a reconstruction of a Ming crown of 570 g.  This would make the claim that the crown dates from the time of the Majapahit Empire (1293-1500ca) realistic. It could have been given to the Empire when it was on its zenith (1350-’89). Relations with China were important in that era, probably Majapahit was even a (nominal) vassal of China. In early Majapahit the Chinese phoenix was introduced as the emblem of the head of state.

[7]  Derived from this 18th century flag are the arms in  “Hefner, O.T. von: Die Wappen der außerdeutschen Souveräne und Staaten”, Nürnberg 1857 (1870), Taf. 145. wrongly called the arms of  “Kaiserreich Japan”.

[8]  The cypher shows the letters VOC and N which is the cypher of the Negapatnam comptoir of  Coromandel. The carriage was probably given to him by the VOC under G.G. Van Imhoff (1743-’50). If the emblem really is of Negapatnam, it is possible that the carriage was imported by Mangku Rat V from Ceylon in 1742 and confiscated in 1743 by Pakubuwono II. Also see: Vos, H.B.: Kratonkoetsen op Java.

[9]  Picture from: Vos, H.B.:  op. cit.

[10]  Coll. Museum Bronbeek, Arnhem Inv. nr.  K.P. 162 en 163. Photo H.d.V.

[11]  After a photo of the board at the entrance of the Keraton of  Solo, taken by the author 1980.

[12]  Picture from: Vos, H.B. op.cit. 1985.

[13]  See: Royal Ark. Surakarta

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