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Negara Sumatera Selatan

Provinsi Sumatera Selatan




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The early history of South Sumatera is mainly the history of Palembang. In the time of the Srivijaja and Majapahit Empires Palembang was a Chinese trading post and its name is derived from the Chinese Palinfong. The city was ruled by an imperial governor with the title of Adipati (duke).

In the 15th century when the Majapahit Empire declined, a separate kingdom was founded in Palembang by the then Adipati Ario Damar (ruled 1455-’86). As the Palembang population was muslim by the time, he also converted to Islam and changed his name into Ario Abdillah or Ario Dillah (from the Javanese dillah = light). He married a chinese girl by name of  Puteri Champa, formerly the concubine of the Majapahit king Brawijaya V (†1478). Her son, Raden Fatah founded the Kingdom of Demak in 1481. This Kingdom existed until 1546 when the kingdom fell apart after a war of succession. A separate kingdom was founded in Palembang by  one of the pretenders Pangeran Sedo Ing Lautan (1547-1552).

This kingdom existed until 1659 when the citadel of Palembang was taken and destroyed by the V.O.C.. A sultanate was established on the ruins of the former kingdom, ruled by Sultan Ratu Abdurrahman Khalifatul Mukminin Sayidul Imam (1659-1706). This sultanate lasted until 1823 when it was abolished by the Dutch government.

Under Dutch rule Palembang and some South Sumatran territories became Palembang Residency.


After Japanese capitulation on 15 August 1945 the Dutch tried to restore the pre-war circumstances. The main part of the island however was in the hands of the nationalists of Sukarno who had proclaimed the Indonesian Republic immediately after the capitulation. Only in Medan and Palembang the Dutch could maintain their positions. It was their intention to make a federation of the the former colony and, fitting into these intentions, the State of South Sumatera (Negara Sumatera Selatan) was founded on 30 August 1948 on former Palembang Residence territory. The N.S.S.  became a part of the Republik Indonesia Serikat when it was established on 27 December 1949. On 24 March 1950 the new state was abolished and on 17 August 1950 the R.I.S. was transformed into the Republic of Indonesia. Since then South Sumatera (Sumatara Selatan) is a province of the Republic.




The heraldry of the early empires of Srivijaja and Palembang may have been of a common Hindu Buddhist style, maybe mixed with chinese and muslim influences but for the rest is conspicious by absence.

Under direct Dutch Rule the political emblems of the Kingdom of the Netherlands were valid. A heraldic emblem specific for a local administration was only adopted when the city of Palembang was promoted to a community in the twenties of the 20th century




Achievement of Palembang, 1925.

On a page of a calendar (Coll. Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam)


By decree of 29 December 1925 the town-council of Palembang adopted a coat of arms which was rejected by the Hooge Raad van Adel (High Council of Nobility) in The Hague. It was:


Arms: Per pale: the first of the Dutch National Arms; the second per fess: 1. Gules a caduceus Argent; 2. Per fess Argent and barry wavy Azure and Argent an Indian sailing vessel proper.

Crown: A mural crown of five towers.

Supporters: Two lions Or, langued and unguled Gules.


The High Council of Nobility strongly discouraged the use of the national arms and argued that a mural crown was only allowed for towns that used to have city walls and had been under siege. [1]

It was proposed to change the arms as follows:


Arms: Per pale: 1. Gules a caduceus Argent; 2. Per fess Argent and barry wavy Azure and Argent an Indian sailing vessel proper.

Crown: A crown of three leaves and two pearls being the crown of a count.

Supporters: Two lions Or, langued and unguled Gules.


By decree of 20 July 1931 No. 68/G.R. these arms were adopted but the decree was not presented to the Government awaiting the results of a contest for (better) supporters. Finally two black bears reguardant were chosen as supporters and the motto Semper renascor (I am Continuously Reborn) was added. [2]


ā In 1932 a new proposal was discussed by the local council. It showed a quartered shield, with in the first quarter an imperial crown, in the second the caduceus, in the third a local warship and in the fourth a three-topped mountain. The supporters and motto were maintained, but again a mural crown was preferred.

The imperial crown stood for the mediaeval Sriwijaya kingdom, of which Palembang was the capital. The warship indicated that the kingdom was the strongest naval power at the time (6th-11th century AD). The caduceus was maintained as a symbol of trade. The golden mountain in the fourth quarter is a canting symbol for the Sailendra Dynasty (the name means ‘Mountain Lords’), originating from Java, but intermarried with the rulers of Palembang.

The town-council again wanted the mural crown, as the city has had walls and had been under siege in 1596 when the Sultan of Banten besieged the city.

These arms were never approved and thus never used. [3]


The present emblem of Palembang is:



Arms: Argent and four ranges per fess: 1. A fess dancetty of  eight large and nine small points; 2. Bukit Siguntang Vert, radiant of 17 rays Or; 3. A fess Azure; 4. Nine barrulets wavy Azure. And in base a five-leaved flower rising from a rosette of leaves Vert.

Crest: The roof of a South-Sumatran house Gules and Or

Motto: PALEMBANG DJAJA (GloriousPalembang)


The different charges make the date of the proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia on 17 August 1945.

The blue fesse symbolizes the equator


Bukit Siguntang is a hill in the western part of Palembang (27 m.) from which descended Iskandar Zulkarnaen (Alexander the Great † 323 B.C.), from which the sultans of Palembang traced their descent. The sunrays are to the memory of the Sailendra Dynasty.


WW II and its Aftermath



In 1942 the Gouvernement Sumatra, created in 1938 was occupied by Japanese Forces and placed under the jurisdiction of the 25th Army. This army had a five-pointed faceted star as its emblem.

Also the Japanese Kiku-mon and the Hinomaru flag were valid at the time.


After the capitulation of Japan on 15 August 1945, the Dutch government tried to restore Dutch rule in the Indies. The largest part of the province of Sumatra however was in the hands of the Republik Indonesia.

In 1947, to achieve their goal, the Dutch directed the Y Brigade, established 20 July 1946 on Bali, to Palembang. After 1948 they were aided by the 5th Bataljon Garde Fuseliers Prinses Irene stationed at Lubuk Alung.



Arms of the Y-Brigade


Arms of the 5t Batallion

The arms of the Y-Brigade showed the head of a demon, chosen because the Brigade was established on Bali, nicknamed “Demon Island”.

The arms of the 5th Batallion showed a black panther assaulting. This animal was chosen because the Republican opponent on the other side of the demarcation line was the TNI Benteng Putih Batallion (White Buffalo Batallion). According to myth a buffalo only fears the black panther.

The barrulet Azure symbolizes the demarcation line.


Negara Sumatera Selatan



As a result of Dutch military intervention the State of South Sumatra could be established on 30 August 1948. This state was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Indonesia founded 27 December 1949. On 24 March 1950 the new State of South Sumatra was dissolved and since then the former Palembang Residency is a part of the Republic of Indonesia. [4] Its flag was identical to the flag of the Paku Alam.



1949 Flag: Two breadths yellow and green [5])


Provinsi Sumatera Selatan


The emblem of South Sumatera Province is:


Emblem: Argent, a mountain Vert charged with Jembatan Ampera, and in base Azure a fan of nine rivers Argent. And surrounded by a lotus flower charged with a sun Or.

Crest: A traditional South-Sumatran roof Gules and Argent.


Backshield: Vert.


š See illustration in the head of this essay


  • The parts of the emblem make the date of the proclamation of independence of the Republik Indonesia.
  • Jembatan Ampera (Ampera Bridge) was constructed in 1960 and was first named Bung Karno Bridge after president Sukarno. Its name was changed after Sukarno had fallen in disgrace. The bridge spans the river Musi and connects the two parts of Palembang. It is a vertical lift-bridge, 1177 meters long, its maximum through-fare height 60 meters.


Jembatan Ampera soon after its delivery


  • The nine rivers are the Komerung, Lakitan, Lalang, Lemaleng, Mesuji, Musi, Ogan, Rawas and  Tungkal
  • The sun-and-lotus flower refers to the past Srivijaja- and Palembang Empires.
  • The motto is an echo of the motto of the States General of the United Republic: CONCORDIA RES PARVĘ CRESCUNT (Unity Makes Things Grow).


The emblem of South Sumatera Province was adopted by Decree N  4 / DPRDGR-SS / 1968.










Today South Sumatra is controlled by

Kodam II/Sriwijaya



The emblem of the South Sumatera Police shows, on the usual shield per bend sinister Or and Sable, on a black disc a Gong (referring to Srivijaja), an elephants’ head, two kerisses in saltire and Bukit Siguntang.



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© Hubert de Vries 2010-11-25

[1] ) De Nederlandsche Leeuw no 12, december 1934. Gonggryp, G.F.E.: Geļlustreerde Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch Indiė. Leiden, 1934. Also see:


[2] ) Gedeeld:

                I. in keel een Mercuriusstaf van zilver;

                II golvend doorsneden van zilver en azuur, waarop een zeilend Indisch riviervaartuig in natuurlijke kleur.

                Het schild gedekt met een gouden kroon van drie bladeren en twee paarlen.

                Schildhouders: twee leeuwen van goud, getongd en genageld van keel.

Rühl, Dirk:  Nederlandsch-Indische Gemeentewapens. Bandoeng, 1933. Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch Indiė, Dl. VIII, Den Haag 1939.

[3] ) From: http://www.ngw.nl/int/ind/palemban.htm

[4] ) Wali Negara: Abdul Malik (30.8.1948-1.1950). And after an interim with a federal commisioner  9.3. – 24.3.1950.

[5] ) Rühl, Dirk: Vlag en wapen van de Republiek Indonesia. In: Indonesia. 4e jaarg. n°  2. 

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