Blambangan Kingdom, East Java, Indonesia (PART 5)

“Puputan Bayu” War : Blambangan vs VOC

After Tawang Alun died, Blambangan was under Buleleng kingdom in Bali. After that VOC tried to controlled Blambangan. War broke in 25 March 1767 and the capital of Blambangan was under control of VOC. But Blambanagan people always struggled. Pangeran Agung Wilis or Wong Agung Wilis, who was inaugurated as Blambangan king fought against VOC. Unfortunately he was caught and then exiled to Selong, nearby Pasuruan. The struggle then proceeded by Mas Rempeg Jagapati. On 18 December 1771, Blambangan trupp could kill the commander of VOC troop, Van Schaar. This was officially determined as the anniversary of Banyuwangi. In 2004, Banyuwangi govt built a monument to commemorate Puputan Bayu war led by Rempeg Jagapati.

Jagapati was the descendant of Tawang Alun. The capital was located in Lateng (currently Rogojampi, Banyuwangi) in that period. He escaped as he was not satisfied with VOC, who promoted Islam king who was corrupt. Jagapati then inaugurated himself as Susuhunan Jagapati in Rowo Bayu by gathering disappointed soldiers of Blambangan. IN Rowo Bayu, Jagapati built a building resembled to a palace. Now Rowo Bayu is a swamp on foot of Mt Raung surrounded by pine forest covering 8 hectares. The swamp water is green, this is a meeting point of 3 springs: Sendang Kaputren, Sendang Wigangga and Sendang Kamulyan.

Pangeran Jagapati resistance was assisted by Mas Ayu Wiwit. In 1771, they with people fought against Dutch attack based in Songgon villageand against Madurese attack on east coast led by Surawirya and Ki Pulangjiwa. Mas Ayu Wiwit, Mas Jagapati and ther leaders such as Ki Keboundha, Ki Tumbhakmental Ki Kebogegambul, Ki Kidang Salendhit, Ki Sudukwatu, and Ki Jagalara tried their best to defense Blambangan. Puputan war broke since 2 August 1771 until 18 December 1771. On October 1771, VOC burned rice barns in Songgon that the resistance of Blambangan people was weaken of hunger. The war broke againbut this time thousands of Blambangan people were killed, their heads were hung on trees in Rowo Bayu. Blambangan people which was 8000 left only 2000 people because of VOC assault. Many Blambangan people crossed Bali or moved to mountains on the south and northwest.

After Puputan Bayu, estimated that half of Blambangan people were gone. For this the Dutch transported people from other region to Blambangan. While Blambangan people who did not escaped known as ‘Sing’ cociety. Sing means ‘no, not’ means people who did not escape, evacuate. A century later in the period of Thomas Raffles, Banyuwangi had 8554 inhabitants.

Muncar, The New Capital

After Puputan Bayu war was over, VOC moved the capital to Muncar as the location is nearby Ulupampang harbor (currently Muncar Harbor). For VOC, this will make an ease monitoring Bali Strait as Gelgel and Mengwi kingdom in Bali tried to get Blambangan again, because kings of Bali always support Blambangan to fight against VOC or Islam kingdoms.

Realizing this serious matter, VOC co-op with Mataram to cut relation between Blambangan and Bali by Islamization in Blambangan. Mataram put Islam king in Blambangan to fasten assimilation.

In Muncar Blambangan Islam culture began. From Muncar the capital then moved to Banyuwangi (currently the Pendopo of Banyuwangi Regency). When the capital was in Muncar, the existence of Blambangan as kingdom was gone.

When islamization flourished in Blambangan, there were many indigenous people moved to Bali. They entered Alas Purwo forest, and they firmly maintain Hindu belief and rejected Islam.
Meanwhile, Muncar harbor was the heart of VOC defense in the 17th and 18th century in Blambangan. VOC promoted a chinese as the head of harbor. This harbor was busy and visited by traders from Arab, China and other regions in Indonesia.

According to the above description, Blambangan capital moved eastward that it shows that Blambangan was always on critical political situation with other kingdoms/ foreign power. As the location of capital or place was always changed then it is not easy to find the palace of Blambangan.
A community concerns about Blambangan did excavation to 17 spots, but this activity was not finished. They found evidence of bricks which was assumed as the brick from Blambangan palace, the size of the bricks are twice to current brick size. Yet there is not evidence whether the bricks were used as palace wall, fortress or fence. But the bricks were greatly assumed from colonial time.

Beside Macan Putih village, there is Umpak Songo (Nine Pillar Pedestal) at Temnok Rejo village, Muncar believed as ruins of former palace of fortress and the size is 5 km. In this site there is 49 big stone blocks, and 9 of them have hole in the middle. The 9 blocks are estimated to be supporting blocks, that is why the site is called so. The site was buried 0,5 m to 1 m when it was found. It is estimated that this was palace or fortress when Blambangan capital was in Muncar.

Other remains from Blambangan kingdom is Siti Hinggil mean the high area, Siti Hinggil is located on the east of Muncar three junction. Siti Hinggil was VOC watch-post to spy enemies from Bali. It takes 10 minutes walking eastward from Siti Hinggil to Umpak Songo.

There is a pond and an old well found nearby Pura Agung Blambangan,in Tembok Refo village, Muncar, Banyuwangi. Other remains can be seen at Museum such as accessories and chinaware.
To be continued…