Blambangan as Religious Center
According to Bujangga Manik text from the 16th century, there is a name of place used as meditation site Hindu priests, Balungbungan, located on tip East Java. It is possible that the early name of Blambangan was Balungbungan or Balungbungan was other way to write Blambangan.
Characters in Bujangga Manik is a Sundanese royal from Pakuan palace who wanted to be a priest to reach eternal life. This character rejected to marry and chose to meditate in Balungbungan to find his last place to rest. When he arrived in Balungbungan after walking the north coast of Java, he then meditated and built hut, plant vegetable and erecting lingga. He lived there for more than a year when a woman priest or ebon came to meditate. He then continued his journey to Bali as he was worried if a woman was close to him.
From that old Sundanese text, Balungbungan was one of main destination for priest or ascetic and probably the main destination for pilgrimage for Hindu adherents. And that we can conclude that the religion converted by indigenous before the advent of Islam was Hindu.
In the early 16th century, when kingdoms in Java had been Islamized, there were 2 kingdoms held Hindu belief tightly, Sunda-pajajaran and Blambangan. Both kingdoms had political relationship with Portuguese based in Malaka. This is a strategy of those kingdoms to block Islam kingdoms penetration as those tried to block Portuguese in Indonesia.
After the fall of Blambangan, Islam slowly converted by locals and Christian was introduced by the Dutch.
Social and Economy of Blambangan
According to Tome Pires (Lombard), in 15 to 16th century he wrote that Java produced slaves and Blambangan was one of regions exporting slaves. Blambangan was strongly dependent on rice production. This is fit with information when VOC burnt rice paddy barns when they attacked Blambangan. The fact that Panarukan or Muncar was the harbor city creating assumption that social economy Blambangan people depended on sea.
Blambangan in Damarwulan -Minakjinggo Story
Damarwulan and Minakjinggo appeared after Paregreg war broke. This war inspired anonymous Javanese poet to write Damarwulan-Minakjinggo. This story was written in at least three texts : Serat Damarwulan, Serat Blambangan and Serat Kanda. The writer of Serat Kanda was poet from Yogyakarta palace, that according Muljana, this poet did not know about Paregreg facts, that it is too risky to relate Minakjinggo-Damarwulan with Paregreg. Moreover all texts were written in Islam kingdom period, centuries after the war happened.
Here is the story… Blambangan ruler, Minakjinggo wanted to propose the queen of Majapahit Kenya Kencanawungu. He upgraded his status from Adipati to King of Blambangan with title Prabu Urubisma. The queen did not want to be Minakjinggo’s wife who was not gentle in gesture, having ugly face and giant figure, and he had already 2 wives, Dewi Puyengan and Dewi Waita. The queen undertook a contest : whoever could defeat Minakjinggo would be rewarded with abundant gifts. Minakjinggo was angry knowing this and he went to Majapahit and destroyed Majapahit palace with his weapon, Gada Wesi Kuning. Before leaving to Majapahit he attacked Lumajang and even sent messenger to Ternate to assist him. Majapahit soldiers died in that assault, including Ranggalawe. When the situation got worse, came damarwulan. He was the son of Majapahit patih, Udara. When he grew up he worked for his uncle, Patih Loh Gender in Majapahit, and worked collecting grass. Loh Gender’s daughter, Dewi Anjasmara was attracted to him.
Singkat cerita, Damarwulan menghadap Kencanawungu dan diangkat menjadi panglima Majapahit. Berangkatlah Damarwulan menghadapi Minakjinggo. Berkat bantuan kedua istri Minakjinggo, Waita dan Puyengan, Damarwulan berhasli mengalahkan Minakjinggo, memenggal kepalanya sebagai bukti kepada Ratu kencanawungu. Damarwulan membawa kepala Minakjinggo ke Majapahit. Namun, di tengah jalan ia dikhianati oleh dua orang anak Loh Gender, yakni Layang Seta dan Layang Kumitir, yang mengaku sebagai utusan Ratu Kencanawungu. Tanpa curiga, kepala Minakjinggo diserahkan oleh Damarwulan. Cerita selanjutnya gampang ditebak. Layang Seto dan Layang Kumitir pun dianggap pahlawan oleh ratu dan rakyat Majapahit. Namun, akhirnya kedok mereka berdua terkuak, Damarwulan pun menikah dengan Kencanawungu dan menjadi Raja Majapahit dengan gelar Prabu Mertawijaya. Pernikahan Damarwulan dengan Ratu Kencanawungu membuahkan seorang putra bernama Brawijaya.
Raffles menulis (2008: 234) bahwa pada abad ke-19 cerita Damarwulan-Minakjingo merupakan cerita favorit orang Jawa dan kerap dipentaskan dalam bentuk wayang klitik (wayang dari kayu dengan tinggi 10 inci) dan wayang beber (sosok wayang digambar pada lembaran kertas yang keras di mana dalang memberikan dialog).
Sebagian masyarakat percaya bahwa Ratu Kencanawungu merupakan perwujudan sosok Ratu Suhita, sedangkan Minakjinggo adalah Bhre Wirabhumi. Pandangan ini tentu bersifat ahistoris dan memang bertolak belakang dengan kajian di lapangan (misalnya terdapat nama Ranggalawe sebagai Adipati Tuban, yang seharusnya hidup pada masa Sanggramawijaya). Akan tetapi, terlepas dari sifatnya yang sastrawi, ada satu hal yang perlu diperhatikan mengenai kisah roman ini: keberpihakan para penulis serat tersebut sangat terasa, yakni berpihak kepada pihak yang menang (Majapahit, yang diwakili oleh sosok Damarwulan) dan seolah-olah memperolok pihak yang kalah, yakni Blambangan yang diwakili oleh sosok Minakjinggo. Mengapa? Karena dalam seni Banyuwang dan Janger, sosok Minakjinggo ditampilkan dengan wajah rupawan dan ia memberontak karena Ratu Kencanawungu membatalkan rencananya untuk dinikahi oleh Minakjinggo.
The texts for sure were made to create public opinion that Mataram Islam kings ( as well Pajang and Demak) were the descendant of Majapahit Kings and this could make them have more confident to develop their kingdom.