History of Lasem, Rembang, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia

Lasem is a district located on the Java Northern Coastal Line, about 15 km East of rembang, Central Java. has 73 villages. The northern border is Java Sea, southern border is Pancur district, on the east is Sluke and Kagan district and on the western is Rembang city.

Lasem has been known to be area where Chinese and Javanese mingle in harmony, also mixture of 3 religions: Islam, Christian / Catholic and Buddha. Most of local occupations are farmers, fishermen and trader as it is located on the coastal area.

First time visitors will notice in the city is the beauty of old buildings with Chinese and European architecture. Lasem is also known as ‘The Little Beijing Old Town” by European researcher in the colonial period. The old buildings are located in babagan, Gedong Mulyo, Karang Tri, Sumber Girang, Soditan and Ngemplak. Most buildings are well nurtured though some are abandoned. Since 1986, local government protected the buildings.

Lasem is also known for is Batik with dragon motif, Javanese and Chinese cultre mixture. In 1950s, batik makes are hundreds, yet since 1998, their number is lessen. Beside known as the biggest Chinatown in Java, it is also known as islam pilgrimage city. Chinese dominate economic activity, as trading skill is handed down to generations. As just a district Lasem is more popular than Rembang, the regency city, as it has been trade city since long time ago.

In Majapahit period, Lasem had evolved to be one of the most pivotal area as it is strategically located on coastal and it was once also an important port, which was located in Babagan. Babagan river was a major transportation route connects Lasem city to the port. Sadly, now the river was not functioned as it was.

In the past lasem was part of majapahit Kingdom. In the period of King Hayam Wuruk, formed 7 Supreme Advisory Council called as Bathara Sapta Prabu, which were appointed from King’s family dwelling in seven places :
– Tribhuana Tungga Dewi (Majapahit)
– Sri Kerta Wardhana (Singosari)
– Dyah Wyah Rja Dewi (Dhaha)
– Sri Wijaya Rajasa (Wengker)
– Sri rajasa Nagara (Kahuripan)
– Bhre Lasem (Lasem)
– Bhre Pajang (Pajang)

After Bhre lasem married with Sri Rajasa Nagara, who ruled in matahun and Bhre Pajang married with Sri Singa Wardhana, who ruled in Paguhan, hen the advisory council became 9. This beceomes very strong evidence that in the period of Tri Bhuana Tungga Dewi, Lasem was a sovereign land.

Later in 1354 Lasem became state of Majapahit or Bhre. Bhre lasem, Putri Indu name became  Putri Indu Dewi Purnama Wulan. During that time, Bhre Lasem had two major ports: Pangkalan (west) and Labuhan (east) and port in Lasem (Babagan area). The ports were visited by traders from China and Campa.

Putri Indu died and replaced by her son, Raden Wardana. In his period Lasem became kadipaten (regency). This means that Raden Wardhana was not one of Bathara Sapta Prabu replacing his mother, yet became the first adipat (regent) in Lasem.

Raden Wardana was replaced by his son, Wijaya Badra. Wijaya Badra was replaced by his son Badranala. Badranala married with a princess from Campa and he had two sons: Wira Bodro and Santi Bodro.

Wira Badra replaced his father and became adipati and Santi Bodro was a guru and a HIndu religious leader in Lasem. He ruled for 9 years, in 1496 he moved the capital nearby coast, in Binangun and port in Pangkalan was moved to Buinangun Bay. In this period Islam entered Lasem. Wira Badra converted Islam and asked a lady ullema, Nyai Ageng Maloka, daughter of Sunan Ampel. Her brother, Makdum Ibrahim, also came with her to Lasem.

After Nyai Ageng Maloka taught Islam in Binangun in 1470, she married to Bodro Negoro the first son of adipati. in 1474, Wiro Bodro passed away and replace by his oldest son Bodro Negoro. He died when he just rule Lasem for 5 years, and replaced by his wife, Nyai Ageng Maloko. She was assisted by her brother Maulana malik Ibrahim or Sunan Bonang.

The the period of Nyai Ageng Maloka, the capital was moved to Lasem again. She was the last adipati in Lasem as after that Lasem was under Demak Kingdom. That was when Islam Kingdom in its glorious day and Majapahit was fading.
Lasem was a sovereign area. Its area stretch from pacitan, until estuary of Solo river: Sedayu. Lasem was very large compared to Rambang regency currently.