Raja Rum n Batak Mythology

Raja Rum in Batak Mythology

In many Southeast Asian traditions, as well as in Batak tradition, of the fifteenth to centuries, ‘Rum’ features as a mysterious amalgam of powers in the west – conflating Rome, Constantinople, and Alexander the Great.

Traditions of the Peninsula and Sumatra associate Raja Rum, the great king of the West, with Raja Cina (China), the great king of the East. According to one origin myth of Johor, Iskandar Dzul karnain (Alexander the Great) had three sons by the daughter of the King of the Ocean.

After a contest between the three brothers in the Singapore Straits, the eldest went to the West to become Raja Rum, the second East to become Raja Cina, while the third remained at Johor, to begin the later Minangkabau dynasty.[ William Marsden, The History of Sumatra 3rd ed., (London, 1811)]. In the eighteenth century, rulers of Minangkabau styled themselves younger brothers of the rulers of Rum and China.[ Ibid. pp.338-41.]

One Gayo origin myth also goes back to a shipwrecked child of Raja Rum. Among Bataks, his name was still so powerful was still so mythically powerful in 1890 that the Italian traveller Elio Modigliani, having admitted he came from Rome, found himself acquiring follows as the word spread that he was an envoy, or perhaps incarnation of the magically powerful Raja Rum.[ A translation of the relevant section of Elio Modigliani’s Fra I Battachi Indipendenti (1892) is in Witnesses to Sumatra: A Travellers’ Anthology, ed. Anthony Reid (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp.199-209.]
But in the sixteenth century it became clear to Muslim Southeast Asian leaders, at least, that the Ottoman Sultans were this Raja Rum of shadowy memory. Paradoxically it was the Portuguese invasion of the Indian Ocean in 1498 that put Aceh directly into contact with Turkey. In the fifteenth century Sumatra’s pepper had mostly gone to China, and what westward trade there was from Southeast Asia to the Mediterranean, in cloves, nutmeg and other luxury tropical products, was broken up into separate stages.

Sumatrans had then been in direct contact only with South India, while the onward stage
to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf ports was in the hands of Arabs and Gujaratis.


The Portuguese disrupted Islamic shipping in the years after 1500, and especially attacked ships travelling from India to the Red Sea (Mecca, Cairo). They also conquered Melaka (1511), and greatly interfered with the pepper-producing sultanates on the north coast of Sumatra.

The Muslim traders regrouped around states strong and willing enough to protect them, notably Aceh in Southeast Asia; Calicut in South India; and Turkey, which expanded its control to the Red Sea ports in the reign of Selim I (1512-20).

It became dangerous even for Muslim shippers of the Indian pepper from Kerala to defy the Portuguese predators to reach the Red Sea and hence Cairo, Alexandria and Venice.

Hence an alternative Muslim pepper supply route developed, whereby Gujarati, Arab, Turkish and Acehnese shippers shipped Southeast Asian pepper and other spices directly from Aceh to the Red Sea, without going near areas of Portuguese naval strength in India.

The earliest European reports of such shipments reaching the Red Sea date from around 1530. By the 1560s as much pepper was being shipped that way to Europe as was hauled by the Portuguese around the Cape to Lisbon. Aceh and Turkey shared an economic as well as a religious motive to resist and if possible crush their Portuguese rivals in the pepper trade.

The strongest of the Ottomans, Sultan Suleiman “the Magnificent” (1520-66), was the first to extend Ottoman power into the Indian Ocean. In 1537 he instructed his Governor of Egypt, Suleiman Pasha, to equip a powerful fleet to demolish Portuguese naval power in the Indian Ocean.

This fleet reach Gujarat, and besieged the Portuguese in Diu for a few months of 1538, but achieved nothing militarily. Nevertheless there seem to have been soldiers of this fleet who reached Southeast Asia, since Mendez Pinto refers to them as greatly strengthening Aceh in its wars against Bataks and Portuguese, and also helping Demak in similar wars in Java.

In the 1560s the pepper link was at its peak, and we have Venetian, Turkish, and Acehnese sources all mentioning the envoys who travelled from Aceh to the Red Sea with the pepper ships.

The first well-documented Acehnese mission to Istanbul occurred round 1561-2. In response to this appeal Turkish gunners were sent to Aceh at least by 1564, and were gratefully acknowledged by the Acehnese in a letter recently rediscovered in the Ottoman

Another embassy, led by an envoy called Husain, which probably covered the years 1566-8, came close to achieving a more spectacular success. The letter he carried, an appeal of January 1566 from the Acehnese Sultan Ala’ud-din al-Kahar to the Caliph, protector of all Muslims, is also preserved in the Ottoman archives. The Aceh ruler acknowledged the safe arrival of eight Turkish gunners sent in response to an earlier request. He appealed repeatedly to the Turkish Sultan to come to the aid of Muslim pilgrims and merchants being attacked by the infidel Portuguese as they traveled to the holy land. “If Your Majesty’s aid is not forthcoming, the wretched unbelievers will continue to massacre the innocent Muslims.”[Naimur Rahman Farooqi, ‘Mughal-Ottoman Relations: A Study of Political and Diplomatic Relations between Mughal India and the Ottoman Empire, 1556-1748,’ Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1986, pp.267-8.]

After a delay caused by the death of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1566, his successor Selim II energetically took up the project of extending Turkish power into the Indian Ocean. In a series of decrees in 1567 he not only ordered a fleet of 15 galleys and 2 barques to be sent to assist Aceh, but also instructed the Governor of Egypt to construct a canal at Suez so that his warships could go back and forth to the Indian Ocean on a regular basis. In the event a serious revolt in Yemen interrupted these plans, the designated fleet was diverted to suppressing it, and only a few guns and gunsmiths appear
to have reached Aceh.[Reid, An Indonesian Frontier, pp.79-87. Also Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce Vol. II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), pp. 146-7.]

Nevertheless these contacts made a big impression in Southeast Asia, and especially in Aceh. In the years following this initiative, a pan-Islamic sense of solidarity against the infidels was probably stronger than at any time before George Bush. Aceh used its Turkish equipment to attack Portuguese Melaka in 1568 and again in 1570 and 1573, the
second time apparently coordinating with the four southern Indian Muslim sultans—Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar and Ahmadnagar—who briefly buried their differences to attack Portuguese Goa. [Vincent Smith, The Oxford History of India (3rd ed., Oxford:1958), pp.298-99; Richard Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur, 1300-1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India (Princeton: 1978), pp.83-5] In Maluku at the same time, Sultan Baab Ullah of Ternate (r.1570-83) threw out the Portuguese and launched a crusade against them through the spice islands.

Maritim Kuno   

Stempel Sisingamangaraja XII   
Si Penjajah Belanda   
Sejarah Mossak   
Ilmi Thifan dan Tuanku Rao   
Krachtologi dan Tuanku Rao   

Kalender Batak   

Studi Kultur Berpikir Batak  

Bugis dan Peradaban Batak  
Perang Batak   
Diaspora Batak Kuno  
Filsafat Ekonomi Batak  
Studi Politik Batak  

Sejarah Politik Batak Abad 17-19 M  
Batak Dan Tanah Tuhan  
Studi Peta Maritim Batak  
Parmalim, Tasawuf dan Penjajahan   
Akal-akalan Pemekaran (Tapanuli??)   

Pengusaha Hitam dan Pemekaran   

S.Q. Marpaung   

Ahmad Hosen Hutagalung  
Kamaluddin Lubis  
Syamsuddin Pasaribu   
Zulpan Efensi Pasaribu   
Jefry Simanjuntak   

Rosnaely Lumbantobing   
Hotbonar Sinaga   
Fachruddin Sarumpaet  
Syamsul Arifin Nababan  
Khalifah Effendy Sitorus   

Burhanuddin Napitupulu   
Zulkarnaen Lubis   
Prof. Dr. S.F. Marbun   
Dr. Ibrahim Sitompul   
Patuan Nagari   

SAE Nababan   
Sisingamangaraja XII   
Yusuf Lubis   
Amir Pasaribu   
Biografi 100 Tokoh Batak   

Usman Efendy Capah   
Lembaga Kebudayaan Pakpak   
Billy Marbun   
Sardan Marbun   
Binsar Marbun   

Abdul Wahab Situmeang   
BN Marbun   
Halak Batak Naik Haji   
Arif Marbun   
Rico Marbun   

J.A. MArbun   
Hamdan Simbolon (HIMMSI)   
Syamsu Rizal Panggabean   
Syawal Gultom Mpd   
Prof. Dr. Abdul Muin Sibuea   

Abdul Hamid Marpaung   
Armijn Pane   
Lafran Pane   
Prof. Dr. Agus Salim Sitompul   
Haji Dur Berutu   

Zulkarnanen Damanik   
Zagartua Ritonga   
Ja Endar Muda   
Abdul Wahab Sinambela: Ketua IPAMSU 2005   

H AN Sihite: Ulama Humbahas   
Mahadi Sinambela: Sinambela Pertama Jadi Menteri   
Bomer Pasaribu: Menteri Dari Pasaribu   
Baharuddin Aritonang   
H. Ali Jabbar Napitupulu   

Fanin Nurlita Br Nainggolan   
Abdul Hakim Siagian   
Arifin Nainggolan   
Badiuzzaman Surbakti   
Efendy Naibaho   

Rahmad P Hasibuan   
Mutawalli Ginting   
Akmal Samosir   
Timbas Tarigan   
Tosim Gurning   

Syahlul Umur Situmeang   
Chairullah Tambunan   
Parluhutan Siregar   
Dahrun Hutagaol   
Amir Hamzah Samosir   

Chairul Tanjung   
Irsan Tanjung   
Akbar Tanjung   
Feisal Tanjung   
Hariman Siregar   

Syamsir Siregar   
Arifin Siregar: Si Gubernur BI   
Bismar Siregar   
Annisa Pohan   
Drs. M. Sehat Simbolon: Kyai Humbahas   

Anwar Nasution   
Aulia Pohan   
Malim Sultoni Simbolon: Tokoh Sufi Humbahas   
K.H. Zainul Arifin Pohan: Sang Wakil Perdana Menteri   
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Zulkifli Lubis: Tokoh Anti Korupsi dan Pendiri Intelijen   
Syeikh Ibrahim Sitompul   
Abdul Wahab Harahap   
Syeikh Ali Akbar Marbun: Tokoh Humbahas   

Legenda Dairi  
Sitti Djaoerah  
Kitab Si Raja Batak  

Rasul Batak  
Ompu Sabongan Mangolat  
Guru Mangarissan  
Mpu Bada  
Gondang Sabangunan  
Si Sorik  


Batak Kuliner  

Naga Padoha  
Atlas Cheng Ho  
Forum Batak  
Diktat Kedokteran Batak  
Atlas Kuno Ala Batak  

Teknologi Kertas  
Teori Evolusi Ala Batak  
Geografi Batak Kuno  


Arkeologi penyabungan  
Riwayat Raja-raja Mandailing  

Adam Malik  
Biografi Tokoh  
Identitas Mandailing  
Gallery Foto Lama  
Dinasti Pane  

Koin Tarumon  
Kesultanan Tarumon  
Teka-teki Sembiring  


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