Ken Dedes

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The serene beauty of the Prajnaparamita statue, found near Singhasari temple, is believed to be a portrayal of Queen Dedes (from the collection of the National Museum of Indonesia).

Ken Dedes, first queen of Singhasari, was the consort of Ken Arok, the first ruler of Singhasari, Java, Indonesia. She was later considered as the origin of the lineage of kings that rule Java, the great mother of the Rajasa dynasty, the royal family that ruled Java from the Singhasari to the Majapahit era. Local tradition also mentioned her as a woman with extraordinary beauty, an embodiment of perfect beauty.

Early life[edit]

Most of the record of her life comes from the account of Pararaton (The Book of Kings), which is a mixed historical account including fictional supranatural tales and stories. She was the daughter of a Buddhist monk, Mpu Purwa. According to tradition, Ken Dedes' exceptional and extraordinary beauty was famous throughout the land and attracted Tunggul Ametung, the ruler of Tumapel (now the Singhasari district, East Java) who later took her as his wife.

According to local tradition, Ken Dedes was kidnapped while her father was away meditating and forced to become Tunggul Ametung's wife. Her father cursed Tunggul Ametung, saying he would be killed because of Ken Dedes' beauty. The curse became reality when Ken Arok succeeded in assassinating Tunggul Ametung and took Ken Dedes as his wife.

The Consort of Ken Arok[edit]

According to Pararaton and local tradition, Ken Arok's usurpation of Tunggul Ametung was caused by Ken Dedes' exceptional beauty and charisma. The story goes that Ken Arok happened to be standing close to where the royal carriage came to halt and caught a glimpse of the young queen as she descended. When Ken Dedes' clothes accidentally parted, Ken Arok caught sight of her naked legs and thighs and he saw that her genital were 'shining'. A Brahmin, Lohgawe, told Ken Arok that this radiance was the sign that Ken Dedes bears the divine quality and would be the bearer of kings. The beauty of Ken Dedes was said to have been so perfect that whoever married her, regardless of his status, would inevitably be destined to become king of kings.[1] By this, Ken Arok was motivated to murder and usurped Tunggul Ametung.

Ken Arok later launched a campaign and succeeded to defeat Kertajaya, king of Kediri, and founded his own kingdom, Singhasari. Ken Dedes became his wife, the first queen of Singhasari. According to local beliefs, the statue of Prajnaparamita, the goddess of transcendental wisdom in buddhist tradition, found in Cungkup Putri near Singhasari temple, was made in her likeness. Probably served as her mortuary deified statue.

Anusapati, Ken Dedes's son from Tunggul Ametung, her first husband, murdered Ken Arok and became the second ruler of Singhasari.

An image of a statue of Ken Dedes appeared on the obverse of the 10Rp banknote issued by Bank Indonesia in 1952.

References[edit]

General[edit]

  • Bullough, Nigel (Indonesian 50th independence day commemorative edition - 1995). Historic East Java: Remains in Stone. Jakarta: ADLine Communications.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bullough, Nigel (Indonesian 50th independence day commemorative edition - 1995). Mujiyono PH, ed. Historic East Java: Remains in Stone. Jakarta: ADLine Communications. p. 29. 

See also[edit]