Pagaruyung Kingdom

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Vertical tricolor (L to R: black, red, yellow)
Marawa Minangkabau Royal seal[1]
Central Territorial of Pagaruyung now in West Sumatra Province of Indonesia (green area)
Capital Pagaruyung, Sumatra
Languages Sanskrit, Minang, and Melayu
Religion Buddhism (First Era), Animism, Islam (Last Era)
Government Monarchy
Maharaja Diraja
 -  1347-1375
(First King)
 -  1789-1833
Last King)
Sultan Tangkal Alam
 -  Established 1347
 -  Padri War 1833

Pagaruyung (also Pagarruyung, Pagar Ruyung and, Malayapura or Malayupura)[2] was the seat of the Minangkabau kings of Western Sumatra,[3] though little is known about it. Modern Pagaruyung is a village in Tanjung Emas subdistrict, Tanah Datar regency, located near the town of Batusangkar, Indonesia.



Adityawarman is believed to have founded the kingdom and presided over the central Sumatra region between 1347 and 1375, most likely to control the local gold trade. The few artifacts recovered from Adityawarman’s reign include a number of stones containing inscriptions, and statues. Some of these items were found at Bukit Gombak, a hill near modern Pagarruyung, and it is believed a royal palace was located there.

There is a major gap in the historical picture in the Minangkabau highlands between the last date of Adityawarman’s inscription in 1375 and Tomé Pires Suma Oriental,[4] written some time between 1513 and 1515.

By the 16th century, the time of the next report after the reign of Adityawarman, royal power had been split into three recognized reigning kings. They were the King of the World (Raja Alam), the King of Adat (Raja Adat), and the King of Religion (Raja Ibadat). Collectively they were called the Kings of the Three Seats (Rajo Tigo Selo).

An inscribed stone from Adityawarman's kingdom

The first European to enter the region was Thomas Dias, a Portuguese employed by the Dutch governor of Malacca.[5] He traveled from the east coast to reach the region in 1684 and reported, probably from hearsay, that there was a palace at Pagaruyung and that visitors had to go through three gates to enter it.[6] The primary local occupations at the time were gold panning and agriculture, he reported.

Padri War[edit]

Main article: Padri War

A civil war started in 1803 with the Padri fundamentalist Islamic group in conflict with the traditional syncretic groups, elite families and Pagarruyung royals. During the conflict most of the Minangkabau royal family were killed in 1815, on the orders of Tuanku Lintau.

The British controlled the west coast of Sumatra between 1795 and 1819. Stamford Raffles visited Pagarruyung in 1818, reaching it from the west coast, and by then it had been burned to the ground three times. It was rebuilt after the first two fires, but abandoned after the third, and Raffles found little more than waringin trees.

The Dutch returned to Padang in May 1819. As a result of a treaty with a number of penghulu and representatives of the murdered Minangkabau royal family, Dutch forces made their first attack on a Padri village in April 1821.

The prestige of Pagaruyung remained high among the Minangkabau communities in the rantau, and when the members of the court were scattered following a failed rebellion against the Dutch in 1833, one of the princes was invited to become ruler in Kuantan.[7]

Pagaruyung Royal Palace
Native name Istano Basa Pagaruyuang
New Pagaruyung Palace.JPG
The new palace, built after the 2007 fire
Coordinates 0°26′22″S 100°40′9″E / 0.43944°S 100.66917°E / -0.43944; 100.66917Coordinates: 0°26′22″S 100°40′9″E / 0.43944°S 100.66917°E / -0.43944; 100.66917
Built 17th century
Built for Residence of Pagaruyung Kingdom royal family
  • 1837 (war)
  • 1966 (fire)
  • 2007 (fire)
Rebuilt 1930, 1968, 2007
Architectural style(s) Minangkabau traditional house
Owner Government of Tanah Datar Regency
Pagaruyung Kingdom is located in Sumatra
Pagaruyung Kingdom
Location of Pagaruyung Royal Palace in Sumatra

Pagaruyung Palace[edit]

Rangkiang (rice barn) in the palace complex

Pagaruyung Palace (Minangkabau: Istano Basa Pagaruyuang) is the istana (royal palace) of the former Pagaruyung Kingdom. It was built in the traditional Minangkabau Rumah Gadang vernacular architectural style, but had a number of atypical elements including three-storeyed structure and larger dimension compared to common rumah gadang.

Although today there is no king or royal family residing in this palace, it is still held in high esteem among Minangkabau people because the descendants of scattered Minang nobles (bangsawan) still seek roots and links to the former royal house of Pagaruyung. The palace has been destroyed by fire for several times, in 1804, 1966 and 2007. It has been rebuilt again and today functions as museum and popular tourist attraction.


The original palace was built entirely from timber, however the current building frame uses a modern concrete structure. Nevertheless the Istano Basa Pagaruyung was quite faithfully restored using traditional techniques and materials adorned with 60 carvings that signify Minang philosophy and culture.[8] The palace has three storeys with 72 pillars and the typical Rumah gadang gonjong horn‑like curved roof made from 26,000 kilograms (26 long tons) of black ijuk aren palm fibers. The palace is also furnished with more than 100 replicas of Minang antique furnitures and artefacts, with the aim of the palace being a Minangkabau cultural center as well as a tourism attraction.


The original Pagaruyung palace was built on Batu Patah hill but was burnt down during a riot in the Padri War in 1804. The palace was rebuilt, but destroyed again by fire in 1966. The building was rebuilt again in 1976 as a replica of the original Pagaruyung palace. The restoration of the palace was marked with the erection of tunggak tuo (main columns) on 27 December 1976 by West Sumatra Governor Harun Zain. After the completion, the palace became popular as a museum and tourist attraction. This building was not built on the original site, but to its south.

The palace was again destroyed by fire on February 27, 2007 after the roof was struck by lightning.[9] It was estimated only 15% of valuable artefacts survived the fire. Today the surviving artefacts are stored in Balai Benda Purbakala Kabupaten Tanah Datar (Archaeology Authority of Tanah Datar Regency). The pusaka or legacy of the Pagaruyung Kingdom was stored in Silinduang Bulan Palace, located about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Pagaruyung Palace.[10] Restoration of the building took six years and cost an estimated Rp20 billion (US$1.91 million). The building was topped out and inaugurated by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in October 2013.[8][11]


  1. ^ Gallop, Annabel Teh (2002). Malay seal inscriptions: a study in Islamic epigraphy from Southeast Asia. Volume II. School of Oriental and African Studes, University of London. p. 137. British Library, ILS catalogue number: 12454119. 
  2. ^ Casparis, J.G. (1975). Indonesian palaeography: a history of writing in Indonesia from the beginnings to C. A, Part 1500. E. J. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-04172-1. 
  3. ^ Bosch, FDK (1931). De rijkssieraden van Pagar Roejoeng Overdr. (in Dutch). uit het Oudheidkundig Verslag 1930, Batavia. pp. 49–108. 
  4. ^ Cortesão, Armando, (1944), The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires, London: Hakluyt Society, 2 vols.
  5. ^ Ambler, John S. (1988). "Historical Perspectives on Sawah Cultivation and the Political and Economic Context for Irrigation in West Sumatra". Indonesia (Southeast Asia Program Publications at Cornell University) 46 (46): 39–77. doi:10.2307/3351044. JSTOR 3351044. 
  6. ^ Colombijn, Freek (2005). "A Moving History of Middle Sumatra, 1600–1870". Modern Asian Studies 39 (1): 1–38. doi:10.1017/S0026749X04001374. 
  7. ^ Anon, (1893), Mededelingen...Kwantan. TBG 36: 325–42.
  8. ^ a b Syofiardi Bachyul Jb (November 23, 2013). "Istano Basa Pagaruyung: Restored to glory". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved December 24, 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Journal of Indonesia Today". The Jakarta Post. 
  10. ^ "Kebakaran Istano Basa Isyarat Kepada Pemerintah". Tempo Interaktif. 
  11. ^ "Perbaikan Istana Pagaruyung Lebih dari Rp 20 Miliar". Kompas. 


  • Dobbin, Christine (1977). "Economic change in Minangkabau as a factor in the rise of the Padri movement, 1784-1830.". Indonesia (Southeast Asia Program Publications at Cornell University) 23 (1): 1–38. doi:10.2307/3350883. JSTOR 3350883. 
  • Miksic, John (2004). "From megaliths to tombstones: the transition from pre-history to early Islamic period in highland West Sumatra.". Indonesia and the Malay World 32 (93): 191. doi:10.1080/1363981042000320134. 
  • Drakard, Jane (1999). A Kingdom of Words: Language and Power in Sumatra. Oxford University Press. ISBN 983-56-0035-X.