Parahyangan

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Tea plantation in Preanger highlands in 1923

Parahyangan or Priangan or Preanger is the mountainous region in West Java province on the island of Java in Indonesia. It covers the regencies (kabupaten) of:

together with the independent cities of Bandung and Cimahi, which are geographically within these regencies although administratively independent.

The total surface area of this area is approximately a little less than 1/6 of Java. Parahyangan is bordered in the West by the kabupaten of Cianjur, in the North by those of Karawang and Indramayu, in the North-East by those of Majalengka and Kuningan, in the East by the Tasikmalaya.

Other than Parahyangan, there is also the area known as Priangan Timur (East Priangan) which cover the regencies of:

together with the independent cities of Tasikmalaya and Banjar, which are geographically within these regencies although administratively independent.

Etymology[edit]

The name "Parahyangan" is originated from Sundanese words which means "the abode of hyangs (gods)". Parahyangan is a mountainous region, and ancient Indonesians believed that the gods resided in the mountain tops. The "hyang" derivation in other placenames on the island of Java, as in the Dieng Plateau in the centre, or the Hyang Plateau in the east.

A Sundanese legend of Sangkuriang contain the memory of the prehistoric ancient lake in Bandung basin highland, which suggest that Sundanese already inhabit the region since stone age era. Another popular Sundanese proverb and legend mentioned about the creation of Parahyangan highlands, the heartland of Sundanese realm; "When the hyangs (gods) were smiling, the land of Parahyangan was created". This legend suggested the Parahyangan highland as the playland or the abode of gods, as well as suggesting its natural beauty.

The train serving Jakarta - Bandung is called Kereta Api Parahyangan. Today it is merged with Argo Gede to become Argo Parahyangan.

History[edit]

Parahyangan is a part of the former Sunda Kingdom. The inland mountainous region of Parahyangan was considered as sacred place in Sunda Wiwitan beliefs. The kabuyutan or mandala (sacred sanctuary) of Jayagiri was mentioned in ancient Sundanese texts and located somewhere in Parahyangan highlands, probably north of modern day Bandung in the slopes of Mount Tangkuban Perahu. After the fall of Sunda Kingdom in the 16th century, Priangan was administrated by the nobles and aristocrats of Cianjur, Sumedang and Ciamis. Those princes claimed as the rightful heir and the descendants of Sunda kings lineage, King Siliwangi. Although the dominant power at that time was held by Banten and Cirebon Sultanates, the Sundanese aristocrats of Parahyangan highland enjoyed relatively internal freedom and autonomy.

In 1617, Sultan Agung of Mataram launched a military campaign throughout Java and vassalized Sultanate of Cirebon. In 1618 Mataram troops conquered Ciamis and Sumedang and ruled most of Parahyangan region. Mataram Sultanate was involved in a power contest with Dutch East India Company (VOC) centered in Batavia. Later Mataram was gradually weakened through a struggle of successions of Javanese princes and Dutch involvements in internal Mataram court affair. To secure their positions, later Mataram kings have made significant concessions with VOC and have given up many of its lands that originally acquired by Sultan Agung, that including Priangan. Since early 18th century Priangan was under Dutch rule.

During the Dutch colonial time, this area was known as De Preanger. The capital of Preanger initially located in Tjiandjoer (Cianjur), and later moved to Bandung that gradually developed into an important settlement. By 19th century Colonial Dutch has established its holds over most of Java. And through the construction of Daendels' Java Great Post Road that connected Preanger plantation area with the port of Batavia and many other parts of Java, the Preanger was open for investment, exploitations and business. Preanger was an important and productive plantation area during Dutch East Indies era that produce coffee, tea, quinine and many cash crops that benefitted many of wealthy Dutch plantation owners. The famous Java coffee promoted world wide by the Dutch was actually the coffee grown in Parahyangan area. In the early 20th century, Bandung grew into an important settlement and a well-planned city. The pre-war Bandung was designed as the new capital of Dutch East Indies, however the World War II brought this plan to end. After Indonesian independence, Parahyangan is considered as romantic historical name of mountainous region of West Java surrounding Bandung.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • A. Sabana Harjasaputra, 2004, "Bupati di Priangan : kedudukan dan peranannya pada abad ke-17 - abad ke-19" in Bupati di
  • Priangan dan kajian lainnya mengenai budaya Sunda, Bandung
  • Ajip Rosidi et al., 2000, Ensiklopedi Sunda, Jakarta.