Pagaruyung Kingdom

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Vertical tricolour (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, Sunni Islam (Last Era)
Government Monarchy
Maharaja Diraja
 •  1347-1375
(First King)
 •  1789-1833
Last King)
Sultan Tangkal Alam
 •  Established 1347
 •  Padri War 1833
Today part of  Indonesia
Pagaruyung Royal Palace
Native name
Minangkabau: Istano Basa Pagaruyuang
New Pagaruyung Palace.JPG
The new palace, built after the 2007 fire
Location Batusangkar, West Sumatra, Indonesia
Coordinates 0°28′17″S 100°37′17″E / 0.471397°S 100.621493°E / -0.471397; 100.621493
Built 17th century
Built for Residence of Pagaruyung Kingdom royal family
Demolished 1837 (due of war)
1966 (due of fire)
2007 (due of fire)
Rebuilt 1930, 1968, 2007
Architect unknown
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
Part of a series on the
History of Indonesia

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,[4] most likely to control the local gold trade. The few artefacts 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,[5] 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 recognised 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).

The first European to enter the region was Thomas Dias, a Portuguese employed by the Dutch governor of Malacca.[6] He travelled 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.[7] The primary local occupations at the time were gold panning and agriculture, he reported.

An inscribed stone from Adityawarman's kingdom

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. The original Pagaruyung Palace on Batu Patah Hill was burned down during a riot in Padri War back in 1804. 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.[8]

Pagaruyung Palace[edit]

Pagaruyung Palace (Minangkabau: Istano Basa Pagaruyuang) is the istana (royal palace) of the former Pagaruyung Kingdom, located in Tanjung Emas subdistrict near Batusangkar town, Tanah Datar Regency, West Sumatra, Indonesia. It was built in the traditional Minangkabau rumah gadang vernacular architectural style, but had a number of atypical elements including three storeys structure and larger dimension compares to common rumah gadang.

Although today there is no king or royal family resides in this palace, since the Pagaruyung Kingdom was disbanded in 1833, the palace still held in high esteem among Minangkabau people as the descendants of scattered Minang nobles (bangsawan) still seeks their root and link 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 a museum and a popular tourist attraction.

Rangkiang (rice barn) in the palace complex


The original Pagaruyung palace was built entirely from timber masonry, however the current building frame was built using modern concrete structure. Nevertheless, the Istano Basa Pagaruyung was quite faithfully restored using traditional technique and materials adorned with 60 carvings that signify Minang philosophy and culture.[9] The palace has three storeys with 72 pillars and the typical rumah gadang gonjong, with horn-like curved roof made from 26 tons of black ijuk aren palm fibers. The palace is also furnished with over 100 replicas of Minang antique furnitures and artefacts, aiming the palace to be revived as Minangkabau cultural center as well as tourism attraction in West Sumatra.


The original Pagaruyung palace was built on Batu Patah Hill and was burned down during a riot in Padri War back in 1804. The palace was rebuilt again, but destroyed again in fire in 1966. The building was being rebuilt again in 1976 as the replica of the original Pagaruyung palace. The restoration of the palace marked with the erection of tunggak tuo (main columns) on 27 December 1976 by West Sumatra Governor Harun Zain. After the completion, the palace has become well-known to the public as a museum and tourist attraction. This building was not built on the original site, but moves south from the original site.

The palace was destroyed by fire on the evening of 27 February 2007 after the roof was struck by lightning.[10] It was estimated only 15 percent of valuable artefacts survived the fire. Today the surviving artefacts were stored in Balai Benda Purbakala Kabupaten Tanah Datar (Archaeology Authority of Tanah Datar Regency). The pusaka or heirloom of the Pagaruyung Kingdom was stored in Silinduang Bulan Palace, located about 2 kilometer from Pagaruyung Palace.[11] Restoration of the building has taken six years and an estimated Rp 20 billion (US$1,71 million) to complete. The building was completed and inaugurated by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in October 2013.[9][12]



  • 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. 
  • Bosch, Frederik David Kan (1930). De rijkssieraden van Pagar Roejoeng (in Dutch). Batavia: Oudheidkundig Verslag (Archaeological Report). pp. 49–108. 
  • Coedès, George (1968). Vella, Walter F., ed. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans. Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0824803681. 
  • Colombijn, Free (2005). "A Moving History of Middle Sumatra, 1600–1870". Modern Asian Studies. 39 (1): 1–38. doi:10.1017/S0026749X04001374. 
  • Pires, Tomé (1990) [1513]. Cortesão, Armando, ed. The Suma Oriental of Tomé Pires. Laurie. ISBN 978-8120605350. 
  • 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. 
  • Drakard, Jane (1999). A Kingdom of Words: Language and Power in Sumatra. OUP. ISBN 983-56-0035-X. 
  • 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.