West Papua, Java, and Sumatra  people have been united as one since the 7th century.

West Papua, Java, and Sumatra people have been united as one since the 7th century.

The Sriwijaya Era

Chun Tjok Kwan, an Chinese trader who  made stop in Sumatra’s Sriwijaya Kingdom before visiting Maluku and Papua, acknowledged that many Sumatra people pronounced “Tungki”. Tungki  actually means “Janggi”,  reffering the Sriwijaya Kingdom’s name to the land of Papua as Janggi. The Sriwijaya Kingdom even once presented Chinese emperor with birds of paradise, which were also called Janggi.

During that century, the nature of jungle-covered Papua also attracted Persian and Indian traders whom sailing to the Eastern Indonesia in the 7th century. The Sanskrit-speaking traders referred to the island as Samudranta, “at the edge of the ocean”.

The Majapahit and Tidore Eras

Majapahit and Tidore became the next large kingdoms with has close relations with West Papua area and its people. During the golden eras of East Java-based Majapahit Kingdom, the “Sram” people frequently brought “Wanin” slaves from Papua to serve in the kingdom. “Sram” referred to Seram Island in Maluku, while “Wanin” was Onin Peninsula in Fakfak, the latter now known as one of the regencies in West Papua Province.

West Papua was well noted in the book of Negarakertagama, an old and sacred Javanese poem collection in the 14th century written by Mpu Prapanca, which was comprehensive transcribed of the golden history of the popular King of Majapahit, Hayam Wuruk. The holy book referred to Papua as Onin and Sran/Sram.

Another kingdom, Tidore could be mentioned as the closest kingdom that ever related to Papua due to its short distance. Based in Maluku Island, this Islamic kingdom first sent a fleet of kora-kora (traditional ships) to Papua at the beginning of 16th century. During Sultan Ibnu Mansyur era, several West Papua areas and islands include in the Kingdom of Tidore’s map. The people called “Papa-Ua” meaning “area with no a king” or “nice people with curly hair”.

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