The kingdom of Singasari (a spelling preferred by historians, but the pronunciation is closer to singosari ) was a kingdom located in the east of the island of Java between 1222 and 1292 .

This kingdom succeeded the kingdom of Kediri as the dominant kingdom in the east of the island of Java.


The kingdom of Singasari had its capital 2 km north of the present city of Singosari . Its history could be reconstructed thanks to inscriptions in Old Javanese , two epic poems, the Nagarakertagama (written in Old Javanese in 1365 by the court poet Prapanca under the reign of King Hayam Wuruk of Majapahit ) and the Pararaton. or “Book of Kings” (written in middle Javanese, so probably in the xvi th century), and the Chinese annals, the Yuan Shi .

Statue of Bodhisattva Amoghapasa Lokesvara from the Singasari period, Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin

The Pararaton describes the genealogy of the kings of Singasari and Majapahit. According to him, Singasari was founded in 1222 by a certain Ken Arok , a character of obscure origin who overthrows King Kertajaya of Kediri . It then takes the name of Rajasa’s reign.

The most important king of Singasari is the th and last, Kertanegara , who reigned from 1254 to 1292 . The Nagarakertagama enumerates the “tributary lands” of Majapahit that were conquered by this king. In addition to Bali , Madura and Sunda , the list goes from Pahang on the Malay Peninsula to “Gurun” in the Moluccas , via Malayu ( Jambi ) to Sumatra and “Bakulapura” to Borneo .

In fact, the Singasari territory consisted of the upstream valley of the Brantas River, around the present-day town of Malang and at the foot of the Arjuno Volcano. The above list was written more than 70 years after the end of Singasari. In addition, it refers to areas that were not “tributary” to Majapahit but were part of a trading network of which Majapahit was the center.

The kings of Singasari develop agriculture but do not lose sight of foreign trade. The Zhufan zhi , a report in the middle of the xiii th century by a customs inspector in southern China, underlines the wealth of Java, many products of its agriculture, the quality of its silk, its abundance of spices . Chinese traders made such profits that they smuggled Chinese copper coins to buy pepper . This report also mentions place names, some of which appear to be in the Moluccas , as the Javanese offered foreign merchants nutmeg .

The Nagarakertagama quotes an expedition against the kingdom of Malayu in 1275 . In the center of Sumatra, we found a statue bearing an inscription dated 1286 which states that this statue is a present from Kertanegara to the “people of Malayu and his king”. However, it is necessary to take with care the list of conquests, written a century after the time when they are supposed to have been made.

This expedition against Sumatra disrupts the equilibrium that had been established in previous centuries with the hegemony of the city-state of Sriwijaya , which had good relations with China. The rising power of Java, closer to the Moluccas, could turn it into the hub of the spice trade. In addition, China was not happy with the illegal exit of copper money, which was essential to the functioning of its own economy, especially since Java had a reputation as a hoarder. Kubilai Khan’s China had every reason to want to lead an expedition against Java.

The Javanese tradition tells a different story. According to her, Kubilai sends emissaries to Singasari to claim a tribute. Kertanagara refuses, cuts off the Chinese emissary’s nose and sends it back to his master. What is certain is that Kubilai sends in 1292 a punitive expedition against Singasari. The fleet, made up of 1,000 ships and 20,000 men, is unlucky. It wipes a typhoon as soon as it leaves, is refused the supply provided in Champa (center of present-day Vietnam ) and reaches the demoralized north coast of Java, many soldiers suffering from hunger and dysentery.

That same year Jayakatwang, prince of Kediri and vassal of Singasari, revolted. The rebellion causes Kertanegara’s death. A prince of Singasari, Raden Wijaya , seizes the opportunity of this landing to ally himself with the Sino-Mongols and to repress the rebellion. Then Wijaya forces them to re-embark. Incidentally, the Sino-Mongols were able to loot Kediri and bring back a large booty, including a large amount of Chinese copper coins. Wijaya founds a new kingdom, Majapahit , and takes the reign name of Kertarajasa Jayawardhana.

At the time of King Hayam Wuruk of Majapahit (reign 1350-89), Singasari is no more than a nagara (province) whose administration is entrusted to Kertawardhana, father of the king.

See More: Majapahit

The kings of Singasari

The Nagarakertagama lists the following Singasari kings:

  • Rangga Rajasa Sang Girinathaputra (1222-1227);
  • Anusapati (1227-1248);
  • Wisnuwardhana (1248-1268);
  • Kertanagara (1254-1292).