Basically, Raja Ampat is one of the best destinations for marine tourism that exist in Indonesia. Its natural beauty is not only popular among regional citizens but also well-known all over the world. So, it is not surprising that people are curious about the history of Raja Ampat.
In fact, Raja Ampat has existed since the prehistoric era. However, the beauty of Raja Ampat was only known to the world when the European explorers discovered this archipelago. So, here are the interesting history and stories of the archipelago Raja Ampat that you need to know!
Raja Ampat in Prehistoric Era
According to history, the very first humans to inhabit New Guinea were Melanesians. For decades, they were the only inhabitants here. They live a nomadic way, moving from one place to another. One of the places they live is the archipelago of Raja Ampat.
This is because, at that time, Misool Island and Salawati Island was still united with the island of New Guinea and Australia. However, the two islands were separated from New Guinea because of rising sea levels. Then later, it also separated from Australia because of the Torres Strait.
Then, the Austronesians started to migrate at around 3000 BCE. Most of them live in the coastal area of New Guinea, including the archipelago of Raja Ampat. However, people in Raja Ampat have only a few Austronesian genes, which is less than 20%.
The mixing between Melanesian and Austronesian peoples does not only occur in marriage. In the early history of Raja Ampat, they also traded their own cultures and skills. That is what causes the emergence of their own distinct cultures and languages.
Raja Ampat in Nusantara Kingdom Era
The first recorded contact between the indigenous people of Raja Ampat and the outside world was with the Sriwijaya Kingdom. It was around the 7th to 12th century. But, relations between the two regions are only limited to trade affairs. It also occurred with the Majapahit Kingdom in the 14th to 15th centuries.
The first Nusantara kingdoms that had a major influence on Raja Ampat were the Maluku kingdoms. The relationship between the two regions is not limited to trade relations. It also extends to political and cultural relations. At the time, the Kings of Tidore, Ternate, and the Bacan Kingdom were Muslims.
So, it is understandable that Islam began to enter and develop in Raja Ampat. Especially when Kurabesi, a warrior and seafarer of Papua, is getting married to a princess of Tidore. They moved to the Raja Ampat area and had two sons and a daughter.
Then, they became “Empat Raja” or “Four Kings.” It is the origin behind the name Raja Ampat. The word “Raja” means King, and the word Ampat” means “Four.”
The Folklore of The Seven Eggs
As the name suggests, there are four Islamic Empires in Raja Ampat. Those kingdoms are the Waigeo Kingdom, Salawati Kingdom, Misool Kingdom, and the Batanta Kingdom.
These four kingdoms have different kings that are also brothers. People believe they are the children of Kurabesi and the Princess of Tidore.
However, it turns out that there is also folklore that locals believe about the origin of Raja Ampat. The folklore tells the story of a husband and wife who find seven eggs. Four eggs hatch into a boy, one egg hatches into a girl, one egg turns into a ghost, and one egg turns a stone.
All the boys later became the kings of the four kingdoms in Raja Ampat. However, the girl later became pregnant with no husband. Ashamed, her brothers put her in a big clam and threw her into the river. Then, the girl was stranded on the island of Numfor.
So, that was the early history of Raja Ampat that you need to know. So, Raja Ampat is not only famous for its beautiful nature but also for its interesting history.
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