The western part of New Guinea better known as West Papua literally conceals countless out of the ordinary facts. From the unbelievable range of 4,000-meter peaks to the exceptional Melanesian cultures, the black gem from the east has never been tiresome to shine. Historically, West Papua has gone through an array of political upheavals. Under the European conquest, the world’s second largest island got its name. The occurrence came to pass when a Portuguese explorer named Jorge de Menezes accidentally found the green land mass in 1526-27. The word of Papua refers to “frizzled hair” representing the physical appearance of the inhabitants.
Before being occupied by the government of Dutch East Indies in 1824 and becoming the 26th Indonesian province in 1969, West Papua was not only taken control by the victorious Majapahit kingdom (as stated in a holy Hindu book named Kakawin Nagarakartagama) but also the neighboring rulers often dubbed the Moluccan Monarchies. According to a historical research, there were three Moluccan kingdoms used to be actively involved in territorial expansion – Tidore, Bacan, and Ternate. Not only were the Muslim-based empires influential in establishing East Indonesia in the past but they were also revered by the European colonials from British to Dutch.
West Papua under the Authority of Tidore Kingdom
Western New Guinea mainly in the area of bird head and Raja Ampat Islands was once ruled by Sultan Baabullah from the Sultanate of Tidore in the 16th century from 1570 to 1583. The monarchy sitting on a small island of northern Maluku with the same name was one of the largest and most powerful Indonesian kingdoms. In a brief, the glorious monarchy was initially known as Limau Duko or Kie Duko which means “volcano” before Islam invaded the island. The naming is basically relevant to the local geographical condition loaded with towering volcanoes. Then the name of Tidore which means “I have arrived” was taken.
Apart from the dominion of Sultan Baabullah, West Papua, in accordance with another trusted source, was a developed region under the reign of Sultan Mansyur, the famed 12th king of Tidore Sultanate. The territorial expansion to the eastern part of Indonesia specifically the Halmahera and West Papua carried out in the 16th century was overly intense. According to the 36th king of Tidore Sultanate named Sultan Zainal Abidin “Alting” Syah, the main sovereignty of Tidore Kingdom covers two large areas – Nyili Gam and Nyili Papua.
The evidence how the Kingdom of Tidore successfully administered West Papua is written based on the copies of historical records. One of the citations says, “Lantas kagee Jou Kolano wolahi Kapita-Kapita kagee toma Maba, Buli, Bicoli se Patani ona yomote una terus toma Gebe la supaya yohoda kiye mega yoru-ruru, yo bapo ino uwa, toma Gebe madulu se I ronga “Papua”.” These utterances mean “Then the king Mansyur made an expedition to the regions of Lolobata, Bicoli, Maba, Buli, and the island of Patani. Once arriving there, the king asked the captains to go for further exploration to Gebe Island and investigate other islands behind it, “Papua”.
When West Papua was Ruled by the Kingdom of Bacan
The clear substantiation indicating that West Papua was under the control of the Kingdom of Bacan is the information avowed in the book of New Guinea authored by a Dutch author, WC. Klein. He stated that the leaders of Papua once paid a visit into the kingdom of Bacan in 1569. The Bacan sultanate was a potent kingdom situated on the island of Bacan, Maluku islands. It was early governed by a king converting to Islam called Raja Zainulabidin. There were a number of kingdoms in the islands of Raja Ampat which were under the administration of Bacan monarchy.
The kingdoms under Bacan sovereignty include Lilinta/Misool Kingdom. The dominant rulers who made a significant social improvement were Abd al-Majid, Jamal ad-Din, and Bahar ad-Din Dekamboe. Another Islamic empire occupying the islands of Raja Ampat was the Kingdom of Waigama. The golden period of Waigama was under the control of Abd ar-Rahman, Hasan, and Syams ad-Din Tafalas.
The Tie between West Papua and the Kingdom of Ternate
The authentic proof that West Papua was once possessed by the Kingdom of Ternate is through the presence of four kingdoms in Raja Ampat Islands. They cover the Kingdom of Waigeo with the capital of Wewayai, the Kingdom of Salawati with the capital of Samate, the Kingdom of Sailolof, and the Kingdom of Misol. One of the prominent leaders whose power was unbeatable is King Gadzun governing the Waigeo from 1900 to 1918.
In closing, West Papua had been deeply related to the Indonesian monarchies in Maluku islands. From the Kingdom of Tidore to the Kingdom of Ternate, the western part of New Guinea was a central place to build economic and cultural relations in East Indonesia.