Among the Wali Songo Sunan Kalijaga occupies a special position. At once hero, mystic, artist, diplomat and magician, he is recognized above all as the great peacemaker and wise leader.
Born Raden Mas Said, son of a Regent of Tuban, Sunan Kalijaga is said to have converted to Islam after an encounter with Sunan Bonang. Although he founded a religious centre at Kadilangu, Demak, where he was eventually buried, his activities were not limited to that district, nor even to Central Java.
Sunan Kalijaga travelled widely, spending years in Cirebon and even visiting Sumatra. In the field of culture, Sunan Kalijaga played the role of transformer. By preserving yet altering traditional elements to suit the new religious climate, he thus ensured the continuity of Java's rich cultural heritage.
His contributions to the development of classical music and to the wayang theatre are especially well known. The famous orchestra Gamelan Sekaten, originally created by Sunan Kalijaga for use in the Mosque of Demak, is preserved today in the Central Javanese courts of Solo and Yogyakarta.
Sunan Kalijaga's role as peacemaker is perhaps best symbolized by the semi-legendary story of the founding of the Great Mosque in Demak, said to have been built by the Wali Songo in a single night.
Arriving late, with no time to fell and prepare a tree trunk, Sunan Kalijaga created a pillar made up from planks left over by the other walls ! To this day the pillar created by Sunan Kalijaga, larger than the rest, is pointed out to visitors to the Mosque.
The Other Wali
- Maulana Malik Ibrahim
- Sunan Ampel
- Sunan Giri
- Sunan Bonang
- Sunan Drajat
- Sunan Kudus
- Sunan Kalijaga
- Sunan Muria
- Sunan Gunung Jati