History of Banyuwangi

According to available historical data regarding the history of Blambangan, Banyuwangi was formed on the 18th of December, 1771. Prior to the Puputan Bayu War (Banyuwangi local language meaning the war fought in Bayu, now Kecamatan Songgon), there was a heroic war, when Blambangan warriors lead by Prince Puger (the son of Wong Agung Wilis) attacked the VOC force in Banyualit in 1768.

However, unfortunately the date of the event was not exactly recorded and there was an impression that the attack resulted in total defeat, but perhaps the enemy did not lose at all. Basically historical records of this event are extremely vague. It is known that during this battle Prince Puger died. After Lateng was destroyed, Wong Agung Wilis was captured and taken to Banda Island. Based on historical data, the name Banyuwangi cannot be separated from Blambangan Kingdom. Since the era of Prince Tawang Alun (1655-1691), Prince Sasranegara, Prince Mancanapua, Prince Danureja (1691-1736), Prince Danuningrat (1736-1763) and the time of occupation by Bali (1763-1767), the VOC had not been interested in entering and controlling Blambangan.

In 1743, the eastern part of Java (including Blambangan) was surrendered by Pakubuwono II to the VOC. The VOC felt that Blambangan belonged to them. It was temporarily considered a "stock good " that would be exploited when needed. Even when Prince Danuningrat wanted the aid of the VOC against Bali, the VOC was still not interested in Blambangan or the little part of Banyuwangi (at that time it was called Tirtaganda, Tirtoarum, or Tuyoarum). Then suddenly the VOC tried to annex Banyuwangi and secure the entire kingdom of Blambangan. During the five year war (1767-1772), the VOC attempted to annex Banyuwangi at the time that it was a thriving center of trade in Blambangan Kingdom dominated by the British.
Finally, it is clear that the birth of the place, known eventually as Banyuwangi, started with the Puputan Bayu War. If the British had not occupied Banyuwangi in 1766, perhaps the VOC would not have annexed Blambangan in 1767, and the Puputan Bayu War would not have happened. There is obviously a strong correlation between the Puputan Bayu War and the birth of Banyuwangi. Therefore, December 18th, 1771 is appropriately designated as the birthday of Banyuwangi.

The Legend Of Banyuwangi
The ruler of the kingdom of Blambangan, Raden Banterang, used to occupy the neighboring areas in order to expand his territory, including the Klungkung Kingdom of Bali. The outbreak of the Klungkung War destroyed such a small country. The king of Klungkung was killed on the battlefield, yet his daughter and son were able to escape and hide in the jungle.

One day, Raden Banterang and his commanders were inspecting his district while hunting. It was in the jungle that Raden Banterang met a beautiful lady named Ida Ayu Surati. She was then taken to Blambangan to be his wife. Raden Banterang and Ida Ayu Surati enjoyed a happy life in the palace.

When Raden Banterang was hunting one day, the lonely princess was surprised by the arrival of a dirty beggar asking for her pity. The princess was surprised to find that the beggar was her older brother, Agung Bagus Mantra. She promptly squatted and embraced her brother's legs. However, her great respect of her brother was not well accepted. Instead, she was tortured for she supposedly betrayed her noble family.

Agung Bagus Mantra asked his sister to kill Raden Banterang, but such a request was rejected. He was very angry with her and came up with a sly idea to slander Raden Banterang.

At first, Raden Banterang did not believe that his wife had been involved in a scandal with another man. Yet because of Agung's convincing words, he was finally influenced and therefore, his wife was dragged down to a small lake. Asking for compassion, Ida Ayu Surati tried to tell the truth and denied her husband’s accusation. Hearing his wife's explanation, the king became angrier and angrier. As a proof of her sacred love, she asked her husband to kill her. As a last request, she asked her husband to throw her dead body into the river. She said that if the water in the river smelled terrible, it meant that she had ever been sinful, but if it smelled fragrant it meant that she was innocent.
Raden Banterang who was unable to control his emotions, soon stabbed his keris (dagger) into his wife's chest. She died instantly. The dead body of Ida Ayu Surati was quickly thrown into the dirty river. Raden Banterang was shocked to see the river suddenly become clean and as clear as glass with a fragrant smell. Raden Banterang screamed crazily and regretted his deed. He walked unsteadily and fell into the river screaming, "Banyuwangi, Banyuwangi, Banyuwangi!”

Another legend of Banyuwangi was taken from the story of Sri Tanjung Sidopekso. Once upon a time, a local ruler, King Sulahkromo, had a patih, R.Sidopekso. The wife of the patih, Sri Tanjung, was so beautiful that the king desired her. In order to be able to seduce Sri Tanjung, the king ordered his patih on a mission that would take a long time to accomplish. During his absence, the king tried to court Sri Tanjung without success. When R. Sidopekso returned, he went first to his ruler. The king, angry that his scheme had not succeeded, told the patih that during his absence his wife had been unfaithful to him. Sidopekso went home and confronted his wife with her alleged adultery. Her denial did not convince him, and he announced that he was going to kill her. Sidopekso brought Sri Tanjung to the bank of the river. Before he stabbed her to death, she prophesied that her innocence would be proven. And indeed, after having stabbed his wife to death and having thrown the dead body into the dirty river, the river immediately became clean and began to spread a wonderful fragrance. Sidopekso said, “Banyu ... Wangi..... Banyuwangi”. This means "fragrant water ". BANYUWANGI was born from the proof of noble and sacred love.

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