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5th Century AD - The oldest Yupa inscription in the archipelago

Balikpapan (DreamLandLibrary) - Inscription is a charter or document written on hard and durable material. The discovery of inscriptions at a number of archeological sites, marks the end of prehistoric times, namely Babakan in the ancient history of Indonesia where people are not familiar with writing, towards the historical era, where people are already familiar with writing. The science which dominated the inscriptions was called Epigraphy.

Among various sources of ancient Indonesian history, such as foreign texts and news, inscriptions are considered the most important source because they are able to provide a chronological event. There are many things that make an inscription very profitable world of past research. In addition to containing the calendar elements, the inscription also revealed a number of names and reasons why the inscription was issued.

In a modern sense in Indonesia, inscriptions are often associated with writing on tombstones or in buildings, especially when laying the first stone or inaugurating a construction project. In mass media reports, for example, we often hear the president, vice president, minister, or regional head inaugurate building A, building B, and so on by cutting the ribbon and signing the inscription. Thus the term inscription continues to this day.

The word inscription comes from Sanskrit, with the real meaning is "praise". But then it was considered as a "charter, notice, decree, law or writing". Among archaeologists inscriptions are called inscriptions, while among lay people they are called inscribed stones or lettered stones.

Although it means "praise", not all inscriptions contain praise (to the king). Most of the inscriptions are known to contain decisions regarding the designation of a village or region as sima or perdikan area. Sima is land given by the king or the ruler to the people who are considered meritorious. Because of that the existence of the land of sima was protected by the kingdom.

The contents of other inscriptions in the form of court decisions about civil cases (called jayapatra or jayasong inscriptions), as a sign of victory (jayacikna), about debts (suddhapatra), and about the curse or oath. Inscriptions about curses or oaths were almost all written during the kingdom of Srivijaya. And there are also inscriptions containing the king's genealogy or the origin of a character.

Until now the oldest inscriptions in Indonesia have been identified from the 5th century AD, namely Yupa inscriptions from the kingdom of Kutai, East Kalimantan. The inscription contains a genealogical relationship during the reign of King Mulawarman. The Yupa inscription is a stone inscription written in Pallawa letters and Sanskrit. The largest period of expenditure on inscriptions occurred in the 8th to 14th centuries. At that time the most widely used characters were Pallawa, Prenagari, Sanskrit, Old Javanese, Old Malay, Old Sundanese, and Old Bali. The language used also varies and is generally Sanskrit, Old Javanese, Old Sundanese and Old Balinese.

Stone inscribed from West Sumatra
The inscriptions can be found in the form of numerals of the year or short writing. Year numbers can be written with numbers or candlesticks, both words and writing. A short writing can be found on the temple wall, on the upper doorway and on the temple stones.

In the days of the Islamic kingdom, the inscriptions used Arabic characters and Arabic script but the Malay language Pegon script. Most of the inscriptions are on copper plates, tombs, mosques, wall hangings, both in mosques and in the homes of nobles, on royal stamp and stamp rings, currencies, cannons, etc. In the younger years of the colonial era, Latin script was widely used, including English, Portuguese and Dutch languages. Latin inscriptions are generally found in churches, official offices of colonial officials, fortresses, memorials, cannons, currency, stamps, and tombs. Chinese inscriptions and literary inscriptions are also well known in Indonesia, spread between the Classical period and the Islamic period. The inscriptions are found on currency, porcelain objects, bronze gongs and grave stones which are usually made of marble.

The material used to write inscriptions is usually in the form of stone or metal plates, leaves and paper. Besides andesite, the stones used are limestone, marble, and basalt. In archeology, stone inscriptions are called upala inscriptions. Metal inscriptions are generally made of copper and bronze, commonly called Tamra Inscription. Very few inscriptions made of silver and gold sheets. There is also what is called inscription, which is an inscription written on palm leaves or tal leaves. Some inscriptions are made of clay or tablets filled with Buddhist mantras.

Photo: Special

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