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Research Paper | Economics | Indonesia | Volume 3 Issue 8, August 2014
Pepper Trade and the Sultanate of Banjarmasin in the 17th - 18th Century
Dr. Ita Syamtasiyah Ahyat | S.S.  | M.Hum
Abstract: Due to its proximity, between Java Sea and the Strait of Makassar, had made Banjarmasin the favorite port of call for many merchants ships from other islands, including Java, Sulawesi, even from abroad such as China and Gujarat (India). Furthermore, its strategic location, which was situated on the coast and on the estuary of a large river, had convinced Van Leur, a Dutch historian to come up with a theory that during its heyday, the Sultanate of Banjarmasin must be a maritime kingdom. Because of that reason, the kingdom was placing a strong emphasis on sea commerce for its livelihood and focusing its military might on a naval power. At that time, the area was already bustling with commercial traffic consisting of vessels and sailing ships from all over, travelling back and forth. To have control over such a heavily travelled body of water was obviously an advantage, because from the perspective of the route taken, maritime commerce was seen as less circuitous and more straightforward. The rise of the Sultanate of Banjarmasin as a significant maritime trading power occurred in the 17th century following the shifting of trade routes to the Moluccas (Maluku). Previously, the route was through Gresik, Bali, Sunda Kecil (Nusa Tenggara) and from there to Banda; later the route shifted through Makassar, Banjarmasin, Pattani, and China or from Makassar to Banten and from there to India. As a result, the port of Banjarmasin became one of the ports that supplanted the role of Gresik, when all the ports along the northern coast of Java fell under the influence of the Kingdom of Mataram under Sultan Agung, who moved the commercial center in Java to the city of Jepara. In addition, with the move, the Javanese traders at that time turned Banjarmasin as their capital center and the hub for their shipping activities. In the course of its relationship with the VOC (The Dutch East India Company (Dutch: Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC) that lasted for two centuries; Banjarmasin, more or less managed to preserve some sort of sovereignty; however, it was at such a great cost, the pepper plantation, which was the Kingdoms unique identity and its main commodity was completely devastated. The same fate also befell its maritime commerce activities as well as the trade practices. Consequently, the kingdoms prosperity slowly deteriorated and replaced by periods of shortage and turmoil. The Sultanate of Banjarmasin eventually went into a deep decline and simply lost its influence.
Keywords: Java, Makassar, trade, Banjarmasin, VOC
Edition: Volume 3 Issue 8, August 2014,
Pages: 1491 - 1496