|Sultanate of Sulu|
|Part of Bruneian Empire (1405–1578), independent kingdom (1578–1851), Spanish protectorate (1851–98), protectorate of the United States (1903–15)|
Map showing the extent of the Sultanate of Sulu in 1822
|Languages||Arabic (official), Tausug, Bajau, Bisaya, Banguingui and Malay languages|
|-||1457–80||Sharif ul-Hashim of Sulu|
|-||1893–99||Jamal ul-Kiram I|
|-||Ascension of Rajah Baginda||1405|
|-||Dissolution of Sultanate||1915|
|Currency||No official currency, the Barter system was used|
|Today part of|| Indonesia
|History of Brunei|
House of Bolkiah
|History of the Philippines|
|History of Malaysia|
The Sultanate of Sulu (Jawi: سلطنة سولك, Arabic: سلطنة سولك) was a Muslim state [note 1] that ruled over many of the islands of the Sulu Sea, parts of Mindanao, certain portions of present-day Sabah (then North Borneo) and North Kalimantan.
The sultanate was founded in 17 November 1405.[note 2] by a Johore-born explorer and religious scholar Sharif ul-Hashim. Paduka Mahasari Maulana al Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim became his full regnal name, Sharif-ul Hashim is his abbreviated name. He settled in Buansa, Sulu. After the marriage of Abu Bakr and a local dayang-dayang (princess) Paramisuli, he founded the sultanate. The Sultanate gained its independence from the Bruneian Empire in 1578.
At its peak, it stretched over the islands that bordered the western peninsula of Mindanao in the east to Palawan in the north. It also covers the area in northeastern side of Borneo, stretching from Kimanis Bay in Sabah which is also overlap with the boundaries of the Bruneian Sultanate, to Tepian Durian in now Kalimantan. While another sources stated the area only stretching from Marudu Bay, not from Kimanis Bay.
The present area of the Sultanate of Sulu was once under the influence of the Bruneian Empire before it gained it own independence in 1578. Later, the earliest known settlement in this areas soon to be occupied by the sultanate who was in Maimbung, Jolo. During these times, Sulu was called Lupah Sug. The Principality of Maimbung, populated by Buranun people (or Budanon, literally means "mountain-dwellers"), was first ruled by a certain rajah who assumed the title Rajah Sipad the Older. According to Majul, the origins of the title rajah sipad originated from the Hindu sri pada, which symbolises authority. The Principality was instituted and governed using the system of rajahs. Sipad the Older was succeeded by Sipad the Younger.
During the reign of Sipad the Younger, a mystic named Tuan Mashā′ikha[note 3] arrived in Jolo in 1280 AD.[note 4] Little is known to the origins and early biography of Tuan Mashā′ikha, except that he is a Muslim "who came from foreign lands" at the head of a fleet of Muslim traders, or he was issued from a stalk of bamboo and was considered a prophet, thus well respected by the people. Other reports, however, insisted that Tuan Mashā′ikha together with his parents, Jamiyun Kulisa and Indra Suga, were sent to Sulu by Alexander the Great (who is known as Iskandar Zulkarnain in Sejarah Melayu). However, Saleeby dismisses this claim by concluding that Jamiyun Kulisa and Indra Suga were mythical names. According to tarsila, during the coming of Tuan Mashā′ikha, the people of Maimbung worshipped tombs and stones of any kind. After he preached Islam in the area, he married Sipad the Younger's daughter, Idda Indira Suga and bore three children: Tuan Hakim, Tuan Pam and 'Aisha. Tuan Hakim, in turn, begot five children. From the genealogy of Tuan Mashā′ikha, another titular system of aristocracy called "tuanship" started in Sulu. Apart from the Idda Indira Suga, Tuan Mashā′ikha also married into another "unidentified woman" and begot Moumin. Tuan Mashā′ikha died in 710 A.H. (equivalent to 1310 AD), and was buried in Bud Dato near Jolo, with an inscription of Tuan Maqbālū.
A descendant of Tuan Mashā′ikha named Tuan May also begot a son named Datu Tka. The descendants of Tuan May did not assume the title tuan, instead, they started to use datu. It is the first time datu was used as a political institution.
During the coming of Tuan Mashā′ikha, the Tagimaha people (literally means "the party of the people") coming from Basilan and several places in Mindanao, also arrived and settled in Buansa. After the Tagimaha came the Baklaya people (which means "seashore dwellers") and believed to be originated from Sulawesi, and settled in Patikul. After these came the Bajau people (or Samal) from Johor. The Bajau were accidentally driven towards Sulu by a heavy monsoon, some of them to the shores of Brunei and others to Mindanao. The population of Buranun, Tagimaha, and Baklaya in Sulu created three parties with distinct system of government and subjects. At least in 1417, according to Chinese annals, three kings (or monarchs) ruled three civilised kingdoms in the island. Patuka Pahala (Paduka Batara) ruled the eastern kingdom, he was the most powerful; the west kingdom was ruled by Mahalachi (Maharajah Kamal ud-Din); and the kingdom near the cave (or Cave King) was Paduka Patulapok. The Bajau settlers were distributed among the three kingdoms.
Moumin's descendants, the son of Tuan Mashā′ikha populated Sulu. After some time, a certain Timway Orangkaya Su'il was mentioned by the second page of tarsila, that he received four Bisaya slaves (People from the Confederation of Madja-as) from Manila (presumably Dynasty of Tondo) as a sign of friendship between the two countries. The descendants of Timway Orangkaya Su'il then inherited the title timway, which means "chief". On tarsila's third page, it accounts the fact that the slaves were the ancestors of the inhabitants in the island to Parang, Lati, Gi'tung, and Lu'uk respectively. The fourth page then narrates the coming of the Buranun (addressed in the tarsila as "the Maimbung people") Tagimaha, Baklaya, then the drifted Bajau immigrants from Johor.
The condition of Sulu before the arrival of Islam can be summarised as such: The island was inhabited by several cultures, and was reigned over by three independent kingdoms ruled by the Buranun, Tagimaha, and Baklaya peoples. Likewise, the socio-political systems of these kingdoms were characterised by several distinct institutions: rajahship, datuship, tuanship and timwayship. The arrival of Tuan Mashā′ikha afterwards established a core Islamic community in the island.
At the end of the 14th century, a notable Arab judge and religious scholar named Karim ul-Makhdum[note 5] from Mecca arrived in the Malacca Sultanate. He preached Islam to the people, and thus many citizens, including the ruler of Malacca, converted to Islam.
Chinese Muslims and Arabs introduced Sulu and other Muslim sultanates to Islam. Chinese Muslim merchants participated in the local commerce, and the Sultanate had diplomatic relations with China during the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), being involved in the tribute system. The Sulu leader Paduka Batara and his sons moved to China, where he passed away and Chinese Muslims brought up his sons.
In 1380 AD,[note 6] Karim ul-Makhdum arrived in Simunul island from Malacca, again with Arab traders. Apart from being a scholar, he operated as a trader, some see him as a Sufi missionary originating from Mecca. He preached Islam in the area, and was thus accepted by the core Muslim community. He was the second person who preached Islam in the area, following after Tuan Mashā′ikha. To facilitate easy conversion of nonbelievers, he established a mosque in Tubig-Indagan, Simunul, which became the first Islamic temple to be constructed in the area, as well as the first in the Philippines. This later became known as Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque. He died in Sulu, though the exact location of his grave is unknown. In Buansa, he was known as Tuan Sharif Awliyā. On his alleged grave in Bud Agad, Jolo, an inscription was written as "Mohadum Aminullah Al-Nikad". In Lugus, he is referred to Abdurrahman. In Sibutu, he is known to as his name.
The different of beliefs on his grave locations came about due to the fact that Karim ul-Makhdum travelled to several islands in Sulu Sea to preach Islam. In many places in the archipelago, he was beloved. It is said that the people of Tapul built a mosque honouring him and that they claim descent from Karim ul-Makhdum. Thus, the success of Karim ul-Makhdum of spreading Islam in Sulu threw a new light in Islamic history in the Philippines. The customs, beliefs and political laws of the people changed and customised to adopt the Islamic tradition.
The Sultanate of Sulu became notorious for its so-called "Moro Raids" or acts of piracy directed towards Spanish Settlements in the Visayas with the aim of capturing slaves and other goods from these coastal towns. The Tausug pirates used boats known as Proas which varied in design and were much lighter than the Spanish Galleons and could easily out-sail these ships, they often carried large swivel guns or Lantaka and also carried a crew of pirates from different ethnic groups throughout Sulu such as Iranums, Bajaus and Tausugs alike. By the 18th century, the Sulu pirates had become the virtual masters of the Sulu seas and the surrounding areas, wreaking havoc on Spanish settlements. This prompted the Spaniards to build a number of fortifications across the Visayan islands of Bohol and Cebu, Churches were built on higher ground and watchtowers were built along coastlines to warn of impending raids. The maritime supremacy of Sulu wasn't directly controlled by the Sultan, independent Datus and warlords waged their own wars against the Spaniards and even with the Capture of Jolo on numerous occasions by the Spaniards, other settlements like Maimbung, Banguingui and Tawi-Tawi were used as assembly areas and hideouts for pirates. The Sultanate's control over the Sulu seas was at its height around the late 17th to early 18th centuries were Moro raids became very common for the Visayans and Spaniards. In Sulu and in the Mindanao interior, the slave trade flourished and majority of these slaves that were being imported and exported were of Bisaya ethnicity, the term "Bisaya" eventually became synonymous to "slave" in these areas. The Maritime supremacy of the Sulu Sultanate over the Spaniards lasted up until the 19th century, at the time, the Spaniards acquired Steam-powered ships that began to curb Muslim piracy in the region, the Moro piratical raids began to decrease in number until Governor Narciso Clavería launched the Balanguingui expedition to crush the pirate settlemnets there, effectively ending the moro pirate raids. By the last quarter of the 19th century, Moro pirates had virtually disappeared and the maritime influence of the Sultanate became dependent on the Chinese Junk trade.
In the 18th century, Sulu's dominion covered most of northeastern part of Borneo. However areas like Tempasuk and Abai had never really shown much allegiance to its earlier ruler, Brunei, subsequently similar treatment was given to Sulu. Dalrymple who made a treaty of allegiance in 1761 with Sulu, had to make a similar agreement with the rulers of Tempasuk and Abai on the north Borneo coast in 1762.
The territory ceded to Sulu by Brunei initially stretched south to Tapean Durian (now Tanjong Mangkalihat) (another source mentioned the southern most boundary is at Dumaring), near the Straits of Macassar (now Kalimantan). However by 1800–1850, these area had been effectively controlled by the Sultanate of Bulungan in Kalimantan, reducing the boundary of Sulu to a cape named Batu Tinagat and Tawau River.
In 1848 and 1851, the Spanish launched attacks on Balangingi and Jolo respectively. A peace treaty was signed on 30 April 1851 in which the sultan could only regain its capital if Sulu and its dependencies became a part of the Philippine Islands under the sovereignty of Spain. There were different understandings of this treaty, in which although the Spanish interpreted it as the sultan accepted Spanish sovereignty, the sultan took it as a friendly treaty amongst equals. International Court of Justice in 2003 nevertheless observes that, undisputedly, the Sultan of Sulu relinquished the sovereign rights over all his possessions in favour of Spain, based on Bases of Peace and Capitulation signed by Sultan of Sulu and Spain in Jolo on 22 July 1878.
On 22 January 1878, an agreement was signed between the Sultanate of Sulu and British commercial syndicate (Alfred Dent and Baron von Overback), which stipulated that North Borneo was either ceded or leased (depending on translation used) to the British syndicate in return for payment of 5000 Malayan Dollar per year.
On 22 April 1903, Sultan Jamalul Kiram signed a document known as "Confirmation of cession of certain islands", under what he either grant and ceded or leased additional islands in the neighbourhood of the mainland of North Borneo from Banggi Island to Sibuku Bay to British North Borneo Company. The sum 5,000 dollars a year payable every year increased to 5,300 dollars a year payable every year.
The Sulu Sultanate later came under the control of Spain in Manila. In 1885, Great Britain, Germany and Spain signed the Madrid Protocol to cement Spanish influence over the islands of the Philippines. In the same agreement, Spain relinquished all claim to North Borneo which had belonged to the Sultanate in the past.
The Spanish Government renounces, as far as regards the British Government, all claims of sovereignty over the territories of the continent of Borneo, which belong, or which have belonged in the past to the Sultan of Sulu (Jolo), and which comprise the neighbouring islands of Balambangan, Banguey, and Malawali, as well as all those comprised within a zone of three maritime leagues from the coast, and which form part of the territories administered by the Company styled the "British North Borneo Company".—Article III, Madrid Protocol of 1885
The Sultanate's power was relinquished in March 1915 after American commanders negotiated with Sultan Jamalul Kiram on behalf of then-Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison. An agreement was subsequently signed and was called as the "Carpenter Agreement". By this agreement, the Sultan relinquished all temporal power over territory within the Philippines (except for certain specific land granted to Sultan Jamalul Kiram and his heirs), but retained his rights of sovereignty over the territory of North Borneo and his religious authority as titular head of the Islamic ‘Church’ in Sulu. However, the United States based government refused to intervene the North Borneo dispute, officially maintaining a neutral stance on the matter and continuing to recognise Sabah as part of Malaysia.
The North Borneo dispute is a territorial claim by the Philippines over much of the eastern part of Sabah in Malaysia. Sabah was known as North Borneo prior to the formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963. The Philippines, via the heritage of the Sultanate of Sulu, claim Sabah on the basis that Sabah was only leased to the British North Borneo Company with the sultanate's sovereignty never being relinquished.
The dispute stems from the difference in the interpretation used on an agreement signed between Sultanate of Sulu and the British commercial syndicate (Alfred Dent and Baron von Overback) in 1878, which stipulated that North Borneo was either ceded or leased (depending on translation used) to the British chartered company in return for payment of 5,000 dollars per year.
Malaysia views the dispute as a "non-issue", as it not only considers the agreement in 1878 as one of cession, but it also deems that the residents had exercised their act of self-determination when they voted to join the Malaysian federation in 1963. As reported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the independence of North Borneo was brought about as the result of the expressed wish of the majority of the people of the territory as supported by the findings of the Cobbold Commission.
Every year, the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines issues a cheque in the amount of RM5,300 (approx. ₱77,000 or US$1,710) to the legal counsel of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu. Malaysia considers the settlement an annual "cession payment" for the disputed state, while the sultan's descendants consider it "rent".
Chinese who lived in Sulu ran guns across a Spanish blockade to supply the Moro Datus and Sultanates with weapons to fight the Spanish, who were engaging in a campaign to subjugate the Moro sultanates on Mindanao. A trade involving the Moros selling slaves and other goods in exchange for guns developed. The Chinese had entered the economy of the sultanate, taking almost total control of the Sultanate's economies in Mindanao and dominating the markets. Though the Sultans did not like one group of people exercising exclusive control over the economy, he did business with them. The Chinese set up a trading network between Singapore, Zamboanga, Jolo and Sulu.
The Chinese sold small arms like Enfield and Spencer Rifles to the Buayan Datu Uto. They were used to battle the Spanish invasion of Buayan. The Datu paid for the weapons in slaves. The population of Chinese in Mindanao in the 1880s was 1,000. The Chinese ran guns across a Spanish blockade to sell to Mindanao Moros. The purchases of these weapons were paid for by the Moros in slaves in addition to other goods. The main group of people selling guns were the Chinese in Sulu. The Chinese took control of the economy and used steamers to ship goods for exporting and importing. Opium, ivory, textiles, and crockery were among the other goods which the Chinese sold.
The Chinese on Maimbung sent the weapons to the Sulu Sultanate, who used them to battle the Spanish and resist their attacks. A Chinese was one of the Sultan's brother in laws, the Sultan was married to his sister. He and the Sultan both owned shares in the ship (named the Far East) which helped smuggle the weapons.
The Spanish launched a surprise offensive under Colonel Juan Arolas in April 1887 by attacking the Sultanate's capital at Maimbung in an effort to crush resistance. Weapons were captured and the property of the Chinese were destroyed while the Chinese were deported to Jolo.
After the destruction of the pirate haunts of Balanguingui, effectively ending the centuries of slave raids, which the Sulu Sultanate's economy had so depended on, along with the economy of mainland Mindanao. The Sultanate's economy experienced a sharp decline as slaves became more inaccessible and the islands' agricultural produce wasn't enough, thus it became dependent on the Mindanao interior even for rice and produce.
The Spaniards thought they had dealt the death blow for the sultanate when they captured Jolo in 1876, rather, the sultanate's capital and economic and trading hub was moved to Maimbung on the other side of the island. Up until the American occupation, this was the residence and economic centre of Sulu. This is where the Sultan Jamalul Kiram II and his adviser Hadji Butu began the Sulu pearling industry, to increase the Sultan's wealth, they organised the Sulu pearling fleet.
The sultan's pearling fleet was active way into the early twentieth century, when in 1910, the Sultan reportedly sold a single giant pearl in London for $100,000. The pearling industry still survives in the southern seas on the Philippines.
Among the people of Sultanate of Sulu, the title of nobility could be acquired only by lineage, a "closed system" whereby the titled persons inherit their offices of powers and prestige.
There are two main social classes in Royal Sultanate of Sulu:
The commoners or Maharlika are those who do not trace their descent from royalty. The Wakil Kesultan's, Panglimas, Parkasa's and Laksaman's who are commoners hold responsible positions involving administrative matters.
The males who hold offices above shall be addressed by the title of nobility Tuan (the title is directly attached to the office), followed by the rank of the office they hold, their given name, surname and region.
The females who hold offices above shall be addressed by the title of nobility Sitti (the title is directly attached to the office), followed by the rank of the office they hold, their given name, surname and region.
The Sultanate of Sulu, along with the rest of Mindanao has a long tradition of decorative arts known as Okir or Ukkil. Ukkil being the Tausug word for "wood carving" or engraving, the Tausugs and Maranaos people have been carving and decorating their boats, houses and even grave markers with these Ukkil carvings. Aside from Wood carving, Ukkil motifs have been found on various clothing in the Sulu archipelago, Ukkil motifs tend to emphasise geometric patterns and a flowing design, with floral and leaf patterns as well as folk elements. The Tausugs also decorated their weapons with these motifs, various Kris and Barong blades have finely decorated handles as well as blades covered in floral patterns and the like. Bronze Lantaka also bear some Ukkil patterns.
Although the Sultanate is no longer officially recognised by any state as a sovereign entity, many individuals continue to claim the title of Sultan of Sulu and/or Sultan of North Borneo, often with documentation that would seem to support their claims.
Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram, has insisted on the legitimacy of his succession as the 35th Sultan of Sulu. He cites Memorandum Order 427 of 1974, in which former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos recognised his father, Sultan Mahakuttah A. Kiram, as Sulu ruler. This misnomer makes the kin of Mahakuttah Kiram claim the hierarchical throne based on President Marcos mis proclamation while Punjungan Kiram is in Sabah through the insisting of Abraham Rasul, the husband of Santanina Rasul,which prompted President Marcos withdraw his proclamation to Mahakuttah when Punjungan present the "Grant Letter of Administration of Sabah", the presentation of the "Grant Letter of Sabah Administration to president Marcos has said infuriated Malacanang. The fact that president Marcos is a political leader has no power to proclaim any sultan of Sulu, because it is based on blood line of hierarchy and instead recognised Punjungan Kiram supported by legal Documents. The memo states that he is the eldest son of the said Sultan.[better source needed] His grandfather was Sultan Esmail E. Kiram (recognised by Philippine government), his great grandfather was Sultan Muwallil Wasit II and his great grand uncle was Sultan Jamalul Kiram I. Additionally, Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram has received foreign recognition for his claim such as the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry (ICOC). He is a relative of Jamalul Kiram III.
Datu Mohamad Akjan Datu Ali Muhammad, a Malaysian businessman, proclaimed himself as the 33rd Sultan of Sulu in 2011. Other noted claimants include Datu Abdul Rajak Aliuddin and Datuk Seri Putra Eddy T. Sulaiman.
The area from Kimanis Bay to the Paitan River not from Sulu but from Brunei
Sultan of Brunei cedes the lands east of Marudu Bay to the Sultanate of Sulu.
the Ming tribute trade beginning in 1368 brought even more traffic, including Chinese Muslim merchants and Arab and Indian missionaries... Sulu appeared in Chinese records beginning in 1349 and sent several tribute missions during the early Ming dynasty. According to historian Cesar Majul, Sulu was visited by Chinese Muslim traders and Arab missionaries who began to spread the faith in the late fourteenth century. Paduka Batara, the Sulu ruler who died in China, left two sons to be raised among Chinese Muslims.