The Story of Princes Urduja: Does it have historical basis??
The Story of Princes Urduja: Does it have historical basis??
Nov 6 2009, 09:17 AM
Joined: 3-March 09
From: Los Indios Bravos' Mu
Is the folklore about Princes Urduja have historical basis?
Urduja (ca. 1350 C.E - 1400 C.E.), is a legendary warrior-princess who is recognized as a heroine in Pangasinan, Philippines. The name Urduja appears to be Sanskrit in origin, and a variation of the name "Udaya," meaning "arise" or "rising sun," or the name "Urja," meaning "breath." A historical reference to Urduja can be found in the travel account of Ibn Battuta (1304 - possibly 1368 or 1377 C.E.), a Muslim traveler from Morocco.Contents
1 Ibn Battuta
3 Animated film
4 See also
6 External links
 Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta described Urduja as the ruler of Kaylukari in the land of Tawalisi. After reaching Samudra in what is now Sumatra, Ibn Battuta passed by Tawalisi on his way to China. Princess Urduja was described as a daughter of a ruler named Tawalisi of a land that was also called Tawalisi. The ruler of Tawalisi, according to Ibn Battuta, possessed many ships and was a rival of China, which was then ruled by a Mongol dynasty. Ibn Battuta sailed for 17 days to reach China from the land of Tawalisi.
Ibn Battuta made a pilgrimage to Mecca and he traveled to many other parts of the Islamic world. From India and Sumatra, Ibn Battuta reached the land of Tawalisi. Ibn Battuta described Urduja as a warrior princess whose army was composed of men and women. Urduja was a woman warrior who personally took part in the fighting and engaged in duels with other warriors. She was quoted as saying that she will marry no one but him who defeats her in duel. Other warriors avoided fighting her for fear of being disgraced.
Urduja impressed Ibn Battuta with her military exploits and her ambition to lead an expedition to India, known to her as the "Pepper Country." She also showed her hospitality by preparing a banquet for Ibn Battuta and the crew of his ship. Urduja generously provided Ibn Battuta with gifts that included robes, rice, two buffaloes, and four large jars of ginger, pepper, lemons, and mangoes, all salted, in preparation for Ibn Battuta's sea-voyage to China.
Modern research indicates Ibn Batutta's story of Urduja to be pure fiction and the land of Tawalisi to be similarly fictitious. 
However, in the late 19th Century, Jose Rizal, national hero of the Philippines, who was also a respected scholar but who did not have access to the sources William Henry Scott accessed, speculated that the land of Tawalisi was in the area of the northern part of the Philippines, based on his calculation of the time and distance of travel Ibn Battuta took to sail to China from Tawalisi. In 1916, Austin Craig, a historian of the University of the Philippines, in "The Particulars of the Philippines Pre-Spanish Past," who also did not have access to the sources William Henry Scott accessed, traced the land of Tawalisi and Princess Urduja to Pangasinan. Philippine school textbooks used to include Princess Urduja in the list of great Filipinos. In the province of Pangasinan, the capitol building in Lingayen is named "Urduja Palace." A statue of Princess Urduja stands at the Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan.
The description of Princess Urduja's gifts of rice, buffaloes, ginger, pepper, lemons, mangoes, and salt fits Pangasinan perfectly because of the abundance of those products in Pangasinan. The closely related Ibaloi people have an oral tradition of a woman named Udayan who ruled an ancient alliance of lowland and highland settlements in Pangasinan and the neighboring province of Benguet. Ibn Battuta also mentioned that Urduja had some knowledge of Turkish. During the time of Ibn Battuta period, the influence of the Turkish Ottoman Empire was on the rise.
Ibn Batutta's travel account suggests that he also saw elephants in the land ruled by Urduja. Elephants can still be found in Borneo, and may have been gifts or traded in Pangasinan in earlier times. Ancient Malayo-Polynesian sailing vessels, like the ones used by the ancient Bugis and those depicted in the Borobudur bas-reliefs, were capable of transporting heavy cargoes, including elephants. There are depictions of such ancient ships in maritime Southeast Asia transporting several elephants for trade.
In Pangasinan, Urduja has been depicted as the only daughter of a Rajah whose sons lost their lives defending their agricultural settlements in the Agno River valley and sea trade routes to their Srivijaya and Champa allies. Urduja was trained in the art of war since she was a child, and she became an expert with the kampilan and a skilled navigator. She commanded a fleet of proas to protect their maritime trade networks against pirates and threats from Mongol ruled China. With her beauty, she attracted many suitors
Dr Jose Rizal on Tawalisi ... http://www.urduja.com/princess.html
The Philippines' national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, in Dr. Austin Craig's 1916 paper
"Particulars of the Philippines' Pre-Spanish Past" was quoted as saying in one of his letters: "While I may have doubts regarding the accuracy of Ibn Batuta's details, I still beleive in the voyage to Tawalisi". He went as far as to calculate the distance and time of travel from the port of Kakula. Rizal's commentary was triggered by a scholar, Sir Henry Yule, who wrote in his time that: "Tawalisi may be found only in a Gulliver geography."
- A rival of China, which was then ruled by the Mongolians
- a desire to conquer the pepper country now called India(formerly British India with now Malaysia)
- possessed many paraos or sea-going vessels for trade and alliance purposes
All appears like sri-Bisayan este Srivijayan to me. he he
Coedes termed Srivijayas to refer to an alliance of rajanates then known to the early Arabs as Zabag or known to the early chinese as Shilifoshi or TAWALISHI or Sanfoqui or Sanfotsi, whose ruler was known as the Maharaja.
This folkloric legend could be an allusion to the actual historical persons and events.
The people of Sanfotsi accdg to the early chinese writers rode in Posse ships which was wrongly translated as Persian ships perhaps because of the alliance of Sanfotsi with the Persian Sayabiga forerunner of the Assassins, allies of the Knight templars.
Sanfotsi or Srivijayan elements in Lusung must be gone after the Pinatubo eruption and Islamization during the invasion of Raja Baguinda of Sulu and Maguindanao also known as Sultan Bolkeiah or Nakhoda Ragam of the Sultanate of Brunei.
Google the Laguna copperplate inscription, Sanfotsi and Zabag.
In fairness to Rizal, the late William Henry Scott also didn't have accessed to the Laguna copperplate Inscription as well as the early chinese and arab writings though he possessed much greater access to the early spanish and portuguese documents or writings pertaining to the Philippine isles which Rizal had no full access at that time.
Jose Rizal would not waste his time about Battuta's travel if he didn't believe it except for the gross exaggerations. Urduja, of course was not the real name. The name of the princess is written in Arabic consonants equivalent to English GTRDJ or WHRDJ which was read by Dr. Jose Rizal and other authors during his time as Wahi Arduja and later it is read as Urduja.
Kingdom of Luzon and Urduja: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Tondo
Tondo achieved its greatest power during the reign of Rajah Lontok and his consort Dayang Kaylangitan believing that she bore her talents from her Tawalisi princess, Urduja which happened to be her ancestor through his father Rajah Gambang.
Note: Gat Lontoc or Raja Lontok was no other than Paduka Sri Baginda Rajah dan yang di Pertuan Bulkiah or known better in Southeast Asian History as Nakhoda Ragam (the Singing Captain), the Sultan of Brunei, Sulu, Maguindanao and Manila. He was the ancestor of Lakandula and Soliman. He defeated Raja Gambang and married the latter's daughter to continue the lineage of Lusung Kingdom whose capital was Tondo. (for more info, see my post here http://www.asiafinest.com/forum/index.php?...t&p=4366184 )
A very intriguing article:
In Rihlah, the travelogue written by Ibn Battuttah, the name of the princess is written in Arabic consonants equivalent to English GTRDJ or WHRDJ which was read by Dr. Jose Rizal and other authors during his time as Wahi Arduja and later it is read as Urduja. But this is wrong. the princess referred to was the princess of Java (Jawa/Zabah in Arabic; Mul-jawa is referring to Sumatra) named Gitardja, the daughter of Singosari princess Gayatri and Raden Vijaya (read in Chinese as Shih-lih-fu-shih or Ta-wa-lih-shih, Battuttah's Tawalisi). Ibn Battuttah was widely known then as Sultan Bakhei in the area. This (Sri/Dyah) Gitardja assumed the imperial title Tribuana Tunggadewi when she assumed the throne in 1328 as a virgin Madjapahit Empress after the assassination of her half-brother Jayanagara. She reigned as queen until 1350. She turned over the crown to her son Hayam Wuruk...
The first story is about Princess Gayatri of Java taken by Marco Polo to China and presented her to Kublai Khan as Chu-ko-Chen (Chou-kou-Tien) who is destined to be wed to Arghun Khan of the Il-Khannate empire but in the course of event she is taken by Raden Vijaya of Sumatra as wife forcing Marco Polo to find a replacement for her. The second story is about Gitardja, her war, her love story, and her reign with Gadja Mada, her Prime Minister whom she loved dearly. And the third story is about Leila Manchinai, a Madjapahit princess who is born in Banjarmasin (in Borneo) in the middle of a battle between the army of the Bornean Sultan Sulayman (known also as Makatunaw) and the rebel rajahs led by Rajah Puteh. She, as a baby, is left in a prau used by the fleeing merchants who escaped with the fleeing rajahs to the Philippine islands. The prau upon reaching the Sulu Archipelago meets a storm forcing the merchants to go inward to Agusan River where it is fatally hit by the storm. But the baby Leila Manchinai is washed ashore in the river bank and saved by the bamboos. She is eventually found by the woman Tabunaway and her brother Mamalu. This Tabunaway (Putri Tuniņa) is married to an Arab Shariff Muhammad Kabungsuwan who became the first Muslim sultan of Sulu. The Sultan of Sulu then had an expedition to Manchina (the old name for Northern China while China is referring only to Southern China at that time) to pay homage to the Ming emperor. The girl Leila Mancinai is presented to the Ming emperor as a gift and the emperor adopted her as his daughter. This princess, turned a lovely lady, goes back to Sulu with her "younger brother" Kali Pula (Antonio Pigafetta's Cilapulapu), the real son of the Sulu Sultan. Bolkeiah (Rajah Baginda/Nakoda Ragam/Parameswara, the one referred by Antonio Pigafetta as Rajah Humabon, pronounced "Umabong") fell in love with Leila Manchinai. After a lot of tests/tasks, Bolkeiah wins the hand of Leila Manchinai but they have found out that they are brother and sister. This Leila Manchinai is often referred as Putri Paramisuli, Hang Liu, Hang Li Po (Hang-cheu-fu, the previous name of Peking or Beijing or the Tagalog phrase, "Sangli po" which means a Chinese mestiza), Ming, and Amihan (the Queen Juana of Cebu and the Layla Manjanay of the Tausugs in Sulu. It tells also about the conflict between Bolkeiah and Kali Pula over the Sri Vijayan throne, the battle of Mactan in Asian context, and the death of Bolkeiah and Leila Manchinai (Malay-Arabic for Northern Chinese Princess). I hope that you will be enlightened. And I want you to remember that during that era Southeast Asia was a one vast empire divided by many kingdoms and not by countries as we often interpret it.
The above author may not have heard the possibility that zabag or Javaka is not Java but Savaka which is a Sanskrit word for people of Sabang, or People of Sapa as in Kingdom of Sapa or Lusung Kingdom as it was known later.
Indian empires of the 12th century
Was there any historical empire of the 12th century that indeed extended over the Three Indias?
There was one maritime empire that could possibly fit if one only sees the dominion extending to parts of the Three Indias. It was known in Chinese texts as Sanfotsi and among the Muslims as Zabag.
Sanfotsi/Zabag could fit the bill if one accepts the historical texts at their word, which not all modern scholars are willing to do.
Chinese geographical texts like the Chu-fan-chi (1225) of Chau Ju-Kua mention that Sanfotsi ruled over numerous kingdoms within insular and mainland Southeast Asia. They further extend the rule of this kingdom to Si-lan or Ceylon.
The Muslim geography of al-Masudi confirms this latter claim when it states that Zabag, widely considered the equivalent of the Chinese Sanfotsi, ruled over Sirandib, the Arabic name for Ceylon.
Furthermore, the geography of Ma Tuan-lin (circa 1200) states that Chou-lien, was a vassal of Sanfotsi, verifying the same claim in the Sung-shih (960 - 1279). Chou-lien was the Chinese name for the Chola empire of India3. Again, the Chinese claim is verified by Arab geographers who state that Kalikut was among the dependencies of Zabag.
The Chola emperor Rajendrachola claimed to have made some conquests himself in the East Indies. However, his statements have no support from independent sources, i.e., Chinese, Muslim or other historians. Even Rajendrachola's son only claimed one of these victories -- that of Kadaram, possibly the state of Kataha in Malaysia.
The Chinese and Muslim accounts gain support from substantial evidence of royal influence from insular Southeast Asia in India at this time. Pali texts from 13th century Ceylon mention "Savaka" princes on the island.
As mentioned earlier, Sanfotsi/Zabag was known by the Indians as Suvarnadvipa:
"the eastern islands in this ocean (Sea of Champa), which are nearer to China than India, are the islands of Zabaj, called by the Hindus, Suvarnadvipa, i.e. the gold islands... because you obtain much gold as deposit if you wash only a little of the earth of that country."
(Al-Biruni, 1030 AD)
The monarchs of Suvarnadvipa were very active among the Cholas. In 1005, a Suvarnadvipa king built a Buddhist vihara in the Chola state, which the Chola king granted revenues4. In 1014-1015, gifts were sent for a Hindu temple5, and again in 1018-10196. In the 1080s, the king of Suvarnadvipa built the foundation for a Buddhist temple in South India7.
If we accept the historical claims of the Chinese and Muslim texts, then two of the three Indias would be covered so far. Or at least we can say that Sanfotsi/Zabag extended over significant parts of these two Indias. But what about the third India in East Africa?
We know that at an earlier period, Austronesian seafarers from insular Southeast Asia settled on the island of Madagascar forming the Malagasy-speaking population of the island. However, not many people are aware of the fact that during the medieval period, both regions maintained substanial contact with each other.
The Book of the Wonders of India, written by a Muslim author mentions in 945 an expeditionary raid off the East African coast by a fleet of 1000 ships from the East Indies. Centuries later in 1154, the Arab geographer Idrisi wrote in Kitab Rujjar that "the people of the isles of Zabag come to the land of Zanj on small and large ships...for they understand one another's languages." He also states: "The residents of Zabag go to the land of Sofala (near Beira, Mozambique) and export the iron from there supplying it to all the lands of India. No iron is comparable to theirs in quality and sharpness."
Idrisi, whose patron was Roger II of Sicily, also states about trade expeditions to Zanj: "The people of Komr (Khmer) and the merchants of the land of the Mihraj (ruler of Zabag) come among them (the Zanj) and are well received and trade with them."
Tanzanian traditions suggest that there was a settlement around Pemba and Zanzibar of a people they called the Debuli from �Diba� and Jawa8. They were supposed to be responsible for planting the coconut palms and mangoes along the Tanzanian coast. As we will examine in the section on the spice routes the relationship between the Tanzanian coast and the East Indies may extend back into deep antiquity. There are different theories as to where Diba and Jawa refer, but one possibility is that Diba is a form of Dabag, thought to be a Nestorian corruption of Zabag. Jawa can refer to any number of East Indian locations such as Java, Sabah, Davao, Toubok, etc. The Debuli were said to be a seafaring people whose ships had sails of coconut palm fiber.
That the kingdom of Sanfotsi/Zabag extended over a vast region that might be said to span the "Three Indias" we have this quote from Mas'udi:
"In the sea of Champa (eastern South China Sea) is the empire of Maharaja, the king of the islands, who rules over an empire without limit and has innumerable troops. Even the most rapid vessels could not complete in two years a tour round the isles which are under his possesssion. The territories of this king produce all sorts of spices and aromatics, and no other sovereign of the world gets as much wealth from the soil."
In the previous articles we have attempted to show the general location of medieval Sanfotsi/Zabag, which we also equate to Shambhala of the Tibetan texts and Prester John's kingdom as mentioned in the medieval letters.
Now we will try to narrow down the location. As already mentioned, we believe the principal port of Sanfotsi/Zabag was Lingayen in the Philippines. In the Chinese records, the name is rendered Ling-ya-mon and located about a month's sea journey due south of Tsu'an-chou.
Lingayen is located in northwest Luzon in the province of Pangasinan and is perfectly situated as a transit route for trade between China and points south and southeast, including the clove and nutmeg-bearing regions of Toupo.
However, the actual location of the king of Sanfotsi/Zabag may have been different than Lingayen. Indeed, Ling-ya-mon was said to be a port of call before entering Sanfotsi proper.
The capital of the empire was described by both Chinese and Muslim writers as a sort of Venice of Southeast Asia, with people living on boats or homes built over the water. The capital furthermore appeared to be located in a delta area frequented by ships. According to Abu Zayd the city of the Mihraj, the ruler of Zabag, was situated on an "estuary resembling the Tigris River which passes Bagdad and Basra, and brings in salt water during the high tide and sweet water during low tide."
Sulayman said that the capital of the Mihraj was located at a freshwater port easily accessed from the sea. It was also said to "face" the southern coast of China, i.e. it's location would be on the western side of an island opposite (east/southeast of) the south China coast.
The nearest delta area to Lingayen is the Pampanga River system that runs into the northern Manila Bay. The area was highly influential during the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, and was the scene of heavy resistance that eventually forced the Spanish into a pacification treaty.
When the Spanish arrived in the Philippines, related peoples lived from the Pampanga River delta region northward to the Gulf of Lingayen. The people living in the region were still at that time conducting long distance trade throughout Asia.
While the delta towns of Macabebe, Lubao and Betis boasted strong rulers and garrisons, there is evidence that in earlier times a flourishing trade center existed further north.
Prior to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo around the 14th century, the area around San Marcelino and Porac in the north had connection with the sea. In 1992, after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, evidence of a trading post including an old boat hull associated with Chinese ceramics and stone anchors was found. Interestingly, these finds are in a region known by the name Sambal1.
According to geologists, before the medieval eruption of Pinatubo the sea extended much closer to this region and presumably as the lahar filled in the existing areas southward the delta civilization moved accordingly to maintain their maritime trading enterprise.
However, the eruption apparently brought the trading civilization to a temporary halt around the 14th century. The dating corresponds very well with the time that Sanfotsi drops out of sight from Chinese historical literature.
The descriptions of Zabag tell of a constantly erupting volcano near the kingdom. Something similar may be hinted at in the letters attributed to Prester John which speak of rivers of sand or stone flowing from a mountain range into a sea of sand/stones. The description resembles what happens when lahar flows from a volcano to the ocean creating what looks like a "sea of sand."
The resemblance of the name Sambal to Shambhala has additional geographical significance in that the area consists of a mountainous range. The snow-covered peaks of Shambhala even have a possible explanation. The modern eruption of Pinatubo left the Sambal mountain peaks capped with grey/white layers of volcanic ash given a resemblance of snow. This might explain how Shambhala could at the same time have snow-covered peaks and lush tropical vegetation.
Chau Ju-Kua mentions that most people in the region had the surname "Pu." In the Pampanga region, the honorific "Apu" is used before someone's name as a sign of respect. The Chinese whose own surnames come at the beginning of their names might have confused the honorific with a surname.
The medieval texts state that Sanfotsi/Zabag like Toupo to the southeast consisted of a loosely confederated kingdoms that bonded together for specific purposes. Interestingly, the system in this region at the time of the Spanish arrival consisted of autonomous datus and rajas. These independent entities though consulted with a special authority accepted by all when it came to making new laws or addressing regional security concerns. This authority not only approved new laws by the datus and rajas but also the regulations of the native priests. Thus, he combined both temporal and sacredotal powers.2
There is substantial archaeological and linguistic evidence of Indic and specifically Buddhist influence in the Luzon region in general although admittedly much more work needs to be done. Most interesting are the examples of Tantric jewelry that have been discovered in the Philippine region.
And there still needs to be confirmation regarding influence of Nestorian Christianity in this area.
However, from the geographical and historical aspects, the Sambal region and the Pampanga River delta are the best bets for the location of the capital of Sanfotsi/Zabag with Lingayen as it's main port.
This post has been edited by trismegistos: Nov 7 2009, 06:35 AM
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