Back to Table of Contents
To next page
Note on the Inscriptions found on Java

In these inscriptions the word Jenggi is used (meaning Zanj). It can not be proven right now if this applies to East Africa or to Irian Yaya and nearby islands.
In the muslim world it was believed that Africa did not stretch south but east making Irian Yaya where people live resembling the Africans the most eastern part of Africa. People who really came from Africa would however also have been called Jenggi



given part of Idris’ map (upside down)





Some examples that make clear Papua and the surrounding area were called Jenggi:

-At the beginning of the eighth century the Sriwijaya King, Indrawarman, included a native bird of Jenggi (Papua) (the Cenderawasih, “bird of paradise”) in his tribute to the Chinese emperor. The presentation of a cenderawasih was noted in the Chinese Yearbooks. Other authors however say that other interpretations of this passage are possible.

-Hui-lin in his Ch’ieh Ching Yin I (737-820) when talking about the Kunlun people: There are many races and varieties of them thus there are the Zangis, the Turmi, the Kurdang and the Khmer.

-Masudi (± 915) talks about the sea of China or Sandji, which is the furthest of all. G. P. Rouffaer identifies this with the sea of Djenggi or Papoea-sea from the Javanese history.
Other authors however say that what is meant here is the sea of Japan.

-Yang Xiu and Song Qi :Xin T'angshu (New history of the Tang Dynasty) (1060)
The book mentions an island called kat-kat Zangi country which was an island of the northwestern corner of Sumatra.

- Chia Tan in 800 mentions the Straits of Ko-Ko-seg-ti-Kuo (straits of Singapore)

-Chao yu Kua ± 1200 mentions Tung ki, which authors think is the Jenggi or Papua
The book of Chu-fan-chi mentioned that Java was ruled by a maharaja, that rules several colonies: Pai-hua-yuan (Pacitan), Ma-tung (Medang), Ta-pen (Tumapel), Hi-ning (Dieng), Jung-ya-lu (Hujung Galuh), Tung-ki (Jenggi, west Papua), Ta-kang (Sumba), Huang-ma-chu (Southwest Papua), Ma-li (Bali), Kulun (Gurun, identified as Gorong or Sorong in Papua or an island in Nusa Tenggara), Tan-jung-wu-lo (Tanjungpura in Borneo), Ti-wu (Timor), Pingya-i (Banggai in Sulawesi), and Wu-nu-ku (Maluku).


- Ibn Majid’s navigational tract from 1462 mentions Salat Zanji (the Zanji Strait) close to the Karimun islands.


- Sanghyang siksakanda ng karesian (Book of Rules for the State from the Wise) (1518) The text is from Galuh (a capital city of the Sunda Kingdom).

If you wish to take action, do not misdirect your questions. If you wish to know the speech of foreign lands, like the speech of Cina, Keling, Parasi,Mesir, Samudra, Banggala, Makasar, Pahang, Kala(n)ten, Bangka, Buwun,Beten, Tulangbawang, Sela, Pasay, Parayaman, Nagara Dekan, Dinah,Andeles, Tego, Maloko, Badan, Pego, Malangkabo, Mekah, Buretet, Lawe,Saksak, Se(m)bawa, Bali, Jenggi, Sabini, Ngogan, Kanangen, Kumering,Simpang Tiga, Gumantung, Manumbi, Babu, Nyiri, Sapari, Patukangan,Surabaya, Lampung, Jambudipa, Seran, Gedah, Solot, Solodong, Indragiri,Tanjung Pura, Sakampung, Cempa, Baluk, Jawa, and all other kinds of foreign lands, ask the Polyglot.(Jenggi is here among the islands of Indonesia)

I make however a so complete as possible list of all inscriptions found as they are so often mentioned by writers to be related to African people and try to give a translation. Mentions that clearly refer to Papua are not listed. The translations tend to show Jenggi are African.

A map of Java showing the geographical distribution of the inscriptions containing the word Jenggi. All date from after 1000AD. All older uses of the word in inscriptions have turned out to be later copies.
The language used is always old Javanese  (also called Kawi). This language was only spoken in East and Central Java. After the middle ages the word Jenggi spread to middle-Javanese and also to a number of other languages in South East Asia and has today the meaning of African.

Black people as servants were rather common in the middle ages in Java as is attested in the sculptures of the temples of Borobodur and Prembanan. Most of them will have had other origins then Africa.

A figure of a black women from Java 1350

Arguments that could influence the discussion if the Black people concerned really came from Africa is the existence of words for people from New Guinea. The word bondan is translated as slave from Papua origin in old Dutch translations but the recent Old Javanese-English Dictionary by Petrus Josephus Zoetmulder, 1982 gives this translation with a question mark. It has however no other translations to give for the word bondan. An argument for bondan to be Papua slaves is the similar word wandan which surely means negrito from Papua. Also the word Pujut is translated as Negrito. And pawulungwulung in which wulung literally means black and which is sometimes also used besides jenggi and bondan and pujut (these last three are mostly used together)
Example: The inscription: wenan ahuluna(to own as slaves) pujut(Negrito slave) bondan(slave from Papua? origin) jengi(black slave) 
The context in which the word Jengi is used in the inscriptions is always an enumeration of different categories of slaves. And then statements are made that the community is allowed to own those kinds of slaves or that those kind of slaves belonging to neighboring officials are not allowed to show up in that community. In books the word appears also and not always in lists of slaves


Another argument in the discussion is how big the influence of the muslim merchands was in the then existing
nations. Added is an analyses from Chinese sources on the names of the envoys from one specific country in
South East Asia. The analysis when repeated for other countries gives the same result.

Taken from: Islam dan kebudayaan Melayu – by Mahdini

Muslim envoys from Srivijaya to the Chinese court.


962 Deputy Envoy                               Li A-mu (Li Muhammad)

971 Envoy                                           Li Ho-mu (Li Muhammad)

975 Envoy                                           P’u T’o-han (Abu Adam)

980 Foreign Merchant                         Li Fu-hui (Abu Hayya)

983 Envoy                                           P’u-ya-t’o-lo (Abu Abd Allah)

985 Owner of the ship                         Chin-hua-ch’a (Hakim Khwajat)

988 Envoy                                           P’u-ya-t’o-li (Abu Abd Allah)

1008 Deputy Envoy                             P’u-p’o-lan (Abu Bahram)

            Ma-ho-wo (Muhammad)

1017 Envoy                                          P’u-mo-hsi (Abu Musa)

1028 Envoy                                          P’u-ya-t’o-lo-hsieh (Abu Abd Allah)

1155 Envoy                                          Ssu-ma-chieh (Isma’il)

             P’u-chin (Abu Sinah)

             P’u-hsia-‘erh (Abu Aghani)

             P’u-ya-t’o-li (Abu Abd Allah)