Exploring the Historical Tapestry of Kedu: From Ancient Legends to Modern Preservation

The Residen Kedu official residence, turned Diponegoro Dedication Museum, captured the attention of netizens after the release of the mini-series “Gadis Kretek” in the first week of November 2023. This historic building, designed by JC Schule, stands as a testament to the rich history of Kedu, a region famous for its fertile land and advanced agriculture. In this article, we delve into the fascinating history of Kedu, tracing its roots from ancient legends to its role in the tumultuous events of the 19th century.

Constructed over eight years and completed in 1821, the Residen Kedu building served as the official residence for the head of the residency, overseeing several districts in the region. Today, the building has been repurposed as the Diponegoro Dedication Museum, preserving the legacy of a bygone era. The architectural style reflects the Indische Empire, and its preservation stands as a symbol of cultural heritage.

Long before the Residen Kedu building took shape, the region of Kedu held significance in ancient Javanese legends. According to the Serat Manik Maya, a Javanese manuscript, the fertility of Kedu’s land was attributed to the sweat of the gods, which turned into springs. The mountains Sindoro and Sumbing were said to have originated from the earth’s two heads, creating a picturesque landscape that still captivates visitors today.

The fertile lands of Kedu have been an agricultural hub for centuries, as evidenced by archaeological findings at the Liyangan site in Temanggung Regency. The carbon dating of artifacts suggests human activity in the area from the 2nd to the 11th centuries. Excavations unearthed farming tools, remnants of rice fields, and irrigation channels, providing a glimpse into the agricultural practices of the Medang Kingdom’s dynasties that once ruled the region.

The name “Kedu” is believed to have originated from the term “kedung,” meaning a hollow or basin, referring to the region’s topography nestled between mountain ranges. According to historical records, the name Kedu predates its designation as a district and residency, mentioned in inscriptions from the 9th and 10th centuries.

The turn of the 19th century witnessed significant changes in Kedu’s political landscape. Following the attack on Yogyakarta in 1812, the British, under Lord Minto, compelled the surrender of Kedu as part of the political agreement. Subsequently, Kedu was established as a new residency in 1813, with Magelang designated as the capital. The region underwent administrative changes over the years, reflecting the colonial powers’ influence.

Kedu played a crucial role during the Java War (1825–1830), a major armed conflict between Prince Diponegoro and Dutch colonial forces. The Residen Kedu became a focal point of the resistance, with Diponegoro eventually surrendering in 1830. The aftermath saw the reestablishment of Menoreh as a regency and the relocation of its capital to Temanggung.

As the 20th century unfolded, Kedu’s administrative structure evolved, incorporating additional regencies. The region’s significance persisted, blending historical preservation with contemporary development. Today, Kedu stands as a cultural and historical treasure, with the Residen Kedu building serving as a tangible link to its storied past.

Kedu’s journey from ancient legends to modern times is a tale of resilience, cultural richness, and historical significance. The preservation of landmarks like the Residen Kedu building and archaeological sites ensures that the legacy of Kedu continues to be celebrated and cherished by future generations. As we explore the threads of its history, Kedu emerges not just as a geographical location but as a living tapestry woven with the stories of its people and the events that shaped its destiny.