From sabung ayam field of history, referring to Clifford Geertz’s essay, the word ‘fighting’ is a term for a rooster. And, he further says, the term has appeared in inscriptions in Bali in 922 AD. This term is used metaphorically to mean “hero”, “soldier”, “winner”, or “strong man”. Unfortunately Geertz did not explain where the inscription came from.
Talking about the historical background of cockfighting, Ani Rachmat and Agusmanon Yuniadi (2018) in their article Symbolism of the Rooster in the Cultural Development of the Community of Cianjur Regency, and I Wayan Gede Saputra KW (2016) in their article Cockfighting in Ancient Balinese Communities in the IX-XII Century, arrived at the same conclusion. Similar to Geertz, according to them the practice of cockfighting in Bali has been going on since the 10th century. If Rachmat and Yuniadi refer to the Sukawana inscription and the Batur Abang inscription; Saputra refers to the Trunyan inscription and the Sembiran inscription.
Unfortunately again, talking about the context of Balinese locality, Geertz did not explain the extent to which there are differences in meaning between cockfighting in the form of ‘tetajen’ and ‘tabuh rah’. Obviously, the two cockfighting rites differ in context and meaning. On the one hand, tetajen is a social rite that is profane in the form of gambling, and on the other hand, tabuh rah is a ritual that is sacred and religious in nature.
Sabung Ayam Tradition
Enter a chapter of history later. In the Pararaton Book, Ken Arok, before becoming King Singasari in the 13th century, is said to have been a cockfighter. History has also recorded that in the Shingasari Kingdom, a major political event occurred during a cockfighting moment. Raja Singhasari, who was in power at the time, Anusapati, was killed by his half brother, Tohjaya, when the king witnessed a cockfighting.
King Hayam Wuruk, who ruled the Majapahit Kingdom from 1350-1389, is also interesting. In those days it was customary to give people’s names to borrow the names of certain animals. Call it Kebo Anabrang, Lembu Sora or Gajah Mada, for example. The choice of the names of buffalo and elephant animals certainly has an association with the greatness of these figures. However, the name of the greatest king in the Majapahit era, Hayam Wuruk who also holds the title Maha Raja Sri Rajasanagara, actually uses the name chicken. As is well known, Hayam Wuruk means “Learned Chicken”.
Let’s look at Sulawesi. The Kingdom of Bone and the Kingdom of Gowa have been at war over the moment of a cockfighting event. It is said in 1562, the King of Gowa X, namely I Mariogau Daeng Bonto Karaeng Lakiung Tunipalangga Ulaweng (1548-1565) visited Bone. The arrival of this state guest was enlivened by a cockfighting party (masung manu ‘). The king of Gowa stakes 100 gold katie. The King of Bone at that time, La Tenrirawe Bongkange ‘put the panyula (one village) on the line.