Samudera Pasai Sultanate

Samudera Pasai Sultanate

Samudera Darussalam
Map of Pasai, at today's Lhokseumawe of Sumatra, Aceh province.
Map of Pasai, at today's Lhokseumawe of Sumatra, Aceh province.
Common languagesMalay language
Sunni Islam
• 1267–1297
Malik ul Salih (founder)
• 1514–1517
Zainal Abidin IV (last)
• Coronation
• Portuguese invasion
CurrencyDirham coins
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Aceh Sultanate
Portuguese Empire
Today part of Indonesia

Samudera Pasai, also known as Samudera or Pasai or Samudera Darussalam or Pacem, was a Muslim harbour kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra from the 13th to the 16th centuries CE. The kingdom was believed to have been founded by Merah Silu, who later converted to Islam and adopted the name Malik ul Salih, in the year 1267 CE.

Little evidence has been left to allow for historical study of the kingdom.[1]


Based on the local literature Hikayat Raja-raja Pasai, 'Samudera' can be inferred to have come from the word 'Semudera' ([səmudəra]), which meant 'a very large ant'.[2] The name was given by Merah Silu when he discovered an ant as large as a cat while hunting at a 'high ground'.[2] Eventually, the place was cleared for the establishment of a new state and 'Semudera' was adopted as its name.[2]

'Samudera' is also theorised to have been derived from Samudra meaning ocean in Sanskrit and Tamil.

The literature also indicates the origin of the name 'Pasai' which came from Si-Pasai, the hunting dog of Sultan Malik al Salleh, who was Merah Silu after his conversion to Islam.[2][3] The legend narrates that Sultan Malik al Salleh, while hunting with the dog, encountered a deer which was not afraid of the dog's barking but instead barked back. He was bewildered by this and thought that this might be a good sign for the place to be established as a new state for his son Sultan Malik Al Tahir.[3] The dog died after the state was established.[3] Sultan Malik al Salleh buried the dog there and he eventually named the place after it.[3]

In the 14th century, the Italian traveller Odoric of Pordenone used the name Sumoltra for Samudra, and subsequent European writers also used similar forms of the name to refer to the Sumatra island itself.[4][5]