The Majapahit Empire (Indonesian: Kemaharajaan Majapahit, Malay: Empayar Majapahit) was a Javanese Hindu-Budhist thalasocractic empire in Southeast Asia, based on the island of Java (part of modern-day Indonesia), that existed from 1293 to circa 1527. Majapahit reached its peak of glory during the era of Hayam Wuruk, whose reign from 1350 to 1389 was marked by conquest which extended through Southeast Asia. His achievement is also credited to his prime minister, Gajah Mada. According to the Negarakretagama (Desawarñana) written in 1365, Majapahit was an empire of 98 tributaries, stretching from Sumatera to New Guinea consisting of present-day Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, southern Thailand, east Timor, Sulu Archipelago and other parts of the Phillipines, although the true nature of Majapahit sphere of influence is still the subject of studies among historians.
Majapahit was one of the last major Hindu empires of the region and is considered to be one of the greatest and most powerful empires in the history of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, one that is sometimes seen as the precedent for Indonesia’s modern boundaries. Its influence extended beyond the modern territory of Indonesia and has been the subject of many studies.
The name Majapahit derives from local Javanese, meaning “bitter maja”. German orientalist Berthold Laufer suggested that maja came from the Javanese name of Aegle Marmelos, Indonesian tree. The name originally referred to the area in and around Trowulan, the cradle of Majapahit, which was linked to the establishment of a village in Tarik timberland by Raden Wijaya. It was said that the workers clearing the Tarik timberland encountered some bael trees and consumed its bitter-tasting fruit that subsequently become the village’s name. It is a common practice in Java to name an area, a village or settlement with the most conspicuous or abundant tree or fruit species found in that region. In ancient Java it is common to refer the kingdom with its capital’s name. Majapahit (sometimes also spelled Mojopait) is also known by other names: Wilwatikta, although sometimes the natives refer to their kingdom as Bhumi Jawa or Mandala Jawa instead.
Surya Majapahit or the “The Sun of Majapahit” is the emblem commonly found in Majapahit ruins. Displaying the image of eight-pointed sun rays. The emblem consist of images of the 9 Hindu gods and 8 sun rays also symbolize Hindu gods arranged in eight cardinal points. Total 17 Hindu gods represented in Surya Majapahit are: Shiva, Vishnu, Sambhu, Isvara, Mahesora, Brahma, Rudra, Mahadeva, Sangkara, Kuvera, Isana, Indra, Agni, Yama, Nrtti, Varuna and Vayu.