Sangkuriang (Indonesian Folk Tales – 10)


This is the story of Princess Dayang Sumbi, of West Java. She had a son named Sangkuriang. The child was very fond of hunting and often went to the woods nearby his palace to hunt. He was accompanied by his pet dog – Tumang, on his hunts.

One day, try as he might, Sangkuriang could not get Tumang to follow his orders to chase a boar he was hunting. Angered, sangkuriang beat the dog till it died. He left the dead dog in the woods and returned home alone. When he returned to the palace, Sangkuriang narrated the day’s events to his mother. Dayang Sumbi was horrified that her son had killed his good friend. She hit her son with a rice spoon hard on his head. Sangkuriang was injured. But he was more upset and ashamed than he was injured. He left the palace and went wandering.

Dayang Sumbi was very sorry now. She sent her men far and wide in search of Sangkuriang, but to no avail.

Dayang Sumbi was a very pious woman. The gods became pleased with her devotion and granted her the gift of eternal youth and timeless beauty.

Years passed. Sangkuriang had seen enough of the world to satisfy his wanderlust. He eventually decided to return to his homeland. On arrival, he found that his kingdom had changed so much since he left. He walked around the markets and streets, enjoying each sight. His eyes fell upon a beautiful girl standing at a stall. Sangkuriang was so fascinated by her beauty, he decided to woo her. Sangkuriang asked the girl to marry him, not knowing that she was none other than Dayang Sumbi. Dayang too was taken by this very handsome young man and agreed to marry him.

A few days later, Sangkuriang decided to go hunting. He asked Dayang to help him fasten his headband. She was about to tie it on his head while she noticed scars on Sangkuriang’s forehead. The scar reminded her of her son.

Dayang quizzed Sangkuriang about the scar and he narrated how he got the scar. Dayang was elated and frightened at the same time. She stared at Sangkuriang – he was indeed her son!

She had to call off the marriage somehow. She thought for a long time and finally came up with a plan. She summoned Sangkuriang and placed two conditions before him, fulfilling which she would marry him. First, he was to build a dam across the Citarum river. The second condition was that he build a canoe, which was as long as the width of the Citarum river. He was to complete both tasks before the next dawn.

Sangkuriang was perplexed. Nevertheless, he agreed. He prayed to the gods and did penance that night. He was able to get supernatural beings to help him with his work. The work progressed at a very fast pace.

Dayang Sumbi was watching this from her window. She knew that if work progressed at this pace, Sangkuriang would fulfill both conditions before dawn. She summoned her servants immediately and ordered them to hold up sheets of red silk to the east of the city.

Sangkuriang mistook the red colour for the rays of the rising sun. He stopped working and returned to the palace, only to realize that he has been tricked. Still, he had failed to fulfill both conditions. He broke the dam he built and Citarum flooded the city. He kicked the canoe he had made. The boat turned upside down and fell, and transformed into the “Tangkuban Perahu” mountain.

Sangkuriang refused to give up Dayang Sumbi. In his despair, he tried to force himself on Dayang Sumbi. She managed to break free and ran away from him. Sangkuriang gave chase and when he almost caught up with her at Gunung Putri, Dayang Sumbi begged to the Gods to help her one last time.

She was transformed into a Jaksi flower by the Gods. Sangkuriang searched and searched in the forests, but failed to find her. He kept calling out her name and died a mad man.

Indonesian Folktale – retold by Elan (2014). Not to be copied / duplicated or republished without permission

One comment on “Sangkuriang (Indonesian Folk Tales – 10)

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