Indonesian Folklore: Tangkuban Perahu

Tangkuban Perahu

the story of sangkuriang

Artikel ini dalam Bahasa Indonesia

Mount Tangkuban Perahu is a stratovolcano located 30 km north of Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. It has erupted 16 times since the year of 1826, with the last one in 2013. It is a popular tourist place where tourists can hike to the crater's edge to view hot water springs. Tangkuban Perahu is a remnant of ancient Mount Sunda. The name Tangkuban Perahu, in Sundanese, means "an upturned boat". That refers to a famous West Java folklore of Sangkuriang. Here is the story.

Once upon a time, a god and a goddess committed a terrible sin. Batari Sunan Ambu, the queen of heaven in Sundanese myth, punished and incarnated them on earth as animals. The god became a dog named Tumang, while the goddess became a boar named Celeng Wayungyang. One day, a king went to a forest to hunt, but then got lost and separated from his guards. The king urinated upon the bushes and his urine accidentally collected in a coconut shell. Celeng, which happened to be in the vicinity, drank the king's urine to quench her thirst.

Unknown to her, the urine contained a bit of his sperm and that impregnated Celeng Wayungyang. Being an animal demigod, she became instantly pregnant and bore a child just hours later. The king, who was still in the forest, heard the baby crying and found her in the bushes. He took her back to his palace, adopted and raised her as his own daughter, never realizing that she was actually his real daughter. The baby girl grew up to be a beautiful girl named Dayang Sumbi and many nobles and princes proposed to marry her but none caught her interest. Her hobby was weaving and she spent most of her time creating numerous beautiful cloths and textiles. She usually did her weaving in an elevated pavilion in the garden.

One night, when she was weaving, a wooden cylinder to spin the threads fell out and into grounds outside the palace. As she was of nobility, she was forbidden to leave the palace on foot and was always carried around. But without anyone near to help her, she grew anxious to retrieve it. In her anxiety, she made a promise out loud:

"One who could find it for me will be rewarded, if she is a female, I will treat her as close as my own sister, and if he is a male I shall marry him."

Suddenly Tumang, the dog god came out of nowhere and retrieved the wooden cylinder for her. Princess Dayang Sumbi felt obliged to fulfill her promise and married him anyway, despite Tumang being a dog.

"Alright, dog. I will keep my promise. Because you are a male, I will marry you ..."

Naturally, the union caused an uproar scandal in the palace. The king was so embarrassed by the action of his daughter and banished her into the forest. Feeling sorry for her, the king built her a modest cottage in the forest and left her alone with Tumang. She soon discovered that Tumang is a supernatural being and during the full moon, was able to transform back into his original form as a handsome god. Dayang Sumbi lived in a daze for a while, thinking that it was a strange dream that once a month, a handsome man appeared to her and they made passionate love. Soon, Dayang Sumbi got pregnant and delivered a baby boy. The child was named Sangkuriang.

Sangkuriang grew up to be an active and strong boy. Then, when he was 10 years old, his mother came to him with her craving for deer liver and asked him to get one for her. Sangkuriang went for a hunt, accompanied by his dog, Tumang, which Sangkuriang still did not know that the dog was actually his father. However, on that day, there was no deer in the forest. Then, Sangkuriang suddenly spotted a wild boar, which was actually Celeng Wayungyang. He chased the boar and tried to shoot her with his arrows, but he missed it. Celeng managed to escape. So Sangkuriang ordered Tumang to pursue it.

"Tumang! Chase the boar! Catch it!" Sangkuriang ordered.

Several times Sangkuriang shouted at Tumang, but the dog still did not move at all to chase the boar. Tumang the dog knew that the boar was actually Sangkuriang's own grandmother. This made Sangkuriang became very angry.

"Hey, Tumang! What is happening with you? Why don't you obey my orders?"

Sangkuriang began to get angry with Tumang, threatening him with his arrows, which accidently slipped from his bow and hit Tumang's head. The dog died. This further devastated Sangkuriang, who now had to come home empty handed. So, he cut Tumang up and took his liver out to bring it back home. Sangkuriang returned home with the promised meat and she unsuspectingly cooked it. After the meal, Dayang Sumbi asked Sangkuriang to summon Tumang to give him his share of the cooked liver.

"Where is Tumang? You went for hunting with him, didn't you?" Dayang Sumbi asked.

Feeling guilty that he had killed his good friend, Sangkuriang confessed that the liver they had, was actually Tumang's.

"Sorry, mother ... I accidently killed him ... because Tumang did not follow my order to chase a boar ... The liver that we had for dinner was Tumang's ..."

Dayang Sumbi was so angry! She was very angry because Sangkuriang had killed her husband! Sangkuriang's own father!

"What did you say?! ... You killed him?! ... YOU REALLY KILLED HIM??!! ... OH MY GOD!!! ..."

Outraged and horrified, Dayang Sumbi hit Sangkuriang on the head with a big rice spoon, so hard that Sangkuriang bled. Sangkuriang had never seen his mother so angry and her horror at his actions shocked him so much that he runs out of the house into the forest. Convinced that his mother hated him for killing Tumang, Sangkuriang decided not to return home and sought out to live a life for himself in the forest. By now, Dayang Sumbi had calmed down, but failed to track Sangkuriang down in the forest. In her distress, she prayed to the gods to reunite her with her son someday and swore never to eat any type of meat ever again, henceforth becoming a vegetarian with a steady diet of raw vegetables with chili condiment or "Lalap" in Sundanese and rice.

In the wilderness, Sangkuriang was knocked down, fainted unconsciously because of the bleeding of his injured head. He was unconscious for a long time. When he woke up, he realized he was in a big cave and saw an old man he had never seen before sitting next to him.

"Who are you old man? Where am I?" Sangkuriang asked.

"Calm down, young man. I found you unconscious and seriously injured in the forest. You are now in my cave where I always meditate," the old man replied.

Then the old man began to ask questions about the origin of Sangkuriang. However, Sangkuriang could not remember a thing. He even forgot his own name. It turned out that Sangkuriang suffered amnesia as a result of getting hit on the head by his mother. The old man took care of Sangkuriang until his wounds healed and taught him the martial arts of Pencak Silat as well as supernatural powers. After several years being a student of the old man, Sangkuriang grew into a good-looking, powerful man. He can even summon and control heavenly spirits.

Sangkuriang put his strength and powers to good use by helping villagers in their fights against bandits and other troublemakers. Despite his carefree life, fate would intervene when he saw a beautiful woman in front of a small cottage on his way home through the forest. They started talking, chatting about many things. Then they spent more and more time together, eventually falling in love and made a plan to get married. Never once did Sangkuriang recognized the cottage to be his childhood home and the beautiful woman next to him to be his own mother.

Until one day, when Dayang Sumbi was brushing Sangkuriang's hair, she saw a scar on his head. Dayang Sumbi asked about it:

"What happened to your head?" asked Dayang Sumbi.

"Well ... I don't know ... I can't remember ..." replied Sangkuriang.

He could only tell Dayang Sumbi that an old man found him unconscious and seriously injured in the middle of the forest years ago. Hearing that, Dayang Sumbi was feeling pretty sure that the man was actually his own son, Sangkuriang! All the pieces fell together and she suddenly realized that she had fallen in love with her own son who had left her many years ago. Horrified, she knew that she could not marry her own son. Then she told him the whole truth and asked to call off the wedding. Sangkuriang did not believe her and insisted on going through with the wedding.

Seeing his son's attitude, Dayang Sumbi was getting worried. She tried to find ways to cancel the marriage. After thinking very hard, she finally found a way. Dayang Sumbi would ask Sangkuriang to do some impossible tasks as the conditions to marry her.

"If you insist on marrying me, you must fulfill two conditions," said Dayang Sumbi.

"What are those, Dayang Sumbi? Tell me!" Sangkuriang urged.

"Firstly, you have to build a great lake by filling the whole valley with water."

"Alright. And what's the other one?"

"Secondly, you have to build a very big boat. But, the lake and the boat must be completed in just one night!" said Dayang Sumbi.

"Alright, Dayang Sumbi! I will do whatever you want me to do," Sangkuriang answered with confidence.

Sangkuriang accepted the challenge. With the power of love and his supernatural powers, Sangkuriang began to summon and mobilize all of his heavenly spirits to help him complete the tasks. They dug the ground and arranged large rocks to stem the flow of Citarum river to form a lake. The river's water rose and filled the plain, transforming it into a lake. Then they cut down large and massive trees to build a very big boat. Just minutes after midnight, Dayang Sumbi secretly spied on Sangkuriang's work and his troops to see the progress. How surprised she was when she saw them almost completing all the tasks! Dayang Sumbi was upset.

She immediately ran to the nearest village to ask for help from the villagers to lay red silk cloth in the east direction where Sangkuriang and his troops worked. Shortly after the silk cloth woven by Dayang Sumbi was held, there was a reddish light in the east so it was as if it was morning. Roosters began crowing to each other. Sangkuriang's troops of heavenly spirits saw the red light and heard the sound of roosters crowing thought it was morning already. They immediately fled and left the boat nearing completion.

Tricked by Dayang Sumbi, Sangkuriang became so angry. With all his powers, he burst the dam that he had just built with his troops that a great flood ensued. Then he kicked the boat which was almost finished until it flew and fell face down. That said, the boat was then transformed into a mountain that is now known as Mount Tangkuban Perahu. The wood left over from the boat building became Mount Burangrang. The rest of the huge trees became Mount Bukit Tunggul and the lake became Lake Bandung. Sangkuriang was now frustrated, but he still refused to give up on Dayang Sumbi. In his despair, he tried to force himself on her.

Dayang Sumbi managed to break free and ran away from him. Sangkuriang chased her and he almost caught up with her at Mount Putri when Dayang Sumbi begged the gods to help her one last time. In response, she was transformed into a Jaksi flower, and Sangkuriang, who failed to find her, arrived at a place called Ujung Berung and disappeared into the magical world.


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