Telling Story


West Java – Indonesia

         In ancient time in West Java, there lived a wise king called Prabu Tapa Agung who reigned in Pasir Batang Kingdom. The king fathered seven daughters; each of them had an unbearably beautiful look. They were Purbararang, Purbadewata, Purbaendah, Purbakancana, Purbamanik, and the youngest, Purbasari. Of the princesses, five of them were already married and being queens for other kingdoms. Only Purbararang and Purbasari were yet to get married. Purbararang, however, had already had a fiancé, a well-built and agreeable man called Raden Indrajaya. He was a son of one of the king’s ministers.

          In the last few days, Prabu Tapa Agung often sat alone looking mourning on his throne. There seemed to be a big problem in his mind. So the queen tried to talk to him.

          “My husband, you’ve been looking sad for days. What is it bothering you? Maybe I can help,” asked the queen in a soothing voice.

          “Oh, honey, I am getting old. I could no longer lead this kingdom well. I’ve been thinking of stepping down. But…” said Prabu Tapa Agung.

          “But what, my husband?” asked the queen again.

          Prabu Tapa Agung told her that he could not yet decide which one of Purbabarang and Purbasari would succeed him. According to the reigning traditional law, the most rightful successor would be Princess Purbabarang as she was the oldest daughter. But the king himself did not think she would fit the position, knowing her traits. She was an arrogant, boastful, and sly woman. Purbabarang frequently made a tactless decision that caused bad situations. The king preferred his youngest daughter to replace him. Contrary to her sister, she was kind, wise, and clever. In the end, the king made up his mind. Purbasari would be queen once he retired.

         Purbabarang refused the decision. She could not accept that her father favored Purbasari over her. Feeling she deserved to be queen, Purbabarang lamented the bad news to her fiancé.

         “My father is being unfair. He is planning to crown Purbasari instead of me. I am his oldest child for God’s sake,” moaned the princess.

           Raden Indrajaya, Purbabarang’s fiancé, became angry at once.

“It can’t happen that way. You’re the real queen!” shouted him.

“What do we do?” Purbabarang panicked.

“We need to get rid of your impudent sister,” said Indrajaya.

After a long discussion, they decided to see a psychic, Ni Ronde. They asked her for help to cast a spell on Purbasari.

Several days later, Pasir Batang Palace burst into a tumult. All of a sudden, Princess Purbasari was struck by a bizarre illness. She felt itchy all over her body and there were black spots on her skin. The king was surprised to see his dearest princess’ condition. He called a few medicine men right away but she did not get better. Purbabarang, meanwhile, took advantage of the adversity. She urged her father to send Purbasari into exile.

“Father, maybe this is what we get when we don’t comply with our tradition. The ancestors must be offended and cursing Purbasari. I’m afraid our entire kingdom will get the curse too,” reasoned Purbabarang.

          Prabu Tapa Agung was coaxed. Reluctantly, he moved his youngest daughter to the forest to ensure that the kingdom would stay safe. Purbasari realized she did not have any other choices than to accept everything.

           The king commanded his prime minister, Uwak Batara Lengser, to take Purbasari to the jungle. After making a hut for the princess deep in the wood, the kind-hearted prime minister advised the princess, “Be patient, Princess. This hardship shall end soon, may God protect you. I will come here every now and then to deliver food and drink. You’d better take a rest now.”

           “Thank you, Uncle. Your word calms me down,” said Purbasari.

          Since then, Purbasari lived alone in the jungle. To amuse herself, every morning she took a stroll around to see the landscape and have fun with the animals. In only a few days, she had already made a lot of friends. The animals were so kind to her. They helped the princess to get fruits.

          One day, while Purbasari was playing around with the animals, someone was staring from afar. It turned out that he was a lutung, black monkey. He came over to the hut before long. The princess was taken aback when she realized a scary creature standing beside her.

“What are you doing, monkey? Please leave!” Purbasari looked scared.

“Don’t be afraid of me, Princess. I won’t do any harm,” answered the monkey.

Purbasari was even more frightened to know that the monkey could speak like human.

“Who are you?” she asked timidly.

          “My name is Guruminda, the son of Sunan Ambu who dwells in heaven. I did something bad that I was expelled to earth in this body,” the monkey explained.

          The princess calmed down. Asking no more questions, she smiled and introduced herself. Their situation was almost similar as both were expelled to the jungle. They soon became good friends. Since then, Purbasari called the monkey Lutung Kasarung, meaning the lost monkey. Wherever the princess went, the monkey was behind her. He helped her pick fruits every time she felt hungry.

          On a full-moon night, quietly Lutung Kasarung went to a tranquil place to meditate. There, he begged God to help Princess Purbasari get rid of her illness. Not long after that, the ground on which he sat turned into a pond. The water was so pure, fresh, and fragrant. When the sun beamed its light at daybreak, Lutung rushed to see Purbasari to take her to the pond.

“Hey, Tung!” Purbasari was confused.

“Where are you taking me to? Oh, here. What a beautiful pond that is.”

“Get in the water, Princess. It will cure you,” said Lutung Kasarung.

          Purbasari slowly walked into the water. Miraculously, just a moment after she soaked herself in the pond, the black spots on her skin disappeared, leaving no traces whatsoever. Her skin was back clean and immaculate as it had used to. She was speechless, being amazed and happy at the same time.

        “Thank you, Tung. Very kind of you,” said her gratefully.

        What happened that morning only made Purbasari love the monkey more. Never did she complain about living with him and other animals in the jungle. Her heart had meld with the jungle life, forgetting her real home.

        One day, Prime Minister Uwak Batara Lengser visited her and got taken aback to know that the princess had got rid of her illness. He then tried to take her back to the palace.

        “My Princess, for the sake of your father, would you come back to our palace?” said the prime minister.

        Deep inside her heart, Purbasari felt so hard to leave the jungle. But then she realized that it was not her place to be with the animals and that she was more needed in the palace.

        “Well, Uncle, let’s go back home. But on one condition, you have to let me bring Lutung along. He has helped me greatly that I won’t be able to thank him enough,” said the princess.

          “As you wish, my Princess. I think the king would love to see that monkey,” said the prime minister.

         Princess Purbasari went back to the palace with Prime Minister Uwak Batara Lengser and Lutung Kasarung. There they were welcomed cheerfully by the whole palace, except Princess Purbararang and Raden Indrajaya. While the others were laughing and crying in happiness, the mean couple was busy devising another plan.

        “Father, I don’t agree with your decision to enthrone Purbasari. I am your most rightful heir. For justice, Father, I urge you to hold a contest. The winner will get the throne, the loser will get hanged,” said Purbararang.

        No matter how he did not like the idea, for justice Prabu Tapa Agung granted Purbararang’s wish. There was going to be two contests: cooking contest and long-hair contest. Urged by her father, Purbasari accepted the challenge.

        “Don’t you worry, Princess! I sure will help you,” whispered Lutung Kasarung.

        “Thanks, Lutung. I hope you will,” answered Purbasari.

       On the given day, the people of Pasir Batang gathered in the palace court to see the contest. Not long after, the two daughters of Prabu Tapa Agung came up. The first was cooking contest, in which the tastier food would determine the winner.

       When ready, a gong was hit to start the contest. Purbararang promptly prepared the spices, helped by tens of royal servants. Purbasari, on the contrary, tried to do things as quick as she could with only Lutung Kasarung lending her a hand. Soon after, Purbararang was almost done. She seemed happy to see her sister start panicking. But then, Lutung used his supernatural power. He called some heaven’s fairies to get down to earth and help Purbasari. Nobody could see them. Aided by the fairies, Purbasari finished cooking in time with much tastier food. She finally came out as the winner.

         Going on to the second contest, in which their hair-lengths would be compared, Purbabarang was confident. She untied her hair to show how long it was. The princess’ hair was dark and thick and hung to below her knees.

        “Come on, Purbasari! Show me your hair! You won’t win again this time!” said Purbararang arrogantly.

        Purbasari bowed her head, speechless. Her hair was no more than waist long.

        “Why quiet, Princess?” asked Lutung Kasarung who stood beside her.

         “Well I’m losing this one, Lutung,” whispered Purbasari.

           “Don’t you worry, Princess. I will call some fairies to make your hair longer,” said the monkey.

          Not long after Lutung Kasarung meditated, another flock of fairies came to lengthen Purbasari’s hair without anybody noticing. When the princess untied her hair, everyone was amazed. It was a dark, sparkling, soft hair hung loose to her heels. Purbararang could not believe what she just saw. She was embarrassed and shocked as her sister got the better of her again. But she did not run out of ideas at all. She called on his father for another contest: which one was handsomer between the princess’ men.

“If Purbasari wins again, I won’t mind to get hanged,” said Purbararang in front of the people.

         Prabu Tapa Agung was not sure about the contest as Purbasari had not had any men with her yet. If some random man was commanded to be her fiancé at the time, he could not be handsomer than Indrajaya. Purbasari, however, was willing to take the challenge. The king nodded his head.

           Proudly, Purbabarang came out on the stage holding Indrajaya’s arm. “O, people of Pasir Batang! Have a look at my fiancé, Indrajaya! I will sure be queen of this kingdom, won’t I?” exclaimed Purbararang.

          Everyone would agree that Indrajaya was indeed a charming man. Nobody could match his look. They were sure that Purbasari would lose this time, moreover when she awkwardly got on the stage with Lutung Kasarung.

“This is my future husband!” said Purbasari proudly.

“Yes, this monkey is my fiancé!” she yelled again.

          Purbararang, Indrajaya, and the rest of people laughed at the seemingly disturbed princess.

“Hey, Purbasari! Isn’t there any handsomer monkey than that one?” mocked Purbararang.

         Lutung Kasarung was insulted. He could not stand seeing Purbasari being a subject of despising laughter. He tried to gather power to turn into his original form. Apparently, after what he did to Purbasari, heaven forgave all his wrongdoings. A moment later, he changed into the charismatic and handsome Guruminda. Everybody was mesmerized by his look, including Purbasari herself.

         With Purbasari winning the contest, she inherited the throne of the kingdom. Purbasari and Indrajaya should be hanged for losing but Purbasari did not have the heart to do that. She did not want to kill her own sister. She cancelled the punishment and let her sister stay in the palace with her.

         Purbasari became the Queen of Pasir Batang Kingdom. She was known to be a wise leader in his prosperous and peaceful homeland.


 Far away in an isolated village there was a young rich woman. The house that she had been living in was very big. Her wealth was plentiful. The young woman lived by herself. She didn’t have any friend at all.

“Wouw, I am very rich! Ha…ha…ha, I am the richest woman in this village!” said the young woman while she was looking at her gold and jewelries. It was so pity, that the young woman was very miserly. Her plentiful wealth never been used to help others.

“All of the wealth is mine, isn’t it? So what am I give it all to other for?” The young woman thought. However, many of villagers were poor. They lived in less condition. Sometimes some villagers were hunger, and didn’t get any food for days.

Because of the young woman miserly, the villagers called her Bagenda Endit. Bagenda Endit meant the miserly rich person. “Bagenda Endit, have mercy on me! My child has not eaten for few days”, said an old woman sadly.

“Hi, you crazy old woman! Get away from me!” yelled Bagenda Endit threw the old woman away. Because the old woman didn’t want to go, Bagenda Endit splashed her with water. Splash!, and all over the old woman body and her baby became wet.

Bagenda Endit was a feeling less woman. She didn’t even have a little bit mercy to the old woman and her baby. She even got more angry. After that, she asked the old woman to get out of her house yard. And then, she was dragging her out of the yard.

Although Bagenda Endit was very miserly, the village people kept coming in. The came for the water wheel. “No, I won’t let you to take away the water from my wheel! The water in the wheel is mine!” Bagenda Endit yelled angrily.

“Ha…ha…ha…you’re all stupid! You think you just can take the water from my wheel!” Bagenda Endit said while she was watching the thirst villagers outside the fence. Suddenly, a decrepit man was standing in Bagenda Endit house yard. He was walking tottery to the wheel while holding his stick.

When the old man was trying to take the water, Bagenda Endit saw it. Then, she hit the old man with a founder. “Have mercy on me Bagenda Endit! I want to take the water just for a drink”, said the old man when he was trying to get up.

Bagenda Endit kept beating the old man. And then, an astonishing thing happened. Suddenly the old man got up with a healthy body. He walked closer to Bagenda Endit. He pointed his stick at the cruel rich woman’s nose.

“Hi, Bagenda Endit, take the punishment from me!” said the old man loudly. Then he pointed at the wheel with his stick. Wus…byuur, the wheel was sprinkling the water swiftly. Not long enough, the water was flooding up. Bagenda Endit couldn’t save herself. She drawn with all of her wealth.

The village was disappeared. The thing that left was a wide and deep lake. The lake was named Situ Bagendit. Situ means a wide lake. It was named Situ Bagendit, because the wide lake came from a wheel that belongs to Bagenda Endit. (taken from the legend of Situ Bagendit)



 Once upon a time, in the coastal area of Sumatra, lives a poor family. The family had a kid named Malin Kundang. Due to very poor condition of their families, Malin kundang’s father decided to go to the country side.

Malin kundang and his mother hope that he could bring some money and support their daily needs. Time after time, they wait for him, but he did not come. They even believed that he is already dead.

Feeling sad, Malin kundang thought that he could make a living in the country side in the hope that later on when returning to my hometown; he has become a very rich. Finally Malin kundang go sailing along with a merchant ship captain in his hometown that has been successful.

 Kehidupan Malin Kundang Sebagai Pelaut

During his stay on the ship, Malin kundang lot to learn about seamanship on the crew that has been experienced. Malin studied hard on his friends shipping on more experienced, and ultimately he’s very good at shipping.

Many islands have been, up to a day in the middle of the trip, suddenly Malin kundang ships were attacked by pirates. All merchandise traders who were on the ship seized by pirates. Even most of the crew and people on the ship were killed by the pirates. Malin kundang very lucky he was not killed by the pirates, because when it happened, Malin immediately hid in a small space enclosed by the timber.

Malin Kundang floats amid sea, until finally the host ship stranded on a beach. With the rest of the existing power, Malin Kundang walked to the nearest village from the beach. Arriving in the village, Malin Kundang told the ntives about the incident that happened to him. Malin village where villagers stranded is very fertile. With tenacity and perseverance in work, over time Malin had become a very rich. He has many fruit merchant ships with the children of more than 100 people. After becoming rich, Malin Kundang marry a girl to become his wife.

Kembalinya Malin 

 After a long marriage, Malin and his wife make the voyage with a large and beautiful ship with the crew and a lot of bodyguards. Malin kundangs wife want to know his husbands hometowns. In the other side, poor Malin kundang mothers was worried about his son, and goes to the beach everyday, hope that her son will be back from the journey. She saw a very beautiful ship landed on the town harbour. Malin’s mother who always checks every ship that arrived, hoping there is his son among the passenger, surprised to see a man. She founds out that he is her son Malin kundang.

Malin Kundang stepped down from the ship. Once close enough, his mother saw the birthmarks on Malin kundangs arm. She is now convinced that Malin is her son. Missed so much, she hug his son and asked “Malin Kundang, my son, why did you go so long without sending any news to me?”. Arrogantly, Malin immediately released her mother’s arms and pushed him up to fall. “Old women, I do not know who you are” said Malin Kundang at his mother. Malin Kundang pretended not to recognize her mother, because of shame with her mother who is old and wearing tattered clothes. “She was your mother?” Malin’s wife asks him. “No, he was just a beggar who pretended to be admitted as a mom to get my property”.


Kutukan Ibu Malin

Hearing statement and treated arbitrarily by his son, the mother of Malin kundang is very angry. He did not expect him to be rebellious child. Because anger is mounting, Malin’s mother tipped his hand, saying “Oh God, if he my son, I curse him became a stone.” Malin’s mother goes away with sad feelings. Knowing that his only son, which she always loves and missed all days, come and treat her like that.

Malin kundang and his crew departed shortly after visiting the hometown.Soon after departed, the calm, nice weather suddenly changed. The winds roared fierce and storms come to destroy the ship Kundang. Malin himself knows that it might be the curse from his own mother. That makes Malin prays, to beg a mercy from the God. The ship are destroyed and dumped into the beach. Malin’s body and the shipwrecks scattered. After that Malin’ body slowly becomes rigid and in time they finally shaped into a rock. Malin’s mothers feel sorry about her son’s fate. But it was too late.

In moslem tradition, it is believed that prays from the parents are easily granted by God, either bad or goods. This story told people to be humbles and do not forget his family after being successful, the story also told the parents that they must not easily pray a bad things to their children, and guide their children with care and lots of patients



 Once upon a time there was a prosperous village in a far away island called Sumatra. In northern part of the island, lived a farmer whose name was Toba. He lived alone in a hut by a small forest. He worked on his farmland to grow rice and vegetables that he sells to local market. Once day he wanted to catch some fish so he went to a river and fished there. He was very surprised when he got a big fish. The fish was as big as human being. Soon he went home and put the fish in his kitchen. He planned to cook the fish for his dinner that night. When he got to his house that afternoon he took a bath. Then as he walked into his bedroom after taking a bath Toba was very shocked. Do you want to know what happened?

There stood in his living room a very beautiful girl. The girl greeted him nicely. For a moment Toba was speechless. When he could control his emotion he asked her.

‘Who are you? What’s your name? Why suddenly you are here in my house?’

‘Pardon me if I surprised you Mr. Toba, but you took me here. I was the fish that you caught in the river. Now that I become a human being again, I would like to thank you and I will be your servant to express my thankfulness’

‘Were you the fish?’

‘Yes, I was the fish. Look at your kitchen’.

Toba immediately rushed to his kitchen and the fish was nowhere to be seen. He saw some gold coins instead.

‘Whose coins are these? Why there are some coins here?’

‘Those coins are mine. As I changed into human being my scales changed into gold coins’

‘Ok you can live here and work for me. Your room is over there’

‘Thank you very much Mr. Toba’

Since that day the beautiful girl lived in Toba’s house. Since she was very beautiful Toba fell in love with her and not long after that they got married. The girl married to Toba on one condition that he would never tell anybody about her past. Toba agreed to the condition. Several months later Toba’s wife delivered to a baby boy. Their son was healthy. Soon he grew up into a handsome boy. Toba named him Samosir. Unfortunately Samosir was a lazy boy. He did not want to work at all. When his father worked hard in his rice field and farm, Samosir just slept. When he was awake he talked a lot and he ate a lot. Toba was very disappointed with his son’s nature. He hoped that one day Samosir would change into a diligent boy. Day in and day out but Samosir never changed.

Toba used to go to his farm and rice field early in the morning. Then at midday his wife would bring him food. They used to eat lunch at their farm. As he was a teenager Toba and his wife tried to change his behavior. They ordered Samosir to bring food for his father for lunch while her mother stayed at home to do household chores. But Samosir never did his duty well. He always woke up very late. He woke up after midday. Then one day his mother forced him to bring the food.

‘Sam, wake up. Go to the farm and bring the food for your father. He must be very tired and hungry now’.But Mom, I am tired and hungry too’

‘What makes you tired? You just wake up. Go now. You father needs the food’

Toba reluctantly went to the farm. But he did not go to the farm immediately. He stopped somewhere in the street and ate the food. It was already late afternoon when he got to the farm. His father was disappointed. Then he was angry as he realized that his son had eaten his food. He said sarcastically.

‘O, you are stupid lazy boy. You are son of a fish!’

Samosir was hurt. He went home right away and as he got home he told his mother about his father’s words. Samosir’s mother was shocked. She was also deeply hurt.

‘O Toba. You break your promise so I cannot live with you here anymore. Now you have to accept to consequence of what you did. Samosir, now go to the hill, find the tallest tree and climb it’

‘Why mom? What will happen?’

‘Just do it, never ask any question. Good bye’

As soon as she finished saying that suddenly the weather changed. Sunny day suddenly turned into cloudy day. Not long after that the rain poured heavily. The rain last for several days. Consequently the area was flooded. The whole area became a big lake. Then it was called Lake Toba and in the middle of the lake there is an island called Samosir Island. Meanwhile Toba’s wife disappeared.

Lake Toba is located in the province of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Today it becomes a tourist destination.


  A long time ago in the village of Tarub, there lived a widow called Mbok Randha Tarub. Since the death of her husband, she took a boy as a son. Years passed by, the boy was now a man. People called him Jaka Tarub.

Jaka Tarub was a good guy. He liked to help other people. Every day he assisted his mother to cultivate their farm, from which they earned a living. Despite only a foster child, Jaka Tarub was much dear to Mbok Randha. She loved him like her own son.

Time was fleeting very fast. Jaka Tarub turned up a handsome and well-mannered man. Many girls dreamt to be his wife but the young man had never had a thought about starting a family. He wanted to make his mother happy first. Jaka worked very hard that the farm yielded abundant crops. Mbok Randha, who was very generous, shared them with her neighbors.

One day, Jaka and his mother were sitting around on the porch. “Jaka, my son. I see you have grown up very well. You have come to an age at which you should begin thinking of marrying someone. Go find a girl, Son, I want a grandchild,” said the old widow with a smile.

“But I don’t want to get married yet, Mbok,” answered Jaka.

“Who will take care of you after I die? You’ll need a woman, young man,” said Mbok Randha again.

“Don’t say that, Mbok. You’ll live long enough,” Jaka responded shortly.

Several days later, Jaka Tarub was taking a rest when he realized that he had not seen his mother that day. “It’s midday, but mother hasn‘t woke up. Strange…,” murmured Jaka Tarub. He went to his mother’s room. “Mother, are you sick?” asked Jaka while touching his mother’s forehead softly.

“I think so,” Mbok Randha answered weakly.

“You’ve got fever, Mother,” Jaka was surprised.  He rushed out to find some leaves to compress his mother. Sadly, Mbok Randha could not hang on. She breathed her last not long after.

The death of his mother left Jaka Tarub alone. He was often seen daydreaming. His farm was neglected. “It would be useless I’m working. Who will I share the rice with when it crops?” said Jaka to himself.

One night, Jaka dreamt of himself eating a deer meat. When awake in the morning, he found himself craving for the same meat he ate in his dream. That morning, Jaka went to the wood carrying a blowpipe. He strolled through big trees but there was no deer. He wondered where the animals went that he saw none of them. He was in a jungle where not many people had gone so it was really weird.

Jaka sat below a tree near a pond to take a rest. The cool breeze quickly sent him to sleep.

Then, faintly Jaka heard some women laughing from the pond. He opened his eyes, wondering who were there. He looked upon the pond. There were seven gorgeous women playing around in the water, having a good time. The young man Jaka was astounded by their extraordinary beauties. “They must be fairies,” Jaka thought. At the edge of the pond, Jaka saw their shawls and clothes. Without having a long thought, he took one of the shawls and hid it.

“Sisters, it’s afternoon already. We have to get back to heaven,” said a fairy. They all got out of the water and put their clothes back on. Unfortunately, one of them—apparently the youngest fairy—did not find her shawl, without which she would not be able to fly.

“Sisters, I couldn’t find my shawl!” she cried.

They sought the shawl together until dusk and found nothing. “Nawang Wulan, we could not wait for you any longer. It is probably your fate to stay here on Earth,” said a fairy. “We should leave you here,” she added.

Nawang Wulan was weeping alone. Jaka Tarub, who had been there all along, came out pretending to know nothing. He said he wanted to help her. He took Nawang Wulan to his house and soon married her. Jaka Tarub’s life was back cheerful. They lived happily as a couple, moreover after the birth of their daughter, Nawangsih.

One day in the kitchen, Nawang Wulan said to Jaka Tarub, “My husband, I’m cooking rice. Would you watch it for me while I’m taking a bath at the river? But don’t open the pan. Just don’t.” Jaka was alone in the kitchen. He grew curious about what was inside the pan. Despite what his wife had said, he opened it. There was only a single grain of rice in it. “This is why the rice in the barn never decreased. Nawang only needs a single grain to cook a full pan of rice,” he muttered.

Nawang Wulan got home and found that there was still a grain in the pan. She was disappointed by her husband for not doing what she told. It resulted in her losing her power, too, so she had to pound and wash the rice as other people did. Since then, the amount of rice in the barn decreased. With the floor was slowly uncovered, Nawang finally found her lost shawl under the heap of rice. She revealed that it was her husband that stole and hid her shawl all this time. Immediately, she put on the shawl and went to see her husband.

“My husband, I had to go back to heaven. Take care of Nawangsih and make her a small hut near our house. Take her there every night then I will come to breastfeed her. But you should stay away,” said Nawang Wulan. She soared into the sky afterwards.

Jaka Tarub knew he could do nothing but following Nawang’s command. Every night, he could only look at his wife and daughter from afar. When Nawangsih fell asleep, Nawang Wulan would go back to heaven. It went on like this until Nawangsih grew up.

Jaka Tarub and Nawangsih could feel that Nawang Wulan was watching them all the time. They believed in every trouble they faced, she would help them out in mysterious ways.


Pitung is a legendary figure and hero for Betawi people in Jakarta. He is believed to be a silat master yet so pious and humble. With his skills, he fought for ordinary folks that were oppressed by the colonial Dutch. He robbed those who became rich by being the colonial government’s henchmen, and distributed the loots to common people. He is known as “the Robin Hood of Betawi”.

Up to today, Betawi people believe that Si Pitung did live and fight for them, and that he was buried in Marunda, North Jakarta. Here is a story of the legendary hero.


At an afternoon, Pak Piun was sitting around on the porch. He had just been working all day long at his farm; that time he wished to relax with his family. Bu Pinah, his wife, sat on a bamboo bed while touching her puffing belly. She was going to be a mother within days. Pak Piun smiled calmly, praying that his soon-born child be a useful child.

 All of a sudden, one of his three children who surrounded Bu Pinah asked him.

“Father, why did you let Babah Liem’s hatchet men took the crops you just harvested?”

Pak Piun remained silent for a moment, then answered in a low voice.

“That’s all right, Son. We still have some.”

In truth, Pak Piun was mourning at heart. He did not expect his crops to be plundered. A commoner like him could not have done anything about it anyway.

Rawabelong, his kampong, was part of Kebayoran Private Land. Liem Tjeng Soen became the landlord after purchasing the land from the Dutch government on a condition that he would pay the tax.

In controlling the land, Babah Liem hired some strong men from the neighborhood. Their job was collecting taxes from the people, who would not dare to fight  a group of coldblooded men like them. The people would only stay silent when they took their chicken, goats, crops, and everything else.

Several days later, Bu Pinah gave birth to a son. Pak Piun named his new-born child Pitung and called him Si Pitung. Like other Betawi kids in general, Pitung was raised in his own family. He learned manners, recited Quran, helped his father at the farm, picked coconuts, and collected grass for their goats. Oftentimes, he voluntarily lent a hand to his neighbors.

Pitung observed God’s commands, prayed, and fasted and always talked politely. He had great respect for his parents, too.

As he grew up, Pitung learned religion, silat, and other martial arts from Haji Naipin, an esteemed ulama from Kampong Rawabelong. The boy showed he was an assiduous and loyal student, making him dear to his master. To him, Haji Naipin passed on all of his skills with a hope that Pitung would be a useful man for others in the future. Haji Naipin even taught him the pancasona ability that would make him invulnerable to any weapon. Haji Naipin said to Pitung, “This ability is for you to fight for the powerless against injustice. Don’t use your power to do bad things to others!”

It was an honor for Pitung to be Haji Naipin’s dearest pupil, yet he stayed humble. Pitung treated others kindly all the time. But he was, anyhow, a young man with a flaming passion. He had a relationship with Aisyah, a pretty girl in the neighborhood, and promised her a marriage once they both came of age.

One day, Pitung saw with his own eyes the heartlessness of Babah Liem’s hatchet men. They came to a man’s house to plunder his chicken, goats, coconuts, and some crops from his rice barn. The young man was irritated. He wanted to teach them a lesson. But his mother held him back.

“Don’t you do that, Tung! They have control over this place. Be patient, they will get a punishment themselves.”

Obeying his mother, Pitung stood poised. On the other day, though, when he was stopping by a neighboring kampong, again he saw Babah Liem’s men taking things from a man’s house by force.

Pitung ran out of patience and came over to them.

“Losers!” shouted Pitung. “Why taking things from this powerless man? Here, you have a real opponent to fight!”

One of the men turned his face to Pitung and smiled with disdain. Apparently he was the chief.

“Boy, I am pretty sure you don’t know us.”

“Sthuuew!” Pitung spat onto the ground in anger. “Six big men harassing one guy? I don’t need to ask anyone to know you are losers.”

The chief became furious. He attacked Pitung rampantly, thinking that the young man would be easy to knock down. Surprisingly, Pitung managed to seize his arm and slam him hardly. With the man passed out, the others hurried to surround Pitung. Very quickly, Pitung attacked them first. One by one, he hit them in the face, making them faint or moan in pain. Those who were conscious rushed to carry their fellows away. They ran off.

“Be ready, young man! We’ll report this to our boss,” they said.

Several days afterwards, Pitung was widely talked in Kebayoran. But he did not feel proud of it. In fact, he tried to avoid answering questions about the fight.

One day, Pak Piun asked his son to sell two goats to Tanah Abang Market. Pitung took the animals to the market right away. Without him realizing, two scary men were following him. Pitung sold the goats quickly and put the money in his pocket. On his way home, he stopped by a small mosque. It was a hot day indeed. Pitung wanted to take a rest for a while. He took off his clothes and got in a nearby river. The stalkers moved closer quietly and took the money from Pitung’s clothes.

Pitung did not realize that until he got home. Angrily, he walked back to Tanah Abang Market to find the thieves. When he did, they were hanging around with some people in a tavern at the time.

Pitung came to them and said, “Give me back my money.”

The people were surprised, then burst into laughter.

One of them said, “You can take your money for sure. But you have to be one of us.”

“I cannot think of myself becoming a filthy thief,” said Pitung rudely.

Offended by Pitung’s word, they set on Pitung all at once. But their opponent this time was the man who beat up six Babah Liem’s men all by himself. One by one they got hit by Pitung.

Since that day, Si Pitung decided to dedicate his ability to help the weak. He could not stand seeing their misery, being oppressed by landlords and the colonial government. Some hatchet men he once trounced turned into his fellows. He gathered them and formed a group of bandits. Together, they robbed rich people houses and distributed the loot for the poor and helpless.

Pitung’s name had been a talk among the people. The landlords and rich people who took advantage of their own people by siding with the Dutch were very much concerned. They reported the problem to the colonial government.

The Dutch office in Batavia commanded their staff to capture Si Pitung right away. Schout Heyne, the kontrolir[1] of Kebayoran district, ordered his personnel to find out where the fugitive was. He offered a big amount of money for anyone telling him Si Pitung’s whereabouts.

Knowing he was sought by so many people, Pitung moved from one place to another, down to Marunda. In that time, he continuously ransacked from rich people’s houses, tyrant local rulers, and landlords. He gave what he took to the people in need, to those suffering from colonialism.

But one day, Pitung and his gang got set up by the police. That time they were breaking in into a district head’s house. The police seized the house while Pitung was inside. He surrendered to the police to let his friends run away. He was soon confined at Grogol.

Nonetheless, it did not take long for him to plot an escape. One night, he got out of his prison through the roof, sending whole jail into a sudden panic.

“Where is Pitung, boys?” they asked Pitung’s cellmate.

“I don’t know. He just disappeared,” answered the prisoner.

The escape of their most dangerous enemy caused concerns for the Dutch and local rulers. Schout Heyne ordered his men to arrest Pak Piun and Haji Naipin. He tortured the two old men to tell him where Pitung was. They did not speak a word and were sent to jail at Grogol.

Pitung did not slack his action until he heard his father and master were in the police’s hand. He sent a message to the Dutch that he would give in if they released the old men. Schout Heyne agreed.

On the given day, they took Haji Naipin to a court. Pak Piun had been released free before. On the court, a troop of policemen pointed guns at Haji Naipin. Not long after, Pitung showed up. He was alone. When Schout Heyne asked him to surrender, Pitung requested that his master be let go first.

Haji Naipin was freed. Pitung came forward to Schout Heyne. The policemen now turned their guns to Pitung.

“Finally, Pitung,” said Schout Heyne arrogantly.

“Yes. But, trust me, I will run away again. I won’t refrain from my action no matter how many of you guys are,” answered Pitung with a smile.

Pitung irritated Schout Heyne. The kontrolir was running amok. He took a few steps back quickly and told his men to ready their weapons. Haji Naipin, who was still there, was tying to stop them. The policemen fired their guns somehow. There, on the ground, Pitung fell down covered with blood.

Pitung was buried several days later. Hundreds of people came to the funeral of their hero and prayed for him. They would always remember Si Pitung, their defender and protector.

A couple of months later, Schout Heyne was fired for having gunned down a man who did not resist when being captured.


Although in the end, Si Pitung gets killed by Dutch’s bullets, he dies as a hero and is always remembered by the people that way. This story conveys a message that a person who dares to stand up for justice and truth will bring goodness for himself and others. A coward like Scout Heyne will do anything to quiet his opponents but somehow he gets what he deserves.

The life of Si Pitung develops to be a folklore story in some different versions. Besides told in books and magazines, the story has also been made into popular films, such as Titisan Si Pitung (1989, directed by Tommy Burnama) and Pitung 3: Pembalasan Si Pitung Ji’ih (1977, directed by Nawi Ismail).

In 1982, the Provincial Government of DKI Jakarta bought a house at Jakarta Coast, Marunda, that was believed to be Si Pitung’s house. However, Jakarta Post (10/23/1999) declares that the house actually belonged to Syafiudin, one of Si Pitung’s “victims”. This somehow proves that Si Pitung is always considered a model to follow by the people. 




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