Sangkuriang an Indonesian Folk Tale

Let us tell the story of one of the most famous tales in Indonesian folklore.  This is the story of Tangkuban Perahu, interpreted and told by an Englishman to a mainly Indonesian audience.

Sangkuriang was a young boy who lived in the Kingdom of Sunda, nowadays part of west Java Indonesia.  He was raised by his Mother Dayang sumbi and her Dog Tumang, a Demigod.    They were very poor.  Sangkuriang did not know that his Mother was married to Tumang and that Tumang was really his Father.  He thought his Father had gone away to find a job in a faraway place and earn money.

One day Sangkuriang went hunting for meat and accidentally killed the dog.  He brought the liver of the dog home for his Mother and himself to eat.  He was too afraid to tell his Mother what had really happened.  Next day, embarrassed and disgraced, Sangkuriang left home in hope that he could find his Father.

Many years passed and Sangkuriang returned to his homeland.  On the way, he met a beautiful girl and fell in love with her.  She fell in love with him.  They promised to marry.  To prove his love for her, she asked him, in one night, to build a great lake and a wondrous sailing boat. 

Sangkuriang, possessed of magical powers, called upon many helpers and accepted the challenge.  During the night, his Mother realized who he was and was horrified.  She called upon the Gods to bring the dawn earlier.   

There was a great tragedy about to happen.  The waters were trapped by the Dam created by Sangkuriang and created a great lake and the huge ark of a boat was left upside turn.  Sangkuriang disappeared, presumed drowned, never to be seen again.  Dayang Sumbi had not intended Sangkuriang to die, she just wanted to prevent the marriage.  She came to the lake in search of him but she could not find him.  She too drowned in the lake. 

This is the story of the legend.  The ark of the boat became the volcanic mountain of Tangkuban Prahu and the huge plain the modern city of Bandung once the waters drained away. The stump of the tree became bukit Tunggul.  Nobody knows what really happened to Sangkuriang or Dayang Sumbi but volcanic eruptions are often there and these are believed to be Sangkuriang and Dayang sumbi speaking louder with action rather than words.  So people say, anyway.


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