Sangkuriang (The Legend of Tangkuban Perahu)


A long time ago, in the ancient land of Sunda, there was a prosperous kingdom. The king was fond of hunting. He was always accompanied by his faithful dog named “Tumang”.

One day, the king hunted deer in the forest, but he got nothing all day long. It seemed that all animals had been disappeared, as if they were swallowed by Earth. During his disappointment, the king was surprised by the barking of his dog who found a baby girl lay among the tall grass. Then his disappointment turned into excitement because he had looked forward to have a child for a long time. He named that beautiful baby “Dayang Sumbi”.

Dayang Sumbi now had grown up. She became a beautiful and clever woman. One day as she was weaving in her pavilion, she became moody and distracted, which caused her to keep dropping her shuttle on the floor. Once when it fell she exclaimed she would marry the one who gave it back to her. At that very moment  her dog Tumang, a demigod possessing magic powers, came up to her with the shuttle in his mouth. Dayang Sumbi had to marry him.

They lived happily together, and Dayang Sumbi gave birth to a baby boy, human in appearance but endowed with his father’s magic powers. She named him Sangkuriang. As the boy grew up, he was always guarded by the faithful dog Tumang, whom he knew only as a companion and not as his father, Sangkuriang became handsome and brave.

One day his mother asked him to go hunting with the dog and bring her venison for a feast. After hunting all day in vain, Sangkuriang worried about facing his mother empty-handed. Desperate, he took an arrow and shot the dog. He returned home and handed over the liver to his pleased mother.

Soon after the feast, however, Dayang Sumbi questioned her son about the absence of Tumang. At first he evaded her queries but finally told her what had happened. She was horrified and struck her son so hard on the temple that he

collapsed. For that, the old king banished his daughter from the court and she was made to roam around the kingdom. Sangkuriang recovered with a large scar on his temple, and he too left the court to wander around the world.

Years later, Sangkuriang met a beautiful woman and instantly fell in love with her. It was his own mother-they did not recognize each other. He proposed to her and she agreed to marry him. On the day before the wedding, as she was caressing her fiancee’s hair, Dayang Sumbi detected the scar on the temple. Horror struck her, for she was about to marry her own son, Sangkuriang. Without revealing the whole truth to him, she tried unsuccessfully to dissuade him. Desperate to avoid the marriage, she set conditions she thought impossible to meet: Sangkuriang had to make a lake that filled the whole valley and build a boat for the couple to sail in, all before dawn.

Sangkuriang started to work. His love gave him extraordinary strength, and he used his magic powers to summon the spirits to help him. With boulders and mud they dammed the Citarum river in the valley and the water rose and began to form a lake. In the early morning hours he chopped down a huge tree in the forest and began hollowing it out to make a boat. When Dayang Sumbi saw that he was about to accomplish what she had thought impossible, she called on the gods to bring the sun up early and thwart Sangkuriang.

The cock crowed, the sun rose much earlier than usual, and Sangkuriang realized he had been deceived. In a fit of fury he cursed Dayang Sumbi and kicked the half-finished boat back into the forest. There it lies upside down today, forming the mountain Tangkuban Perahu (Upturned Boat). Not far away is the stump of the tree Sangkuriang had felled, now called Bukit Tunggul. The dam Sangkuriang had built caused the valley to become lake Bandung, where both Sangkuriang and Dayang Sumbi drowned themselves. They were never heard of again.

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