This is our translation of a legend from the Jambi Province.

The Little Frog   (Anak Katak)

White Lipped Tree Frog

One day, a long time ago, a king was clearing grass in his palace yard using a large hoe. Suddenly, a young frog leapt from the grass, right in front of the hoe that was being swung by the king. Tragically the hoe hit the frog squarely on the head and the blood began to flow. The young frog called out to his mother. The young frog was seriously hurt and would soon die.

Typical Hoe in Indonesia (cangkul)

Around four in the afternoon the mother of the young frog was traveling around. She wanted to tell about the accident to all of her friends. She traveled all over carrying a type of gong that made a sound like, “Tut, tut, kattiwe dammalilo.”

A monkey close by, being disturbed by the noise said, “Where is that sound coming from? Is it an old instrument like what our ancestors used a long time ago? I’ve never heard it played before.”

“It’s coming from me, monkey,” said the frog’s mother. And then she said, “Will a fine be paid for a wound, or will something be giving in exchange for death?” (this was a local parable which can’t be translated easily.)

“Of course,” said the monkey.

“Where can we meet,” asked the frog’s mother.

“We can meet in the king’s yard,” he responded.

“Okay,” said the frog’s mother.

The mother continued her travels around looking for more support. She again sounded the gong she was carrying, “Tut, tut, kattiwe dammalilo.”

A red fire ant said, “Where is that sound coming from?” Is it an old instrument like what our ancestors used a long time ago? I’ve never heard it played before.”

Like that the story continued, as the frog’s mother sounded the gong as she traveled around. Following her was a gathering of the monkey, the red fire ant, two types of fish, wet mud, and a large wasp.

When the evening arrived they all gathered together in the king’s yard and began to make a huge commotion. The monkey was positioned out in the orchard and garden. When given the signal, he was to begin eating the king’s trees and plants. The red fire ant was stationed at the bottom of the stairs leading into the palace. One of the fish had the duty of being in the wash basin. Another fish was assigned to the kitchen to kick up a lot of dust from the cold ashes of the fireplace. The wet mud was to fall precisely onto the top of the king’s head. The wasp was positioned on the wall close to the door. The king’s home was now completely besieged.

It was then that the monkey began his action, gaining the attention of the king by devouring the banana and other types of trees.

When the king saw the monkey he called out, “Why are you eating my trees?”

The king got up out of his bed and he felt something fall on his head. With his hand he reached up and felt the mud, not knowing how or what it was that was on his head. He called out, “What is this?” He still did not know what was going on.

The king went to the kitchen, desiring to light the lamp, and the fish that was there began flopping and thrashing around in the ashes of the fireplace, causing the ashes to go into the king’s eyes. The king cried out, “Wow, what’s going on”!

He then went to the sink to wash the dust out of his eyes, and when his hands reached down into the water, the fish that was in there jumped out, and with his sharp fins cut open the hand of the king and he began bleeding.

Red Fire Ant

With his hand being injured, the king opened the door hoping to run out of there, but the wasp was waiting for him and it stung his ear and head in different places. The king was screaming while trying to get away. When he went to the stairs to run out of the house, his feet got bit by the red fire ant. The king, screaming out, ran back into the house. He then began to realize what was happening.

The king called out, “Hey all of you, why is this taking place? Why are you attacking me like this? Is there something that you truly hope to get from me?”

From the bushes, not far from that place, jumped out the mother of the young frog. She said, “Okay king, if you really want to know: Will a fine be paid for a wound, or will something be given in exchange for death?”

The king understood what the young frog’s mother was referring to and said, “Okay frog, you desire that I compensate you because your son was killed when I struck you with my hoe. Okay, please take this cloth and you all can go.” The king then threw out to the mother frog, a clean, new white piece of cloth, thus compensating her for the loss of her son.


Moral: People in positions of importance often overlook the “little people.” When the “little people” are united, the people holding places of great importance cannot do anything.