The Village of Mudung Darat and its Founder

Tombstone of Sualan. The grave is said to have kramat (keramat), which is supernatural power.

The Village of Mudung Darat has an interesting story (legend) of how it received its name, as well as a story about the person that is accredited with founding it.  Because there are only bits and pieces of orally transmitted stories about this village, its impossible to authenticate its historical accuracy.

A resident of Mudung Darat, the late Mr. Siswoyo, compiled what he could about the village’s origin in 1999. From that unpublished article, as well as other orally received bits of information, we’ll translate this story into English.

At-Taqwa Mosque. Located on the east side of Mudung Darat Village.

The Founder of Mudung Darat Village

Behind the mosque At-Taqwa, in the village of Mudung Darat, there is a cemetery containing the graves of one “Sualan” and his wife “Sulastri.” Clicking this link will show it’s exact location. These graves are next to each other and are very prominent. They have a wall around them, which is lined with blue tile. The graves also have a roof, which in Indonesian graveyards always indicates a person of importance. “Sualan” is credited with having founded Mudung Darat village.  Siswoyo proposed that it’s possible that the real name of this man was “Sriwalan,” and that the local population changed the spelling to Sualan due to their inability to pronounce “SRIwalan.” For simplicity sake we’ll retain the spelling of this man’s name as it’s found on his tombstone (Sualan).

Tombstone of Sulastri. This grave, along with her husband Sualan’s, is said to have spiritual powers. People come here to pray for any need they may have.

The Arrival of Sualan to Jambi

Legend has it that Sualan was a prince from the Mataram Kingdom II. As the story goes, the last of the Mataram kings had three sons, with Sualan being the youngest. After the king died the Mataram kingdom was divided into two parts, with the two oldest sons becoming the rulers over them. This left Sualan with no kingdom to rule, and being resentful, he led his group of followers from the island of Java, where the Mataram Kingdom was located, to Jambi, where there already was a blood relationship with the rulers at that location. (Historical dates of the division of the Mataram Kingdom was during the late 1700s to the early 1800s.)

Siswoyo’s documentation indicates that the Jambi Sultan (ruler) at that time was “ABD. Rahman,” which we presume to have been Sultan Abdul Rahman Nazaruddin. If this information is indeed accurate, we can place Sualan’s arrival in Jambi during the time frame of 1841-1855.

Sualan’s Grave

After a period of acculturation into the Jambi community, Sualan requested from the Sultan, and was given a piece of land along Lake Teluk, which at that time was known as Lake Mudung. Sualan and his followers, becoming farmers and small scale ranchers, turned the marshy overgrown land into a prosperous and peaceful community.

For rapid transportation, both for produce and people, the community worked together to create a channel to connect Lake Teluk, their rice fields, and the Nengkuang River. The channel was said to have been ½ miles long, 12’ wide, and 9’ deep. This channel was called “Tali Gawe.” Evidence of a channel is still visible today, though no longer used.

At the time there were still many wild animals living in the area. One day Sualan caught a fawn (kijang) which he raised as a pet. The kijang was said to have become very tame and was free to roam around during the day, and always came back to its pen at night.

Sulastri’s Grave

The Building of a Village

Life in Indonesia has traditionally been known to be partially nomadic, in that when one piece of land is no longer fertile, the people in a given area look for another location to move to. This was the case with Sualan and his followers. The land along Lake Teluk was no longer productive, and the families were growing, so according to tradition the community of men assembled to discuss the situation. During their community consultation they decided that they would move to an uninhabited area several kilometers to the northeast.

After moving into this area, and the settlement having been established, they desired to give their village a name. Thought was given to a name but none came to mind. One day as Sualan was out and about he noticed that his pet kijang was eating petai, which at that time was called pudung by the people living in the village. This led Sualan to name the village “Pudung Darat” (pudung land). Eventually the name evolved into “Mudung Darat.”

There is an alternate legend of how the village got its name, and it centers on a certain kijang that was spotted by Sualan, which was said to be eating pudung. This magical kijang was said to have had gold antlers. Another person’s account said the kijang had a gold hide. Today the term “KijangMas,” or “gold kijang,” is commonly seen in and around the village of Mudung Darat.

Various Information about Mudung Darat

Both graves under one roof.

  • The gold kijang is found in other legends of S.E. Asia.
  • In the year 1999, Siswoyo indicated that 100% of the population of Mudung Darat were Muslims. It is now over a decade later and there’s no reason to assume this information has changed. There are no places of worship for any other religion there.
  • Nothing in the recorded documents of Siswoyo mentions Sualan’s wife, Sulastri, yet she is buried next to him, with the same type of decorated tomb.
  • The writings on both Sualan and his wife Sulastri’s tombstone begins with the word “Kramat,” which is an alternate spelling of keramat. That word means that the graves contains or has supernatural powers. If people pray here, they believe additional spiritual assistance can be obtained.
  • Mudung Darat, as of June 2001, had a population of 1,407.
  • Buyut, the term used in the writing on the tombstones, means great-grandparent, or ancestor. In Javanese custom, from where this couple and many of their followers originated, buyut is used in reference to ancestral and sacred places, such as cemeteries.
  • Pictures and maps of Mudung Darat and the area can be found with this reference (pages 104-110). Language information about Jambi and Mudung Darat can also be obtained from that same reference.

Sign on the front of the mosque (mesjid) At-Taqwa.

The below information came from a September 2011 interview with a resident of Mudung Darat Village; Mr. M. Hatta (61 years old).

  • If you do something wrong around the grave, like gambling or drinking, you will get sick, or go crazy.
  • If you pray at the grave for someone to be cursed, you will go crazy.
  • His version of the legend about starting a new village indicated that, “if they find a white kijang, that is where they will build a village.” According to Mr. Hatta’s version of the story, Sualan did indeed see a white kijang eating petai.
  • Kramat (keramat): This is the word at the beginning of each of the couple’s tombstone. Mr. Hatta indicated that at locations that have this magical/supernatural power, you can call the person that’s buried there and they will come out from the grave and perform miracles. For people who go to the graves to pray, they can ask for anything (child of a specific sex; healing, etc.).
  • When they first arrived in Jambi, Sualan and his family and followers first lived in Mudung Laut, close to Madrasah Nurul Iman.

Unanswered Question

  • What does the “Ki” mean on the Sualan’s tombstone? Residents of the village could not answer that question.