In Jambi’s historical past (according to different legends) it is said that the Jambi Melayu Kingdom was founded by a person with the name of Orang Kayo Hitam and his wife Mayang Mangurai. Confusingly, a large percentage of the Jambi populace has accepted many of these stories as fact, and many newspaper articles still present information that has long been proven in error. Although there may be some truth contained in Jambi’s legends, many of the stories cannot stand up to clear historical documentation. We have learned that it can be fun to just go along with these legends instead of trying to prove them wrong to everybody, it’s actually a lot of fun to talk about them!
In the legends, the mother of Orang Kayo Hitam is “Putri Selara (Selaro–in the local dialect) Pinang Masak. Her grave is located in the Village of Pemunduran, 37 kilometers (23 miles) to the east of the City of Jambi, beginning at the Duren Intersection in the City of Jambi.
In addition to the grave of “Putri Selara Pinang Masak,” there is also the grave of one of her daughters, “Orang Kayo Gemuk,” which is located in the same village. To locate the grave of “Purti Selara Pinang Masak” you need to find the elementary school “SD Negeri No. 12” along the main road in front of the Village of Pemunduran, then go north (back towards the City of Jambi) about two tenths of a mile. It can be seen from the road and has a large portal with her name on it (picture above).
The grave of Orang Kayo Pedataran (alt. spelling: Kedataran), a son of Putri Selara Pinang Masak, is located a short distance away in the Village of Pedataran. In the recent past that village, and two neighboring villages, joined to form the village of Sumber Jaya.
To find the graves of Orang Kayo Gemuk and Orang Kayo Pedataran, you need to jump on the back of somebody’s motorcycle and have them take you to them. People in the area would be happy to take you to these graves since they know you will give them a tip. We gave one guy the equivalent of $5.00. That is approximately a days wage for some of these people. You will never find these graves without their assistance, so the money is well worth it.
We questioned the grave of Orang Kayo Pedataran because the writing on it says “Keramat; L. Sale.” We understand that the word keramat means the grave has supernatural powers, and people can pray there and receive additional spiritual blessings. But why isn’t the name Orang Kayo Pedataran on the grave? The people in the village were not able to answer that question so we had to take their word that it was indeed the grave of the man in question.
Though these graves aren’t a great distance from the City of Jambi, it could take you an hour or more to get there. The roads are full of holes and driving can be hazardous. Many sections of the road has been removed and filled in with gravel, making it a very dusty drive. Sometimes the holes are merely filled in with clay.
Don’t attempt to drive a sedan to this location or you will surely damage the bottom of your car. If there has been rain during the previous couple of days, it may be best not to go there, even with a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The clay used to fill holes makes it very difficult to pass and it’s easy to get stuck. No roadside service out there!
Below is a video we made of these three graves. The grave of another son of Putri Selaras Pinang Masak, the famous Orang Kayo Hitam, and information about him, can be accessed by clicking this link. The first son of Putri Selaras Pinang Masak, whose name was Orang Kayo Pinang (alt. spelling: Orang Kayo Pingai), is buried at this location.
Additional Information About the
Origin of the Word “Jambi.”
There are several opinions as to the origin of the word Jambi, and they are:
- Seeing that the word “jambe” is the Javanese word for the pinang tree, it is believed that the Jambi Kingdom was named after the woman Putri Selera Pinang Masak. The pinang tree is commonly used as a symbol of Jambi, as seen in the Jambi City Crest, as well as in many other formats around the city.
- The word’s former spelling was “Djambi,” with the letter “d” being silent. After modifications were made to the language, the letter “d” was dropped. You will still encounter the original spelling from time to time.
- Almost every reference to the origin of the word “Jambi” makes reference to the pinang tree, that is, with the exception of the book Mencari Jejak Sangkala, written by the Jambi historian and cultural expert, H. Junaidi T. Noor. He wrote in his book Mencari Jejak Sangkala, that the word “jambi” did not originate with Putri Selera Pinang Masak, and that the term “Jambi” had been in use, describing a settlement in the area, hundreds of years before she came on the scene. On page 21 of his book he writes: “We have become too familiar with the word ‘Jambi,’ as having originated from the Javanese word ‘jambe,’ meaning pinang, as having a direct connection with the person in Jambi’s history, named Putri Selaras Pinang Masak.”
- Geneologies of Jambi’s Kings, written by Ngebi Suto Dilago Priyayi Rajo Sari, indicates that when Tun Talanai (a legendary Jambi king) died, Jambi no longer had a king. It was then that this Putri Selera Pinang Masak, a female descendant of the king in Pagarruyung came to Jambi. Since Jambi was already being referred to with it’s current name, it indicates that there isn’t a connection between the word “Jambi,” and the Javanese word “jambe,” which means “pinang.” Purti Selaras Pinang Masak lived in the latter part of the 1400s.