There are several legendary versions of how the Jambi Kingdom got its start.  We translated one of those versions and it can be read by clicking this link.  Below is yet another version of that legend which we translated.

The Legend of Orang Kayo Hitam

One day while Orang Kayo Hitam was traveling up the Batanghari River, into the interior of the area now known as the Jambi Province, he happened to find a lock of black hair wrapped around a log. He assumed the hair belonged to a very beautiful girl, so he set off in search of her.

He eventually found a village not far from where he found the lock of hair, and he found the parents of the girl to whom the hair belonged. The people in the village where these parents lived discovered that Orang Kayo Hitam had great magical powers, and for some strange reason he was challenged to fight another person in that same village. That person also had supernatural powers.

For several days these two men fought each other, using the ancient martial art that is practiced in Indonesia, pencak silat. Eventually Orang Kayo Hitam won the contest and he asked to marry the girl to whom the lock of hair belonged. The parents didn’t want their daughter to marry a black man who they didn’t know, so they put him to a test to see if he had the abilities to qualify to marry their daughter. Their daughter’s name was Mayang Mengurai.

A test was presented that was naturally impossible to fulfill. The test had four requirements for Orang Kayo Hitam:

  1. He must present a bowl full of gold.
  2. The inside of a blow pipe.
  3. The sleeve of a shirt.
  4. A certain number of lice heads.

He had one year to accomplish his task, and upon completion he returned to receive his bride. The parents had to yield their daughter to him because of his accomplishment, so a huge wedding was conducted.

After the wedding the parents gave Orang Kayo Hitam and his wife a boat (named Kajang Lako) and were told to follow two white geese as they floated down the Batanghari River. The father-in-law of Orang Kayo Hitam told them that they were to follow the geese, and when the geese left the water and settled on the bank for two days and two nights, that is where they should build a city and start their new kingdom.

When the couple saw the geese leave the river and settle on the bank for several days, they knew they had arrived at the location where they would settle down. As Orang Kayo Hitam began clearing the land, he swung his hoe (cangkul) into the ground to begin digging and his hoe hit a gong. When he swung his hoe the second time, he hit a rifle (some accounts say cannon).

Typical Hoe in Indonesia (cangkul). It’s also used in the place of a shovel.

It is believed that the gong was the reincarnated mother of Mayang Mengurai. The rifle was said to have been her father, Temenggung Merah Mato (also called “Datuk Merah Mato), in his reincarnated state. It is said that the parents of Orang Kayo Hitam’s wife were so grief ridden over their daughter moving away that they transformed themselves so they could always be with her. The rifle and gong have become immortalized in Jambi’s ancestral heritage by being placed on the City of Jambi’s crest.

City of Jambi Crest

Yet another legendary account, of the parents of Mayang Mengurai, indicates that after their daughter’s marriage to Orang Kayo Hitam, they immediately fled into the jungle rather than embrace Islam, which at that time was engulfing the entire Island of Sumatra. The descendants of Orang Kayo Hitam’s in-laws are said to be the Anak Dalam ethnic group, which for hundreds of years have lived a hunter-gather, semi-nomadic existence, and have retained their animist beliefs still to this day.

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