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

The Legend of the Dark Ghost

(Dongeng Hantu Pirau / Cincin Cinta-Cinta)

Seeing that the Indian king in the below legend is the same as that from two previous legends we translated, this legend rightfully follows the legends entitled: Asal Usul Raja Negeri Jambi and Asal Mula Nama Batang Hari.

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After Jambi had installed its king, that originated from the country of India, the Jambi Kingdom became increasingly prosperous. The king was very wise and was greatly honored by the citizens of the kingdom. Whatever the king commanded, the people were very willing to obey because they knew that the king’s commands were always given with the citizen’s best interest in mind. Because the conditions in the kingdom were safe and prospering, the workers carried out their duties with joy. The farmers in their fields, the fishermen, the construction workers, builders of boats, etc., etc., were all very pleased with the conditions of the Jambi Kingdom. The prosperity of the kingdom continued to multiply.

In the middle of this comfortable atmosphere, a disturbance arose, which was caused by the Dark Ghost, which would frequently terrify the children while they were playing. When the children would begin screaming out in fear and begin crying, the parents weren’t able to concentrate on their work. The babies would scream and cry if the Dark Ghost would come, and seeing this, the Dark Ghost in his excitement of seeing what he was accomplishing, would begin his laughter. If the parents would guard their children the Dark Ghost wouldn’t bother the children. So, if they would focus on guarding their children, their work wouldn’t get done, like the work in the fields, rivers, or in the kitchens. The Jambi citizens became greatly agitated because of the Dark Ghost. The parents had never seen the shape of the Dark Ghost themselves, but it was clear that it would frequently come and frighten the children and cause them all to cry.

The leaders (Dubalang) of the communities of Tujuh Koto, Sembilan Koto, and Batin Duo Belas, or, as they are frequently and more commonly called, DubalangTujuh, Dubalang Sembilan, and Dubalang Batin Duo Belas, already agreed that they would approach their king and inform him of the news about the disturbance that Dark Ghost was creating. They decided that before they would approach their king, however, they would try to overcome the Dark Ghost themselves, using all their spiritual spells and powers they could muster. They were afraid to immediately approach the king without first trying to overcome the Dark Ghost on their own. Nevertheless, after all of their efforts and spells were employed, they still couldn’t expel the Dark Ghost and stop it from harassing their children. The three Dubalang (community leaders) then conducted a conference and decided to take the matter before the king.

“Forgive us my Lord,” said the Dubalang from Batin Duo Belas. “For a long time now our kingdom has been experiencing a disturbance caused by the Dark Ghost. The small children and babies are always crying because of its presence. It’s like the children are always being tickled. At first the children laugh when the Dark Ghost tickled them, but when it wouldn’t stop, after awhile, the children grew fearful and would begin crying. It’s like the Dark Ghost tickles them without any let up, non-stop, and the children begin to scream out of fear. We adults can only hear the laughter from the Dark Ghost, as if he’s very pleased to know that he’s creating such a disturbance.”

“Okay, how many different voices have you heard? How many Dark Ghosts are there?” Asked the king, after the Dubalang from Batin Duo Belas finished giving his report.

“Only one, my Lord,” responded all three Dubalang at the same time.

The king smiled and began to pace back and forth in his palace, and then said, “Return to your homes and command every person that has the ability to make fish traps, to make one.

With a lot of courage the Dubalang from Batin Duo Belas asked the king, “Do you want us to commence fishing for fish on a very large scale, my Lord? You are well aware that this isn’t the fishing season, aren’t you?”

The king smiled again and said, “Yes, I’m well aware this isn’t the fishing season, just do what I’ve commanded, and, when all the fish traps are finished, they all must be positioned on the top of a hill, firmly secured with very strong wooden stakes. After they are built, and securely positioned in place, each one of you must take turns watching the traps on the hill.

After the three Dubalang promised to carry out what the king commanded, they requested permission to leave and then departed. On their journey home they were all thinking to themselves about the commands of the king, and how it could help them to get rid of the Dark Ghost.

When the three Dubalang arrived at their respective areas, they passed the kings commands along to their people. In one day many fish traps were made and were immediately carried to the top of a hill that wasn’t far from where they all lived. They also securely fastened the traps in their positions with strong wooden stakes so they wouldn’t roll or fall, using the same methods they used when they would fasten the traps in the rivers or swamps.

The Dark Ghost caught in a fish trap.

The citizens of the kingdom were confused at what was commanded by the king. They knew the Dubalang didn’t know what was going to happen either, so they didn’t ask them. They all just carried out their duties in silence, hoping the king really knew what he was doing. The Dubalang then took their turns as ordered and watched the traps to see what would take place. On the seventh day when the Dubalang from Batin Duo Belas was on watch observing the traps, he saw something that was jumping around inside one of the traps, as if it wanted to get out, but couldn’t.  The appearance of what was in the trap looked similar to a very small person. Its voice was recognized by the Dubalang from Batin Duo Belas as resembling voice of the Dark Ghost that often harassed the children.

The Dubalang from Batin Duo Belas then departed to the palace and reported to the king that they had captured something in one of the traps, but it was something they weren’t familiar with.

“Good, good! Now bring that fish trap to me. All the other fish traps you can keep for yourselves. The other traps can be used when the fishing season comes again. Before you return with that one trap, I want you all to sharpen your machetes until they are extremely sharp,” said the King.

The Dubalang requested permission from the King to leave, then hurried back to pass on the command from the King to the others, that they were all to sharpen their machetes.

After all the machetes were sharpened they tested their sharpness by placing a strand of hair on the edge of the blades. The strands were immediately cut, so they knew they had sharpened the machetes very well. Since they had sharpened their machetes so well, they knew the King would then be able to kill the Dark Ghost and their children wouldn’t be harassed anymore. Before the Dark Ghost was taken out of the fish trap and killed, it started to speak and made a request of the King.

“My Lord, please forgive me. Don’t kill me. If I’m killed, you will lose out on something that could really benefit you. On the other hand, if you free me from this fish trap, whatever my Lord the King would ask from me, I’ll give it to you once I’m set free. Isn’t the King very wise and cleaver, wise enough to give thought to what I’m saying?”

The King thought for a moment, then said, “Okay then, the first thing is that you must leave my Kingdom and don’t ever disturb the citizens of Jambi again, both children and adults. The second thing, is that I want a ring that possesses supernatural powers, that whatever I ask from it, it must do (cincin pinto-pinto / cincin pinta-pinta).”

The Dark Ghost, submitting to the demands of the King.

Quickly the Dark Ghost agreed to the conditions of his release, and miraculously, the Dark Ghost gave a supernatural ring to the King. The King then ordered one of the Dubalang to release the Dark Ghost from the fish trap. Since that time the Jambi Kingdom never again was disturbed by the Dark Ghost.

One day, after the events concerning the Dark Ghost were long past, the King began to think about putting his supernatural ring to the test. The King didn’t want the citizens of his Kingdom to know what he was going to do. Instead of being forthright with his citizens, he told them that he wanted to return to the country of his origin, India, and spend some time there.

After his arrival in his home country of India, and specifically the City of Bombay, (Mumbai) the King spoke to the ring and requested it to transform the City of Bombay into a city that was studded with pearls, diamonds and all types of rare and precious gems. In merely the blink of an eye, the entire City of Bombay was sparkling due to the brilliance and beauty of the high quality stones that were embedded throughout that city. After that the King was reluctant to return to the Jambi Kingdom, so he ordered his son, who was not yet fully matured, to return to the Jambi Kingdom and take his place as King. The reason the King gave for not wanting to return to Jambi, was that he was at this time too old.

The King’s son was named Sultan Baring, and he obeyed his father’s command and immediately left for Jambi, bringing with him a letter from the King informing the Jambi citizens that his son would take his place as King over Jambi.

Sultan Baring was also well known as being a very intelligent and wise leader, just like his father. After Sultan Baring married, and began producing off-spring, his descendants successively became future kings and sultans, like Orang Kayo Hitam, Sultan Thaha Saifuddin, and Raden Ino Kertopati.

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This fanciful legend is interesting to read, but it doesn’t have historical credibility with which to confirm that there was ever a King over Jambi that came from India, or that his descendants were Orang Kayo Hitam or Sultan Thaha Saifuddin. We also cannot find a sultan whose name was “Baring.”

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