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

Bukit Sanggar Puyuh

(Hill to Study the Art of Catching Quail)

This legend gives a little insight into the kidnapping of pretty women (young girls), that was evidently common in the distant past, and the clout that could be obtained by having done so.


A long time ago the Jambi Kingdom was sovereign and independent. The citizens of the Kingdom lived in security and they were prosperous. The citizens mostly lived in villages and very small towns along the sides of the Batanghari River. The Jambi King considered every citizen to possess tremendous value and worth which they could contribute to the Kingdom.

After a period of time there were several small “kingdoms” that emerged inside the larger Jambi Kingdom. These small kingdoms were given freedom to govern themselves, with total autonomy, as long as they didn’t attempt to step outside their boundary and try to develop relationships with outside Kingdoms. Doing this was the privilege and right of the King from the Jambi Kingdom.

The relationship the Jambi Kingdom had with the Johor Kingdom in Semenanjung Malaysia (the western peninsula) was very strong. A problem, however, developed between the two when the Johor King did something that embarrassed and insulted the Jambi King. The major transgression was that the Johor King had married the Jambi King’s daughter, but not according to Jambi customs and it was considered to be a great insult. In response to this the Jambi King said that shame should be paid with shame (revenge).

In a meeting the Jambi King stated, “The Johor King insulted Jambi. We will teach them a lesson, although not through war, because war will only cause the citizens of both kingdoms to suffer.”

“How will we then get satisfaction for their insult,” asked one of the regional leaders.

The Jambi King replied, “We will send spies! First of all we must determine the Johor Kingdom’s strengths and weaknesses. We must also determine what types of weapons they have.”

“Do you mean we’ll attack after we obtain that intelligence information?” asked one of the Jambi leaders.

“No, we need this information so we can teach them a lesson,” responded the Jambi King. “I have an obligation to redeem our Kingdom from the shame and insult we received from the Johor King.”

In the Bungin Petar region of the Jambi Kingdom there was a famous military commander that was known to be very brave and heroic. His name was Pasak Melintang Jambi. This man was more famously known by his title: Datuk Beremban Besi (the honored father that has a chest of iron).

The Jambi King explained to the other military leaders about Datuk Beremban Besi, and how he had full confidence and trust in him to go and make Johor pay for their wrong.

Datuk Beremban Besi was then given the task of finding several other soldiers who had the skills and trustworthiness to help him. For several weeks he looked all over the place for people and finally he found Datuk Suridiraja. Datuk Beremban Besi then told Datuk Suridiraja the assignment he had received from the Jambi King.

Datuk Suridiraja responded, “The Kingdom of Johor? If that’s your assignment, I’ll join with you and any others who want to go and repay that great insult.”

Three days later Datuk Suridiraja brought some of his friends, Datuk Anggun, which was from the Aurcino region of the Kingdom, and he also brought one more from the Sengalau region, whose name was Datuk Puyang Perkak. Prior to them departing for Johor, the four military leaders conducted a meeting to discuss their plans in detail. After all planning was done they went to the Jambi King for final approval prior to their departure.

The Jambi King warmly welcomed the four leaders and after hearing that they were ready for their departure, he stated, “Go then! And when you get there, be careful you don’t harm many of the people of the Johor Kingdom. We only want to punish the Johor King.

“Can we bring weapons with us with which to defend ourselves?” asked Datuk Suridiraja.

“Certainly! Choose anything you want. If you want a cannon, take one. If you want any other weapon, please feel free to take anything you need. There are also ships and any provisions of food you may have need of,” replied the Jambi King.

Prior to their departure the spies came back with their intelligence report of the Johor Kingdom. The intelligence report indicated that the Johor Kingdom had defenses that were extremely strong. The walls of their fort were very tall and the doors would not be easy opened. They then agreed that they would certainly need to take a large cannon. The cannon ball that they would use could not be just any iron ball. They decided that they would use Datuk Puyang Perkak as the cannon ball. Because he was already deaf, and his body was immune from harm, he would be the ideal person for the task. The plan was then to shoot him out of the cannon and inside the fortification, then he would quickly open the doors from the inside and the other three officers would then enter.

The plan began to take shape. The four Jambi officers first attempted to meet with the Johor King. But their repeated attempts failed, and the Johor military prepared for any offensive the four Jambi officers would attempt.

The four officers then put their cannon in place and prepared to fire. Datuk Puyang Perkak climbed in and the other three men aimed and fired the cannon. Datuk Puyang Perkak landed well within the walls of the fort. Too bad for the three men outside, because the “cannon ball” didn’t fulfill his obligation. Instead of rushing to open the doors of the fort, Datuk Puyang Perkak instead found a young sweet girl there who he decided to relax and spend time with.

After several hours of waiting there were growing concerns and fears that Datuk Puyang Pekak had been killed by the Johor soldiers. It was then that Datuk Beremban Besi said, “We’re military soldiers aren’t we? Let’s attack and break down the doors of the fort ourselves. Let’s all gather together our spiritual and physical forces and make it happen.”

“Okay, let’s attack now!” said Datuk Anggun. “We’ll get this job done quick and return home.”

The three officers then attacked the doors of the fort, and due to their combined efforts, were able to succeed and enter. The amazement on their faces was astounding when they saw Datuk Puyang Pekak, who was at that time bathing leisurely in a pool, while being attended by three beautiful young girls. Datuk Puyang Pekak didn’t seem the least bit ashamed or shy. He simply smiled and welcomed the arrival of the three officers. The smile quickly disappeared when the Johor soldiers attacked the three officers from Jambi. Did Datuk Puyang Pekak desire to enter the battle with the other Jambi officers, or didn’t he? After a short period of contemplation, he picked up a weapon and came to the side of others and joined in on the battle. The dead bodies of the Johor soldiers were beginning to be sprawled out all over the field of battle.

Additional Johor forces arrived and joined in the battle. To prevent a massive slaughter of Johor soldiers, exactly what the Jambi King didn’t want to happen, the four Jambi officers then commenced to set everything on fire. The fort and every home surrounding the fort was set on fire. The fire consumed all the dead bodies that were laying around. There was only one small home outside the fort that wasn’t consumed with fire.

“Is that a fire inside the home?” asked Datuk Suridiraja.

“I think that glowing light is something that has keramat (supernatural powers),” said Datuk Suridiraja.

“Let’s investigate,” said Datuk Anggun.

When they went to investigate they found that it wasn’t an object with supernatural powers, it was a young girl of eight years of age. She was very beautiful with skin yellow like a langsat fruit (duku). Her hair was wavy and her cheeks were cute and rosy.

“Our duty here is finished, “said Datuk Beremban Besi. “We’ll take this young girl back to Jambi with us and present her to our King.

After arriving back at the Jambi palacethey were welcomed by the citizens with a great celebratory event. The rejoicing of the King over their victory was tremendous. The King closed the festive victory ceremony with these words: “This young girl from Johor I now give over to the four Jambi officers who won the victory. Take good care of this young girl and educate her well. In the future she will be used to tie a knot of friendship between us and the Johor Kingdom. We want to use her so that there will no longer be feelings of animosity between us and Johor.

Catching Quail

Receiving such a charge the young girl from Johor was carefully guarded. They took her for a time to the Bungin Petar region, where at the foot of a hill that was far from the center of the Jambi Kingdom, the girl was allowed to observed people as they lured in and captured quail. It was there that they also taught that girl how to capture quail. They even taught her how to read and write, as well as how to earn a living and manage finances.

Now that hill has been named Bukit Sanggar Puyuh (hill to study the art of catching quail), and the legend that came from that location is often spoken of by the people of the Jambi Kingdom.