Bukit Keramat Batu Nisan Pecah Tigo
(Translated: the sacred hill which has a tombstone which was broken into three pieces.)
In the Jambi Province City of Bangko there is a prominent hill alongside the Merangin River (at this location) which contains the grave of several individuals. One of those graves is that of a famous historical figure who had the title of Pangeran Temenggung Mangkunegara II. Tragically, most of the information about this man has been lost. Without written documentation, and having to rely on oral transmission of information, much speculation, mystery, and superstitions have emerged.
Translation of the Tombstone:
Temenggung– title of a high-ranking royal official
**Mangkunegara—a country’s administrator
Muara Masumai–Bangko—mouth of the Masumai River, which is close to the city of Bangko
The hill where the grave is located is referred to as “Bukit Keramat Batu Nisan Pecah Tigo” (sacred hill with gravestone that’s broken in three pieces). This hill is a very popular landmark in the city of Bangko.
There is an enormous beringin (banyan) tree growing up through the aforementioned grave. This type of tree is common in Indonesian cemeteries, as many believe these trees have significant spiritual implications, since traces of Hinduism still grace the beliefs of the large majority of Muslims in Indonesia. Hindus and Buddhists have traditionally considered the banyan tree as sacred. The banyan tree is also located on the Indonesian shield.
Since most prominent Indonesian graves have a caretaker, which is called a juru kunci (door keeper), we went to speak with the caretaker of this grave, and below is the information he gave us.
The juru kunci’s name is Mr. Muohklis (title: Rajo Batuah—“King Batuah”), and he lives in his modest home on Bukit Keramat. Mr. Muohklis also has a barn there where he raises cattle, which are regularly sold on Islamic holidays for sacrificial offerings. The animals are also sold at other times, when people want to obtain additional blessings from God. This is done by praying at a grave which is believed to contain spiritual powers, and then sacrifice an animal there; mostly chickens, but it could also be goats, bulls, and water buffalo.
Mr. Muohklis didn’t have a lot of information about the grave. He could only tell us that there were two people buried at the location—under one gravestone. He said that one of the people was from West Sumatra and the other from South Sumatra. He informed us that the two died during a duel they had. He didn’t know why they were fighting. Although there is no date on the gravestone, Mr. Muohklis indicated that the deaths of the two individuals took place 100-200 years ago.
Mr. Muohklis said people often visit the grave to pray. We were told by a representative from the Office of Tourism, which is only 100 yards away from this hill, that people will sacrifice animals at this gravesite when there is an increasing number of accidents in the area. They believe that Pangeran Temenggung Mangkunegara II may feel he isn’t being remembered and honored, so to get people’s attention he will cause tragedies to take place.
What does “Nisan Pecah Tigo” mean. It could be translated as “tombstone broke in three pieces.” Even so, we didn’t see a tombstone that was broken into three pieces.
Who was Pangeran Temenggung Mangkunegara II? There’s a great deal of uncertainty who this man really was. We do know, however, that there is a Javanese family dynasty that carries the title of “Mangkunegara.” This family was from, and still is on the Island of Java.
Why would “Mangkunegara II,” from the Javanese dynasty on the Island of Java, be buried in the central Jambi city of Bangko? Why does the juru kunci, Mr. Muohklis, insist that there are two people buried in one grave, yet it only has one name on the tombstone?
We do know of a Temenggung Mangkunegara that helped form guerrilla fighting forces alongside Sultan Thaha during the late 1800s. It’s not possible for the Mangkunegara II of the Island of Java to have been this same person that worked with Sultan Thaha. Sultan Thaha’s sultanship was during the last part of the 1800s, till 1904 when he died. Mangkunegara II from the Island of Java died in 1835. This could not have been the same person.
Inattention to historical detail, lack of documentation, incomplete libraries, and the prevalence of superstitious beliefs have made tracking historical information in Jambi very difficult. Even so, the information that has been found and the process of searching for that information has been very rewarding. The people we have spoken with have been wonderful to meet!