Where did the word “Jambi” come from?

Pinang tree grove, located across the Batanghari River on the north side of the City of Jambi.

There are an ample supply of “copy and paste” blogs out there promoting the word Jambi as having originated from a legendary person of the late 1500’s named Putri Selaras Pinang Masak. Since that woman’s name has the word pinang in it, and the Javanese word for pinang is “jambe,” people commonly say that the name “Jambi” came from that woman.

Pinang (betel Nut)

Blogs, newspaper articles, books, etc., etc., all refer to that one woman’s name as being the origin for the word Jambi. A notable Jambi historian, however, Drs. H. Junaidi T. Noor, indicates a possibility that runs totally opposite what has been commonly accepted as fact. In his book, “Mencari Jejak Sangkala” (pg. 21, 24, 25, 105), he suggests (rather strongly) another possibility.

Pinang Fruit

Split open pinang fruit.

Mr. H. Junaidi T. Noor indicates that there isn’t a connection with the word Jambi and the word pinang. He states that before the woman Putri Selaras Pinang Masak, the Kingdom of Jambi was already in existence. In fact, he goes on to explain that there was already a settlement in the area now known as the City of Jambi from the 8th century on. At that time the city was called Chan-pi. That word (Chan-pi) is believed to have mutated into the current word Jambi.