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

Pendekar Bujang Sanaya

(Name of the Leading Character in this Legend)

This legend originated from the Kerinci region of the Jambi Province. The dominant character is Pendekar Bujang Sanaya. In this story the main character is guided by the spirit of his deceased grandmother, who would appear to him in dreams.

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A long time ago there were four young brothers: 1) Pendekar Bujang Sanaya; 2) Bujang Pengukir; 3) Bujang Penakuk Mato; and 4) Bujang Buruk.

These four brothers always got along well with each other. They were very considerate of each other, and always ready to defend each other. They had a Queen over their Kingdom that was loved and honored by all the citizens (and she happened to be their mother).

From the time he was very young, Pendekar Bujang Sanaya was educated in the sciences. Because of his knowledge, he rose to take the position of his father who had recently passed away. His three younger brothers didn’t hold any position of great importance in the Kingdom, they were just like all the other citizens, but they were very loyal to their Kingdom. The three brothers would frequently visit their older brother in the palace to discuss topics of importance and to work on plans that would help the Kingdom and their people to become more prosperous.

One day while the four brothers were in the palace discussing a matter concerning a problem in their Kingdom, having to do with security and safety, Bujang Buruk said to Pendekar Bujang Sanaya, “My King, would you like to invite our uncle to come and join in on our discussion?”

Bujang Pengukir added, “It would be good that he was invited, because he is the only brother our late father had.”

The younger brother of the late King was living at that time far across the ocean. At the ceremony to inaugurate Pendekar Bujang Sanaya as their new King, their uncle had come for a visit, but he hadn’t been back to visit their Kingdom in Ranah Kerinci Alam Sakti since that time.

“Yes! I also desire to meet with our uncle. But, now isn’t the time. Let’s wait a while,” replied Pendekar Bujang Sanaya.

Si Jelita was an extremely beautiful young lady, and she also happened to be the daughter of the newly inaugurated King’s uncle. This beautiful young lady was advised by her mother to go and visit her older cousin, King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya. The reason her mother told her to go see the King was because the clothing that Si Jelita desired to have could not be obtained in their country. Her mother thought that maybe there was a possibility that Pendekar Bujang Sanaya would be able to fulfill her desires.

“If that’s what you think is best, mother. “I’ll go and meet King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya,” said Si Jelita to her mother.

When Si Jelita arrived at the Kingdom of her older cousin, she approached him using the culturally appropriate honors that is always given to kings. It was then that Si Jelita informed the King of the reason why she had come.

Pendekar Bujang Sanaya responded after he heard her explanation: “You surprise me with your request! What you have asked for is an extremely difficult thing to fulfill, Jelita! Do you think I’m a merchant? I’m not! I’m just an ordinary person. Do you expect me to sell our Kingdom’s ancient treasures and heirlooms so we can buy you fine clothing, bracelets, earrings, and a necklace filled with jewels?

Si Jelita was offended by the King’s reply. She sadly bowed in submission. The tears from her eyes began to trail down her face. In her heart she whispered: “Even if you’re not willing to give me what I ask, you don’t need to be so offensive and hurt my feelings with such a harsh response.”

Si Jelita pouted, but quietly she left the palace and made her way toward the shoreline. She was hoping she would be able to find a ship that was preparing to sail on which she could immediately return to her home. To attract the attention of passing ships, she would wave her scarf so she would be noticed and they would then stop and bring her on board. She wanted to take any ship she could, just so she could leave. She didn’t ever want to see the face of her older cousin again.

Typical Sailing Ship from S.E. Asia.

Spread out in front of her was the sea’s surface that was covered with mist and fog. The waves were rolling in, crashing down on the beach’s coral. Her eyes were transfixed toward the middle of the sea when she finally saw a ship. Following prayer, she began waving her scarf. The lookout on the ship saw the scarf waving in the distance and they altered course towards the shoreline. When they got a little closer to land they let down a small row boat to go and pick up their new passenger.

The captain of the ship was very happy to have such a pretty young lady (Si Jelita) as a passenger. That ship was currently heading toward a port along the same coast that was not too far from the palace of Pendekar Bujang Sanaya. The King himself was at that time heading there to meet that ship and to see what types of interesting cargo he could purchase. On his walk to the port he was thinking to himself what a fine wife and queen Si Jelita would have been.

King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya was surprised when he got to the pier and saw Si Jelita on that ship. He asked her why she would ever want leave such a secure and prosperous kingdom such as his. With a voice that was harsh and loud, Si Jelita told him why she was so upset.

“Okay! Just be calm and listen to me a second. All the things you ask of me I’ll give you. The entire Kingdom, as well as every beautiful thing within it, and yet more, I’ll give you bracelets, earrings, and necklaces of gold studded with all types of jewelry.

Si Jelita decided to remain on the ship, and after they conducted their business with the merchants at that port they pulled out again, heading to a distant shore.

King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya considered the tragic error he had made. In his heart he said: “Why did I respond so harshly to Si Jelita when she came to see me the first time? Where on earth would that ship have taken Si Jelita? And, what would her father say to me when he found out that she ran off to a distant shore because I was so cold and heartless?

The King then commanded an aid to call his three brothers. After they arrived the King said to them, with a loud and clear voice, “Yesterday Si Jelita, our younger cousin came to the palace. She requested from me extremely fine clothing, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces studded with diamonds and all types of jewels. I said that I didn’t have the ability to give all that she requested. Evidently she became so offended that she doesn’t ever want to see me again. Go look for her! Bring her to the palace. We will fulfill all that she has requested.

The three brothers quickly went out and began their search for Si Jelita. In every nook and cranny of surrounding kingdoms they looked for her. Every person they met in their search they asked if they knew her, or if they knew where she was. It was evident that there wasn’t a single person that had seen that beautiful young lady. Si jelita was no longer in the entire region. It was a possibility that the ship she was on had returned across the sea and that she was going back to her father’s home.

King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya became extremely depressed hearing the report from his brothers that she could not be found. He felt as though his heart had been stabbed with a knife. The great sadness he experienced made him lose strength. And because of that he said to his brothers, “Take a break from your search! Tomorrow go out and look again.”

That night the King tossed and turned on his bed and couldn’t sleep. For a brief time he drifted off to sleep, and when he did he had a dream. In the dream his grandfather and grandmother, who had already been dead a long time, came to him. He was extremely angry with himself because he had hurt the feelings of Si Jelita. In his dream his grandmother said, “Si Jelita is already written about in Luh Mahfus (Lauh Mahfuzh—is a book that God maintains. In it are all the events that will take place throughout all of history). She will become your wife. At this time she’s at a palace across the sea. Both you and Si Jelita fell in love with each other at the same time. Now hurry! Go find Si Jelita! Bring her back to your palace and marry her.”

Immediately the King lept from his bed and called for an aid to go and get his three brothers. When his brothers arrived he communicated to them his dream.

After hearing the dream retold the three brothers said, “Okay King! We’ll immediately sail and find your wife. We will search for her in every kingdom until we find her. And we will find her!”

“To sail, we need supplies for the trip,” said Bujang Buruk. “And we certainly need a ship that is seaworthy. But, our Kingdom doesn’t have a ship like that. What are we going to do?”

An old boat stuck in the mud on the bank of the Batang Hari River. This is located in front of Ancol, also known as Tanggo Rajo.

“There is an old ship,” said Bujang Pengukir. “It’s been laying along the beach for years. We can repair and use it.”

“Good idea,” said Bujang Penakuk Mato. “We’ll install a sail on it. We’ll equip it with oars as well. Hopefully with a ship like that we’ll get to the kingdom that our grandmother told you about in your dream.”

“Okay! We need to go to the coast now,” said the King. “But, we need to keep our plan a secret so the citizens won’t know what we’re up to.”

After the four brothers arrived at the coast they inspected the condition of the ship that was half buried in mud. While mumbling to himself, King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya rolled a sirih leaf cigarette and then smoked it. It seemed as though the sea was proudly welcoming them to set sail using that ship, so that eventually it would be able to swallow them up during a storm. The ship was in very poor shape!

The four brothers were drenched in sweat as they labored to free the ship from the mud. Even with all their effort the ship was still in its original position. They realized that they didn’t have the ability to free the ship from the thick slippery mud. Each one of them felt as though they had been cursed. They then left the shore and returned to their homes.

After bathing and eating, Pendekar Bujang Sanaya went to bed. Like before, he tossed and turned in his sleep. In a dream his grandmother came to him again. She said to him in a very stern tone, “You all appear as though you want everything to come to you easy and free. You all know that you are not allowed to disturb what doesn’t belong to you without first getting permission from the owner. That ship is the property of your deceased father. It appears as though you want to rob him of his property without permission. If you actually need a ship to find your future wife, make one yourself. If you need one, you can cut down a tree from the jungle, but remember, trees that you don’t need, you shouldn’t cut down. You always need to remember to preserve those trees for your descendants, because someday they will be in need of them.

The four brothers obeyed the guidance of their dead grandmother. Through the jungle they searched for a tree that would be big enough from which they could make a ship, but after several days of searching they still hadn’t found one. King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya said, “Let’s go home! There isn’t a tree that will work. All the trees are just too small.

That night as Pendekar Bujang Sanaya tried to sleep, but he was very restless. He was finally able to drift off to sleep, and when he did his grandmother again came to him in a dream and said to him, “You’re not able to sleep well again are you Sanaya? Why is it that you would rather sleep than think about your future wife?”

Pendekar Bujang Sanaya responded, “Grandma, we haven’t been able to find a tree that has a trunk large enough for us to make a ship. The trees we found were only large enough to make a boat. We’ve already searched through many jungles, grandma. There’s no use in us trying again if it’s impossible to find what we need.”

“Your attempts aren’t sufficient. You still haven’t searched in the area of Mount Perentak Cermin. There is a tree there that would be large enough to make a ship,” replied his grandmother.

Pendekar Bujang Sanaya asked, “What type of tree do you mean? What does it look like?”

She replied, “The top of that tree is in the clouds. The roots reach and penetrate throughout the entire earth. If you would attempt to walk around it, it would take you three months.”

“That’s impossible, grandmother,” said Pendekar Bujang Sanaya.

“There isn’t a word “impossible! Now go to Mount Perentak Cermin! Cut down that tree and make the ship you need and go and get Si Jelita,” said his grandmother.

After discussing his dream with his brothers, he said, “If there really is a tree that would take three months to walk around, it’s not possible for us four to cut it down. I’ll command all the people in my Kingdom to work together and get it cut down. With a joint effort we can make it happen. I’ll prepare all the tools, as well as supplies we’ll need for the job. What do you all think about this plan?” asked Pendekar Bujang Sanaya.

“We agree,” responded Bujang Pengukir, “But, it would be best if we went there ourselves first. We need to first confirm that there really is a tree there as large as our grandmother told you in that dream.”

The four brothers agreed with Bujang Pengukir and set off to confirm the dream. When they arrived at Mount Perentak Cermin, there it was, just as it was described by their grandmother in the dream. That giant tree was thousands of years old. It was the tallest, the largest around, and the one with the most leaves that has ever been seen.

“It would take the entire population of our Kingdom 4-5 years to cut this tree down, and that is if they would work every single day,” blurted out Bujang Buruk.

“My King,” said Bujang Panakuk Mato, “We’ll attempt it, although some may say that it is impossible to be cut down, even in a 10 year time period, and even if thousands of axes and picks were striking it every second. But, if God so wills, it’s not impossible for this tree to come down in the blink of an eye.

With that, many hundreds of citizens began to work on that giant tree. Even so, there was little to show for all their work. Not even a small dent was made in the task that needed to be accomplished. The edges of the axes and picks were always chipping and breaking because the wood was so hard. The sound of steel striking steel would be heard when the axes would come into contact with the tree!

A delegation returned to the palace to report to the King about the situation with the tree. “Oh, King, Please forgive the thousands of workers, because even though we have been working with all of our strength, there still hasn’t been any noticeable progress. Please present an offering to the spirits so they will be delighted in us and allow that tree to be cut down.

Pendekar Bujang Sanaya contemplated the situation, and without giving a reply to that report, he immediately went to his bedroom and went to sleep. As soon as he closed his eyes, his thoughts began to roam, but they didn’t disturb and keep him from drifting off to sleep.

Like before, in his sleep his grandmother came to him in a dream. His grandmother listened to the explanation of her grandson about all the citizens who were working to cut down that mammoth tree.

“You are wrong,” his grandmother said to him. “You commanded your people to go and sweat to fulfill your desires. But you and your three brothers sit with your hands in your laps. Is that praiseworthy? You should, as a leader, stand before that tree yourself. You should be swinging that ax. Your people will follow your example. You four must do the work. Now, I’ll tell you again, you four go and cut that tree down.”

After the King awoke, he told his three brothers the dream and then they discussed the situation. They all agreed that they were certain that they were the ones that should go there and cut down that tree.

When the four arrived at Mount Perentak Cermin, fear and worry began to arise. They were shocked to see such a huge tree which had been worked on by so many people, and yet there was so little progress. They then bowed down in weakness. Bujang Penakuk Mato complained: “Dozens and dozens, no, hundreds and hundreds of people haven’t had the ability to cut down this tree, what can we four do? Let’s just return home.”

The King then said, “You should give it all your energy, Penakuk! It seems that before you’ve tried you’re ready to admit defeat and start complaining. Let’s start our work right now, and don’t let it be said by any of our people that we are women.”

The four brothers didn’t take a break during their work. They continually laid into the tree with their axes. Is seemed as though the tree had become weak and soft when struck by the edges of their axes. In less than a half a day they began to hear sounds of things beginning to crack and splinter.

“Hey! If this tree is to come down, we need it to fall into the sea so that a huge wave will be created, which will reach all the way to where Si Jelita is located.

“Yes, we did it!” was the cry that rang out when the tree came down with a reverberating echo. The waves it made in the sea were thrown all the way to the beach of distant side of the ocean.

The tree was then cut up so that it could be made into the ship that would enable them to find Si Jelita. To make that tree into boards, with which they would make that ship, they used 700 chosen people. Those 700 worked very hard to prepare that ship so that it would safely reach the other side of the ocean.

After 40 full months the ship was completed, and now the task of getting the ship off land and launched into the sea was on hand. Hundreds of people worked very hard to pull and push that ship to the beach, but they failed. They tried everything to get it off dry land, but they couldn’t.

As usual, King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya returned home, took a bath, ate supper, and went to sleep. Again his grandmother came to him in a dream he said to her, “Grandma, the ship is ready, but we don’t have the energy to pull the ship to the sea. I’m very disappointed, grandma! What more do I have to do? Or what more do I have to make?”

“I’ve already told you! You and your four brothers need to do the work. Up until now the people have been trying to pull the boat, whereas you have only been standing around watching. You have only been commanding this and that! It’s not hard to pull the ship to the beach,” she explained.

The four brothers were then certain that their grandmother’s directions would work. They themselves, without the rest of the workers, in just a short period of time had the ship launched and floating on sea.

With the ship ready to sail, the four brothers departed for the opposite side of the sea. After a full month they arrived at a kingdom that they were to search for Si Jelita.

The four brothers searched for her when they landed. Several people were asked if they had heard of her. One person responded, “Yes, actually that young lady, Si Jelita, is being kept in seclusion, because next week there’s to be a huge celebration. The capital city will become extremely festive and full of people, because our King will marry her. It will be a great event that will last 7 days and 7 nights.

The four brothers had a discussion, and they developed a strategy on how they could kidnap Si Jelita and get her back to their Kingdom. The strategy they decided on was that the King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya would pretend that he was a guest that wanted to present a greeting of congratulations to the bride. At the same time, two others would sneak into the room where Si Jelita was being held in seclusion. Before that step, those same two would act as though they were also bringing special gifts for Si Jelita. During this time Bujang Pengukir had the duty to guard the ship.

Their strategy and tactics were successful. The King that had hoped to marry Si Jelita that week was tricked. When they saw King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya’s ship leaving the port, that King realized that he had been deceived. That King wished he had a ship he could use to chase them and get his would be bride back, but they didn’t. With that Si Jelita was rescued from being married to that King.

While on their ship, King Pendekar Bujang Sanaya said to his brothers, “Let’s don’t go straightway to our kingdom.” Let’s first go and visit our uncle, Si Jelita’s father. We will go with him to the capital city of their kingdom, and there I’ll marry Si Jelita.”

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This legend could not be translated to make it comprehensible without us making adjustments in several areas. The legend was written with gaps and different threads that did not connect. We did add a small amount of additional story line, just to connect the errors the original writer made. The plot and story in general was not altered.

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