Makam Syech Keramat Tinggi

[The Grave of the Tall Sacred Sheik]

Graves said to contain the remains of a Sacred Tall Sheik, and his wife Kemuning.

The two graves, side-by-side.

Indonesians often frequent graves of famous people and offer sacrifices to the spirits of the deceased that are believed to reside there. We have written about a number of these sacred graves, and those posts can be accessed via the category on the right side of our blog titled: Graves; Sacred & Historical.

Many of these graves have legends associated with them, and with the passing of time the legends get more and more interesting as succeeding generations embellish them with their additions.

The two graves, side-by-side.

Graves said to contain the remains of a tall sheik, and his wife Kemuning.

Who is Buried in the Grave Called: Makam Syech Keramat Tinggi?

On the west side of the City of Muara Bulian there are two sacred graves. The graves are said to contain the remains of a man (and his wife), who the community commonly refers to as Syech Tinggi (Tall Sheik). Many believe the legend of Syech Tinggi is a fact. One undocumented aspect of the story about Syech Tinggi is that he was said to have originated from Saudi Arabia in the 17th century, and his original name was Jamal. It’s also claimed that this man acted as an Islamic missionary who spread Islam along the Batanghari River.

C. and Mr. Ansyori as they hold the dish said to have been used by the

C. and Mr. Ansyori as they hold the dish said to have been used by the “giant” ancestor of Mr. Ansyori.
The name of the dish is “Pecah Seribu.”

An Opposite Claim

To get more detailed information about these graves, we visited the home of a former Kepala Dusun (head of a village), Mr. F. Ansyori HK.  Mr. Ansyori told us he was a direct descendent of the man buried at Makam Keramat Tinggi. He said that the man was very tall, and because of his large size he held a position as a body guard (pengawal) for the Jambi King, or a commander (hulubalang) in the Jambi military. Mr. Ansyori specifically said that the man buried at this particular grave was not from Saudi Arabia, that he was not a sheik, and that he was born in Jambi.

When at Mr. Ansyori’s home he produced a large serving bowl, which he said his unusually tall ancestor used for his daily meals. He said that the size of the bowl was evidence that the man was very large. That bowl has since been named; “Pecah Seribu” (1,000 Breaks, or broken 1,000x). That name was given because of the many cracks throughout the porcelain serving bowl.

A close up of the bowl named: “Pecah Seribu”
Pecah Seribu means “1,000 Breaks,” due to the many hairline fractures throughout the bowl.

Legend Validity

Why do some claim that the deceased was a Saudi, and that he was a sheik? The reasons are uncertain, but what is certain, as we have found from studying Jambi’s history and legends for over three years, is that when legendary stories get repeated many times, those legends become facts in the minds of the local people.

Other Trivia About Makam Syech Keramat Tinggi

  • The wife of Syech Keramat Tinggi is said to be buried beside him, and her name was said to be Kemuning.
  • Both of the elaborate graves are approximately 20 feet long, expanding on the legend of the man.
    • These extra long graves are common in Jambi, as several other legendary figures of Jambi have had extra long graves built. Examples of the extra long graves are:
    • These extra long graves are undoubtedly built in an attempt to show that the individuals buried there were “larger-than-life,” and thus use the legends built around them as a means to influence the citizens in a certain direction.
  • The headstones are made from petrified wood and they have no writing on them.

    The headstones are made from petrified wood.

    Headstone Made from Petrified Wood

  • Some have made the undocumented assertion that this man’s wife was a daughter of Orang Kayo Hitam. If that assertion were true, it would indicate that this man lived during the 1600s (Mr Ansyori told us nobody knows the dates of when this man died).
  • Those claiming that Shiek Tinggi came from Saudi Arabia, also make the claim that his daily attire was a black robe and a Turban—which was to be reflective of his Saudi Arabia origin.
  • The man’s height was said to be around 3 meters (9.8 feet). Mr. Ansyori said nobody knows how tall he was, but that he was a very big man.
  • Both graves at this location are said to contain magical powers, and that if people pray there, and offer animal sacrifices to the spirits of the deceased, they will receive positive results.
    • The grave caretakers (juru kunci) enjoy it when people offer sacrifices at these graves, because the sacrifices are often released to roam freely (lepas), and the caretaker will later on enjoy the fine meal that that the chicken, goat, cow, or water buffalo will provide.
  • A testimony of a woman who prayed at this grave:
    • One woman who had 4 sons sacrificed chickens there and prayed that she could bear a daughter. In just a short period of time after that she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter.
  • At the commencement of the month of Ramadan many people come to these graves to offer animal sacrifices and to pray for blessings for everything imaginable.
  • There are reports that those who have come and prayed for gambling numbers, or for other illegal benefits, have been attacked by giant centipedes. Others say that there have also been reports of tigers that come leaping out of the brush along the Batang Hari River and attack people who are attempting to use the powers of the grave in an unscrupulous way.

Location of the Grave

(click here for a satellite location)

Heading west out of Muara Bulian you will cross a bridge. After that bridge there is a small road (lorong) to the right at the intersection called Simpang Orang Kayo Hitam. Take that road down about 1 tenth of a kilometer then turn left. Take that road ½ kilometer and turn right. Makam SyechTinggi is located at the end of that dirt road.