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

Origin of the Jambi Villages of Lempur, Tebat Gelang, and Tebat

(Asal Mula Nama Lempur, Tebat Gelang, dan Tebat Jambi)

This legend describes how several Jambi villages obtained their names. It also gives insight into the Indonesian view of how children are to respect their mother, or dire consequences will result!

The moral lesson Indonesians get from this legend is that children have a responsibility to honor and respect their mothers. Another lesson derived from this legend is that they must never do anything that will hurt their mother’s feelings.

From the western mindset, this legend is disturbing. It’s possibly disturbing to many Indonesians as well. The westerner’s view of God is that he is a God of reconciliation and forgiveness, even of the most serious of offenses. He is not a God that delights in judgment or retribution, like what we see in the below story. Another thing from the western mindset: if a mother truly loved her daughter, no matter how rebellious her daughter would be, and no matter how much hurt she would cause, the mother would continue to love, forgive, and always be ready to welcome her back into a relationship with her.


A long, long time ago, in the Kerinci regency (kabupaten) of the Jambi Province, there was a kingdom named Puncak Tiga Kaum. It was named that because that kingdom was led by three brothers. The oldest was Pamuncak Rencong Talang. The middle was Pamuncak Tanjung Sari. And the youngest was Pamuncak Koto Tapus. Together with the citizens, each one of the three brothers had the responsibility to manage their region of the Kingdom. Even though all three of the regions were managed independently, whenever there was the need for help in one region, the other two regions would provide whatever help was needed to take care of the situation. That cooperative effort was also reflected in how they discussed their problems, and that is, through joint discussions.

Pamuncak Rencong Talang and his two younger brothers provided just and wise leadership. All three regions were prosperous, safe, and calm. If one of the regions would be in need of help during the planting or harvest season, the others would come and work together. During the harvest season, they would conduct a thanksgiving festival (Kenduri). The Kenduri festival of thanksgiving was normally carried out with great celebrations. All the citizens from the area would be invited, with the famous and most honored of citizens being seated in the places of greatest honor.

One year during the rice harvest season, when Pamuncak Rencong Talang’s region was having a bountiful harvest, they conducted a Kenduri festival.

“Hey, everyone, our harvest this season is overflowing! To express thanksgiving for this great blessing, let’s conduct a festival right away,” said Pamuncak Rencong Talang. “Please prepare everything that is needed, including inviting all the guests!”

“Okay, Your Majesty,” said the leaders of the community in unison.

The preparations for the huge feast that was to take place was immediately started. All the citizens of the area were very busy trying to make sure the feast would be a great time of celebration and thanksgiving. Pamuncak Rencong Talang sent out invitations to his brothers, Pamuncak Tanjung Sari and Pamuncak Koto Tapus. Their entire families were also included in the invitation. The festival was to last three days. The first day was uniquely a feast for people from outside the area. The second day was a special feast only for the main leaders of the regions, as well as the older mature citizens. The third day was uniquely for the young men and women.

When the Kenduri festival started, on the very first day of that three day event, those who were invited began to arrive. The celebration proceeded as scheduled and it was a time of great exuberance.

On the second day of the event, the invited guests from the leading families arrived. Pamuncak Koto Talang was present with his family, as well as several of his close advisors and guards. Pamuncak Tanjung Sari also arrived, being accompanied by several of the leaders in the various districts within the region he governed.

On the third and final day of the event, which was uniquely for the young men and women, Putri, the very beautiful daughter of Pamuncak Tanjung Sari arrived, being accompanied by her mother. When they entered the location where the party was being conducted, Putri became the center of all the young men’s attention. Seated at the very back of the area were two young men who were whispering to each other about Putri’s beauty.

“Hey, who is that pretty girl? Do you know her?” whispered one of the young men to the other.

“Who knows? I’ve never seen her before,” responded the second young man, “But her appearance and clothing clearly shows that she’s not merely an ordinary citizen in our Kingdom.”

“Hmmm… perhaps she’s from the family of Pamuncak Rencong Talang,” said the first young man.

While the program got started Putri’s mother went to a different location and assembled with the family of Pamuncak Rencong Talang. Putri’s mother intentionally didn’t sit close to her daughter because the celebration conducted on that day was especially for the young men and women. As the feast started, everybody was happy and pleased to be able to be together. All the guests enjoyed a wide assortment of foods, as well as a presentation of various forms of arts, like dancing, singing, and music. Because they were all so absorbed in the events of the festival, they weren’t aware they had been there so long, because they didn’t even give it a thought when the roosters began to crow early in the morning. The festival was still going on!

Putri’s mother, realizing they had been there a long time, went over to the location where the program was still in process and told her daughter they needed to return home. Her mother was worried that she would become sick due to not having sufficient sleep.

“Come on my daughter, let’s go home,” said her mother.

Putri heard her mother, but she totally ignored her. She was still enjoying the celebration together with the other guests. Because she wouldn’t listen to her mother, her mother returned and joined with the family of Pamuncak Rencong Talang again. After a period of time, her mother again returned to the location where the festival was being held and called for her daughter.

“Come on my daughter, let’s go home! It’s already day time,” said her mother.

Again and again Putri ignored her mother. She even began to feel annoyed by her mother’s repeated efforts to take her away from the party and return home.

There was a young man sitting together with Putri, and he asked her, “Hey! Who in the world is that woman?

“Oh… that old woman is my house maid,” said Putri.

Her mother heard Putri’s response to that young man’s question, and she never thought that her precious beautiful daughter would ever have the heart to say something like that. The mother was deeply hurt and her heart was broken to pieces. The mother’s thought was, “How could my daughter, whom I love so dearly, ever say that I’m not her mother?”

“Oh, God. Forgive my daughter’s sins!” prayed the mother.

After the festival was over, the wife of Pamuncak Tanjung Sari, together with her daughter Putri, said goodbye to Pamuncak Rencong Talang’s family and returned to their home. It was a long distance to their home, so they knew the journey was going to take a long time. They had to pass through valleys, over hills, through rice fields, and open fields. In the middle of their journey they met with a group of young men that had spent a lot of time with Putri the night before. Because they were all very tired, both groups decided to rest together at the same place. While resting, one of the young men came over to Putri and asked her something.

“Excuse me, Putri. Who is that old woman that’s accompanying you? asked the young man.

“Didn’t I already tell you she was my house servant? she replied.

Though she clearly heard her daughter’s reply to that young man, the mother remained silent. However, in her heart she concealed the sharp deep pain those words caused.

After their rest they continued on their journey and they arrived in the area of Pulau Sangkar and Lolo, which is full of swamps. When the mother saw the swamps, she felt resentful of her daughter’s behavior and words, and prayed for God to curse her rebellious daughter so she would be swallowed up and drown in the swamp’s mud.

The prayers of Putri’s mother went straight to God, the One that is All Powerful, and he granted her the thing she prayed for. When her daughter was walking through the swamp, her feet got stuck in the mud. Little by little she began to sink, deeper and deeper, until she was almost completely submerged. That rebellious and disobedient Putri screamed out for her mother for help.

“Mother,… Mother… help me!” screamed Putri.

“I’m not your mother! I’m only your old and ugly house servant!” responded her mother.

Putri continued to scream for her mother’s help, and even promised she would never act disobediently to her again.

“Forgive me, Mother! I promise I’ll never rebel against you again,” said Putri in a state of desperation.

Thinking there was nothing more that could be done for her daughter, and that she was already sunk too far down into the mud, she gave no further consideration to helping her. But she quickly went over to her, when she saw that she was sunk in the mud up to her chin, and she took the decorative bracelet off her wrist. She also took from Putri her beautiful and extremely expensive shaw (songket selendang) that had gold thread woven into its fabric. After that Putri was totally submerged in the mud. Since then that area was named “Lempur,” which comes from the word “mud” (lumpur).

Seeing that Putri had completely vanished below the mud, her mother continued on her journey home. Suddenly she arrived at a location that was a good place to rest. While resting she saw a pool (tebat) and began to bathe. When she was washing her face the bracelet she took from her daughter accidently fell. When she picked it back up, that bracelet reminded her of her deceased daughter. Not wanting to have painful memories of her dearly loved daughter anymore, she threw the bracelet out into the depths of the pool (tebat) and left it there. Since then that area has been known as Tebat Gelang (bracelet pool).

After she finished resting, the wife of Pamuncak Tanjung Sari continued on her journey. Arriving at another place where another pool was located, she again decided to rest and take another bath. While bathing, the shaw (songket selendang) that she took from her daughter accidentally fell. Again, like with the bracelet, memories of her daughter came back to her. Not wanting to continually be troubled and disturbed with thoughts of Putri anymore, she threw the shaw into the pool (tebat) so it would sink clear to the bottom. Since then that area has been called Tebat Jambi.

September 1, 2012