OBJECTIFICATION, ALIENATION, THE FALL: MALAY LORE OF MALIN KUNDANG
Erle Frayne D. Argonza / Ra
Popular among the Southeast Asians is the narrative of Malin Kundang. It has diverse versions, and is known among the insular Southeast (Malaysia, Singapore) and peninsular Southeast (Brunei, insular Malaysia, Indonesia).
This narrative is focused on the repercussions of ingratitude by an offspring. The denouement talks about the said scion eventually ‘turning into stone’ upon a stubborn sailing on his own galleon.
‘Turning into stone’ is a signifier for the process of densification of the soul and its disjunction from Spirit. The soul runs agog in the inner space dominated by the Inner Demon, as revealed by the ‘stone’ in the narrative. In religious lingo, it is The Fall told in a southeast Asian version of the predicament of mankind.
Not only that, the tale also reveals the power of the Feminine in antiquity. Accordingly, the Mother cursed the wayward son, a curse that resulted to him turning into stone. Which means that any person who disjoins or locks up the Feminine within him/her will end up being devoured by his/her Inner Demon and become a Fallen One.
Below is a summary of the tale.
[Philippines, 16 June 2011]
Malin Kundang (also called Si Tanggang or Nakhoda Manis) is a Southeast Asian folktale about retribution on an ungrateful son. A sailor from a poor family, the protagonist sneaks onto a trading ship, eventually becoming rich, marrying a princess, and acquiring his own galleon. On his return to his home village, he is ashamed of his humble origins and refuses to recognise his elderly mother. She curses him, and when he sets sail, he and his ship are turned to stone.
In Indonesia, the story is called Malin Kundang, and the legend is based in West Sumatra. Air Manis, a beach near Padang, has a rock formation called Batu Malin Kundang that is said to be the remains of his ship.
Another Indonesian folk story which is alike but take the different location is the legend of Sampuraga. The legend is based in Central Borneo. Belantikan Hulu, a remote area along the river Lamandau, Indonesia, has a rock formation called Bukit Sampuraga which is believed to be the ruins of his ship.
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