Dayang Rindu: A Forgotten Folklore of Southern Sumatra

January 30, 2019 | Administrator

Dayang Rindu is one of the popular folklores in southern Sumatra, especially in four provinces, namely South Sumatra, Bengkulu, Jambi and Lampung. Ironically, Dayang Rindu is almost forgotten and the local community no longer heard the story. Only a handful of people still remember or have heard it.

Dayang Rindu
ilustrator; Yuyun Nurrachman

One of the characteristics of folklore is dynamics. A folklore, such as Dayang Rindu, can experience additions, subtractions, even variations of stories. From data search, there are ten variations of Dayang Rindu stories found in the four provinces. The common thread is unrequited love, centered on a woman named Dayang Rindu. The storytellers’ skills in the past made a diverse version of the story. A unique feature of folklore is its oral delivery.

Based on many versions of the story, South Sumatra has plenty of versions of the story of Dayang Rindu. This story is known as Dayang Merindu in South Sumatra province. Muara Enim regency has the most relevance to the story compared to other areas. A number of loci – rivers, graves, villages, sacred places, and objects believed to be inherited from the family of Dayang Rindu – are located in several regencies, such as Muara Enim or Baturaja OKU.

The Lampung version of Dayang Rindu entitled “Tetimbai si Dayang Rindu” is unique from the historical viewpoint. The manuscripts were written in Lampung scripts and are currently kept in four libraries in Europe (Leiden, London, Munich, and Dublin). Tetimbai Si Dayang Rindu (TSDR) is likely the oldest manuscript, considering there has been no information or discovery of similar manuscripts in the three other provinces.

You can’t love what you don’t know. Thus, before further discussing the Lampung version of Dayang Rindu, the synopsis of the story is presented first below.


Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Tanjung Iran, there lived a beautiful maiden named Dayang Rindu. She is the daughter of Wayang Semu. Her grandfather named Kerie Carang was a prominent figure in Tanjung Iran. Many men who came to ask for her hand in marriage were denied by Kerie Carang on the pretext that Dayang Rindu had been betrothed to Ki Bayi Radin, the son of Batin Pasak of Rembang.

The matchmaking between Ki Bayi Radin and Dayang Rindu was not as easy as imagined. Kerie Carang made some absurd requests to Ki Bayi Radin. From a number of requests, only one had not been fulfilled, which was to present a three-horned buffalo. Surely that was impossible. Then, the marriage of Dayang Rindu and Ki Bayi Radin became uncertain.

Once, a fleet of ships and boats came from the Palembang Kingdom under Tumenggung Itam command. He and a number of punggawa (military chiefs) and hulubalang (military commanders) came with the mandate from Prince Riya, the King of Palembang, to propose to Dayang Rindu. The entourage came before Wayang Semu and Kerie Carang. They brought along with them various offerings. Prince Riya acquired information about Dayang Rindu from Kerie Niru’s incitement.

When their intention was rejected, Tumenggung Itam and his entourage did not accept it so that a war broke out in Tanjung Iran. Singaralang, the commander of the Tanjung Iran guards, played a major role in fighting forces from Palembang. During the war, Wayang Semu and Ki Bayi Radin were killed. Singaralang cut Tumenggung Itam’s ear and cut off  Ki Bayi Metig’s nose, one of the Palembang Kingdom’s royal commanders.

Although Tumenggung Itam lost his ear and Ki Bayi Metig lost his nose, the Palembang Kingdom’s forces managed to kidnap Dayang Rindu. The beautiful maiden was taken away to Palembang. Upon arrival, Dayang Rindu who refused to be betrothed to Prince Riya decided to fly away to Kahyangan (heaven). She chose to reunite with his parents and her fiancée, Ki Bayi Radin. This incident made Prince Riya furious. To make up for the shame of not being able to marry Dayang Rindu, he sent his forces to destroy Tanjung Iran.

Singaralang was determined to rescue his niece Dayang Rindu from Palembang. He went alone to Niru and all the way to Palembang. He killed Kerie Niru, the person who instigated Prince Riya and caused a war between Tanjung Iran and the Kingdom of Palembang. Then, he continued his trip to Palembang to hunt down Pangeran Riya but failed. Knowing his life was threatened, Prince Riya had already fled into the jungle.

Thus, when the war between the kingdom of Palembang and Tanjung Iran was over, Singaralang returned to Tanjung Iran. He found Tanjung Iran was destroyed by the attack of the Kingdom of Palembang.


Every region in the archipelago has their own folklores that are different from each other. This rich cultural heritage must be preserved and conserved. Ini adalah kekayaan budaya yang harus dijaga dan dilestarikan. A trivial but interesting question is who brought the folklore of Tetimbai si Dayang Rindu to the four libraries in Europe? The TSDR manuscript kept in the Leiden University Library is the result of an inventory of Herman Neubronner van der Tuuk while in Lampung (1868-1869). H.N. van der Tuuk was the first person to make a Lampung language dictionary. Van der Tuuk also made the first Batak and Balinese language dictionaries.

The TSDR manuscript obtained by van der Tuuk in Sukadana, East Lampung consists of 16 pages and bertitimangsa Tarabanggi (Terbanggi) October 28, 1847; Which means it has existed or has been written before he went to Lampung. This is written in H.N. van der Tuuk’s article entitled “Brieven betreffende het Lampongsch”. In the article he explains that there are many Malay and Javanese vocabularies in TSDR.

Along with TSDR, Leiden also kept a collection of Tetimbai Anak Dalom, a southern Sumatra folklore set in Bengkulu, Malaysia, and Siam (Thailand). The Tetimbai Anak Dalom is also written in Lampung script.

Meanwhile, the TSDR kept in the School of Oriental and African Studies (London) and The Chester Beatty Library (Dublin, Ireland) is the result of William Marden’s inventory. Marden once wrote a famous book, History of Sumatra and History of Java that is still used as a reference for  the history of Indonesia. The other manuscripts of TSDR are kept in a library in Munich.

As previously explained, the various versions of Dayang Rindu in the four provinces of southern Sumatra, were also acknowledged by Voorhoeve, a Dutch researcher who took notes on the epics he discovered in southern Sumatra. Voorhoeve underlined the facts that caught his attention in Tetimbai Dayang Rindu and Tetimbai Anak Dalom. It is not the illustration of the traditional house and the picture of the ship that adorns the pages of the manuscript that makes him interested, but why the story from outside Lampung is written in Lampung script. Voorhoeve suggests that, Lampung writers at that time summarized and documented the stories of Dayang Rindu and Anak Dalom into manuscripts in Lampung scripts after hearing from other storytellers.

Dayang Rindu lineage is also thought, as has been distorted. Some think of it as mere fiction, some believe that Dayang Rindu is a figure that once existed (real). The variety of Dayang Rindu’s story includes the name of the character, the position and role of the characters in the story, the outline of the story, even the ending. Some of the places that are the setting for Dayang Rindu’s story are facts. The location of Tanjung Iran or Tanjung Heran, according to William Marsden and Herman Neubronner van der Tuuk, can be identified as in Kota Agung (Tanggamus) or in Muara Enim (South Sumatra).

A number of interesting facts related to the text of TSDR. Keriye/Kerie/Kerio is a term for equivalent to village head position. This term was once used in southern Sumatra a long time ago, but not anymore. There are Kerie Niru and Kerie Carang figures in TSDR. Batin means widower in the local language of Muara Enim. There is Batin Pasak of Rambang in TSDR, the father of Ki Bayi Radin, Dayang Rindu’s fiancée.

Tanjung Iran is situated in Bebarau hamlet, as mentioned in a book of  folklores published by Perpusda Muara Enim, 2009, an area after passing Prabumulih and before Indralaya. The places in the story, Rambang hamlet, Niru hamlet and river, exist in Muara Enim. Muara Enim has its own traditional martial arts named Kuntau Mantis, which many of its movements adopted those of tigers or lions.

From a number of historical and anthropological facts, the area of Tanjung Iran and the story of Dayang Rindu are related to or originated from Muara Enim (South Sumatra). There are other facts supporting the story, such as the stone site of Dayang Rindu and an area called Tanjung Iran in Tanggamus regency (Lampung).

Dayang Rindu has become an archetype of soutehrn Sumatra’s past treasures. It has gone through commodification in various forms and functions. In Muara Enim, there is an art building named Putri Dayang Rindu. In Jambi, there is a pempek shop named Dayang Merindu. Dayang Rindu rice variety is still exist today in Pagaralam and Lubuklinggau even though there are fewer growers due to the rainfed farming system. The rice variety was once existing in Lampung too, but has been extinct since the 50-60s. In Baturaja, there is a cave believed by the locals as Dayang Rindu’s place of retreat. Also, there lies a stone believed to be Dayang Rindu cursed by Si Pahit Lidah or the Bitter Tongue (another well-known southern Sumatra folklore).

Folklores can be a means of understanding Indonesia’s cultural diversity. In folklores, there are local values and geniuses that can be learned from and may still be relevant to the current context and conditions. There are wisdoms, implicitly and explicitly contained in the story, which have been passed down for generations.

The forgotten story of Dayang Rindu can be presented again in a different cultural perspective or strategy.


Essay Arman Az

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