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The Legend of Mambang Linau Princess

Riau - Indonesia
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Riau is one of provinces in Indonesia located in Sumatra Island. It is well known for the cultural heritages which become the icon for the Riau society. There are various kinds of arts developed in it, some of which are dance, music, carving, weaving, painting, martial art, and theater. Amidst those arts, the dance is believed to be a leading folklore. It is a combination of different movements. Each region has unique movements displayed in its traditional dance. Some movements even are based on different tales, stories and legends. Olang-olang, the traditional dance of Riau which is still alive to now, also keeps an interesting story. The dance is particularly popular amongst Malayans in Bengkalis district, Riau (Sakai-Malay). The local people believe that the Olang-olang dance was created for a story about a young man who met and then felt in love with a beautiful woman who was an expert at dance. Nevertheless, their love ended in separation as the woman contravened the prohibition that they made. What kind of prohibition did they make? How was the story of their tragic love? Follow their story on the legend of Mambang Linau Princess below. 


Once upon a time, in Bengkalis lived a young man. He was usually called among his friends Bujang Enok. The young man`s parents had died years ago. He was alone with no brothers, nor relatives. Living in poor, he always made a living by searching for the firewood in the jungle nearby his village. Those firewood were brought and sold in a market. Occasionally, he changed those with rice or vegetables for eating. Being in such condition, nevertheless, did not make him a stingy person. Instead, he was a generous man who always shared his belongings with the persons in need. 

One day, Bujang Enok was walking through the jungle in searching for the firewood as usual. Unexpectedly, a serpent slithered, came close and stopped just before him. “Ssssssss......Ssssss....”, hissed the serpent, flicking its tongue out of its mouth. Afraid of its venomous spittle, Bujang Enok tried to drive it way nicely, but the serpent remained on the street blocking his way. Then, Bujang Enok walked to another side, leaving the serpent on the street. However, all of sudden, the serpent bit him aggressively which made Bujang Enok whipped it by semambu (a stick made of rattan), the heirloom which was inherited by his  father. In a strike, the snake coiled itself around and soon died. After making sure of that the serpent no longer made a move, he rushed to bury the deadly serpent.

Afterwards, he continued his work, walking to the jungle and cut down some trees and collected some firewood at sufficiently. During his work, he overheard a soft sound of woman coming from a far place. He tried to trace its source and finally he could find where it came from. “Oh….it comes from that direction, near the downstream. It is the voices of women talking”, mumbled Bujang Enok. Busy with his work, Bujang Enok ignored those voices and continued searching for another firewood. Nevertheless, he still could hear what they were talking about. “The poisonous serpent has died”, explained a woman to the other. “Thanks God, it wouldn`t bother us anymore”, said the other woman.  

In the afternoon, Bujang Enok went back to his hut bringing the collected firewood. As he entered to his kitchen, he was surprised since some foods, cooked rice, and vegetables were already there, on the table. Being hungry after a long day working, Bujang Enok ate all the foods hungrily. When he was eating, came across his mind about who would serve all these kinds of food. “My mother has died, so has my father. Neither my brother or my sister will do all these. My neighbors are so far from here, it is impossible they came across and put those on my table. So, who is this kind person preparing for me all of this” thought Bujang Enok, trying to guess. His mind was flooded by a lot of queries. Then, he intended to figure out who was the person.

Forced by his curiosity at the person who had entered his house, in the next morning, he planned to not go to the jungle. One day long he awaited the person, hiding behind bushes nearby his hut. In the middle of the day, suddenly seven came women from the direction of downstream. Those were as beautiful as fairies. They came in throng, bringing different dish services on their head, and entering the Bujang Enok`s house. The seven beautiful ladies worn shawls of different colors. Out of seven, the woman with a bright red shawl was the most attractive. “Amazing, what a beautiful lady who wears that shawl, the bright red shawl”, mumbled Bujang Enok, watching those ladies until they all walked into his house and disappeared from his sight.   

Soon after, the seven ladies came out from Bujang Enok`s hut, walked through the jungle to the direction of upstream. In a slow step, Bujang Enok trailed after them to the bank of the River, and hid again behind the trees. From there, he saw the seven ladies taking their clothes and shawls off. The ladies hanged their clothes on the small branch of a big tree. They took bath cheerfully, unnoticing the presence of Bujang Enok who stood not far from the river. While they made noises by their voices, Bujang Enok took the time for stealing the bright red shawl. Using a small stick, he tried to reach the shawl, hooked the end of stick to the shawl, and pulled it slowly. Then, he hid the shawl within his cloth and backed to hide behind the tree. 

After taking bath, the seven ladies went up to the edge of river and took their clothes on. Each lady took her shawl hanging on the branch. Unfortunately, a lady could not find her shawl. “Where is my shawl, I still remember that I hanged it on that branch”, asked the lady while looking for her lost shawl. The other helped her in searching for the shawl around the river, but their attempts were in vain. They couldn`t find it until the day became darker. Then, the six ladies danced altogether and flied to the sky, leaving another one alone in the bank. Bujang Enok couldn`t believe what he saw. “is it true they are flying, how come a human fly to the sky?”, asked Bujang Enok to himself, wrinkling his forehead.

After a while, Bujang Enok exited from his hiding place and approached the women who was still looking for her lost stuff . “Hey beautiful woman, what on earth are you looking for?”, accosted Bujang Enok. “Sir, if you figure out whereabout my lost shawl, please let me know it!”, answered the lady with her lower voice. Bujang Enok nodded his head and said “it is my pleasure to have this shawl back to whom it belongs to”,  while showing her shawl. “But I have personal request. It is a condition. I will give it to you, and in return, you should marry me”, Bujang Enok explained. “Yes, I agree with that. I will be your wife. But I have a personal request as well. You should keep promise that if I should dance sometimes it  means we will separate”, replied the lady clearly. “Ok, I agree with that. By the way, My name is Bujang Enok”, said Bujang Enak, introducing himself. “My name is Mambang Linau”, replied the lady spontaneously. Since then, both lived happily and harmoniously as a couple. 

After Bujang Enok got married with Mambang Linau, he was increasingly famous for his generosity to the other people. His popularity was heard by the King who ruled Bengkalis. The King invited Bujang Enok to a feast conducted by the King. When Bujang Enok came to the palace, the King asked him to be a Batin (Village leader) in Petalangan village. “My Majesty, it is an honor for me, invited by Your Majesty. If it is possible, I am wondering why I am invited here?”, asked Bujang Enok, kneeling in front of the King. “Bujang Enok, would you be a Batin in Petalangan village?”, asked the King quickly. “I am sorry Your Majesty, if it is your order, it will be my pleasure to follow your order”, answered Bujang Enok happily, while paying him a respect. His acceptance to the proposal made the King happy. Days after the meeting, Bujang Enok was installed formally as a Batin of Petalangan village. 

Since the installation, Bujang Enok became a King`s trusty. Every feasts and ceremonies held, the King always sent a messenger to invite him coming the party.  One day, a big party was arranged by the King. In the party, the main welcoming art was the dance performed by all ladies of Kingdom, wives of official kingdoms, judges, and trusties, including wife of Bujang Enok, Mambang Linau. After the party was commenced, one by one, the wives were asked to show their talent at dancing. Mambang Linau who took part started becoming restless. “If I dance now, it means a divorce. Something that I don`t want”, said Mambang Linau to herself. Soon after his mumbling, “Now, it is the time for Mambang Linau to dance”, said the King, accompanied by the applause from the spectators and the presents. Hearing the order from the King, her heart palpitated quickly. Bujang Enok who sat just behind her whispered her, “My dear Mambang Linau, Kakanda[1] respects much the order from the King”. Mambang Linau understood what her husband meant exactly. “For the royal word of the King, and thankful expression to God, I am pleasure to dance”, replied Mambang Linau. Then, she took his bright red shawl on and went to the stage.  

Before she started dancing, Mambang Linau performed opening movements to follow the Kingdom manner and to pay respect for the King who stood before the stage. Then, she danced in a rhythm, flapping her shawl like an eagle. Slowly, she raised her food and suddenly coiled her body, drifted in the air and flied to the sky. Since then, she never came back to Bujang Enok. The presents was agape with what happened in the palace. The king asked Bujang Enok, and he explained what had already happened. The King felt sorry to Bujang Enok and he understood well that Bujang Enok put the King as priority than his own personal life. For that, the King awarded him an honor and installed him as Penghulu in the palace. From the scene, there is a pantun (Malayan Quatrain) said

Ambillah seulas si buah limau
Coba cicipi di ujung-ujung sekali
Sudahlah pergi si Mambang Linau
Hamba sendiri menjunjung duli

After the happening, the King issued a royal word to respect the sacrifice of Bujang Enok. Every year, a tribute dance is held in the palace. The dance narrates the story of Mambang Linau when she met Bujang Enok and left him. The movements of dance is very much similar to that of eagle`s movement when flying (Elang Belegar). Thus, the dance is named elang-elang dance. The dance performance is usually accompanied with some musical instruments such as gendang gubano (drum), rebab, calempong, and gong. The dance is very popular in Siak and Merbau, Bengkalis district, Riau province, Indonesia. 



  • Legenda Puteri Mambang Linau. Yogyakarta: Balai Kajian dan Pengembangan Budaya Melayu with Adicita Karya Nusa, 2005.
  • Budaya Tradisional Bengkalis. Pekanbaru: Dinas Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata with Pusat Pengajian Bahasa dan Kebudayaan Melayu UNRI (P2BKM-UNRI).

[1] Special expression addressed for a husband

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Comments for "The Legend of Mambang Linau Princess"

novan andy March 30th, 2011

"Great narrative"

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