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Putri Pandan Berduri, the Origin of Tribalism in Bintan Isle

Riau Islands - Indonesia
Putri Pandan Berduri
Rating : Rating 3 3 (6 vote(s))

Bintan is the biggest isle in the province of Riau Islands. The province’s capital, Tanjung Pinang, is in there. The isle is inhabited by diverse ethnicities such as Malay, Chinese, Minang, Batak, Java, and so on. There is an ethnic group known as Sampan Tribe or Laut Tribe too. They live on boat (sampan) and at sea (laut), thus their name.

There is a folklore story persists in Riau Islands, Bintan in particular. The story tells about Batin Lagoi, a Sampan Tribe chief, who finds a baby girl in a brush of pandanus plants by the sea. Batin Lagoi takes the baby as daughter and names her Putri Pandan Berduri.

Batin Lagoi nurtures Putri Pandan Berduri as if she were a princess. He raises her well that she grows up a beautiful and well-spoken girl. She unavoidably attracts all young men in Bintan. No one dares to propose her, though, as Batin Lagoi wants his daughter to become a wife of a prince or a nobleman. Will his dream come true? And a prince or nobleman from where that is lucky enough to marry Putri Pandan Berduri? Find out the answers in the following story.

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The story goes that long, long ago in Bintan Isle, there lived a throng of Sampan people. Their chief was a strong, charismatic Batin. His name was Batin Lagoi. To enter his territory, one had to pass by a big bamboo tree whish was surrounded by thick bushes.

One day, Batin Lagoi was walking on the shore. Strolling leisurely, suddenly he was surprised by a baby cry that came from a pandanus brush not far. Timidly, he went in the brush and found a baby girl lying on a leaf. “Whose baby is this? Where are the parents? Why leaves her here?” Batin Lagoi asked himself.

Looking around him, Batin Lagoi did not see any sign of human presence. He was childless himself, so he actually wanted to foster the baby as child. Carefully, he took the baby home and named her Putri Pandan Berduri. He raised his daughter very affectionately as if she were a princess. He taught her good manners everyday.

Time went by. Putri Pandan Berduri grew up a charming lady. Her language and behavior were so polite, giving other people a sense that she were indeed a princess. Her beauty and character amazed young men in Bintan Isle. However, no one dated to propose her as her father wanted her to marry a prince or a nobleman.

Meanwhile, in Galang Isle, there was a nobleman that had two sons. The older was Julela and the younger was Jenang Perkasa. Since childhood, they were taught to always help and respect each other.

As the two matured, their father wanted Julela to become a batin in Gelang. It turned out that it made him arrogant. He no longer cared about his younger brother and so they became distant from each other. They led each own life separately.

From day to day, Julela’s character went worse. He often scolded and got mad at his brother with no reason. One day, Julela said to his brother, “Hey, you stupid! I will be a batin of this kampong soon. By then, you must obey my command, every single of it. Except if you want me to kick you out of here.”

The words saddened Jenang Perkasa. He felt like he was no longer a brother to Julela. Disappointed at how things developed, he began thinking of leaving Galang Isle.  

Next morning, furtively, Jenang Perkaya went by boat with no apparent destination. After days at sea, he arrived in Bintan Isle. There he did not tell people that he was a nobleman, but he always spoke in good manners to anyone. His behavior appeared to draw Batin Lagoi’s attention.

One day, Batin Lagoi was having a banquet with the other Sampan people, including Jenang Perkasa. When the dinner was about to start, he chose to sit a little far from the others so that he would not bother them while eating. He did not realize that somebody had been observing him all along. He was Batin Lagoi. He was so impressed by Jenang Perkasa manners.

After the dinner, Batin Lagoi approached Jenang Perkasa. “O, Jenang Perkasa! I am so impressed and in awe of your refined behavior. Now I take my heart to ask you if you are willing to marry my daughter, Pandan Berduri?” asked Batin Lagoi. Jenang Perkasa had already known much about the lady. She was indeed beautiful and so lovable. “With all due respect, I will marry your daughter,” answered the young man politely.

It seemed that Batin Lagoi had forgotten his wish to marry his daughter to a prince or a nobleman. He did not know yet that Jenang Perkasa was actually a noble. His interest to the young man was purely caused by an amazement of his exquisite character.

A week later, Jenang Perkasa was married to Putri Pandan Berduri. Their wedding party was cheerful. Any kinds of drinks and foods were served while the people were watching dances. Jenang Perkasa and Putri Pandan Berduri both looked happy side by side.

Not long after, Batin Lagoi appointed Jenang Perkasa a batin in Bintan to replace him. Jenang led the people of Bintan wisely and sincerely according to the governing local traditions.

His sage leadership began to be heard in Galang. Then, a group of Galang people went to Bintan Isle. “O, Jenang Perkasa! We’ve come here to take you back to Galang to replace your arrogant brother,” said one of them frankly. Jenang frowned, thinking. After sometime, he decided to refuse the request and chose to stay in Bintan. The Galang people left empty handed.

Jenang Perkasa lived happily with Putri Pandan Berduri. They had three sons, the oldest was Batin Mantang, the second Batin Mapoi, and the youngest Batin Kelong.

The couple educated their sons well so that they would end up good men. Jenang hoped that they would be responsible men and could become a chief somewhere.  He taught him traditions too, which in Sampan society was called Adat Kesukuan.

Indeed, when each of them became a leader in different places. Batin Mantang moved to the northern part of Bintan, Batin Mapoi to the west, and Batin Kelong to the east of the isle. The three of them led their own people to become the biggest tribes in Bintan. If they ever fell in hardships, they would better turn to the traditions, Adat Kesukuan.

Not long after, Jenang Perkasa passed away, followed by Putri Pandan Berduri. The people of Bintan considered them their ancestors and that adat kesukuan was a tradition and wisdom they had to preserve. Until today, Jenang Perkasa and Putri Pandan Berduri are remembered as a couple from whom tribalism in Bintan originates.

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The folktale above is an exemplary story that contains morals that can give people guidance in daily life. One must behave well and not be arrogant. Putri Pandan Berduri and Jenang Perkasa are polite, well spoken, and well mannered so that people respect them highly. Their characters are an example for people in how they should interact with others.

On the other hand, Julela’s arrogance turns out to cause people dislike him. His people and even brother do not care about him anymore. Arrogance is a really bad character so that Malay people strongly encourage each other to keep away from it. To them, arrogant people will end up alone, as said in the Malay verses below:

kalau suka membesarkan diri, (if you like to brag yourself)
saudara menjauh, sahabat pun lari (Brothers will be aloof, friends will run away)

kalau suka berlaku angkuh, (if you like to behave arrogantly)
orang benci, sahabat menjauh (people will hate you, mates will stay far from you)


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Comments for "Putri Pandan Berduri, the Origin of Tribalism in Bintan Isle"

Cintaindonesia Septtember 24th, 2012

"Matur nuwun, sudah bantuin bikin tugas ini sangat membantu sekalii.. ;) ^^ I LOVEtu INDONESIA ! "

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