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The Kambang Island (Southern Kalimantan)

South Kalimantan - Indonesia
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Barito Kuala is one of sub-province in the Province of South Kalimantan.  There are some islands in that area located on the middle of the Barito River which splits the Sub-Province of Barito Kuala. The island is initially in the form of delta which then called as island by the surrounding society. One of the very famous delta or island in that area is the Kambang Island. This island is located on the west side of Banjarmasin, in the district of Alalak. By the government of Indonesia, in this case Department of Agriculture, Kambang Island was established as a tourism island in 1976. As a tourism place, there are many tourists who come from various countries visit this island.

If you make a trip to Muara Kuin Adrift Markets, you will pass this island. As a main tourism place of the city Banjarmasin, Kambang Island is offered in one package with Muara Kuin Adrift Market. This small island, which is encircled by rivers, is easy to be visited. One fascination of Kambang Island is its thousands wariks (monkey) that always greet the visitors, particularly if they are hungry. These wariks often grab things from the visitors.

Beside those who want to see wariks, there are also visitors who intentionally come to Kambang Island because of specific intention. In this island, here is an altar that is used by the Tionghoa-Indonesia ethnicity who have a certain affiance or vow as a place for putting down the kambang that represents as the "guard” of the island. The Altar is symbolized by two white statues of monkey. If their prayers are granted, usually they discharge a goat which its horn were over layered with gold as a thankfulness to the Kambang Island "guard”. Why is Kambang Island used as a site of pilgrimage? Then, what about the wariks? Apparently, the fact that Kambang Island is used as site of pilgrimage and the existence of the wariks doesn`t connect one another. The people of South Kalimantan have two different stories of both .

It was said that there was an empire named Kuin at the estuary of the Barito River. Its strategic location made the empire being visited by many traders from various countries. Besides the strategic location, this empire had a miraculous, daring and powerful ruler. His name was Datu Pujung. He was the security pledge and fortress of the defense of Kuin Empire for chasing all threats which come from outside.

One day, a Jung (big ship) that came from China anchored at Barito River. Although in the Jung was seen remarkable workload, there was none of the resident knew what actually they did in the big ship. None of the resident knew the purpose of their arrival. As a guest, they should send a messenger to face the ruler of the country. After being waited for long time, there was no one came out from the big ship to submit their mean. This made the ruler of the country becoming more careful. All guards of the port were drawn up to awake to face all possibilities.

The day after, a boat that loaded of uniformed and fully armed soldiers landed on the river ridge. One of them jumped to the land and at the same time he bonded a rope at ulin wood that deliberately made for footbridge. "Hey, children of this country! Before bloodshed happened, I suggest all of you to surrender. Otherwise, we will annihilate this country. Anyone who dares to fight against us, will be killed, and who don`t fight against us, will be a captive slave!" said a messenger. Datu Pujung answered the threat politely,” We don`t seek an enemy. If enemies come, it is an abstinence for us to avoid them.” Then, Datu Pujung asked,” Can you defeat us?" Datu Pujung words made the messenger infuriated." Hi, old man! How dare are you. Are you asking for proof of our strength?"  The messenger answered.” Yes, so", Datu Pujung answered fully authority.

"Hi soldiers! Besiege and catch them!" the deputation leader commanded. But, before the soldiers made a move, Datu Pujung jumped to the deputation leader and aimed a knife to the man who was threatens neck." It is not wise. It is not wise at all. As unwise as my knife. It will rend and make a hole on your neck if your soldier make a move", Datu Pujung browbeater and at the same time he scratched the knife on the deputation leader`s neck.

Saw their leader safety was threatened, the soldiers canceled their action. They had no bravery to make a move. Datu Pujung made a step back-off. And at the same time when he turned around, he offered a bet." Hi, Deputation Leader! It is not necessarily a war among us if you accept this offer knightly!" said Datu Pujung.

"What is it?" the deputation leader answered embittered." Draw the ulin three which you used for footbridge. With weapon which all of you have, cut the tree become two pieces. If you can do it, all of this area will be yours. But on the contrary, if you can`t,  we excuse all of you to leave this area reverently before we change our mind", Datu Pujung threatened at the same time he pointed the ulin tree which was as big as a drum and not less than nine fathom in length.

"We accept your offer, old man!" the deputation leader answered with jumawa (flower)."All right Stand by for drawing the ulin wood", Datu Pujung said. Hore those words, the deputation leader become silent. Likely he starts doubt with his ability. How could he can lift the long wood which as big as drum. Datu Pujung had been impatient await the deputation leader to execute his readiness. "What are you waiting for, Deputation Leader?" Datu Pujung pushed. The deputation leader tried to lift the ulin tree, but it didn`t move, even a little. Saw the disability of their leader, all soldiers assisted to draw the piece of ulin tree. But, their effort was useless. The ulin tree didn`t move at all. Then they try to cut the wood bar with their weapons, but not even the tree be spited, their weapons didn`t make a scratch on the wood.

Datu Pujung smiled when he saw their manner. At the same time he watch the enemy movement, he also soon approach the tree. With one hand, he drew the ulin wood. Then his big knife which unsheathed cutter the ulin wood becomes two pieces. He thrower one of the pieces intentionally towards the soldiers. They ran away to the boat.” Wait for our revenge soon!" they threaten. They row their boat as fast as they can to the jung (big ship) on the middle of the river.

Datu Pujung paid no regard to the threat. With the other piece of ulin wood, Datu Pujung glided on the river pursue them. In the race, Datu Pujung successfully preceded them and arrived on the big ship. The soldiers raised on the front side of the ship, while Datu Pujung was rising abaft. “All of you are truly cannot be given a pity!” said Datu Pujung fully of anger. He took small knife from backside of his cloth, and then gouged out the hull. In a second, water drowned the big ship. Datu Pujung stomp his leg, made the boat leak. Water fulfilled all part of the big ship until it sunk. All soldiers and contents of the big ship also sunk.

From story above known that most of the big ship passenger who died in the incident is generation of Tionghoa. Therefore, in memory of their souls, many generation of Tionghoa come for pilgrimages to the islands by bringing kambang. Because this activity take place day by day, then occurred a heap of kambang. People who pass the island often see and watch the heap of kambang. Because it always interesting for them who are passing this place and becoming a marker, the island called Kambang Island. Slowly, the name of Kambang Island progressively recognized and being crowd by visitors with intention and purpose which different each other. There are people who make this place become a holy place and there are also people who simply liking to know existence of Kambang Island which have been a legend. Until today, this island still be crowded with visitors who having certain vow, mixed with other tourists.

Kambang Island Monkeys

Existence of wariks in Kambang Island also have separate story. But, this story of wariks emigrated latter, after the wreckage of generation of Tionghoa in Barito River and after Kambang Island was made as place of pilgrimage or submit a vow.

It Is Said, Princess Bungsu, the queen of Palinggam Cahaya Empire, had been through years not yet been bestowed a child. According to forecast of clairvoyants, Putri Bungsu had to dibadudus (be tube/be bathed) in Kambang Island. Forecast and advice from the clairvoyants greeted by monarchic consanguinities. Some day after ba-dudus ceremonies had been held in one of place in Kambang Island, the princess become pregnant and then bear a son which later will inherit crown Of Palinggam Cahaya Empire. Then The Majesty commanded so that the beauty of the place was taken care and looked after .For the purpose, The Majesty sent two guards for taking care of Kambang Island. But, because the island always soaked by floods, hence the custody was not as easy as approximated. Finally, The Majesty sent a couple of warik for assisting both of the guard. The female warik called Anggur, and the masculine one called Anggar. Both of the wariks surrounded and leered if there was trouble came from the outside, by hanging from one tree to other tree.

It is said, that both of guard who was assigned to take care of the island, informed disappear. Meanwhile, the couple of warik which they left breeds and become dweller of Kambang Island. When yore old people visited Kambang Island, they still could see Anggur and Anggar which truly different ordinary wariks (monkeys). Its body was as big as human body in size.

Up to now, existence of wariks becomes a fascination for tourists for visiting to Kambang Island. Some experts had done an observation concerning communities of wariks. Based on result of their observation, in the island there are two gathering of wariks that are secretor from the caches alternately. The first gathering, usually come out at 05.00 - 13.00.Then continued by the second one. The for the second one are coming out, usually contagious with time when the visitors are crowd. Their observation result also indicated that if first “shift" of wariks gathering don`t obey the rule (in this case the deadline), so they will be hunted by the second “shift" wariks gathering. About this accusation of the commutation time, only between warik to warik know that.


Altar                 : devoting desk
Ba-dudus         : a ceremony that bath a person, like baptism
Delta                : alluvial in form of triangle in river estuary
Didudus           : bathed
Jung                 : Big ship
Juwana            : flower (Banjarmasinese)
caul                  : Intention, vow
Warik               : monkey


Translated from Indonesian version by (MA)

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