|The Mystery of Java's Spirit Queen|
|Written by fengshui|
|Monday, 14 August 2006 06:25|
Even till now, people of Central Java believe in a mysterious Queen of the Seas ......
This is the first report on the Legend of the South Sea Queen Kanjeng Ratu Kidul.. API will add more to this report as the investigation and research continues......
THE LEGEND OF THE SOUTH SEA QUEEN
The high cliffs of Jawa's southern coast go straight into the Indian Ocean. This is the domain of Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, the mighty Queen of the South Sea, which is th wife as well as the protectional spirit of the rulers of the Jawanese kingom of Mataram.
Following the 19th century chronicle Babad Tanah Jawi, the prince of Pajajaran, Raden Joko Suruh, met a hermit which ordered him to found the kingdom of Majapahit in East Jawa. Joko Suruh discovered that the hermit in fact was a beautiful Lady, and fell in love with her. She rejected him, because she really was his aunt Ratna Suwida, who had lived in the mountains to meditate ever since she was a young girl. She told the prince she would soon leave to the southern coast of Jawa, to be the ruler over the spirit-world. When the descendants near the Gunung Merapi - not far from the southern coast - founded a principalty, she would marry the successive rulers.
Generations later, Panembahan Senopati, founder of the second Mataram principalty, went back to the southern coast to prepare an attack on the principalties at the northern coast. Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, who listened to his meditation, promised to help him. During three days and nights he worked on the secrets of army and rule - and the difficult game of love - in the undersea palace of Ratu Kidul. At Parangkusomo, south of Yogya, he came to the surface again. The story goes that Ratu Kidul had communion with all successors of Senopati. Every year representatives of the palaces in Solo and Yogya honour her at this spot.
The first sultan of Yogya, Hamengku Buwono I, ordered the construction of the difficult fortress and royal court, Taman Sari, with low ponds, and tunnels, surrounded with an artificial lake. It can be said that this is a replica of the undersea principalty of Ratu Kidul. In the space below the surface, known as sumur gumuling, the sultan is believed to have contact with the goddess every year.
This version account how Ratu Kidul becomes a spirit queen:
The following story is about Nyai Loro kidul or “Ratu kidul” (Queen Kidul) as she is also known, the most beautiful and powerful goddess of Indonesia’s southern seas.
According to the legend, Nyai Loro Kidul was the mortal daughter of a powerful ruler-king of west Java. This king’s concubines jealous of her beauty would have used black magic to turn her into an ugly and old witch. (Other stories say it was a bad stepmother who cast a spell to give her leprosy) In anyways, because of her ugliness, she was forced to leave the palace when she started to wonder through the forest without direction. When she finally got to the ocean, she stopped to rest and fell asleep. She dreamt that she would be cured of her ugliness if she entered the water and drowned herself. She did it ant then became the powerful goddess of the Indonesia’s southern seas.
Following the tradition, her favorite color is green and she is attracted to those who wear this color inside her marine kingdom. Besides that, this beautiful but sometimes evil goddess has a particular interest in surfers, not only because she has got absolute power and control over the waves of Indonesia’s southern seas but also for been known to take young men and turn them into her slaves or lovers.
Both Javanese and sundanese people avoid wearing green when they go to her beaches and very often mothers lock their sons at home in nights when a sacred dance in homage to Nyai Loro Kidul is performed.
Even for those who are not superstitious, it is always good to be careful. There are recorded stories about surfers and other people who ventured in her waters wearing green and afterwards were troubled by some disgrace.
In one story published in “The Jakarta Post” in September 1995, a man who challenged this taboo wore a green t-shirt at one beach o the coast of Cilacap on west Java. “he can not look backwards now, because all he sees are monsters.” reported the post.
In another occasion, in Jan 1993, a huge fire burned completely the “Grand Bali Beach Hotel” in Sanur, Bali, leaving only 5% of the hotel undamaged. Only one room, room 327, stayed untouched by both the flames and smoke. Coincidentally room 327 was a “private” room that has always been specially reserved for the legendary sea queen.
To the balinese this was a clear message that the had not yet done enough work to please her majesty. Soon after they understood this sign, priests quickly start making religious offerings and prayers to prevent and calm down possible future hysterical attacks.
Since then the hotel has been rebuilt and room 327 has been redecorated with a lot more generosity and luxury.
NB: There is another room reserved for the Queen at 2401 (see report below)
In another similar account, in 1966, the then sultan Hamengku Buwono was expected for the opening ceremony of the Sumudra Beach Hotel in west Java. The night before the hotel’s grand opening, he was visited by an old man (ancient). According to Jeffrey A. McNelly and Paul Spencer Wachtel (authors of the book “Soul of the Tiger”, 1988) “The old man told the prince that he had a dream the previous night in which an old lady said she wanted her offerings. She was dressed in green.”
“The sultan thanked the man but explained that he would not make an offering since he was attending the hotel opening in his civilian capacity as minister of defense and he wanted to separate affairs of state from the mystical duties of the palace.”
Shortly after the ancient left, there was a huge roar at the hotel, “like ten locomotives were coming towards the beach front terrace.” Out of nowhere came a 10 feet high wave from a previously calm waters, sweeping away the hotels buffet table, soaking the guests and taking out a couple of trees.
Soon after came the offerings and today, as at the Grand Bali Beach, the Sumudra Hotel has a special room for Nyai Loro Kidul.
However another version tells that Sukarno (Indonesia first president) received a message when he was praying to spare one room for the queen, and under Sukarno's instructions, Room 308 has always been reserved for the queen.
Despite such negative incidents, the sea goddess is not always bad. According to the authors McNeely and Wachtel “She divides her time between land and sea, and appears as a youthful nymph in the first half of the month and as an ugly hag in the second half. Javanese believe her demeanor is at times bitter and malevolent, and that she can only be propitiated by strict observance of complex rituals. Yet with the fickle nature so typical of both Asian women and Asian gods, when treated properly she can also bestow great favors, such as ensuring a good catch to a fisherman.” Or even produce perfect waves for a group of surfers?!
The Javanese also believe that every ruler-king of Java must compulsively accept Nyai Loro Kidul as his wife and make homage to her every year with proper offerings that usually are made of parts of women’s clothes and pieces of hair and nails of the sultan.
Until the present days fishermen from Java and Bali make a ceremony every year in her honor. They believe this help to prevent disasters. They also believe that before entering the waters she rules, everybody should ask her permission otherwise something bad can happen.
Sultan Hamengku Buwono X and Kangjeng Ratul Kidul
Just after the coronation was the main event Wiyos-Dalern Kirab, the customary circumambulation
It was not the modern but the mystical dimension of the sultan that was brought out by
He claimed to have seen a beautiful woman dressed in greenish yellow enter the carriage. Later,
Ratu Kidul is believed to attend the annual performances of Bedhaya Ketawang at
Despite a sophisticated understanding of her role in legitimizing strategies to strengthen
Source: Felicia Hughes-Freeland : A Throne for the People: Observations on the Jumenengen of Sultan
Notosuyono is a palace guard who was behind the carriage at the time of kirab. He told API Raymond that
The same powerful fragrance was felt and noted at the coronation of Sultan, not only by members of the
Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX and Kangjeng Ratul Kidul
API reproduce the following article which was published in the International Herald Tribune
THE SULTAN AND THE MERMAID: A LOVE STORY FOR THE AGES
People who pay special attention to royal affairs of the heart might clip a fingernail or two on June 21 in honor of one of Asia's more magical histoires d'amour.
On this date Sultan Hamengku Buwono X of Yogyakarta will celebrate his official birthday by trekking twenty kilometres to the dangerous surf on the slate-gray southern coast of Java. There he will offer a full set of women's clothing and his own nail and hair clippings in honour of his 15th century ancestors: Senopati, an historical king of Java, and Nyai Loro Kidul, a mermaid goddess. Together, this unlikely couple began one of the world's longest-surviving royal families -- the four Sultanates of Yogyakarta and Solo in Java, Indonesia.
Several years ago I longed to meet the current Sultan's father, Hamengku Buwono IX. Eventually a friend (herself a member of the royal family) introduced me to the late Sultan, a former vice president of Indonesia, a man with a Dutch university degree, a powerful and kind man who was born to accept the fealty of dozens of millions of Javanese. Unlike many royals he had earned respect to accompany the common person's devotion, partly due to his diplomatic courage during Indonesia's war of independence from the Dutch.
I had one question I wanted to ask him, and I tried to phrase it in a refined Javanese manner. How was it that a man as pragmatic and cosmopolitan as the Sultan -- he had also held positions as Indonesian Minister of Finance and of Defence -- could pay homage every year to a mermaid?
Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX received me with grace. Over sweet tea he told me that during the Indonesian fight for independence he had fasted for two weeks, eating only rice and water in order to meet Loro Kidul in a vision. "Then I saw her, Eyang -- I call Loro Kidul Eyang, grandmother -- seated behind two of my nephews," he said. "She was young and pretty, as is usual when she appears in the first half of the month."
His Highness, wearing thick glasses and a long-sleeved batik shirt in his souvenir-filled Jakarta office, said that in his vision the young men were killed. This unfortunately came true; those two beloved nephews died within the week.
He continued. "One night during the Dutch occupation of Yogyakarta, I, and others as well who were living in the kraton [palace], heard soldiers moving noisily about, as if wearing armor. It is said they were the soldiers of Loro Kidul protecting the kraton." I asked him for details. "There was no one in the kraton except our family and staff. But we all heard the soldiers' drums."
I must have looked bewildered, a not uncommon situation for me.
This to me was ludicrous. How could I avoid asking western questions? I was born in Brooklyn, not Bandung; my favorite participant sport is softball. I like algebra.
After an hour, in danger of exceeding my ration of royal patience, I left, only half satisfied. I pestered K.R.T. Hardjonagoro, the regent of the Susuhunan's palace in Solo, for a touch more enlightenment.
"The night before the opening a local lurah (village headman) asked for an audience with the Sultan. The old man told the Sultan that he had had a dream the previous night in which a lady said she wanted her offerings. She was dressed in green.
"The Sultan, of course, knew that the old man had seen Loro Kidul. His Highness thanked the humbled old man but explained that he would not make an offering since he was attending the hotel opening in his civilian capacity as Minister of Defence, and he wanted to separate the affairs of the state from the mystical duties of the palace." The gamelan orchestra tinkled away and the dalang sang a half dozen parts as Hardjonagoro continued. The performance would last all night. "I was outside, near the pool, when the Sultan said goodnight to the well-meaning old man," Hardjonagoro said. "Shortly after his refusal I heard the sound of a locomotive. The noise increased until it sounded like ten locomotives were coming towards the beach-front terrace where we were enjoying the hotel's hospitality. Then a ten-meter high tidal wave erupted from the sea, which had been calm. It washed away the hotel's buffet table and soaked all the visitors. Some trees were knocked down. Shortly thereafter the Sultan changed his mind. He said his prayers to Loro Kidul and made the appropriate offerings, and the sea was calm once again."
I was incredulous. Hardjonagoro showed me the photos. I said "come on," or something equally un-Javanese. Instead of arguing, he simply told me to go to the hotel and ask for Room 308. Sometime later, I did. This, it turns out, is the room in which Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX made peace with the easily irritated mermaid queen. It is kept locked and reserved only for her. For a tip, hotel staff will allow people access to pray to the Queen of the Southern Ocean. It is a good business.
The first sultan of Yogya, Hamengku Buwono I, ordered the construction of the water castle Taman Sari, with low ponds, and tunnels, surrounded with an artificial lake. It can be said that this is a replica of the undersea principalty of Ratu Kidul. In the space below the surface, known as sumur gumuling, the sultan is believed to have contact with the goddess every year.
The designs are believed influenced by various cultures, namely Hindu, Buddhist, Islam and European, Taman Sari got its nickname Water Castle because of the three large swimming pools that make up the compound. In its glory days, Taman Sari was a retreat for the sultan and his concubines; it is said that the sultan would watch the women swim and bathe in the swimming pools from another high point in the castle. He would then pick out the lucky woman who was to spend the night with him.
The Water Castle also serves as a meditating place for the Sultan to bear offerings to the Queen of the South Sea. This practice has been dutifully fulfilled since the beginning of the Hamengkubowono rule.
There is dark chamber where the Sultan supposedly still comes to meditate and fasts for three consecutive days before consummating with the Queen.
The most holy dance of the kraton of Solo, the Bedoyo Ketawang, is showed only once a year to celebrate the day that the sultan ascended the throne. Nine dancers in classical Jawanese bridal dressing envite Ratu Kidul to appear and marry the susuhunan. As it is told, the goddess appears as a slightly visible tenth figure at the floor of the nine dancers. The Yogyan version of this dance, the Bedoyo Semang isn't performed anymore.
(The Kingdom of Mataram actually become divided into the Hamengku Buwono family based in Yogyakarta and the
The Bedoyo Ketawang court dance depicts the courtship of the founder of the Mataram dynasty, Panembahan Senopati, with Kangjeng
When Pakuwubono XII died in 2004, there is a fight for succession between two princes among his 24 children from his 5 concubines, resulting in two coronations.
The late Pakuwubono XII (seated on the right) at a Bedoyo Ketawang dance
The Sacred Dance of Bedoyo Semang, Picture card 1860
For the detailed story on the divided royalty in Solo, see http://www.theage.com.au/news/general/divided-royalty/2005/09/30/1127804661710.html
After the old kingdom of Mataram was split into the two realms of Surakarta and Yogyakarta. Over the succeeding
The lyrics: The initial section is composed in the impassioned and sometimes describes the richly adorned figure of a Javanese hero
A Translation of the Bedoyo Ketawang Lyrics
Your brother has sounded the signal
O Father, give the sign
Heart veiled with care, when [we together ] lay parted by a pillow
All is lost—the pillow lies fallen on the floor
Perhaps [I would] go mad
Source : Nancy K Florida, The Badhaya Katawang: A translation of the song of Kangjeng Ratu Kidul
Additional notes on the Hotel Bali Beach Fire on Jan 1993
On 20 Jan 1993, Inna Grand Bali Beach, formerly known as the Grand Bali Beach, was largely destroyed by a massire fire. The fire consumed the entire main building and all but one of the 600 odd rooms. Strangely enough room no 327 of the 3rd floor was not burnt at all, with intact interior and only darkened walls.
API finds there are 2 versions about this room 327.
One version involved the late president Sukarno:
Room 327 is special. It’s the room the Balinese believe that Roro Kidul, their mythical Goddess of the South Seas, allocated to Sukarno, independent Indonesia’s father. The hotel was gutted in the 1993 blaze but room 327 was the only one of 600-odd that survived wholly intact.
Even today, the room is maintained in the vernacular of the era even though Sukarno never stayed in the hotel. His trademark black peci and white trousers lay on the bed. No one stays in the room but it’s cleaned daily. On August 17, Indonesia’s Independence Day, Balinese deliver cakes coloured the red and white of the national flag.
There is a spiritual medium that can communicate with Ratu Kidul. Before the fire, the medium, having received a message from the Queen, ask the Bali Beach Hotel to reserve 2 rooms for the Queen, Room 327 and Room 2401. If the hotel management did not accept this request, she will punish the hotel. A deadline was set of 42 days for the hotel to comply.
After 42 days have passed, the hotel management did not act at all. On 20 Jan 1003, around 12.10 pm, Fire suddenly occured at the 10 storey tower building. Due to the strong wind from the sea, the fire burned rapidly and spread. Afer the fire died down the next day, it was found there is only one room that was not burnt. It was the room Ratu Kidul have asked for :Room 327. The other room 2401 was not on the tower building but a cottage room beside the tower building and so was not affected by the fire.
According to an eye witness who saw the room after the fire, "I still cannot believe it until now, all the surrounding rooms are totally burnt, but fire did not touch this room. Outside the room, everything is burnt. It is as if the wind comes from the middle of the room and blow out the fire"
After the fire, 7 months later, the hotel was renamed Inna Grand Bali Beach, and this time, the hotel management reserved Room 327 and Room 2401 especially for the Queen to rest.
API note: Although some other hotels also reserved room for the Queen, only the room at Samudra and the room at Bali Beach is considered sacred.and blessed with the presence of Ratu Kidul.
http://www.jawakidul.nl/where.htm - Many Links
http://royjava.eigenstart.nl/ - Many Links
http://www.mikalina.com/Texts/pelabuhanratu_indonesia.htm - A Resort with a Ghost
http://www.ne.jp/asahi/pasar/tokek/TG/KNRK/main.html - Japanese website with pictures of Bali beach room 2401
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2007 09:02|