Folktale of Cianjur’s Palm Karinding

Collected by Ilham Nurwansah, drawing by Pandu Wibisono
(published on IJHS Newsletter Issue 14 p. 5-6, 2012)

Once  upon  a time,  in  Cirama  Girang  village,  with  its  very fertile  land  to  grow  the  paddies,  there  were  two  large communities  living  on  one  of  the  two  mountains  that surrounded the village, about a mile apart. Each group had a great supernatural leader who ruled every aspect of the life of  the  people.  The  first  community  was  led  by  Embah Congkrang  Buana,  who  lived  in  Mount  Congkrang  on  the north  side  of  village.  The  other  was  the  community  of Embah  Khaer  Panawungan,  who  lived  on  Mount Panawungan on the east side of the village.

Over  time  these  communities  grew  up  into  bigger  and stronger societies and their territories grew larger and larger, until  at  one  point  their  borders  became  very  uncertain.  As happens,  a  small  territorial  claim  then  became  a  point  of conflict that became a small fight, which became bigger and bigger until they could not avoid an all-out war.

So many people died in that war, but neither great leader of the  communities  wanted  to  see  their  people  lose.  Finally, they  sought  the  advice  of  the  wise  man  of  Cirama  Girang village, who called for a conference to discuss the territorial problem.  They  argued  for  some  time,  but  the  ego  of  both representatives would not let them see reason. The wise man then gave an alternative way to solve this problem. So that no  one  else  would  become  a  victim  of  the  conflict  the decision as to who would gain the new territory was to be decided by a cock fight. To the winner would go the territory and all of the natural resources. But the loser would have to stay in their small former area on the mountain and would agree not to disturb the winner society, and that was agreed.

On  7th  July,  1908  the  rooster  fight was  held.  Each  side  brought  their best  fighting  rooster  that  they believed would win the fight and get the  whole  territory.  This,  however, was not to be an ordinary fight, for the leaders would use the cock as a medium  for  their  supernatural powers. It was a long fight for they fought for two days. As long as the fight continued the people supported their  fighter  with  music.  All  day  they  played  their  palm karinding  and  celempung,  along  with  the  other  percussion instrument,  helping  their  champions  to  grow  their  fighter spirit with dynamic rhythms. In the end it was the rooster of Embah  Khaer  won  the  fight,  the  victory  and  the  prize.  As agreed  the  loser,  Embah  Congkrang  Buana  moved  back  to their former place.

For  a  while,  the  agreement  was  accepted  by  the  loser. However, several days after the fight the people of Embah Congkrang Buana looked for revenge on the Embah Khaer’s society.  They  began  to  throw  hundreds  even  thousands  of rocks at Mount Panawungan, where the Embah Khaer lived, using  their  supernatural  powers.  The  rocks,  though,  only reached half way and fell into the middle of Cirama Girang village,  making  a  large  hill  that  became  known  as  Pasir Naringgul or Rock Hill. And so it is called today.

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