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The Legend of Ratu Kidul

The Legend of Ratu Kidul carries us into the world of Indonesian mythology, on the island of Java:Once upon a time, the Queen of the Southern Seas was a kind and beautiful princess. She was the daughter of Prabu Munding Wangi, the favourite of the entire court and the local people. Her royal father doted on his daughter. Her name was Dewi Kadita, but many called her Dewi Srengenge or the Angry Princess.Prabu Munding Wangi longed for an heir, but Dewi Kadita’s mother couldn’t fulfil this wish.

So he took a second wife, called Poetri Moentiara, who was very jealous of the lovely princess and her mother. She begged the king to banish both her rivals from court. However Prabu Munding Wangi didn’t do as she asked. He loved his first wife and her daughter. The second wife bore him a healthy heir, but the monarch remained firm. So Poetri Moentiara called upon the renowned witch, Djahil. She promised her a princely reward, if Dewi Kandita and her mother were banished. Djahil thought for a moment and incanted this rapal (spell): “May leprosy befall you both”. Soon both mother and daughter began to suffer this dreadful disease. According to the law of the land, they were to be banished to the wild forest high on the mountain. With a heavy heart, King Munding Wangi saw the law carried out. So the two set off on their way to the forest, covered in terrible sores. A great sadness fell across the land, except for Poetri Moentiara, the second wife of the king, who had achieved her aim. The princess fell on hard times. In the forest lived a hermit, who took pity on the mother and daughter. The queen couldn’t bear the shame and within a few days had died. Now Dewi Kandita was all alone in the world. There was still the hermit, however, who fortunately provided food and shelter in a cave temple. He bound her weeping sores but couldn’t relieve her emotional pain. Dewi Kandita became increasingly bitter and eventually left the hermit. She travelled southward from village to village, further and further, until eventually she reached the shores of the Southern Sea. She climbed upon a high cliff and gazed out onto the sea that spread before her. She was tempted to dive into the deep green and blue. In the cool waters she would be able to forget all her pain and suffering. Suddenly awaking from these thoughts, she jumped into the deep. The gods, who had looked on Dewi Kandita throughout her hardships, were filled with deep compassion. So they transformed her into a powerful spirit of the netherworld, Ratu Kidul, and to this day she resides in her grand palace under the sea.

The Legend of Ratu Kidul - F. Ceunen

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