The Islamic King Nods
as told by Pak Moh. Hasan Sasra
Folk tales and historical narratives provide an important view of a people and their customs, and of their history through the eyes and voices of the people themselves. This digital collection is dedicated to archiving and making available to all, folk tales and historical narratives of the Madurese, a people of Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country. Collected by Professor William Davies of The University of Iowa's Department of Linguistics and Prof. Dr. Surachman Dimyati of Universitas Terbuka in Jakarta, the videos capture native storytellers performing carèta ra’yat Madhurâ, traditional Madurese folk tales and historical narratives.
According to the 2000 government census, at least 6.8 million Indonesians identify themselves as Madurese (although estimates vary, some placing this number at close to 15 million). Thus the narratives in the archive tell the story of the third largest ethnic group in the country, following the Javanese and the Sundanese.
The Madurese are indigenous to the island of Madura, which is located a mere 5 km off the northwest coast of Java - so close, in fact, that the Suramadu Bridge connecting Madura and Java opened in 2009. Due to conditions on the island (including the amount of arable land), Madura can sustain a population of only 3.5 million or so; there is thus a long history of migration that stretches back hundreds of years, especially to Jawa Timur (East Java), home to a significant Madurese population. This fact is reflected in some of the stories found here.
All of the stories contained in the archive originate from one of the four principal regions of Madura: from Sumenep in the east to Bangkalan in the west, and Pamekasan and Sampang in the central part of the island. (These locations are indicated on the map on this site.)
The stories presented here shed light on the historical and cultural development and general epistemology of the Madurese. There are creation tales, stories of legendary heroes, tales of the introduction of Islam to the island, love stories, and more. As is the case with folk tales from any tradition, these tales can provide insight into the roles of men and women, into the social hierarchy in society at large, into the behavioral expectations for children, as well as into values, belief systems, anxieties and fears, and many other important aspects of Madurese society. There are stories extolling the rewards of hard work, diligence and honesty and warning of the wages of sin, dishonesty and corruption.
Given the importance of social standing in traditional Madurese society (linguistically reflected in the various 'speech levels', as also found in Balinese, Javanese, and Sundanese), many folk tales touch on social relationships. The texts reflect (upon) the role of women in society, the relative values of scholarship, of fealty to one's king or elders, of common wisdom--summed up in the traditional Madurese philosophy of Bhuppa', bhâbhu', ghuru, rato ‘honor one’s father, mother, teacher and king’. One also finds evidence of two equally important competing values: on the one hand, there is one's personal dignity, which is to be safeguarded at all costs, and on the other hand, the dignity of others, which regardless of their standing in society is to be respected.
All of the stories are told in Madurese and can be viewed with or without subtitles. There are English subtitles for all of the stories, and Indonesian subtitles are available for the majority of them. Accompanying each story is a verbatim transcript of the story. The transcript includes a line of morpheme-by-morpheme glosses in English, followed by an idiomatic English translation, and for most of the stories, an idiomatic Indonesian translation. There are up to three additional texts for each story. There is a separate continuous English text for every story. There are also continuous Madurese only texts rendered in more formal Madurese and Indonesian only texts for most of the stories. The stand-alone Madurese texts and the story titles are written using the orthography developed by Balai Bahasa and adopted at the four-day Kongres Bahasa Madurea Internasional held in Pamekasan in December 2008 under the sponsorship of Balai Bahasa Propinsi Jawa Timur. However, in the verbatim transcripts, the Madurese is written using the older orthography that was adopted as the standard at a meeting of scholars in Pamekasan in 1973.
The storytellers were given a free hand in selecting the narratives that they performed, and thus the particular stories are those that they considered amongst the most important. It should be noted that this is an ongoing project and, as more narratives are recorded and transcribed in the future, they will be added to the archive and to the resources regarding Madurese language and culture available to others.
This project has been funded by a generous grant from the Toyota Foundation, as well as the US Department of Education (through a Fulbright-Hays award) and various offices at the University of Iowa. Institutional support in Indonesia has come from Universitas Kristen Petra in Surabaya and Universitas Atma Jaya in Jakarta, as well as Kementerian Negara Riset dan Teknologi and Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia. In addition to the work of the narrators and the principal investigators, contributors in Indonesia include Rina Anggriani, Lailaful Qodriyah Ervan, Sri Mulyati, and Pak Ruskawi. Contributors in Iowa include Eri Kurniawan, Kum-Young Lee, Wenyu Lu, Yosep Bambang Margono Slamet, and Mark Norris, and from the University of Iowa Libraries Digital Research & Publishing, Nicole Saylor, Christopher Renauld, Mark Anderson and Steve Tomblin.