Thursday, December 18, 2008

Princess Pinang Masak

The Princess Pinang Masak was the most beautiful girl in her village.
Word of her beauty soon spread.
Everyone in the entire region knew of her beauty.
Her fame spread far beyond the bounds of her father’s small kingdom.
Soon the Sultan of Sumatera heard of her beauty.

Now the Sultan of Sumatera held sway over the entire island of Sumatera.
He could have anything and anyone he wanted.
And when he heard of a beautiful young girl…he wanted HER.
So when word came to his palace of the faraway Princess Pinang Masak…he at once sent soldiers to capture her and bring her to his palace.
The Sultan already had a harem with over a hundred beautiful girls held captive there.
But he was eager to add another.

Fortunately word reached Princess Pinang Masak that the king was sending soldiers to arrest her.
She thought long about how she could escape them, and she came up with a plan.
The Princess boiled the dark purple blooms of the banana tree in a huge vat of water.
Then she began to streak that dark dye onto her skin.
She streaked it all over her arms.
She streaked it all over her face, her neck, her shoulders.
She rubbed it all over her legs and feet.

Then she mussed up her hair, stuck sticks, straw, and bugs in it.
And she put on the oldest, most ragged clothes she could find.

When the soldiers came to take her, they stopped in their tracks.
“THIS is the beautiful Princess Pinang Masak?”

“There must be some mistake!
This girl is horrible to look at!”

But they took her with them all the way back to the Sultan’s palace.

There they presented her to the Sultan.

“What is this hideous object?” exclaimed the Sultan.
“THIS is the Princess Pinang Masak?
Take her out of my sight!
I cannot stand to look at such ugliness!”

So the Princess Pinang Masak was returned to her own village.

She had outsmarted the Sultan.

But of course in time her skin returned to normal.
She combed her hair and put on beautiful clothing again.
And word of her beauty once more began to travel throughout Indonesia.

“Have you heard of the Princess Pinang Masak?
She is the most beautiful girl this country has ever seen!”

Soon the Sultan heard of this.
“Something is not right here.
The girl I saw was hideous.
Yet I keep hearing of this beauty.”

The Sultan sent a man to spy in the kingdom of Princess Pinang Masak.
The man came there incognito and just hung around to see what he could discover.

One day he say a most beautiful young lady out walking with her four girlfriends.

“Who is that girl in the middle?” he asked.
“She is amazingly beautiful.”

“Oh that is the Princess Pinang Masak.”

“THAT is the Princess Pinang Masak?
Then we have been tricked!”

The spy hurried back to inform the Sultan.

“Then I have been TRICKED!”

The Sultan right away sent a whole contingent of soldiers to arrest the princess and bring her to his palace.

When she heard that the soldiers were coming again, Princess Pinang Masak knew that she could not fool the Sultan a second time.
She and her four girl friends went down to the water and found a boat.
Two strong young men went with them.
And in the dead of night the seven escaped from their village.
They sailed down and down the whole length of Sumatera, looking for a place to land.
At last they found a cove which looked promising.
There was fresh water there.
The hills were covered with fruit trees.
Seafood was abundant in the sea.
They could live here and found their own village.

The Princess changed her name to Princess Senura.
And they called the new village they founded Senura village.

The Sultan never discovered her.

For the rest of their lives the seven lived in this spot.
Soon they married with people from nearby villages.
And their own small village thrived.

When Princess Senura was old and about to die,
She called all of the villagers to her.
“I am going to ask a boon of the gods,” she said.
“I am going to ask that no girl in this village should ever be born as beautiful as I was.
That sort of beauty can be a great curse on the girl and on her family.”

And do you know her wish came true.
To this day, the girls of Senura Village are not at all beautiful.

And some say this is a curse.
But some say this is a blessing.

For it means that whenever a girl of Senura Village is asked to marry,
She knows that the young man has not chosen her because he was blinded by her beauty.
He has chosen her because he loves her inner being.

If you visit Senura Village today,
You can still see the graves of the Princess Senura, her four girl friends, and the two young men who accompanied them.
They are all still there…in Senura Village.
Contributed by
Margaret Read MacDonald

Princess Pinang Masak
[A folktale from Indonesia.. Retold from Indonesian Folktales by Murti Bunanta. (Libraries Unlimited). Retold by Margaret Read MacDonald.]


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