SUAVEART concentrates on the cultural value between art and life. Presenting the stories and issues related to “island, art and life”. Creating the borderless dialogues that can be found everywhere in our daily life.

Short info of Artist

Arie Syarifuddin (1985, Indonesia) is also known as Alghorie. Affiliated as an artist, curator,
cultural producer, designer, and director of artist in residency department to the artist
initiative; Jatiwangi Art Factory in the village of Jatiwangi in West Java, which is
Indonesia’s biggest roof-tile manufacturing centre.

Established in 2005, Jatiwangi art
Factory (JaF) is a community that embraces contemporary arts and cultural practices as
parts of the local life discourse in a rural area. Redesigning; hacking; giving values and
dignity to the ordinary things; negotiation between fiction, dreams, reality, and everyday
life; and the intersection of historical reading is the most inclination of Arie’s works.

Talking about the island reminds me a lot of Indonesia as an archipelago that is told a lot through fairy tales and folklore. This story has been told along the way in the colonial period. Perhaps spread along the silk route in China and the Spice Route in the Nusantara.

The interesting thing is, if China has the Silk Road and Indonesia has the Spice Route, then Germany has the Fairy Tale route. I just know when I was at Documenta 15 in Kassel; I met Dr. Susanne Völker, she is the head of the cultural department of the City of Kassel, who is also the head of the Deutsche Märchenstraße (German Fairy Tale Route).

All of them deal with a long course of territorial history. The journey that asks for these traces to be remembered by the next generation. Some of the tales I tell are related to islands in the archipelago, and believe it or not, these are the origins of several regions in Indonesia. What makes me wonder is why most fairy tales in the archipelago always have an unhappy ending story.

Keyword 1 : Stone

This is a fairy tale from Padang, West Sumatra which tells the story of a disobedient child who was cursed by his mother to become a stone. This stone is located on Air Manis Beach, which is located close to Mount Padang and several small islands, such as Pulau Pisang and Pulau Sikuai. 

Malin Kundang (馬林・昆當 – 變成石頭的馬林)

Once upon a time, on the north coast of Sumatra lived a poor woman and his son. The boy was called Malin Kundang. They didn’t earn much as fishing was their only source of income. Malin Kundang grew up as a skillful young boy. He always helps his mother to earn some money. However, as they were only fishermen’s helpers, they still lived in poverty. “Mother, what if I sail overseas?” asked Malin Kundang one day to his mother. Her mother didn’t agree but Malin Kundang had made up his mind. “Mother, if I stay here, I’ll always be a poor man. I want to be a successful person,” urged Malin kundang. His mother wiped her tears, “If you really want to go, I can’t stop you. I could only pray to God for you to gain success in life,” said his mother wisely. “But, promise me, you’ll come home.”

After several years waiting without any news, Malin Kundang’s mother was suddenly surprised by the arrival of a big ship in the pier where she usually stood to wait for her son. When the ship finally pulled over, Malin Kundang’s mother saw a man who looked wealthy stepping down a ladder along with a beautiful woman. She could not be wrong. Her blurry eyes still easily recognized him. The man was Malin Kundang, her son.

Malin Kundang’s mother quickly went to see her beloved son. “Malin, you’re back, son!” said Malin Kundang’s mother and without hesitation, she came running to hug Malin Kundang, “I miss you so much.” But, Malin Kundang didn’t show any response. He was ashamed to admit his own mother in front of his beautiful wife. “You’re not my Mother. I don’t know you. My mother would never wear such ragged and ugly clothes,” said Malin Kundang as he released his mother’s embrace.

Malin Kundang’s mother takes a step back, “Malin…You don’t recognize me? I’m your mother!” she said sadly. Malin Kundang’s face was as cold as ice. “Guard, take this old woman out of here,” Malin Kundang ordered his bodyguard. “Give her some money so she won’t disturb me again!” Malin Kundang’s mother cried as she was dragged by the bodyguard, ”Malin… my son. Why do you treat your own mother like this?”

Malin Kundang ignored his mother and ordered the ship crews to set sail. Malin Kundang’s mother sat alone in the pier. Her heart was so hurt, she cried and cried. “Dear God, if he isn’t my son, please let him have a safe journey. But if he is, I cursed him to become a stone,” she prayed to God.

In the quiet sea, suddenly the wind blew so hard that a thunderstorm came. Malin Kundang’s huge ship was wrecked. He was thrown by the wave out of his ship, and fell on a small island. Suddenly, his whole body turned into stone. He was punished for not admitting his own mother.

Keyword 2 : Dog

This is a story from the Priangan region, which tells the origin of the Bandung City in West Java from the story of Sangkuriang, a child who wants to marry his own mother.

Sangkuriang (桑庫里安 – 綠色巨人)

One day a god was punished to become a dog named Tumang and a goddess to become a boar named Celeng Waluyang (Celeng is a Sundanese word for a boar). Both were sent to live in the forest.

When the king hunted in the forest, he found a baby, the daughter of the boar. He named her Dayang Sumbi and raised her up to become a beautiful maiden. 

Dayang Sumbi’s pastime was to weave many beautiful fabrics. One day one of her weaving tools fell down. Since nobody was around, nobody helped her. Being desperate, she announced whoever gave her weaving tool back she would consider her a sister if she’s a girl or marry him if he’s a man. 

Unexpectedly, Tumang, the god who was punished for being a dog, returned her weaving tool. Hence, Dayang Sumbi married him. Soon, their son, Sangkuriang, was born.

One day she asked her son to hunt, so he went to the forest with Tumang. Sadly, Sangkuriang couldn’t find any prey that day. Hence, he killed Tumang, cooked it and served it to his mother.  When Dayang Sumbi found out about it, she was furious, so she hit his son’s head with a rice spoon and banished her son. 

Many years later, Sangkuriang returned to his village and met a beautiful lady. He didn’t know that the lady was his mother, since the legend said the god granted Dayang Sumbi an eternal youth. In no time he fell in love with her and proposed to marry her. 

Accidentally, she found his scar on the head where she hit him, hence, she knew he was her long lost son. In order to prevent the marriage, she asked Sangkuriang to dam Citarum river and built a boat in one night. He summoned spirits to help him. When he almost finished it, Dayang Sumbi was so afraid, hence, she ran to the horizon and waved her red shawl, so it looked like the sun had risen. Thus, the roosters crowed and farmers started their day. 

Sangkuriang, who thought he failed, got angry so he kicked the boat. It became Mount Tangkuban Parahu. The lake was in the Bandung basin.  

Keyword 3 : Fish

The legend of Samosir Island and Lake Toba originating from North Sumatra, tells the story of a young man who marries a fish.

Samosir (沙摩西)

Once upon a time,there was a farmer named toba. He got a magic fish when he was fishing at the river near his house. Toba was shocked and afraid when a goldfish changed to be a beautiful woman with long hair.

“Don’t be afraid. I’m a human like you. Thanks a lot you have released me from a curse.” said that woman. Toba then understood and asked her to stay at his house. After several years, they got married. But that woman had one request :”don’t tell me about my past from where I am. If you can’t keep my secret, a big disaster will happen.”

Toba agreed with her request. Then they held a marriage party and got children named samosir.

Samosir grew big. He became a lazy boy. He just ate food and never worked. One day, his mother asked him to deliver food to his father on farm land, but on the way he had eaten the food. His father knew about it and was angry with him. “how bad you are…! You are born from a mother fish.” hearing this, samosir ran away to the house and told it to his mother. How angry his mother is. Then she asked samosir to run to the top of the hill because she knew a big disaster would come.

After several minutes, the river wave got higher and higher and made some villages sink down including toba. The woman then changed into a big fish. And Samosir was trapped on the hill. That place is now known as Toba Lake and the hill known as Samosir Island.


Thank you so much!

%d bloggers like this: