Monday, 9 November 2009



Hawe Setiawan

Friday, 6 November 2009

Who is ‘Akang’?

The word akang [a ka NG] is a term of address for an elder brother or anyone on the same line (see Hardjadibrata’s Sundanese-English Dictionary, p. 11). The same word, which has the same meaning, is also found in John M. Echols and Hassan Shadily’s Kamus Indonesia-Inggris/An Indonesian-English Dictionary. The later dictionary recognizes it as a Sundanese and Jakarta dialect (see Echols and Shadily’s dictionary, 3rd ed., p. 9).

There is also a shorter form of this word: kang. It usually precedes a man's name, e.g. Kang Godi.

Those who use this term of address may be a woman to her husband or someone to his/her elder brother. A man usually uses the word akang to refer to himself when he speaks to younger ones or to his wife.

Here is an example quoted from a dialogue in a novel by Abdullah Mustappa entitled Cihaliwung Nunjang Ngidul (1997):

Dina hiji poé geus liwat lohor, sabot Haji Dahlan keur aya di pabrik, Ajengan Cikaso semu rurusuhan nyampeurkeun. Ku Haji Dahlan buru-buru ditepungan.

“Aya naon, Kang? Aya wartos téa?”

“Ih, sanés. Akang téh katatamuan, cenah tentara nu baralik hijrah ti Yogya, rék ngadon reureuh. Meureun aya kana dua tilu poéna, da mani geus lalimpeu pisan. Akang rék ménta bantuan ka Jang Haji. Da ku Akang téh dibagi-bagi wé di sababaraha imah anu katimbang bisa kaéndongan. Jang Haji di antarana.”

One day, in the afternoon, when Haji Dahlan was at the factory, the Cleric of Cikaso appeared in a hurry. Haji Dahlan welcomed him at once.

“What’s happened, Kang? Have you got the news?”

“No, it’s something else. Akang have some visitors, saying that they are soldiers returning from Yogya, and need some rests. It may take two or three days, for they looked so exhausted. Akang need your help, Brother Haji. Akang shall divide them into several houses, which are proper enough to be lodged. Your house is one of them.”

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Story of Darpan

I first met Darpan in Bandung when he was a correspondent of a Jakarta-based newspaper by the end of 1990s. Since then we've met many times, mostly in young writers gatherings.

It is common for village residents to have such a short name. Hence, when he used the name Darpan Ariawinangun in his early works it seemed that he was trying to be a new person. However, an old critic made a joke: "That name is strange," he said. In his opinion, Darpan is a peasant name, whereas Ariawinangun is a noble man name. How could two different worlds become one? (That was a strange opinion, I think). Perhaps, that was why Darpan changed his name with the original one.

Darpan was born in Sungaiula, a coastal kampong of Jayamulya Village in the District of Cibuaya, near Karawang, on 4 May 1970. His village is quite different from the mountainous land of Priangan. It is very close to the sound of wave in northern coast of the Land of Sunda. His father, Ano Wangsa, and his mother, Carnisem, are farmers. Some residents of Sungaiula work in paddy fields, while others work as fishermen. Those who sell goods are not many.

Darpan’s village is a kind of mosaic. Different cultures live together in harmony. To meet Sundanese people one can go to Sungaiula and Cimereta. To meet Javanese people one can go to Pulo Satu, Camara and Cibuntu. In Camara and Sungaibuntu there are ‘Chinese’ people too who speak in Javanese, whereas in Patikus and Anjatan both Sundanese and Javanese people can speak in Sundanese and also in Javanese. If one go to Sidariwan one can meet people whose ancestors are from Batawi. That's what I have noticed based on our conversation in Jakarta in 1998. Darpan himself has colourful family background: his grand parents on his father’s side are Javanese. His grandfather on his mother’s side is Sundanese, and his grand mother on his mother’s side is Javanese.

He had his elementary school at Wargamekar Elementary School in the late 1970s. In 1983 - 1986 he studied at PGRI Junior High School in Pedes, then he studied at SPG (Teacher Training School) in Karawang in 1986-1989. He left for Bandung to join IKIP (Institute of Teaching and Paedagogy---now Bandung University of Education). He studied at the university in 1989-1993. It was in his college years that he started writing stories and poems. He had also won writing competition twice at his college. He wrote poems and short stories both in Sundanese and Indonesian.

Darpan publishes his short stories in some Sundanese periodicals, e.g. Manglé, Galura and Cupumanik. His first book, a children storybook entitled Goong Siluman (the Ghostly Cymbal), was published in 1993. In 1998 he published his first anthology of short stories entitled Nu Harayang Dihargaan (Those who Want to be Respected). For several times (in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000) Darpan have won Literary Prize from the LBSS (Centre for Sundanese Language and Literature). He has also won the D.K. Ardiwinata Literary Award four times (1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996). In 1999 he was awarded the prestigious Rancagé Literary Award for the anthology of short stories. Among his generation Darpan is the first one who win the award.

In the year 2000, along with some other Sundanese writers, Darpan was invited by the Jakarta Art Council to read one of his short stories at Taman Ismail Marzuki. He was also invited by a local branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) to read his short story in Lampung in the year 2001. In that time Darpan was still working with the Centre for Press and Development Studies (LSPP), a Jakarta-based non-government organization. Darpan also joined Dangiang Community, a Bandung-based group of young writers who are interested in studying Sundanese culture and literature.

In the present day Darpan lives in Garut, West Java, with his wife and two children. He is a schoolteacher, teaching Sundanese to students at a Senior High School. With his colleague Budi Suhardiman, he published a small encyclopedia entitled Seputar Garut (Around Garut) in the year 2007. He also writes columns regularly in Garut Post, a local newspaper.

Hawe Setiawan

Monday, 2 November 2009

Govt Warns Miners over Pawon Cave

Sundanese Corner

West Bandung government warns miners not to ruin Pawon Cave. A government official in Ngamprah said there would be a restriction on mining to prevent karst resources from devastation. Any mining activity in 1 square kilometre (0.4 square miles) around the cave will be prohibited.

Efforts seem to have been undertaken to preserve this historical site. While legislators are said to had been thinking of law enforcement to be taken for the sustainability of natural resources, local government is planning to make the karst site a tourism destination.

Over past few years the urgency for preserving karst resources has been expressed by conservation groups, mainly Bandung Basin Research Group (KRCB), an independent community that has been undertaking surveys on natural resources.

Archaeological and geological researches have discovered some valuable artefacts from the cave. The most important finding is a skull and skeleton of the so-called Pawon Man. According to experts, this archaeological finding could shed lights on early life in Bandung basin some million years ago.***

(Reproduced with kind permission of Pikiran Rakyat, a Bandung-based Indonesian daily newspaper)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sundanese Literature

Sundanese Corner

LET us talk about sastra, which Sundanese people denominate literature. The term, which was derived from Sanskrit, is also known in Indonesian language.

A recent philological study has discovered that the word sastra is found in old manuscripts, e.g. the Sanghyang Sasana Maha Guru, a palm-leaf manuscript that was written in Old Sundanese in 16th century. The word sastra literally means ‘writing’. According to this manuscript, writing skill is one of the ten qualities that define educated people.

Oral Tradition

Sundanese literature seems to have been rooted in a particular oral tradition. One of several valuable legacies of ancient times is the carita pantun. It is a long and poetical story told by a juru pantun or tukang pantun (story teller), which was usually accompanied by the music of kacapi and tarawangsa, traditional string instruments.

In its form the carita pantun is usually divided into three main parts: the rajah pamuka (introduction), the story, and the rajah pamunah (epilogue). The story tells about Sundanese knights in fulfilling their obligations and duties. One of the well-known stories is the story of Raden Munding Laya di Kusuma studied by Dutch researcher C.M. Pleyte in the beginning of 20th century. It is told that Prince Munding Laya is the son of King Siliwangi of Padjadjaran.

People used to gather in a special occasion —e.g. when celebrating a newborn or welcoming a harvest season—to appreciate the performance of carita pantun. The performance was usually presented all night long.

This amazing story telling has passed away over past few decades. Thanks to some Sundanese cultural figures and scholars who recorded the performance of some old juru pantuns and transcribed their stories in 1970s, some ancient stories are well documented in written form.***(to be continued)

Hawe Setiawan

(I owe the information about the text of ‘Sanghyang Sasana Maha Guru' to Aditia Gunawan, a researcher at the National Library of Indonesia.)