Malin Kundang – An Indonesian Myth

A long time ago, in a small village near the beach in West Sumatera, lived a woman and her son, Malin Kundang. Malin Kundang’s father had passed away when he was a baby, and he had to live hard with his mother.

Malin Kundang was a healthy, dilligent, and strong child. He usually went to the sea to catch fish, and brought it to his mother, or sold it in the town.

One day, when Malin Kundang was sailing as usual, he saw a merchant’s ship which was being raided by a small band of pirates. With his brave and power, Malin Kundang defeated the pirates. The merchant was so happy and asked Malin Kundang to sail with him. Malin Kundang agreed.

Many years later, Malin Kundang became a wealthty merchant, with a huge ship, loads of trading goods, many ship crews, and a beautiful wife. In his journey, his ship landed on a beach. The villagers reconigzed him, and the news ran fast in the town: Malin Kundang became a rich man and now he is here. His mother, in deepful sadnees after years of loneliness, ran to the beach to meet her beloved son again.

When the mother came, Malin Kundang, in front of his well dressed wife, his crews and his own gloriness, denied to meet that old, poor and dirty woman. For three times she begged Malin Kundang and for three times yelled at him. At last Malin Kundang said to her “Enough, old woman! I have never had a mother like you, a dirty and ugly peasant!” Then he ordered his crews to set sail.

Enraged, she cursed Malin Kundang that he would turn into a stone if he didn’t apologize. Malin Kundang just laughed and set sail. In the quiet sea, suddenly a thunderstorm came. His huge ship was wrecked and it was too late for Malin Kundang to apologized. He was thrown by the wave out of his ship, fell on a small island, and suddenly turned into stone.


Batu Malin Kundang

Another Version

The legendary story is said to be originated here in Padang where the remains of “Batu Malin Kundang” is located.

Malin Kundang who hails from a poor family. Just like any other Minang men, Malin Kundang decided to travel elsewhere to seek good fortune, leaving behind his old mother. His life changed when he married the daughter of a rich man in Siam. Soon after achieving success and gaining great fortune he sailed back homeward on his own ship to Padang together with his wife and crews.

Upon hearing of Malin Kundang’s return, his mother rushed to the beach to meet her long lost son. Unfortunately, Malin Kundang felt ashamed upon looking at his old and poor mother – he was a rich man with fine clothing and a beautiful wife while his mother was looking ragged and poor as she was. In his undisguised disgust he ignored his mother, refused to greet her and returned to his ship.

Humiliated and heartbroken by her arrogant son’s behavior, his mother fell to her knees in desperation and prayed to God asking that her son be punished for what he did. Soon a terrible storm rose up and Malin Kundang’s ship was wrecked upon the rocks. Realising his mistake and sin for ignoring his mother, the badly injured Malin Kundang tried to get ashore to seek forgiveness from his mother but as he crawled on his hands and knees he was suddenly turned into stone.

Until today, a stone that from a certain angle resembles the figure of a man on his hands and knees with his head seemingly buried in the rock can still be found here in Pantai Air Manis. It is said that Malin Kundang has been forced to stay on the beach forever, begging for forgiveness from his mother. Around this rocky figure barrels and ropes have been carved into the stone to represent the shipwreck washed up on the shore. The tale of an ungratefull son makes the tranquil Pantai Air Manis a legendary location to visit that may offer some lesson in life.