Sri Tanjung

Sri Tanjung also known as the tale of Banyuwangi (Javanese for "fragrant water") is Javanese folklore which tells a story about a faithful wife that was wrongfully accused. The story has been popular since the era of Majapahit kingdom. The story is usually performed as kidung a poem sung or chanted in Javanese tembang. The Kidung Sri Tanjung are performed in the traditional Javanese ruwatan ceremony. The name Sri Tanjung was connected to the Tanjung flower (Mimusops elengi), a flower with a sweet fragrance.


Like many other Indonesian folklores, the author of this tale was unknown, however it is suggested that the story was originated from Banyuwangi, East Java, since it is connected to the legend about the origin of the name "Banyuwangi". The story originated from the early Majapahit period around the 13th century. The story of Sri Tanjung can be found on bas reliefs of Penataran, Bajang Ratu, Candi Surawana and Jabung temple.


Once upon a time there was a handsome and powerful ksatria (knight) named Raden Sidapaksa that was the descendant of Pandavas. The knight served under King Sulakrama, the ruler of Sindurejo kingdom. Sidapaksa was sent to search for a medicine to king's grandfather, the hermit Bhagawan Tamba Petra that lived secluded in his hermitage on the mountains. Here Sidapaksa met Sri Tanjung, a girl with extraordinary beauty. Sri Tanjung was not an ordinary girl, since her mother was a vidhyadari (apsara) who descended to earth and married a mortal man. Raden Sidapaksa fell in love and asked Sri Tanjung for her hand of marriage. The happy couple went home, back to the kingdom of Sindurejo to settle down. King Sulakrama secretly fell in love, smitten and infatuated by the beauty of Sri Tanjung. The king desired Sri Tanjung for himself and set an evil plot to separate the newly-wed couple.

King Sulakrama ordered Sidapaksa to go to Svargaloka in order to send a message to gods. He is ordered to hand the gods a letter written: "The bearer of this letter will attack the Svargaloka". Sri Tanjung lent her magic sash to her husband, a family heirloom received from her father Raden Sudamala. The magic sash was an enchanted clothes belonging to her mother, the apsara, and enabled her to travel from earth to heaven. Sidapaksa arrived at Svargaloka, not knowing about the message in the unopened letter, he handed the letter to the gods. Of course the gods were furious and attacked the unsuspecting Sidapaksa. Sidapaksa pleaded for explanation and explained himself as the descendant of Pandava. The gods learned about the misunderstanding and freed Sidapaksa. As the compensation for their mistake, the gods bestowed Sidapaksa blessings of magic weapon.

Meanwhile, on earth after Sidapaksa left for heaven, King Sulakrama led an advance on Sri Tanjung and tried to seduce her. Sri Tanjung refused the King's advance and tried to escape. However the king chased and forced Sri Tanjung, hold her and tried to rape her. Right on time Sidapaksa came home to find his wife held in king's arm. The evil king told a lie, accused Sri Tanjung as a lustful unfaithful woman that tried to seduce him. Sidapaksa fell into believing the king's lies and in jealousy tried to kill her. Sri Tanjung cried and swore for her innocence, she pleaded her husband to believe in her. In desperation she swore as god as her witness, that if she is truly innocence, her body will not spilled blood, but fragrance liquid instead. Blinded by anger and jealousy Sidapaksa fiercely stabbed Sri Tanjung with kris. Sri Tanjung fell and died, but the miracle happened; just like her word, her spilled blood was a sweet fragranced perfume, a testament of her innocence.[1]

Raden Sidapaksa realized his terrible mistake and fell into regret and despair. Meanwhile, the spirit of Sri Tanjung ascended to heaven and met the goddess Durga. After learning about injustice that happened upon Sri Tanjung, the great goddess revived Sri Tanjung and reunited her with her husband. The gods ordered Sidapaksa to take revenge and punish the evil deed of King Sulakrama. Sidapaksa succeeded in defeating and killing King Sulakrama in a battle. It was said that the fragrant water, the perfumed blood of Sri Tanjung became the origin of the name Banyuwangi, the capital of Blambangan kingdom which means "the fragrant water".

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  1. ^ "Candi Penataran, Tri Bhuwana Tungga Dewi dan Megawati". Bali Post. 10 August 2002. Retrieved 6 May 2012.