The Story of Damar Wulan
Damar Wulan was born in the village of Paluh Amba, not far from the capital city of Majapahit. He was the son of Udara, the former prime minister of Majapahit. Since his father had retired his family live in a quiet and prosperous village outside the capital. Damar was a smart boy so he could easily learned the lessons his father taught him. He learned martial art, religion, politics, and literature. He was very good at all those subjects. When his father thought that he is mature enough, he asked Damar to find job in Majapahit. He told Damar to apply for a job at the Prime Minister's office. He hoped that his close relation with the new prime minister would help him get the prime minister's attention. Furthermore Damar was a smart boy so his father was sure Damar was capable to do any job.
Damar was very confident he would get a good position at the prime minister's office. Early morning he left his village. At midday he got to Majapahit and he directly went to the prime minister's house. Prime Minister Logender was his name. The guards sarcastically questioned him when he told them he would see the prime minister.
'Who do you think you are?'
'I am Damar Wulan. I am the son of the former prime minister Udara. My father told me to see the prime minister here'
'If you think you can impress us by telling us about your father, you are completely wrong poor boy. The son of a prime minister would never go anywhere on foot'
'But, that's true. My father told me to find job here'
'Listen poor boy, the prime minister is a very busy person. He does not have time for job seeker like you. But if you need a job, there is a vacant position here. Let me report my chief'
Then the soldier reported to his superior. After that someone called Damar to get into the commander's chamber. He told Damar that the prime minister's office needed several boys to take care of the horses. Damar was surprised because he expected clerical job but then he accepted the offer. Since that day he lived in a simple hut behind the prime minister's house.
Damar did a good job so his superior was satisfied with him. He was also very sociable. Soon he had a good relationship with the prime minister and his family. The prime minister had two sons - Layang Seto and Layang Kumitir and a daughter - Anjasmoro. His sons were very arrogant and lazy. They treated Damar cruelly. They wanted Damar to do whatever they want. Every body hated them but nobody dare to express their feeling. Anjasmoro, on the other hand, liked Damar very much. Gradually she fell in love to Damar. So did Damar. They had a secret love. When Layang Seto and Layang Kumitir knew what happened to Damar and Anjasmoro, they were very angry. They treated Damar more and more cruelly.
At the time the kingdom of Majapahit faced a very serious problem because of the rebellion of Menak Jinggo. He was a half brother of the Queen Kecono Wungu. He was a prince of Majapahit and a highly respected general of the Majapahit army. For his great achievement for his country his father appointed him as the ruler for the kingdom of Blambangan, a vassal state under Majapahit. When his father passed away he was sure that he would become the successor. But he was very disappointed when his father appointed his sister instead. He thought that he was more capable than Kencono Wungu so he rebelled.
Menak Jinggo proved to be a good general. Under his leadership the Blambangan army could win several battles with Majapahit army. The territory of Majapahit one by one fell to Blambangan. At the time the morale of the Majapahit army was already down. They were not sure that they could win the war. So the queen and the prime minister met everyday to discuss the worsening situation. Some weeks went by but still they did not have any ideas to solve the problem. Every report they received about the war was only about the defeat of the Majapahit army.
Prime Minister Logender was shocked when his wife reported to him about the affair of Anjasmoro and Damar Wulan. For a highly respected person like him, it was a very serious blow to his ego. He was a very respectable person while his daughter dated with a poor boy. It was a serious humiliation. He could not accept it. This fact made him very angry. He thought very hard to find a solution. Suddenly an idea struck his sharp mind when he was meditating at midnight.
Early in the morning he went to the palace and asked the queen for an audience. Then he explained his plan.
'Your Majesty, last night I had an idea'
'Tell me about it'
'Our army could not win because we apply a wrong strategy. The Blambangan army is very good at a frontal open warfare like that. Furthermore our army's morale is now down. So we have to avoid open warfare. Since now on we have to launch a new tactics of secret operation. We must send a small army unit to kill Menak Jinggo secretly'
'Who will do that?'
'I have a body guard. His skill in martial art is excellent. He is very capable at individual fight. So he is ready for this duty. I am sure he is the right person'
'OK, I think you are right. Send him as soon as possible to Blambangan. If he can do his job well I will give him great reward'
When Logender got home he called Damar Wulan immediately. He asked him about his martial art skill. Damar said he had mastered some fighting skill. His father had trained him Pencak Silat, the Indonesian martial art. As a result, he was very skillful at using sword, lance, as well as empty hand fighting technique. Then Logender asked him to fight both Layang Seto and Layang Kumitir. Both of them fought emotionally since they hated Damar very much. But Damar was smart, skillful, strong and tough. In just several minutes he could beat both of them without difficulty. Logender was angry but also satisfied since he found a way to get rid of both problems - his home and his country.
'Damar, you are a great fighter. I am very proud of you. And that's why you will receive a great honor to fight for your country. Now there is a rebellion in Majapahit. The king of Blambangan has done a crime. His name is Menak Jinggo. Find him in his palace and Blambangan and kill him. Are you ready?'
'I am ready any time Sir'
'Good. Today you have to prepare everything and tomorrow you must leave for Blambangan secretly. Do not tell any one about this duty. Not even Anjasmoro. Don't be afraid because the Majapahit army will fully support you. They will back you and provide all your needs. When you can kill Menak Jinggo behead him and bring his head here. If you can do this job well you will be promoted to a high position as the commander of Majapahit army'
'Yes, Sir. I am very glad to receive this order. I will do my best'
The next day, very early in the morning Damar Wulan left Majapahit alone. Meanwhile Prime Minister Logender had implemented his own plan. He prepared a small army unit under the leadership of his two sons. They went behind Damar in a distant so that Damar did not notice them. They went secretly so no one knew it. Their task was not to protect Damar but to kill him and seize the head of Menak Jinggo if he could kill Menak Jinggo. But if Damar was killed then they had nothing to do.
Several days later Damar Wulan arrived in Blambangan. The Majapahit army kept on spying on him. They were surprised to see Damar did not directly attack the palace. He applied for a job instead. Once again he was accepted to work in the palace to take care of the horses. Everybody including the king Menak Jinggo liked him because he was very polite and he did his job well. He was also very handsome that two of the king's wife fell in love with him. Waito and Puyengan were the wives of King Menak Jinggo.
As everybody trusted him, it was easy for Damar to search the palace. He knew where Menak Jinggo lived. One night he secretly jumped the palace wall to kill the king. Finally he was inside the king's bedroom. But unfortunately the king was ready to welcome him. A small army unit was there to arrest him. He was no match for Menak Jinggo. But Menak Jinggo was a smart person. He did not kill Damar instantly. He wanted to gather information from him. So he ordered his guards.
'Don't kill him. Let him alive, treat him well. I will question him tomorrow'.
'Yes, Your Majesty'
He ordered his men to treat him well. He even let Waito and Puyengan to see Damar. By doing so he hoped that Damar would give him valuable information. But Damar was also a smart person. He dated Waito and Puyengan and he asked them the way to kill Menak Jinggo. Since the two women loved Damar they revealed a secret.
'Nobody can hurt him. He is a tough guy and he is protected by god. God gave him a secret weapon called Wesi Kuning'
'What is that?'
'That's a golden amulet. It is just a small amulet, as small as a thumb but it is very powerful. Its shape is like a stick. It is stored in his bedroom'
'He is a dangerous man. We have to stop him. Could you help me find his amulet?
'I will help you if you marry me'
'Sure I will marry both of you as soon as I can arrest him'
When their turn to amuse the king arrived Waito and Puyengan could get into the kings chamber. They used that opportunity to steal the amulet. Then they gave it to Damar Wulan. Menak Jinggo did not realize their conspiracy. When the night was very quiet they opened the door for Damar Wulan. There was a fight but it was too late for Menak Jinggo. The sudden attack did not give him much chance to survive. Consequently Damar could beat his enemy and Menak Jinggo was beheaded.
Damar Wulan immediately left Blambangan palace that night while promising Waito and Puyengan to be back after he received the rewa.
ABOUT THE STORY
The story of Damar Wulan was written by Yosodipuro in the 17th century in Javanese language. He was an official at the court of King Pakubuwono in Surakarta, central Java. He wrote a fiction story based on history of Majapahit which is the most powerful kingdom in Indonesian history. Its territory includes most of west Indonesia today. The kingdom flourished for about two hundred years since 13th to 15th century.
Yosodipuro wrote about an episode when there were internal conflicts among the royal family. At that time there was a rebellion of Bhre Wirabumi, the ruler of Blambangan, the easternmost part of Java. It was Wirabumi who is depicted as Menak Jinggo.
When I was a kid my father used to tell me stories from Java and also Indian stories of Mahabarata (the story of the Barata family) and Ramayana (the story of king Rama). I heard this story from him who told me orally. He told me that Yosodipuro might not the original writer. He estimated that Yosodipuro just wrote a story that had been handed down from his ancestors. My father also believed that the story is told from Majapahit perspectives as Menak Jinggo is depicted as someone whose face is like a dog. I just realize that in Banyuwangi (Blambangan) Menak Jinggo is depicted differently. He is a handsome man and many women admire him. He was also a kind and wise ruler. He rebelled because of injustices in Majapahit.
The Story of Damar Wulan is so popular in Indonesia that many people do not realize that it is fiction. They do not know that Damar Wulan is just a fictional character. Today it is still played in Javanese traditional theater called Ketoprak. It is also for wayang klitik performance but this kind of wayang is not popular.