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Friday March 31st 2017

Eringa’s Study on ‘Lutung Kasarung’

Ancient Literature | Thursday, 5 January 2012 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawe Setiawan

The Front Cover of Eringa's Book on Lutung Kasarung (Photograph: Hawe Setiawan)

Among the old books kept like a band of ghosts in a wooden cabinet at my house, today I found Loetoeng Kasaroeng: Een Mythologisch Verhaal uit West Java ‘Lutung Kasarung: A Mythological Story from West Java’ by the late Dr. F.S. Eringa, published by Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, in 1949. This volume was part of a series of verhandelingen ‘essays’ publication commissioned by KITLV (Royal Institute for Language, Land, and Ethnology). It was a bijdrage tot de Soendase Taal-en Letterkunde ‘contribution to the Sundanese Language and Literature.’ This volume of 393 pages presents Eringa’s account of the pantun story of Lutung Kasarung and a transcription of the story itself as well in two different languages: Sundanese and Dutch.

Eringa was the second Dutch scholar who studied the pantun story of Lutung Kasarung after Cornelis Marinus Pleyte in early twentieth century. There was some forty years of time between the publication of Pleyte’s research (1910) and that of Eringa’s (1949).

A Sundanese pantun story, according to Eringa, is a sort of legendarische geschiedenis ‘legendary history,’ which in most cases tells a story of the adventure of a wandering knight from kingdom to kingdom in order to overcome obstacles by means of his supernatural power. It used to be told by a story teller called jurupantun, and its performance was commonly accompanied by  the music of tarawangsa (a violin-like instrument) and kacapi (a kind of zither).

‘What distinguishes the “Lutung Kasarung” with its content from the majority of tjarita pantoens is that this story represents a strong mythical character,’ Eringa writes in this volume (p. 14).

‘What distinguishes the “Lutung Kasarung” with its content from the majority of tjarita pantoens is that this story represents a strong mythical character,’ Eringa writes in this volume.

Eringa also compiled Soendaas-Nederlands Woordenboek ‘Sundanese-Dutch Dictionary’ (1984), which was published posthumously.***

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