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The Legend of Malin Kundang Story

Updated on February 4, 2011

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This story is my recollection about my childhood memory. If you live and study in Sumatra Island, you should have heard about this story. Or if you have been traveling for vacation to Sumatra area, you should have heard this legend. It is a very good moral legend. The legend is originated in Padang, West Sumatra.

So the legend begin...

A long time ago, there was a family of fisherman who lived in a small village of west coast of Sumatra Island. The family consists of father, mother and a boy named Malin Kundang. Due to family financial condition concern, the father decided to make a living in a big city across the ocean.

Minang House

So the Malin and his mother stayed in their huts. A week, two weeks, a month, two months and even more than years, Malin's father did not return to his hometown. After long waiting with no news, his mother had to replace Malin's father's position to make a living. Malin is a smart boy but a little naughty as most children. He often chases chickens and he will hit them with a broom. One day, when Malin was chasing chickens, he tripped over a rock and injured his right arm which hit by stones. The wound on his arm became trace mark (i.e. similar to birth mark) and can’t be lost.

After growing up, Malin Kundang felt sorry for his mother who had worked tireless during this time to make a living for both of them. He thought about trying his luck of living and working in the big city. He hoped that later on when he returned to his hometown, he was already a wealthy man. Malin interested in the solicitation of a merchant that trade back and forth across the ocean. The merchant had once been very poor as well, but now he has become a wealthy man.

Malin Kundang mentioned to his mother about his intention to join the merchant. His mother initially was hesitant with Malin Kundang’s intention. However, due to Malin strong willed, Malin Kundang’s mother finally agreed to let his son go and joined the merchant with a heavy heart. After supplies and equipment were prepared sufficiently, Malin immediately headed to the dock with his mother escort. "My son, if you have succeeded and become affluent people, don’t you forget about your mother and this village ", said Malin’s Mother with tears in her eyes.

The ship boarded by Malin moved increasingly distant from the dock, accompanied by Malin’s mother hand that wave at Malin. During his journey on the ship, Malin Kundang learned a lot about seamanship from the crew that has been experienced. Along the way, suddenly pirates attacked Malin Kundang’s. All the merchant merchandise on the ship was seized by pirates. Most of the crew ships and the people who were on the ship were killed by the pirates. Malin Kundang very lucky he was not killed by the pirates, because when it happened, Malin hid in a small space enclosed by the timber. 

Malin Kundang floated amid sea, until finally his ship stranded in a beach. With the remaining available power, Malin Kundang walked towards the nearest village near the beach. Arriving in the village, Malin Kundang was helped by the community. He told the story about what happened to him. The village where Malin had stranded is very fertile community. With tenacity and perseverance in working, over time Malin had become a wealthy man. He had a lot of merchant ships with a crew of more than 100 people. After becoming rich, Malin Kundang proposed and married a girl in the village to be his wife. 

News about Malin Kundang who have become wealthy and have been married was heard by Malin’s mother. Malin’s Mother felt grateful and was very happy his son success. Since then, the mother of Malin Kundang went to the dock every day, waited for her son return.

After some time of his married life, Malin and his wife made the voyage with a big and beautiful ship accompanied his crew ship and bodyguards to his village. Malin’s mother who had been waiting for her son daily, went to the dock to seek her son along the big ship. She entered the harbor. She saw two people standing on dock. She believed that one of them is her son, Malin Kundang, and his son wife. 

West Sumatra, Indonesia

A markerAir manis -
Pantai Air Manis, Padang, Indonesia
get directions

Malin Kundang Statue

Malin Kundang stepped down from the ship. He was greeted by his mother. Once close enough, his mother saw the wounds on his arm. She was more confident that he is her son, Malin Kundang."Malin Kundang, my son, why did you go so long without sending a word? ", she said while hugging Malin Kundang. But what happens next? Malin Kundang tried to release the hug immediately and pushed his mother away. His mother tumbled and felt to the ground. "Who are you old lady? I don’t know you! Don’t pretend to be my mother!" said Malin Kundang to his mother. Malin Kundang pretended not to recognize his mother, he also embarrassed by her mother who was old and dressed in ragged-cloth.

"Is she your mother?" his wife asked. "No I don’t know this old lady. She was just a beggar who pretended to be my mom to get my fortune," Malin said to his wife. Hearing this statement and treated speciously by his son, the mother of Malin Kundang was very angry. She did not expect her son to be so disobedience to their parent. Because of anger which culminated, Malin's mother lifted her hand as she said "Oh my mighty God, if he is my son, I cursed him and please turn him into a stone." A few minutes later the wind and storms rumbled loudly and destroy Malin’s ship. After that Malin Kundang body slowly becomes rigid like stone.Gradually, eventually shaped into a rock/reef.

Moral messages: As a child, never forget all the services, especially to a mother who had conceived and raise the child. Don't become a rebel. Insubordinate to parents is a major sin which will be borne by you.

Malin Kundang Rock

Many People in West Sumatra still believe the legend is real. Air Manis, a beach near Padang (capital city of West Sumatra province), has a rock formation called Batu Malin Kundang that is said to be the remains of his ship. 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 ungrateful son makes the tranquil Pantai Air Manis a legendary location to visit that may offer some lesson in life. Interested in more legend, please checkout Lake Toba folklore.

PS: Don't forget to visit or travel to this area. It is a beautiful beach with folklore history.


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      Dra.Nuraida Latief 3 years ago

      According to my grand mother and grand father, it is is very bad to tell or to watch the children the bad character like Malinkundang. Because the children will follow the Malinkundang's temperament .This is the opinion from Moslem Chinese and Arabic ( My Grand mother and father )who studied in Mekkah for 7 years .They were born before the independence Day ( 1935 ). At that time they could fight with the ghost, the evil etc.Malinkundang acted like the influence of the Ghost or evil /devil.

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      azerrra farrzana 4 years ago

      gx ada bahasa indonesia nya yah?

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      $100 5 years ago

      so sad

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      inka 5 years ago

      wooowwwwww........ intresting!!!!!!

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Nice documentary story,thanks for sharing this interesting stuff.

    • chan0512 profile image

      chan0512 7 years ago from Camarillo, CA

      thanks Venus!

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      venus 7 years ago

      this is my first time read the complete story.. and saw the picture of Malin Kundang... thanks...