Long ago, the kingdom of Kalianget, north of Bali, was ruled by a powerful and cruel King, whose name has not been remembered in history. But the legend remembers Nyoman Jayaprana, a young boy from the kingdom, known for his talents as a singer and storyteller. Here is his story:
One day, a terrible epidemic, perhaps the plague, struck the kingdom and decimated all Jayaprana’s family. An orphan, he wandered along the paths and was taken in by the King who raised him as his son, charmed by his qualities and talents.
The years passed and Jayaprana became a brave and handsome young man and the king considered it time for him to marry. It was at the market that Jayaprana met Ni Layonsari, a beautiful young woman with dark eyes and long black hair.
It was love at first sight! The wedding took place at the castle and after the ceremony, the young couple approached the king to receive his blessing. It was rather a curse! At first glance, the king fell under the spell of the beautiful Layonsari. He was so obsessed with it that he began to foment dark thoughts.
The King decided to send Jayaprana on a war mission in the jungle of Teluk Terima. True to his King, Jayaprana promised his young wife to return soon. He gave her a beautiful lotus flower and said, "This flower will make you think of me in my absence. Know that if something happens to me, it will fade."
The young man set out, accompanied by Patih Saunggaling, the king’s regent and trusted man, without knowing that the king had a mission to assassinate him. When they finally reached the Teluk Terima forest, Patih Saunggaling told him that he had come to kill him, on the King’s orders.
Jayaprana was upset but he wasn’t afraid to die. He was ready to obey the King, so great was his loyalty that he handed over his own keris (a wavy Balinese dagger) to the regent who stabbed him to death.
At that moment, a sweet fragrant smell invaded the forest, making all the animals sad and tearful, except the white tiger, who jumped on the assassin Patih Saunggaling and killed him.
When Layonsari awoke that morning, she saw the lotus fade and uttered a loud cry of pain. She learned that the King was responsible for her husband’s death and he now wanted her to become his wife.
She chose instead to take her own life with the King’s keris, and the King did not have time to prevent it. And the same thing happened: a sweet fragrance spread throughout the castle. Kneeling before the bloody body of Layonsari, the King knew he had lost.
In Teluk Teluma (meaning the Bay of Acceptance), there is a "tomb tower" at the place where Jayaprana would have been buried. The main building would be the tomb of Jayaprana and Layonsari and a temple dedicated to Patih Saunggaling is erected outside. Today it is a public temple.
Image source: www.travel.detik.com
It is in homage to this legend that the Balinese artisan Luh Mas Sri Pertamiari created this very fine wall sculpture, carved from suar wood. A beautiful and symbolic piece.
Branch of Life, Time for Storyteller
Romeo & Juliette in Balinese Version