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RARA MENDUT

...and she did not want to let him go. But his plea was so urgent the she had to permit him to go, that tears streaming down her cheeks.

Among the most popular of the modern sendratari or dance dramas without dialogue is the Sendratari Rara Mendut and Pranacitra Yogyakarta style. This sendratari describes the love between a young man, Pranacitra, and a young woman, Rara Mendut, during
the feudal period. The story may be compared to the Romeo and Juliet story so popular in the west.
The Rara Mendut and Pranacitra story is an excerpt from a chronicle of the Mataram period, the period of Sultan Agung (17th century). The event in the story took place after Mataram had seized the region of Pati the northern most point of Central Java. Sultan
Agung had commanded some regents to conquer pati and the bravesd among them was Ki Tumenggung Wiraguna. After Pati had been conquered, much property and a great number of women were broght to Mataram as booty. Among the women was the most beautiful Rara Mendut, who was given to Ki Tumenggung Wraguna by the King.

The old Tumenggung Wiraguna, who had only two upper teeth left and whose hair had already. grown white, still looked strong and still loved beautiful women. He had a wife called Nyai Ajeng Wiraguna and some beautiful concubines too. But as soon as he saw Rara Mendut, his heart began to beat vi6lently, and he intended to take her as his wife.

Rara Mendut refused him, because the very sight of him revolted her, let alone the idea of becoming his wife. She swore that she would rather die than become his wife. Tumenggung Wiraguna was very angry when he heard her reply to his proposal, and sentenced her to pay wadal, a large amount of compensation money every day. If she was not able to pay, she would have to become his wife. Rara Mendut was willing to pay compensation money but asked his permission to sell cigarettes in a roadside stall. Wiraguna granted her request because he thought that she would never be able to earn the money by selling cigarettes. However, Tumenggung Wiraguna's speculation proved to be entirely wrong. Rara Mendut, becauce of her beauty, was able to sell the cigarettes at a very high price.
At that time there lived in a village east of Mataram the widow of a rich merchant, who had a handsome son of excellent character.
His name was Pranacitra. One day Pranacitra heard that there was to be a cock-fight in the yard of the house of Tumenggung Wiramantri,

 

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