[INDOLOGY] question about scene in Malay text from Sumatra

Judit Torzsok torzsokjudit at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 8 20:32:37 UTC 2014

The following parallel may be totally off the mark but it is rather striking.By the way, I do not think this Malay story has a lot to do with king "Sibi's, whose point is rather different. However, there is a fairly well-known Hungarian folk tale which agrees with this Malay story in many details, no matter how puzzling this is.
The hero of the tale in question (called variously Son-of-White-Horse or Uprooter-of-Trees in different version) must fly up from the underworld to our world. He manages to acquire the help of a huge bird or griffon, but the bird must be fed with meat and bread during the flight so that they should not fall back. When they almost reach the upper world, the hero runs out of meat, so he cuts a piece of flesh from his thigh and gives it to the bird. Thus, he saves both himself and the bird. After they arrive, the bird spits out the piece of flesh and puts it back, miraculously gluing it to the hero's thigh with one of its feathers. (In other versions, the hero feeds his legs and arms to the bird, but he is restored by the bird all the same.)
Judit Törzsök

From: H.J.H.Tieken at hum.leidenuniv.nl
To: indology at list.indology.info
Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2014 12:10:47 +0000
Subject: [INDOLOGY] question about scene in Malay text from Sumatra

Dear list members,

I post the following question on behalf of a friend. It concerns the following scene from a Malay adventure story from Sumatra, the Hikayat Bahram Syah,
 dated in the first half of the 19th century:
On the back of a bird the hero flies across a sea of fire. To prevent the bird from falling down he feeds it with pieces of flesh from his own
 leg. After they have safely arrived at the other shore the bird vomits, giving up the piece of flesh which attaches itself to the hero's leg again.
The scene contains at least two elements otherwise known from India, namely the vaḍavānala at the bottom of the sea and the a hero giving his
 own flesh to a predator (King Śibi). What my friend wants to know if the story as a whole occurs in Indian literature.
If you wish, you may reply directly to Marije Plomp (marijeplomp at gmail.com.

With the best wishes, Herman Tieken

Herman Tieken
University of Leiden
The Netherlands


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