Culture & Tradition

Keong Emas

wpid-keong_mas_by_bndisbian-d5ovgyvKeong Emas is a very famous folklore from Java. The word keong originally comes from Javanese language which means a big snail. While emas means golden. Keong emas is a story about a beautiful princess who was turned into a golden snail by an old witch. Why did the witch turn the princess into a snail? And could the princess turn back into a human by breaking the evil witch’s spell? Let’s listen to the story…

Long ago in Java island, a king named Kirtamara ruled a kingdom of Daha.

He had two beautiful daughters named Dewi Galuh and Candra Kirana. A charming prince named Raden Inu Kertapati from Kahuripan, a neighbor kingdom, was looking for a wife and heard about the princesses from Daha. He came to King Kirtamara to propose one of princesses to be his wife. Admired by Raden Inu Kertapati’s charm, princess Dewi Galuh fell in love. She hoped the prince would choose her to be his wife. Yet, Raden Inu Kertapati preferred Candra Kirana to Dewi Galuh and his proposal to Princess Candra Kirana was approved by King Kirtamara. Not long after the proposal, Prince Kertapati and Princess Candra Kirana got engaged.

Since then, Dewi Galuh secretly felt jealous to her sister. She felt so heart-broken because Prince Kertapati took her sister instead of herself for his wife. She felt that she deserved the Prince’s heart more than her sister. Driven by the jealousy, she secretly went to a mean and old witch, named Mbok Mian for some help.

“Mbok Mian, will you help me sorting out a problem?” said her to the Witch.

“Sure. What can I do for you, Your Majesty?” she replied.

“Turn Candra Kirana into a snail and throw her into the sea!”

“Why? Isn’t she your own sister?” asked the confused Witch.

Dewi Galuh told the Witch everything and asked her not to question any more but to do what she was instructed to. The Witch was a mean old lady who was easy to bribe. She agreed to get rid off Candra Kirana into the sea by turning her into a snail. She then asked Dewi Galuh to send Candra Kirana to play around the beach on the agreed day and time, so she could easily do her evil plan to her.

Later on, Dewi Galuh successfully asked her sister to go walking on the beach. She told her that she really wanted to spend time with her before she got married and had to leave the palace. But, when they were in the beach, Dewi Galuh secretly ran away leaving Candra Kirana who was at that time enjoying herself walking along the beach.

Suddenly she saw a snail. It was ugly and disgusting.
“Yuck!” said Candra Kirana and then she threw it away into the water.

She did not know that the snail was actually an old and powerful witch, Mbok Mian. The witch was angry to Candra Kirana. She put a spell on her and changed her into a golden snail. The witch then threw Candra Kirana away into the sea.

The golden snail was drifting away in the sea, and after several days, she got stuck in a net belonged to an old woman who was fishing and used her net to catch some fish. She was surprised to see a golden snail in her net. The snail was so differently beautiful and radiant. She decided to take it home and keep it. When the old woman woke up in the morning, she was surprised to find her house in a better condition. The house turned to be nice and clean. And she also had food on the table. She was thinking very hard.

“Who did this to me? The person is very kind”

This happened again and again every morning. The old woman was very curious. One night she decided to stay up late. She was peeping from her room to know who cooked for her. Then, she could not believe what she saw. The golden snail she caught in the river turned into a beautiful woman and did all the chores to her every night. The old woman approached her.

“Who are you, young girl?”

“I am Candra Kirana, Ma’am. A witch cursed me. I can turn back into a human only at night,” explained Candra Kirana.

“The spell can be broken if I hear the melody from the holy Gamelan,” continued Candra Kirana

The old woman then rushed to the palace. She talked to Prince Kertapati about her lost fiancee.

The Prince was so happy. He had been looking for his fiancee everywhere.

He then prayed and meditated. He asked the gods to give him the holy Gamelan. He wanted to break the witch’s spell. After several days praying and meditating, finally gods granted his wish. He immediately brought the holy Gamelan to the old woman’s house. He played it beautifully. And then amazingly the golden snail turned into the beautiful Candra Kirana, his lost fiancee.

The couple was so happy that they could be together again and finally got married. They also thanked the old woman for her kindness. As a return, they asked her to stay with them in the palace.

The moral lesson behind the story is that jealousy and envy can make you do crazy and evil things to the one you are jealous and envy to. So be careful with your negative thoughts and always try to be happy for everyone around you.
Adapted and translated from:







5 comments on “Keong Emas

  1. Martin

    What a beautiful story….horas!

    Liked by 1 person

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