Indonesian Folktales for Storytelling – Stories with Morals for Kids


When you were kid, what is your favorite bedtime story? Have you ever heard story of Malin Kundang or Batu Menangis or even another Indonesian Folktales? If you have not, this time we will explore about Indonesian Folktales for Storytelling!

As you know every nation has its own culture product, including folktales. In fact, folktales have many functions, such as to entertain, language learning tools even life lesson education (especially for kids). You have learned about Indonesian Pantun or Indonesian Idioms and Proverbs.

Indonesian Folktales for Storytelling

Now let’s move to Indonesian Folktales for Storytelling. In addition, because Indonesia consists many islands as well as diverse society the folktales are varied. Some of it might have lots of version, such as different title, characters or plot, but the core of the story still same. Could you ever found two or more different folktales in your country that have those similarities? Think a sec. Now, here are the list of Indonesian Folktales for Storytelling.

Also read : Examples of Poetry in Indonesia, Indonesian Cultural Words

The Indonesian Origin Story

Some of the folktales were used to explain a phenomena or even the origin of a state/city name, even though it is not real. However, it was believed by many. They might have two or more different titles. Here are some of it.

  • Asal Usul Danau Toba (The Origin of Toba Lake) – North Sumatra
  • Asal Usul Raja Negeri Jambi (The Origin of the King of Jambi) – Jambi
  • Sangkuriang/Asal Usul Gunung Tangkuban Perahu (The Origin of Tangkuban Perahu Mountain) – West Java
  • Asal Usul Kota Cianjur (The Origin of Cianjur) – Cianjur, West Java
  • Telaga Warna (The Origin of Telaga Warna) – West Java
  • Roro Jonggrang/Asal Usul Candi Prambanan (The Origin of Prambanan Temple) – Yogyakarta
  • Ikan Sura dan Buaya (Shark/Sura and Crocodile/Buaya)/ Asal Usul Kota Surabaya (The Origin of Surabaya) – Surabaya, East Java
  • Asal Mula Danau Bantur (The Origin of Bantur Lake) – Bali
  • Asal Usul Danau Lipan (The Origin of Lipan Lake) – East Kalimantan
  • Asal Usul Tari Patuddu (The Origin of Patuddu Dance) – West Sulawesi
  • Asal Muasal Telaga Biru (The Origin of Telaga Biru) – Maluku
  • Asal Mula Nama Irian (The Origin of Irian) – Papua

Further readings: Inspirational Quotes in Indonesia

More about Indonesian Folktales for Storytelling!

The folktales that every nation has, not only became their cultural heritage or cultural value, but also became one of the main aspects of a nation characters. It shows the way people think and react to something. Nonetheless, it is also a really great media to learn Bahasa Indonesia because the language and vocabulary is not really complex, but well-structured.

Furthermore, there are still many traditional story in Indonesia. For your information, you might found similarity between the story with your own country’s, but of course with their own traditional value (e.g. Try to compre Bawang Merah Bawang Putih with Cinderella). Here are the list of it.

  • Mentiko Betuah – Aceh
  • Legenga Putri Hijau (The Legend of Putri Hijau) – North Sumatra
  • Bawang Merah Bawang Putih (the origin is unclear, but it is from Malay archipelago, but we usually know it as West Sumatra folktales)
  • Malin Kundang – West Sumatra
  • Pangeran Pande Gelang dan Putri Cadasari (Prince Pande Gelang and Princess Cadasari) – Banten
  • Si Pitung – Jakarta
  • Lutung Kasaraung (West Java)
  • Timun Mas (literally translated as ‘Golden Cucumber) – Center Java
  • Cindelaras – East Java
  • Ande-Ande Lumut/Kleting Kuning – East Java
  • Cerira Reog Ponorogo (The Story of Reog Ponorogo) – East Java
  • Batu Menangis (The Crying Stone) – West Kalimantan
  • Semangka Emas (The Golden Watermelon) – South Kalimantan
  • Jaka Tarub – Javanese (there are lots of version of it)
  • Batu Golog – West Nusa Tenggara
  • Kebo Iwa – Bali
  • Tadulako Bulili – Center Sulawesi
  • Putri Tandampalik – South Sulawesi
  • Bulalo Lo Limutu – Gorontalo
  • Si Rusa dan Si Kulomang (Deer and Snail) – North Maluku
  • Caadara – West Papua
  • Kasuari dan Dara Mahkota (Cassowary and Dara Mahkota/Goura) – Papua
  • Cenderawasih (Cendrawasih/The Bird of Paradise) – Papua 

Those are some folktales in Indonesia. Nonetheless, there is one very popular story in Indonesia, called ‘Kancil’ (The Mouse deer). However, the origin of the story is not clear. It is believed that the story came from the Javanese, even there are Melayu version of it. he main characteristic of Kancil is sly or cunning.

Furthermore, the story of Kancil is not only one like other folktales. There are Kancil dan Harimau (Kancil and Tiger), Kancil dan Siput (Kancil and Snail) or Kancil dan Buaya (Kancil and Crocodile). But, the most popular one is Kancil Mencuri Ketimun (Kancil Stole Cucumber) even the song is really popular in Indonesia, sang by Trio Kwek-Kwek. Here is the song that also a brief story of Kancil Mencuri Ketimun.

  • Si Kancil Anak Nakal, suka mencuri ketimun (Kancil is a naughty ‘kid’, like to steal cucumber)
    Ayo lekas dikurung, jangan diberi ampun (Lets, lock up him fast, do not give mercy)

Read also : Indonesian Word Derivation

I hope you enjoy learning some Indonesian Folktales for Storytelling. Try and implement it to your friend, kids or anyone, maybe you are naturally-born storyteller. Furthermore, if you want to learn more about Bahasa Indonesia, here are several articles that will help you a lot! Good luck and keep practice!