Indonesian Pantun – Types – Examples

Selamat datang!

Welcome back to another lesson of Bahasa Indonesia! In this opportunity, let’s move awhile from technical learning of Bahasa Indonesia, such as Indonesian Prefixes or Indonesian Phonetics Theory Examples, and explore more culture and literature-related of Bahasa Indonesia. Both in Indonesia and Malaysia, we know an ancient poetry called pantun. Unlike poetry that is more flexible and free, pantun has very specific rules, especially in it end rhymes and verse.

What is actually a pantun (pantoum in English)? It is an ancient poetry that has four stanza (lines) rhymes abab in it verse. It is part of Malay-heritage and culture. Therefore, it is still popular in the major Malay ethnicity and Malay culture dominant area, such as Riau, North Sumatra and Malaysia, even though it is also popular in Betawi (an ethnicity in Jakarta) culture.

However, in Indonesia there are also variations of pantun. Although most common pantun consists four stanza rhymes abab, it is also possible that a pantun consists four stanza rhymes aaaa or only two stanza rhymes aa (it is called ‘karmina‘). Furthermore, a pantun is divided into two parts: the first and second stanza (the first line in two-stanza pantun) are figurative (do not refer to the purpose or meaning), while the last two (The last line in two-stanza pantun) are contain the actual purpose (either suggestion, jokes, and so on).

Check also : Examples of Poetry in Indonesia

Popular Pantun in Indonesia! (abab rhyme)

Do you wonder about ‘what is actually abab or aaaa? It is actually the symbol of sound repetition. Let’s just take a look of this very popular Indonesian pantun.

  • Kalau ada sumur di ladang, (If there’s a well in the field) (a)
    bolehlah kita menumpang mandi. (let us use to take a bath) (b)
    Kalau ada umur panjang, (if we have longevity) (a)
    bolehlah kita berjumpa lagi. ([I hope] we could meet again) (b)

That is the example of four stanza rhymes abab. You could see both first and third line has same sound in the end, ‘ang’ [aŋ], while the second and fourth line also has same condition, ‘i’ [i]. Therefore the sound ‘ang’ [aŋ] is identified as ‘a’ or first sound, while the ‘i’ is considered as ‘b’ or the second sound.

Therefore, it became abab. If you look closer, the repetition or rhymes abab is not only happened in end-rhymes but also in the beginning (kalau-bolehlah-kalau bolehlah) as well as middle (ada-kita-ada-kita and sumur-menumpang-umur-berjumpa). But, these conditions are very optional and rare (because it is hard to synchronize all the sound).

Furthermore, there is also another pantun that is very popular in Indonesia. It is one kind of suggestion pantun. Take a look and pay attention the the repetitive sound.

  • Berakit-rakit ke hulu, (Rafting to the upstream first)
    berenang-renang ke tepian. (then swimming to the riverside)
    Bersakit-sakit dahulu, ([we have to] struggle before])
    bersenang-senang kemudian. (enjoy the result/become happy)
    *It is actually equivalent to ‘no pain no gain’

Check also : Indonesian Idioms and Proverbs

More to Know about Indonesian Pantun!

Now let’s take a look at the example of aaaa pantun

  • Dua ditambah dua sama dengan empat (Two plus two equal four)
    Satu dibagi empat tinggal seperempat (One divided by four leave us with a quarter)
    Kalau sudah ke berbagai tempat (Id we have travel a lot)
    pastilah pikiran tidak mempat. (Our mind will not close)

Yes, all the stanza ended up with the ’empat’ [əmpat], Therefore it is called aaaa (four same sound in the end). Of course you could try make a pantun by yourself. One of very important tips, collect as much lexical resources of Bahasa Indonesia. You could check in the Indonesian Conversation and Vocabulary part in this website. Break a leg!

As I said, it is also possible to have only two-stanza verse, karminaIn modern society, like  pantun sometimes it is used for specific purpose: ice-breaking, non-formal cultural opening/ending, love expression, praise and so on. Here are the examples.

  • Burung merak, burung cendrawasih (A peacock and cendrawasih)
    Sekian, terima kasih (That’s all, thanks)
    *Cendrawasih is an endemic birds in Papua
  • Mencari talas di dalam hutan (seeking talas in the forest)
    Orang malas tidak punya masa depan (there is no future for lazy person)

Moreover, there is also a very specific two-stanza verse called gurindam. It was brought by Hindunese literature in Indonesia long time ago. One of the very popular gurindam is Gurindam Dua Belas by Raja Ali Haji from Kepulauan Riau. It consists 12 sections about life lesson and guidelines. If you have spare time, I recommend you to check it. 

Even though it is always linked to Malay culture, you could also find pantun in Betawi. The main differences between both of them is the dialects. Take a look at the example!

  • Beli rujak di pasar swalayan (Bought fruits from the market)
    pedesnya beda bikin ngap-ngapan (The spiciness burned my mouth)
    Neng abang mo ngajak jalan-jalan (Little lady, let’s hang out with me)
    Gideh dandan yang rada cakepan. (Go dress up a little bit)

There are several Betawi dialects there, such as pedes from the word pedas (spicy), ngap-ngapan is equal too kepedesan (too spicy reaction), beda is equal to berbeda (different), bikin is an informal word for menyebabkan (cause), neng and abang usually used in Betawi to call young lady and a man (usually older than the lady) respectively, mo is an informal form of mau (want), gideh is abbreviation of lagi deh, which equal to sana or pergi (‘go’ as imperative) and many more.

Indonesian Pantun is a very important part of Indonesian people (also for Malaysian). It is one of our national identity and cultural heritage. I hope you enjoy a little bit knowledge about it!

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