Cinderella #360 Klêting Kuning
|Not a stork, but a heron.|
Once upon a time, in Java, there lived a girl named Klêting Kuning. Her name meant Yellow Waterjar. She had two sisters, named Klêting Abang, or Red Waterjar, and Klêting IJo, or Green Waterjar. Perhaps yellow was not her mother's favorite color, but for whatever reason, Klêting Kuning was her mother's least favorite child. While other two girls were "showered with beautiful clothes and given the most delicious food", poor Klêting Kuning worked hard and ate little. Still, she "had a good heart and a virtuous character". It served her well as she completed her tasks, including the long walk hauling the dirty laundry to the river to be washed. If it wasn't done to her mother's specifications, "she would be punished". It happened one day that the laundry was so heavy and the road to the river so long that Klêting Kuning simply sat down to cry. She lamented and called, "Oh Allah and deities, what have I done that I have to be so wretched. Please show me a way out." Suddenly, Bangko Thongthong, the "huge stork" appeared and said to her, "Don't be afraid. I am not going to harm you, my coming is, in fact, to help you." Then it did all of the laundry, and "the washing was very cleanly done". Her mother was amazed and suspicious but there was nothing that she could do, so the stork helped Klêting Kuning every day. It happened that "there was a tiding that a prince by the name of Andė-Andė Lamut was looking for a spouse." He was interviewing wives and seeking applicants. Of course, Red Waterjar and Green Waterjar were carefully prepared, being "beautifully dressed and made-up" before being sent to try out. Meanwhile, Klêting Kuning saw them and asked what they were preparing for. When she heard, of course she begged to be taken along too. But they said, "That can't be. Don't you know that you are ugly, while we are beautiful?" And Klêting Kuning sat down and shed tears. So Red Waterjar and Green Waterjar left their sister crying and headed for the prince's castle. They journeyed on for some way but soon found their path blocked by a river that "was very deep and wide and there was no boat to cross them to the other bank." They were desperate! All they could think to do was to loudly lament, "Oh god, god, we wish that somebody would like to help us cross the river." That's when they heard a voice. It was "a huge fresh-water crab, Yukang-kang". He could speak as well as any man, and see as well as any man too for he said, "Aha, aha, here are two beautiful virgins who are lamenting." And he bade them come near so that he could hear their woes. Then he told them, "I'll help if I am being rewarded" and demanded a kiss from each of the girls in return. Meanwhile, back at the river, Bango Thongthong, the magic stork was saying to Klêting Kuning,"Don't be sad. I understand that you are a good girl and I am sure that the gods know that too." Then Klêting Kuning begged to know who the stork really was, and he confessed that "As a matter of fact, I am the messenger of the gods." And Yellow Waterjar said, "Oh your Holiness, I am very sorry for being improper to you. Please forgive me." So he forgave her and blessed her with a "magic coconut palm leaf" which he said hoped she would be able to put to good use. So Yellow Waterjar told the stork that she would do her best, and went back home. Her mother still refused to let her go to the prince Andė-Andė Lamut. But Yellow Waterjar begged so hard that at last her mother said, "Go then if you want, but go as you are now, don't wash yourself nor change your clothes." When she got the river with no boat she too called to Yulukangkang for help, but the crab refused to come and give assistance. So she "whipped her...magic cocoanut palm leaf rib strongly toward the water and the water dried up in a wink of the eye." Then it was easy for Yellow Waterjar to cross! But she flicked her palm leaf again, and the river's water returned. Now it is true that Red Waterjar and Green Waterjar got to the prince's compound before their sister. Unfortunately, he had heard all about how they'd been kissed by the crab as payment for help in crossing the river. He didn't want anything to do with those used girls. Finally, Yellow Waterjar made it to the palace, only to be "dismissed rudely"by the prince's mother because she was dressed in her dirty old rags. But the prince was watching and made his mother let the strange girl in. He gave orders for her to be bathed and dressed in finery, "and really, after being dressed and made up Klêting Kuning looked as beautiful as a fairy". Then he knew that she would be his bride. "A wedding party was held for forty days and nights, and Klêting Kuning and Andė-Andė Lumut lived in harmony thereafter like mimi lan mintuna (female horsehoe and male horseshoe crab)."
From: Dundes, A. (1983) Cinderella: A Casebook. New York: Wildman Press (p.173)
Notes: This story has several quintessential Cinderella elements, right alongside some of the more unusual. The stork, as a bird, is the commonest of all animal helpers; the crab, I think, is unique to the 365 Cinderellas presented here. The fact that Klêting Kuning makes her own way across the river, without the help of the crab that aids her sisters, allows her to stay pure, and thus, desirable to the prince.