The dramatic Javanese Legend of Nyai Loro Kidul tells the story of the Queen of the South Java Sea. Born as a beautiful maiden in the royal court, she endured the jealousy of others, magic spells and exile, only to reborn as a powerful queen who rules the seas. According to the legend Nyai Loro Kidul is tightly related to the Merapi volcano and the rulers from the Mataram dynasty including today’s Sultan of Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
Once upon a time, in the Pajajaran kingdom in West Java,
there lived a young princess named Dewi Kandita, the daughter of King Mundangwangi and his first wife.
She was known for her beauty, kindness and friendliness, and the people loved her.
Her beauty made the harem jealous, and they conspired against her.
Through the assistance of a witch, the harem caused her suffer from a “strange” disease.
Her body was covered with scabies that emitted a fishy odour.
The king chased her out of the palace, as she was thought to bring bad luck to the kingdom.
After a long, hard, and helpless journey,
the scabies-covered Dewi Kandita eventually reached the Southern Shore.
She sat above a rock and fell asleep
She dreamt that she would be cured of her ugliness if she entered the water and drowned herself.
When she woke up, Dewi Kandita jumped into the sea. Her beauty was restored but she realize that she was not a human anymore.
Half of her body from the waist down, had turned into the body of a fish, covered with glistening scales.
Since then, she ruled all creatures in the southern coast of Java Island
and she was known as Nyi Roro Kidul – “Lady of South Sea”.
An animated illustration for Merapi interactive app project.
Design, Illustration and Animated by Nguyen Thi Nam Phuong
Produced by Earth Observatory of Singapore

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