Indonesian Children’s Stories

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Indonesia has varieties of children stories, ranging form folk tales, fables, to localized foreign tales. Each ethnic has its own folk tales that sometimes have similar version in neighboring communities. Children folktales are often centered in origin of a place such as mountain, lake, or river. There is also a localized old Indian story, named Tantri Kamandaka in Java. It is very similar to the tales of 1001 nights as both of them were derived from ancient India. Fragments from Ramayana and Mahabharata epochs are often taken and rewritten to suit children storytelling.

There is a famous fable tale among Indonesian, Dongeng Kancil or Tales of a Mouse Deer. It tells about a smart and fast thinking mouse deer, on how it outsmarts fellow animals such as crocodile, tiger, dog etc., and even farmers. This story is very popular; today Indonesians often call people who are mischievously smart as ‘like mouse deer.” As a central figure, this mouse deer is portrayed as a smart one, but a bit cocky sometimes. On the other hand, depends on the theme, it is also often portrayed as a wise animal, helping other animals to solve their problems.

There are numerous versions of Indonesian children stories, as they have been passed mouth to mouth for generations. Each of them reflects cultures the story originates.

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