The Koboi Returns 2023 – 4

According to Malay folklore, in the far depths of the ocean, there is a great whirlpool known as the Pusat Tasek’ or the ‘navel of the seas’. At the centre of this whirlpool, there is an enormous tree known as the Pokok Pauh Janggi. At this place, identified in Malay Cosmology as the Pusat Tasik Pauh Janggi, is inhabited by Nagas, Jins, Garudas and other such creatures. One of these creatures sits on the ocean floor, at the base of the tree blocking the a gigantic opening opening in the roots of the tree. This opening leads further down to the nether world of the Dasar Laut inhabited by Raja Lebis. Further, according to Anker Rentse, it is from the Dasar Laut, that the swirl of the Pusat Tasek rises in the course of ocean water draining down the opening. In some versions of this cosmology, a dragon guards this hole and its body also blocks the hole, preventing the ocean from running dry. In other accounts it is not a dragon but a giant crab that holds the waters up. It is the daily movements of this crab, unblocking and reblocking the hole, that cause the movement of the waters that we humans expirence as currents and tides. The above Kelantan Wayang Kulit puppets of the Pokok Pauh Janggi and the giant crab were collected by Walter William Skeat from a Tok Dalang in the late 19th Century.