The Guritan of Radin Suane


This study presents the text and translation of an oral epic, or guritan, relating the exploits of Radin Suane, which was recorded during anthropological fieldwork among the Besemah, in the remote highlands of South Sumatra. Documentation of an epic in Besemah, a little known Sumatran-Malay language, will be useful for comparative purposes to specialists in Malaysian and Indonesian languages and literatures. This work is also intended to serve students of ethnography, folklore and oral poetry, as well as general readers who may not be familiar with Sumatran culture. Accordingly, an extensive commentary has been provided to give a cultural context for understanding this epic.

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William A. Collins is the director of a research institute in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which undertakes social and cultural research in support of development projects.