Here I thought I was laboring in obscurity translating 19th century Malay teaching-poems, when behold, Gurindams get a name-check on the radio. Check this out:

Gadis Jolobu
Produced by DJ Fuzz
Lyrics by Waris & Dato Hattan


Ko jolobak ko jolbu
Tuai padi tigo tangkai
Kalau kono komat jolobu
Tak mati badan menghasai
Gurindam dulu dulu jangan ponah dipotikai
Tak tahu tanyo dulu jangan goma memanadai mandai

On the way to Jelebu
To reap three-stalked rice [1]
If the Jelebu mojo hits you
won’t die but you’re bound to suffer
Don’t you ever disrespect the old Gurindams [2]
Better ask somebody, don’t act like you know

Verse 1:

Kisah eh bermulo,mulut ughang kampong
Kisah ramai gadis cantik kek jolobu berkampung
Ughang luar datang luar nak cari’an joki
Lain pulak jadi eh terpikek nak buek bini
Tapi silap,kono komat sampai tinggalkan keluargo
Kopit bawah kotiak bini tanggungjawab lupo
Omak ayah rindu tapi dio buek bodoh
Dah takdo monyosa monangih dopan kubur aiii

The story starts from the mouths of villagers
The story of all the gorgeous women of Jelebu village
An outsider came looking for work
Turned out different: got hooked, took a wife
Her mojo got him, abandoned his folks
Stuck under his woman’s armpit, responsibilities forgotten
His mom and dad longed for him but he played dumb
Now they’re gone: he cries at their grave in regret


Verse 2:

Ughang luar salah tafsir koba gadih kito bahayo
Lopeh coghai semuo ghoto jadi milik dio
Jangan salah anggap,napo lobihkan pompuan
Sobab laki boleh hidup kalau campak dlm hutan
Zaman dah boghubah, adat di tolan zaman
Dah takdo mewaghisi coghito bertauladan
Apotah laie, mengaku ughang nogori
Bilo tanyo suku mano nak jawab pun tak ghoti

Poie tanyo omak,poie tanyo uwan
Kok takdo kosompatan buleh tanyo kawan kawan
Aktiviti bergurindam tolah lonyap dilupokan
“sebagai suatu warisan”

Outsiders get confused, saying our women are dangerous
Divorce one and your assets are hers [3]
Don’t misunderstand why our women get the upper hand
Throw a Nine Clan man in the jungle and he can still get by
Times have changed, culture swallowed by the times
No one left to inherit the teaching-tales
What more when someone claims to be from Nine Clans
Ask him which clan: he can’t begin to answer.

Go ask your momma, go ask your grampa too
If that doesn’t work well then your friends will have to do
Spinning Gurindams is an art form long forgot
As a part of our heritage


Verse 3:

Wak wak makan padi si lomang dalam buluh
Kok dah dapek yg dicari jgn terlansung semayang subuh
Ayam berkokok umah ponghulu itu tando haghi nak siang
Kok dah dapek oghang jolobu tak sabar nunggu malam ko siang

Waterhens eat field-rice, bamboo’s filled with lemang [4]
If you get what you’re after, don’t oversleep the dawn prayer. [5]
The headman’s roosters crow, that’s the sign the day dawns
Night or day you cannot wait once you get a Jelebu woman.

Verse 2 repeats.



1. Rice is harvested when it has 5-10 stalks, or tillers. Harvesting 3-tillered rice is suggestive of misfortune.
2. Here at Bin Gregory Productions, we are all about respecting the old Gurindams. See the Gurindam 12 of Raja Ali Haji Pasal One, Two, Three and Four.
3. The flow is in the thick regional dialect of Negeri Sembilan, a state settled by Minangkabau people who practiced some elements of matriarchal inheritance. The state has nine clan or tribal districts, from whence the name in the following line above.
4. For more on lemang, see here and here. The verse may be referring to the siamang, a type of gibbon, in which case “gibbon’s in the bamboo”.
5. Surely I don’t have to spell it out for you.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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  1. Selamat Jumaat!

    A friend shared the song on Facebook a few days ago and I liked it. I don’t understand bahasa Negeri Sembilan, but the few words I could make out made me think it wasn’t just a song.

    I Googled for a Standard Malay version and wondered if there’s an English translation somewhere. Googled again and got your post! Your notes are very helpful for those learning the language and culture.

    Terima kasih banyak dari Mesir!

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