Syair Nyai Dasima
text notes
list of words
list of rhyme words



Syair Nyai Dasima


Inilah Syair Nyai Dasima dengan Tuan Edwad Wiliam, Singapura: Muhammad bin Haji Muhammad Sa`id, 1912.


text:  1912.


text:  Singapore.


4920 words, comprising 1228 verses.


to the pages (1-39) of the printed book, and stanzas on each page.

Editorial notes and bibliography
This is the Singapore version of the story of Nyai Dasima.  The story has its origin in Batavia.  Its earliest known version dates back to 1880, but the story is older than that.  It tells of a murder in Batavia in 1813.  The story became immensely popular in the Netherlands Indies after it was published in prose form in a book in 1896, and then in syair form the next year.  It became a staple of the popular theatre, komedie stamboel, and is the subject of a series of films made in the late 1920s and 1930s.
The Singapore version presents a simplified version of the plot that avoids a contentious aspect of the original story — the fraudulent misuse of Islam to seduce Nyai Dasima — while wallowing in the emotional content and offering moral homilies.   The sharp edges of the original story have thus been lost.   Nyai Dasima comes to resemble the stock figure of the ill-treated princess that we find in Selindung Delima and other stories popular in Singapore and Malaya at this time.
These popular lithographed Singapore syair were not very carefully prepared.  It is noticable in this one, that the villain's name is Sami`un at the beginning, and Sema`un at the end.
A rather carelessly produced edition in Romanised Malay was published in Malacca in 1919.  Its text is derived from Sa`id's edition, or possibly a later reissue of the Jawi version.
•  Tjerita Njai Dasima[.] Soewatoe korban dari pada pemboedjoek, Batavia: G. Francis, 1896.
•  Tjiang, O.S., Sair Tjerita di tempo 1813 jang belon brapa lama soeda kadjadian di Betawi. Terpoengoet tjeritanja dari Boekoe Njaie Dasima, Batawi: Ijap Goan Ho, 1897.
•  Wee Kay Yew, Shair Nyai Desima dengan Tuan Edward William in Romanized Malay, Malacca: Guan Seng & Co., 1919.
•  Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Tempo Doeloe. Antologi Sastra Pra-Indonesia, Jakarta: Hasta Mitra, 1982. — reprints all but the last page of the 1896 edition, attributing its authorship to Francis.
•  Aveling, Harry (tr.), G. Francis: Nyai Dasima, Clayton: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1988. Working Paper No.46. — a not always successful translation of the version reprinted by Pramoedya.
•  Cohen, M.I., “On the Origin of the Komedie Stamboel. Popular Culture, Colonial Society, and the Parsi Theatre Movement”, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 157.2 (2001): 313-357.
Added:  July 2008
The text was transliterated in Canberra for the MCP.