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The Legend of Ruai Bird (The Great Argus)

The great argus with the feathers pattern. Inspired by argus in Greek myth.

Legenda dan Asal Usul burung Ruai/Kuau Besar/Kuau Raja >> Edisi Bahasa Indonesia

Folklore from West Kalimantan

ONCE upon a time, there was a kingdom in West Kalimantan. The King had seven daughters. The queen had passed away. The king did not want to remarry.

The seven daughters were beautiful. However, the youngest daughter was the most beautiful. She was also the kindest. She often helped other people. Her sisters were very much different. They were lazy. They also had bad attitude. They were cruel to people.

The king knew about his daughters behaviours. He often advise his older daughter to behaviours. He often advise his older daughters to behave like the youngest daughter. Sadly, they never listened to the king's advice. They hated their youngest sister because the king often praised her good behaviour.

The older daughters often did terrible things to the youngest daughter. They often hit her. She was very sad. She often cried. She could not tell it to her father because her older sisters always intimidated her. They would hit her even harder if she told their father.

One day, the king asked all her daughters to meet him.

"I'm going to the neighboring kingdom. I'll go for several months. While I'm gone, my youngest daughter will rule the kingdom. Do you understand?" asked the king.

"Yes, we do, Father, "said all the daughters.

The older daughters were angry. They very upset about their youngest sister was asked to rule the kingdom.

After the king left, they planned something bad. They wanted to get rid of their youngest sister. They pretended to be nice to her. The youngest daughter was happy. Finally, her older sisters were nice to her.

The older sisters asked her to go fishing. They asked to go to Gua Batu or a stone cave. There was a river flowing inside the cave. And there were a lot of fish in that river.

The youngest daughter was so happy when they finally arrived at the cave. She did not know that her sisters were going to do something bad to her.

"Hurry up, let's go inside the cave. You can find a lot of fish inside the cave," said the oldest daughter.

The youngest was so eager. As she went inside the cave, she did not know that her sisters stayed outside the cave. They kept on asking her to go inside the cave.

She kept on walking until she was lost! She was calling out all her sisters, but they did not respond. She then understood that her sisters did not want her to rule the kingdom anymore.

She was very sad. She cried. Suddenly an old man came. He was a holy man. He was meditating in the cave. She changed her tears into eggs.

"Don't worry, I can help you. You can go back to the kingdom but you have to change into a bird. I name you Ruai Bird. After that, brood these eggs. After they hatch, the birds will accompany you," said the old man.

She agreed. Slowly she changed into a beautiful bird. And after all the eggs were hatched, they went back to the kingdom. They all stayed at the tree near the kingdom. They all saw how the king punished the older sisters.***

Did you know?

Ruai (Kuau Besar) or The great argus (Argusianus argus) is a species of pheasant. Scientific name of the Great Argus was given by Carl Linnaeus in reference to the many eyes-like pattern on its wings.

 Argus Panoptes
Argus is a hundred-eyed giant in Greek mythology. There are two subspecies recognized: Nominate argus of the Malay peninsula and Sumatra, and A. a. grayi of Borneo. William Beebe considered the two races to be distinct species, but they have since been lumped. (

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