During her childhood, Rubiyah was a simple young village girl who was born in the village of Matah. Her father was Kyai Kasan Nuriman, a cleric from the village of Matah who was more commonly known as Bisman. During a time when spiritual value reigned superior, Kyai Kasan Nuriman was recognized as a firm believer of asceticism; hence, he was able to see the supernatural. He first experienced witnessing a supernatural phenomenon through 9-year old Rubiyah whose forehead seemed to have lit up in flames as she slept. Shortly after that, Kyai Kasan Nuriman saw light radiating from his daughter’s body. This gift from the Creator was interpreted as a sign that he should bring himself closer to the Almighty God. He performed a ritual wherein he would go through the night without sleep every 5th Tuesday, the same time Rubiyah would go through the phenomenon. It became a habit for Bisman until Rubiyah turned 14.
It seemed Rubiyah’s life had begun changing at this age. An incident during a wayangkulit performance at Nglaroh was an agent of this change. Nglaroh was under the authority of Raden Mas Said during the time he aided Sunan Kuning battle against the Dutch; he was given the title Pangeran Prangwedana. Upon his return, an evening of entertainment was held for his soldiers and locals in the area. A wayangkulit performance had always been a favorite spectacle for the locals, including the village girls. Whenever the performance had run through the wee hours of the morning, many village girls would tend to fall asleep around the performance area. It was quite an astounding sight for Pangeran Prangwedana to find a bright light radiating from one of the sleeping girls as he looked around the performance area. His ability to read and interpret signs pushed Prangwedana to tear a small piece of cloth from the clothes the young girl was wearing. The next day he ordered a servant to search for the girl who owned that piece of cloth. He discovered her name was Rubiyah. He became very fascinated with Rubiyah so he went to KyaiKasanNuriman to ask for her hand in marriage.
When she became the wife of Pangeran Prangwedana, her name was changed to Raden Ayu Matah Ati. Her loyalty in standing by her husband and her role as a woman warrior made her an inspiration to Prangwedana. The union with Prangwedana brought to the world two children, Kangjeng Pangeran Arya Prabu Amijaya and Raden Ayu Sombra. As a female warrior, Matah Ati fought until the day the Mangkunegaran government was established. She then was given the title Bendara Raden Ayu Mangkoenagoro Sepuh. As a mother, it would have brought such joy to see her children and grandchildren succeed. Fate, however, thought otherwise. She was not able to witness her grandson become king, Kangjeng Gusti Pangeran Adipati Arya Prangwedana II. She passed away ahead of her husband in 1787. She now rests in her hometown, Nglaroh.
Historical facts were written by:
- Sudharmono S.U, professor at the Faculty of Literature and Fine Arts University Sebelas Maret Surakarta
- Drs. Susanto, M. Hum, History Department, Faculty of History University Sebelas Maret