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Sejarah Melayu or Malay Annals is a Malay literary work that chronicles the genealogies of rulers in the Malay archipelago and spans a period of over 600 years. This work was believed to have been commissioned in 1612 by the junior king or regent of Johor, the Yang di-Pertuan Di Hilir, Raja Abdullah (also called as Raja Bongsu and later known as Sultan Abdullah Mu'ayat Syah ibni Sultan Abdul Jalil Syah). In 1613, the Johor capital of Batu Sawar was destroyed by Achehnese invaders and Raja Abdullah and his entire court was captured and exiled to Acheh.

Yang diPertuan Raja Di Hilir Sultan Abdullah Mu'ayat Syah ibni Sultan Abdul Jalil Syah had sent Seri Nara Wangsa Tun Bambang (shortly called as Tun Bambang) to ask Bendahara Paduka Raja Tun Muhammad @ Mahmud (also called as Tun Sri Lanang) on Thursday, 12 Rabiul Awal 1021, corresponds to 13 May 1612 to edit the naskhah of Sejarah Melayu which brought by Orang Kaya Suguh from Gowa.

Tun Sri Lanang was the editor and compiler of Sejarah Melayu who edited and compiled the bulk of it in Johor and completed it during his captivity in Acehmarker.

The original version of Sejarah Melayu was written during the reign of Malacca Sultanate in Malacca. It was brought together when Sultan Mahmud Shah fled from Malacca in 1511 A.D. During 1528 A.D., the original naskhah (copy) brought to Johor from Kampar. The Portuguese seized the naskhah Sejarah Melayu in 1536 A.D while attacking the Old Johor (Johor Lama). The naskhah brought back to Johor by Orang Kaya Suguh.

The subjects covered in the work included the founding of the kingdom of Malacca and its relationship with neighbouring kingdoms, the advent and spread of Islam in the region, the history of the royalty in the region as well as the administrative hierarchy of the Malacca kingdom and its successor states. As the Johor Sultanate was in a state of political crisis from 1612, the sultans were desperate for political legitimacy and political reasons motivated them to take liberties with their genealogy and historical dating.

The manuscripts were originally written in the classical Malay language on traditional paper in old Jawi script.

The Malay Annals was listed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme International Register in 2001.

Tracing the lineage

The Sejarah Melayu recounts that a Srivijayan prince ruled Palembang with the title of Sri Maharaja Sang Utama Parameswara Batara Sri Tri Buana (also known as Sang Nila Utama). He defined the legal relationship that should exist between a Malay ruler and his subjects.

Sri Maharaja Sang Utama Parameswara Batara Sri Tri Buana was later adopted as a son of the female ruler of Bentan, Wan Sri Benian. During his sojourn on Bentan, he explored neighbouring Temasek Island (modern Singapore) in search of a site to build a fortified town or city. His descendants became rulers or kings of Temasek. The last king of Temasek was Paduka Sri Maharja Parameswara. He lost Temasik to Majapahit after punishing his concubine by stripping her naked in public. Her father, Sang Rajuna Tapa, was one Temasek's ministers, avenged his family's shame by committing treason and opening the way for a successful Majapahit invasion which ousted Paduka Sri Maharja Parameswara. Paduka Sri Maharja Parameswara fled north and later founded Malacca and introduced court ceremonies, laws and regulations which became the basis of Malacca administration.

Iskandar Dzulkarnain and common misconceptions

Muslims believed that Iskandar Dzulkarnian was the great conqueror of Asia Minor as mentioned in the Koran cites the ruler Dzulkarnain (verse 18:83). Iskandar Dzulkarnian has been identified with Cyrus the Great.

Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat and Hang Kasturi

According to Hikayat Hang Tuah, Hang Tuah confronted and killed Hang Jebat. Sejarah Melayu on the other hand writes that Hang Kasturi was killed by Hang Tuah instead of Hang Jebat. However, a revised edition of the Sejarah Melayu by A Samad Ahmad mentions that Tuah fought against Jebat, not Kasturi.

Hang Nadim

According to the Malay Annals, there was a time when the villages along the coast of Singapore suffered vicious attacks from a school of swordfish. On the advice of a particularly astute boy named Hang Nadim, the ruler of Singapore built a barricade made of banana stems along the coast, which successfully trapped the attacking fish by their snouts as they leap from the waters.In the revised edition of the Sejarah Melayu by A Samad Ahmad, the boy was not named.

Portuguese Conquest of Malacca

According to the Malay Annals, the Portuguese army, led by Afonso de Albuquerque, launched a second assault on Malacca (during the reign of Sultan Ahmad Shah), the first being repulsed by the late bendahara Tun Mutahir. The assault on the city was great on the first day, and on the second, Malacca fell to the Portuguese. However, according to Portuguese records, Albuquerque's assault on Malacca started on July 25, 1511, (on St James Day), and the battle lasted for 15 days before the city was captured on August 15. Also, Portuguese records, especially the ones written by Albuquerque's son, mentioned that the Malaccan commander-in-chief, Sultan Ahmad Shah, fell on the field of battle. However, in the Malay Annals, he survived the battle, and retreated to a safer place, only to be put to death by his own father.

See also


  • The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Languages & Literature, edited by Prof. Dato' Dr Asmah Haji Omar (2004) ISBN 981-3018-52-6

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