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Thursday, December 08, 2005


The Tuah Legend
Almost every Malaysian schoolchild would know the folk story of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. Hang Tuah is the most illustrious Malay hero in Melaka, leader of a closely-knit band of Melaka's finest warriors - Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekiu, Hang Lekir and Hang Jebat - a veritable Five Musketeers of Malay history. But Hang Tuah is slandered by his enemies and the Sultan unthinkingly orders him to be put to death. Fortunately for our hero, the wise Bendahara takes Hang Tuah into hiding. Hang Jebat, in anguish at the injustice done to his friend, goes in a rampage at the royal palace and the Sultan is forced to flee for his life. The Sultan laments that Hang Tuah wasa the only warrior who could ever defeat this traitor, upon which the bendahara saves the day by producing Hang Tuah before his royal person.

The keris owned by Hang Tuah was called Taming Sari(above). It was special in that it was made of twenty types of iron - supposedly metal left over from the forging of the bolts of the Ka'aba. It was said that Taming Sari could do Hang Tuah's fighting for him - if Hang Tuah were menaced or in any way endangered, the keris would leap out of its sheath all by itself, fly through the air and attack the assailant, moving in the air whichever way the assailant dodged or turned, until it hit its mark. The whole of the 'sampir' and 'batang' are covered in gold leaf, making it a 'keris gabus' or 'keris terapang'.

It still exists today and is part of the regalia of DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah, Sultan Perak Darul Ridzuan
Hang Tuah is pardoned by the repentant Sultan and despatched to kill the traitor. Hang Jebat's joy at seeing his dearest friend brought to life turns to despair when his friend lunges at him with a kris, declaring his loyalty to the Sultan and hatred for traitors. In the ensuing clash, Hang Jebat is killed, still declaring his love for a dear friend, while Hang Tuah sadly laments to his dying friend that loyalty to Sultan and duty comes before everything.
This romantic version of the story, as reproduced in the Malay literary classic Hikayat Hang Tuah, has always begged the question among Malays: who was right? Hang Tuah, because he remained loyal to his Sultan and killed a traitor, even though he was his closes friend. Or Hang Jebat, who was willing to die fighting against injustice and in defence of his friend?

Purely historical sources (Sejarah Melayu, Pires,et al, as opposed to the Hikayat myths and romances) attribute the rebellious behaviour to Hang Kasturi rather than Jebat. By all historical accounts, the famous final conflict was is in fact between Tuah and Kasturi. Unlike the popular folk legend, the quarrel was not over Jebat taking revenge upon the Sultan's injustice towards Tuah - Kasturi was actually just fooling around with of the Sultan's concubines and went beserk. And, by the Sejarah Melayu accounts certainly, there was little friendship exhibited in their final encounter.

Historical fact aside, the Tuah-Jebat legend is interesting in that it reveals a paradox in the Malay psyche, and this paradox goes as far back as the social contract and covenant that is found in verse 56 of the Sejarah Melayu made between Sang Utama Sri Tri Buana (the Palembang ruler from whom all Malay royalty claims descent) and Demang Lebar Daun (his minister, representing the rakyat) .
Demang Lebar Daun promised that "the descendants of your humble servants shall be the subjects of your majesty's throne, but they must be well-treated by your descendants. If they offend, they shall not, however grave their offence, be disgraced or reviled with evil words: if their offence is grave, let them be out to death, if that is in accordance with Muslim law". To which Sang Utama replied " I agree to give the undertaking for which you ask, but I in turn require an undertaking from you ... that your descendants shall never for the rest of time be disloyal to my descendants, oppress them and behave in an evil way to them." To which Demang Lebar Daun agreed " ... but if your descendants depart from the terms of the pact, then so will mine.. subjects shall never be disloyal or treacherous to their rulers, even iftheir rulers behave cruelly and immorally ... and if any ruler puts a single one of his subjects to shame, that shall be a sign that his kingdom shall be destroyed by Almighty God.
Standards were therefore set for centuries to come. On the one hand, subjects owed absolute loyalty to the ruler - no matter how badly he behaved. On the other hand, the ruler must be the protector of the people. And if one breached the contract, the other could as well.
Tuah represented that absolute loyalty - and the streak of loyalty to the ruler that ran deep in the Malay psyche. If there are three things that were important to the Malay of old, it is loyalty to ruler, religion and 'adat', and the accompanying sets of values that come with them.

Jebat, on the other hand, represented that consequence of breaching that fragile covenant - the conflict within the Malay mind that seeks expression in that uniquely Malay word - 'amok', a rupture of the bonds that bind him.
It is, of course, very appealing to think of Tuah as the ultimate champion of Malay loyalty, chivalry and obedience to tradition, and Jebat as a hero of the people fighting injustice and cruelty. Realistically thought, their actions were far from idealistic. Tuah took loyalty to the point of blind servility. According to the Hikayat Hang Tuah, even before the incident where the Sultan had ordered his execution, there was an occassion where Tuah was actually exiled by the Sultan to Inderapura. There Tuah took it upon himself to kidnap Tun Teja Menggala, the Bendahara's daughter, knowing that the Sultan lusted after her. Through bribes and deceptions, he succeeded in bringing Tun Teja to Melaka and presented her to his ruler. The Sultan was so pleased, he pardoned Tuah and promoted him to the rank of Laksmana, granting him three river districts as well. His loyalty to his Sultan evidently superseded any ethical considerations.

To think of Jebat as an idealistic champion of justice is also not completely accurate. He certainly took over the mantle of Laksmana from Tuah with a great deal of relish. He dutifully read Hikayats to the Sultan. When someone lamented that Hang Tuah was needed to defend Melaka, he angrily replied "Why do you say so? Was Hang Tuah the only warrior? It looks as if he is not around ... so I will take his place." He even feels powerful enough to have amourous relationships with the Sultan's concubines, which was what finally drove the Sultan to order his death. It was not a premeditated, conscious decision by Jebat to fight injustice and avenge his friend - he had misbehaved and now had to accept death or defy the Sultan. And just as Tuah indirectly defied the Sultan by going into hiding, so did Jebat by open rebellion. Jebat going amok killing thousands of innocent people after he was wounded by Tuah certainly is no indication that he was a champion of the people.
In both cases - one unconsciously, and one quite consciously - they broke the sacred covenant made centuries before between Sang Utama Sri Tri Buana and Demang Lebar Daun.

A name that cannot be separated from the word Melaka is that of Hang Tuah.
Considered by many as a legend and a man with supernatural powers, Hang Tuah made a name for himself as a popular warrior during the Melaka Sultanate era. Together with his four companions Ė Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu. The five of them had been in each otherís company since their childhood.

It was said that Hang Tuahís parents, father Dang Mahmud and mother Dang Merdu Wati, migrated from Bentan to Melaka in search of a better life where they settled in Kampung Duyung.

From his early days, Hang Tuah and his four friends embodied comradeship and stood by each other through thick and thin. They even dug a well at their village which came to be known as the Hang Tuah Well until today.

As they grew older, Hang Tuah and his buddies learnt the Malay art of self-defence (or silat) from a renowned guru named Adiputra in a cave somewhere in a remote part of Melaka. Their courage and mettle, coupled with their expertise in martial arts, all the five friends helped in keeping the peace in Melaka.

The turning point in Hang Tuahís life came when he save the Bendahara (chief minister) from falling victim to a man who ran amok in town. When Sultan Mansor Shah (1456-1477) heard about Hang Tuahís bravery, he was made the Laksamana (admiral) cum Syahbandar (harbour master). His friends were appointed the knights of Melaka.

Back in those days, accepting invitations and calling on foreign countries as far as China was the norm for the Sultan of Melaka and Hang Tuah was a constant aide to the Sultan on such visits. During the sojourn to Majapahit, Taming Sari, a famous Majapahit warrior, challenged Hang Tuah to a duel. After a fiery fight, Hang Tuah emerged as the winner and the Sultan of Majapahit bestowed Taming Sariís kris, which is said to be the source of Hang Tuahís magical powers, to Hang Tuah.
Apart from carrying the responsibilities as the Laksamana and the Syahbandar, Hang Tuah was always assigned to the task of being the Sultanís ambassador in fostering closer ties with the Sultanís allies including China, India, Siam and Turkey.
According to Hikayat Hang Tuah, in his blind loyalty to the Sultan, Hang Tuah sailed to Inderaputra (Pahang) to persuade the already engaged Tun Teja, the princess of Pahang to be the Sultanís companion. Thinking that Hang Tuah himself would be marrying her, Tun Teja eloped with him to Melaka. However, it was only during the voyage home, that Hang Tuah revealed the truth.

(There are actually two separate accounts on the incident. Hikayat Hang Tuah stated that it was Hang Tuah who persuaded Tun Teja to elope but in Sejarah Melayu, or the Malay Annals, it was Hang Nadim.)
Hang Tuahís popularity soon became the envy of a few noblemen and this led to one of them, Pateh Karma Wijaya, to fabricate a story that Hang Tuah was having an illicit affair with one of the palaceís lady-in-waiting. Without a fair trial, the Sultan sentenced Hang Tuah to death for the alleged offence. However, the Bendahara who know the truth, went against the Sultanís orders and hid Hang Tuah in Ulu Melaka.

This became the turning point in the relationship between Hang Tuah and his best companion Hang Jebat. Believing that Hang Tuah was innocent, Hang Jebat avenged his death, first by killing Pateh Karma Wijaya. The Sultan was unable to do anything as none of his warriors dared to challenge the ferocious Hang Jebat. Only then did the Bendahara confided in the Sultan and told him that Hang Tuah was still alive. Ordered to be brought before him, the Sultan later instructed Hang Tuah to kill Hang Jebat, which he did after a long grueling fight.

Another event which was widely written about Hang Tuahís exploit was his journey to Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir) at the Melaka-Johor border to ask for the hand of the beautiful Puteri Gunung Ledang for the Sultan. Having met the princess, Hang Tuah was taken aback when she stated the dowry or wedding gifts Ė a golden bridge linking Melaka with the top of Gunung Ledang, seven trays each of mosquitoes and germs liver, seven jars of virginsí tears and a bowl of Raja Ahmadís (the Sultanís son) blood.
Hang Tuah was deeply disheartened when he heard this, as he knew that the Sultan will not be able to fulfill the conditions. Legend has it that Hang Tuah, who was overwhelmed by his disappointments, flung his kris into the river and vowed only to return to Melaka if it recurfaced, which he never did. It was also said that he then vanished into thin air.
However, it was not known how Hang Tuah died but his body was said to be have been buried in Tanjung Kling, where his tomb can still be seen until today. It was also said that the embittered Sultan was not even present at Hang Tuahís burial.

Hikayat Hang Tuah is regarded as a Malay literary classic and a traditional Malay epic. This folk tale has been proudly recounted to generations of Malays. It is recognised as a national literary classic which is well-known not only amongst the Malays but also to the people in the Malay Archipelago. Much studies have been made on this manuscript by local and foreign researchers.
Hang Tuah is characterised as most illustrious Malay hero in Malacca and represented absolute loyalty to the ruler as the ultimate champion of Malay loyalty, chivalry and obedience to tradition. Hikayat Hang Tuah symbolises the greatness of Malacca at that time whilst projecting the bravery of the Malays.
The National Library of Malaysia has in its possession two manuscripts of Hikayat Hang Tuah, with identification number MSS 1658 and MSS 1713. The manuscripts are written on old European paper about 200 years ago. Colophon statement is distinctly absent, as is usual in the tradition of Malay manuscripts writing. To this day the author of the hikayat remains unknown. The manuscripts are being preserved in an acid-free box and kept in strong room which is designed according to the accepted standards of preservation requirements.

Makam Hang Tuah, Tanjung Keling

Makam ini dipercayai Makam Hang Tuah, terletak di dalam kawasan tanah perkuburan Kampung Tanjung Keling, Melaka. Menurut Hikayat Hang Tuah, Hang Tuah hilang begitu sahaja dan ada pula yang mengatakan Hang Tuah meninggal dunia di Perak. Menurut Sejarah Melayu, naskah tulisan Tun Seri Lanang, yang dianggap sahih di dalam pengkisahan Sejarah Melayu, Hang Tuah meninggal dan dikebumikan di Tanjung Keling dengan penuh adat istiadat dan Nobat Diraja tidak dimainkan selama tiga hari.


Perigi Hang Tuah , Kampung Duyung

Perigi ini dipercayai mempunyai kaitan dengan Hang Tuah seorang pahlawan yang terkemuka di Nusantara ini di Zaman Kesultanan Melayu Melaka (1398 - 1511). Hang Tuah Yang dilahirkan di Kampung Duyung ini dipercayai menggali sendiri perigi ini untuk kegunaannya. Pada asalnya perigi ini adalah kecil tetapi lama kelamaan menjadi besar dan dalam. Perigi ini dikatakan tidak pernah kering, walaupun di musim kemarau panjang. Airnya sentiasa jernih dan dikatakan boleh menyembuhkan penyakit.


Makam Tun Teja

Makam ini dipercayai Makam Tun Teja Ratna Benggala anak kepada Seri Amar Diraja Bendahara Pahang. Beliau adalah tunangan Yang Dipertua Pahang iaitu Sultan Abdul Jamil. Mengikut Sejarah Melayu Tun Teja telah dilarikan dari Negeri Pahang oleh Hulubalang Hang Nadim untuk diperisterikan oleh Sultan Mahmud Syah (1488-1511). Hasil dari perkongsian hidup ini baginda berdua dikurniakan Putera Amar Dewi. Semasa pengunduran Sultan Mahmud Syah dari Melaka ke Bentayan (Muar) akibat serangan Portugis, Tun Teja telah mangkat dan dipercayai dimakamkan di sini iaitu di Solok Mentaja dengan penuh kehormatan.


Posted at 07:33 am by Achehpasee


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