Malaysia, being a multiracial country consisting 13 states and 3 federal territories. Each states has its own legends and cultural stories that are very exciting and interesting to be told from generations to generations. As I am a self-confessed historical freak as well as cultural aficionado, I think I want to share and compile some of the beautiful stories/legends I’ve heard or read from some of these states in Malaysia. I think there are 4 stories about mythical princesses from 4 different states in Malaysia that are quite unknown to the generation these days :-
The book I bought in 1999 when I was in Form 3. It’s been 13 years since I bought this! Imagined that I called all bookstores in Penang via Yellow Pages and I finally found this book in Butterworth, Penang!
- The Princess Hindered By Moonlit (“Puteri Lindungan Bulan”) – from Kedah;
- Cik Siti Wan Kembang & Princess Saadong – from Kelantan;
- Princess Walinong Sari – from Pahang; &
- Princess Santubong & Princess Sejinjang – from Sarawak
The first one is about a mythical princess from Kedah, The Land Of Peace (Darul Aman); the state where my parents live now; and also the home for most of my mother’s side of family. It was said that once, Fort (“Kota”) Seputeh was the hub for the administration of Kedah Sultanate. Now, so happened that Seputeh is not far from Jitra, of where my parents are now; and it is actually my Mak Lang’s hometown! That is why I am quite excited to narrate this as the first story.
Sample to depict from “Queen of Langkasuka”.
Anyway, it is told that the Sultan had 2 princesses which were Princess Zaleha & Princess Mariam. Princess Zaleha was the more beautiful and she was said to be white-blooded. Stories of the Princess Zaleha’s beauty and rare white-blood traveled far across the country and even reached Acheh at Sumatera. The Acheh Prince who happened to be a so-called casanova was eager to have Princess Zaleha as the wife although he had no idea how she looked like. I guess having a beautiful and white-blooded wife could boost the ego of a king as a ‘trophy wife’. So, to avoid Kedah from being attacked yet despised the casanova Acheh Prince, Sultan decided to give the red-blooded Princess Mariam instead of the white-blooded Princess Zaleha.
The tomb of “Puteri Lindungan Bulan” at Seputeh – Courtesy of http://sejarahnagarakedah.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html
The tomb of “Puteri Lindungan Bulan”. Courtesy of http://www.mysenang.com/news4.php?url=/Makam-Puteri-Lindungan-Bulan/
Everything was going according to the plan when one day, Princess Mariam’s hand was cut and hence, her red blood was revealed! Alas, the casanova Acheh Prince finally knew he was being duped into marrying the wrong princess!! Without hesitation, Acheh attacked Fort Seputeh and this make the Sultan panicked. He hid the white-blooded Princess Zaleha into a fort (and some say a hole) that is so deep and unseen that even the moonlit could not penetrate the darkness. Legend told us that Sultan was defeated and brought back to Acheh and died there but the Princess Zaleha was never to be found by the soldiers. It was said that because she was being left alone for too long in the impenetrable fort/hole, she finally died and her tomb was put rest at the Seputeh Hill. Hence, Princess Zaleha was nicknamed as “Puteri Lindungan Bulan” or The Princess Hindered By Moonlit, due to the idea that even moonlit could not find her whereabouts!! I’ve been to Seputeh Hill around 7 years ago as the place was so just 5 minutes away from my Mak Lang’s house….
Artist depiction of Cik Siti Wan Kembang.
The second tale I want to share is about a popular legendary figure from Kelantan, The Land Of Blissfulness. If you see the state-emblems of Kelantan, you will notice there are two deer holding the coat-of-arms. Now, actually those two deer representing recognition of the Kelantanese to the popular legendary Queen, Cik Siti Wan Kembang that was said to reign Kelantan years ago and deer was her most favourite pet. Legends described Cik Siti Wan Kembang as a very beautiful Queen who was not only very shrewd in trading but also a very excellent horse-rider and archer.
She was famous for being an unmarried Queen; not only champion in beauty but also horse-riding, archery and speaking Turkish. The deer was said to be her pet.
Her mystical presence was poised with the fact that she never married and her presence in history could be linked to Ibn Batutta’s record in 1345 that he met a “turkish Queen (who spoke Turkish very fluently) that was an excellent horse rider and archer” at Kuala Krai (it was Kilu Krai in Ibn Battutta’s record). Nevertheless, the claim is disputed by some historians as they said that Ib Batutta’s voyage was 30 years earlier than the reigning of Cik Siti Wan Kembang.
Visualization of Princess Saadong.
Now, this character is very synonymous to another famous Kelantan legendary icon which is Princess Saadong. It was said that Princess Saadong was Cik Siti Wan Kembang’s adopted daughter and equally beautiful with mystical powers as well. Princess Saadong was married off to her cousin Raja Abdullah; but then was captured as concubine to King Narai of Siam. Initially, Raja Abdullah vowed to wait for Princess Saadong but after few years, he gave up and remarried. When Princess Saadong found out that Raja Abdullah remarried, she was so angry that she killed him with her hair pin! Both Cik Siti Wan Kembang & Princess Saadong vanished from the legends via description that they “just disappeared’.
Siti Nurhaliza is famous in rendering the song about Princess Walinong Sari.
The 3rd tale is yet about another legendary princess from Pahang, The Land Of Harmony. This is the tale of Princess Walinong Sari who is very famous among the Pahang people and even immortalized in a folk song. Princess Walinong Sari was a beautiful princess in Inderapura (old name for Pahang) and she was very good in ‘silat’, the Malay martial arts. Apart from that, she also very good in throwing spears, handling swords and also interested in “cock fights”, all depicted in the song lyric, made famous by Siti Nurhaliza (try find it!) !!!! Indeed, she wasn’t exactly behaving like a prim and proper princess and that make her father, the Bendahara Paduka Raja worried that she might not get any hands for marriage.
Anyway, the unique traits of Princess Walinong Sari was well-known and spread even to Malacca. Although Princess Walinong Sari was not into the idea of becoming a concubine/wife to Sultan of Malacca, she followed her father’s wish. A celestial King named Raja Mambang Segara who dwell in Tahan Mountain heard about the beauty of Princess Walinong Sari. He turned himself into a pigeon so he could see for himself the beauty of the princess. He flew into the Malacca palace and saw Princess Walinong Sari; although veiled with only her eyes visible. He had fallen in love with Princess Walinong Sari and decided to get to know her better. He then transformed himself as an ugly young man who challenged the princess in the “silat”, the Malay martial arts!
Only the eyes were visible.
Princess Walinong Sari never lost in martial art and she dared to take the challenge. But as the wife/concubine to the Sultan, she covered her beautiful face to honour the Malacca Palace and fought with the ugly young man. 3 days and 3 nights yet the fight was still intense until there was a moment when Princess Walinong Sari thought for the first time ever, she could lost this battle! As a last resort, she took off her veil and exposed her beautiful face. That was the first time the celestial king, Raja Mambang Segara saw the full beautiful face of Princess Walinong Sari and he fainted because of the extraordinary beauty! He was then washed and his handsome face was revealed to Princess Walinong Sari who fell in love for him.
She also good in playing swords.
Finding the true love at Mount Tahan.
The celestial king’s father, Raja Laksamana Petir saw the commotion from the apex of Tahan Mountain via his magical mirror and very angry as no celestial being could have faint or defeated by the mere beauty of a mortal! Angrily, he sent thunders and Raja Mambang Segara’s body disappeared into thin air! Princess Walinong Sari who clearly besotted by Raja Mambang Segara was panicked and she also fainted! When she was unconscious, Princess Walinong Sari met wise hermit who told her that the ugly young man was a celestial king dwell in Tahan Mountain. It was told that the next day, Princess Walinong Sari disappeared from Malacca palace, rumoured to have gone to Tahan Mountain to find her true love.
Now, the last one is about a legendary tale of “Princess Santubong” from The Land Of Hornbill, Sarawak which is in the island of Borneo (Eastern Malaysia). It was told that once, 2 princesses named Princess Santubong & her cousin, Princess Sejinjang from the celestial world were descended to earth by the Gods so that they could bring peace to 2 places that were in raging of war, provided that they MUST NOT QUARREL WITH EACH OTHER. Both princesses resides in the 2 places respectively. Each of the princesses has her own specialty; Princess Santubong was good in weaving and embroidering clothes whereas Princess Sejinjang was good in harvesting and planting paddies. As time passed by, both of the places became harmonious and peaceful.
The Mount Santubong of which Princess Santubong was turned into! The cheek was one-side ajar.
So happened that both of the princesses had fallen in love with the same man, Prince Serapi. When Princess Santubong found out about it, she was furious and confronted Princess Sejinjang. It was definitely a sign of calamity that at the same time, both places of where the princesses were entrusted to protect were attacked by Admiral Puteh who was angry that his marriage proposal was turned down by Princess Sejinjang as she had fallen for Prince Serapi. Princess Sejinjang was so angry that she clubbed Princess Santubong’s cheeks with the paddy-club (“antan”); this had caused Princess Santubong’s cheeks to be one-side-ajar and askew! Now, Princess Santubong on the other hand refused to submit without a fight! She took the weaving pole (“batang belida”) and hit Princess Sejinjang’s head and it smashed into smithereens!!!
Princess Sejinjang and the Mount Sejinjang of which she was turned into. There were 3 islets around, believed to be smithereens of her head.
The Gods were angry and transformed both princesses into mountains – Princess Santubong into the Mount Santubong (which is visible as a little bit askew-positioned and seemingly like a woman lying down with her hair spread all over) and Princess Sejinjang into Mount Sejinjang which was situated across Mount Santubong; but because her head was hit so hard with the weaving pole, the smithereens of the head were turned into small islands such as The Monkey Island (Pulau Kera), Satang Island & Talang-Talang Island.
Nasha Aziz donned an Elven-inspired costume in the now-defunct mega project of “Bunian : Mahkota Seri Helang”. I thought she looked the part with her ethereal facade.
You know, there are still a lot of fascinating folk tales but impossible for me to write them all. I guess, wherever we go, never forget to embrace our cultures and heritages. Heart them. Below is the lyrics of a beautiful folk song of Princess Walinong Sari, made popular by Malaysian chanteuse, Siti Nurhaliza :
Walinong la yang sari
Puteri yang cantik
Datangnya dari puncak gunung Tahan
Puncak gunung Ledang, gununglah Banang
Turunlah bermain di taman sayang
Memetik bunga-bunga, menyusun bunga-bunga
Di dalam taman
Walinong la yang sari
Puteri yang cantik
Pandai menyabung pandai
Bersilat gayung, pandai melambung lembing
Walinong la yang sari
Datang membawa talam
Walinong la yang sari
Datang membawa turun
Payung berwarna kuning