Sejarah Sumatra (Marsden)/Bab 18

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I shall now take a more particular view of the Malayan states, as distinguished from those of the people termed orang ulu or countrymen, and orang dusun or villagers, who, not being generally converted to the Mahometan religion, have thereby preserved a more original character.


The principal government, and whose jurisdiction in ancient times is understood to have comprehended the whole of Sumatra, is Menangkabau,* situated under the equinoctial line, beyond the western range of high mountains, and nearly in the centre of the island; in which respect it differs from Malayan establishments in other parts, which are almost universally near the mouths of large rivers. The appellations however of orang menangkabau and orang malayo are so much identified that, previously to entering upon an account of the former, it will be useful to throw as much light as possible upon the latter, and to ascertain to what description of people the name of Malays, bestowed by Europeans upon all who resemble them in features and complexion, properly belongs.

(*Footnote. The name is said to be derived from the words menang, signifying to win, and karbau, a buffalo; from a story, carrying a very fabulous air, of a famous engagement on that spot between the buffaloes and tigers, in which the former are stated to have acquired a complete victory. Such is the account the natives give; but they are fond of dealing in fiction, and the etymology has probably no better foundation than a fanciful resemblance of sound.)


It has hitherto been considered as an obvious truth, and admitted without examination that, wherever they are found upon the numerous islands forming this archipelago, they or their ancestors must have migrated from the country named by Europeans (and by them alone) the Malayan peninsula or peninsula of Malacca, of which the indigenous and proper inhabitants were understood to be Malays; and accordingly in the former editions of this work I spoke of the natives of Menangkabau as having acquired their religion, language, manners, and other national characteristics from the settling among them of genuine Malays from the neighbouring continent. It will however appear from the authorities I shall produce, amounting as nearly to positive evidence as the nature of the subject will admit, that the present possessors of the coasts of the peninsula were on the contrary in the first instance adventurers from Sumatra, who in the twelfth century formed an establishment there, and that the indigenous inhabitants, gradually driven by them to the woods and mountains, so far from being the stock from whence the Malays were propagated, are an entirely different race of men, nearly approaching in their physical character to the negroes of Africa.


The evidences of this migration from Sumatra are chiefly found in two Malayan books well known, by character at least, to those who are conversant with the written language, the one named Taju assalatin or Makuta segala raja-raja, The Crown of all Kings, and the other, more immediately to the purpose, Sulalat assalatin or Penurun-an segala raja­raja, The Descent of all (Malayan) Kings. Of these it has not been my good fortune to obtain copies, but the contents, so far as they apply to the present subject, have been fully detailed by two eminent Dutch writers to whom the literature of this part of the East was familiar. Petrus van der Worm first communicated the knowledge of these historical treatises in his learned Introduction to the Malayan Vocabulary of Gueynier, printed at Batavia in the year 1677; and extracts to the same effect were afterwards given by Valentyn in Volume 5 pages 316 to 320 of his elaborate work, published at Amsterdam in 1726. The books are likewise mentioned in a list of Malayan Authors by G.H. Werndly, at the end of his Maleische Spraak-kunst, and by the ingenious Dr. Leyden in his Paper on the Languages and Literature of the Indo-Chinese Nations, recently published in Volume 10 of the Asiatic Researches. The substance of the information conveyed by them is as follows; and I trust it will not be thought that the mixture of a portion of mythological fable in accounts of this nature invalidates what might otherwise have credit as historical fact. The utmost indeed we can pretend to ascertain is what the natives themselves believe to have been their ancient history; and it is proper to remark that in the present question there can be no suspicion of bias from national vanity, as we have reason to presume that the authors of these books were not Sumatrans.

The original country inhabited by the Malayan race (according to these authorities) was the kingdom of Palembang in the island of Indalus, now Sumatra, on the river Malayo, which flows by the mountain named Maha-meru, and discharges itself into the river Tatang (on which Palembang stands) before it joins the sea. Having chosen for their king or leader a prince named Sri Turi Buwana, who boasted his descent from Iskander the Great, and to whom, on that account, their natural chief Demang Lebar Daun submitted his authority, they emigrated, under his command (about the year 1160), to the south-eastern extremity of the opposite peninsula, named Ujong Tanah, where they were at first distinguished by the appellation of orang de-bawah angin or the Leeward people, but in time the coast became generally known by that of Tanah malayo or the Malayan land.


In this situation they built their first city, which they called Singapura (vulgarly Sincapore), and their rising consequence excited the jealousy of the kings of Maja-pahit, a powerful state in the island of Java. To Sri Turi Buwana, who died in 1208, succeeded Paduka Pikaram Wira, who reigned fifteen years; to him Sri Rama Vikaram, who reigned thirteen, and to him Sri Maharaja, who reigned twelve.


His successor, Sri Iskander Shah, was the last king of Singapura. During three years he withstood the forces of the king of Maja-pahit, but in 1252, being hard pressed, he retired first to the northward, and afterwards to the western, coast of the peninsula, where in the following year he founded a new city, which under his wise government became of considerable importance. To this he gave the name of Malaka, from a fruit-bearing tree so called (myrabolanum) found in abundance on the hill which gives natural strength to the situation. Having reigned here twenty-two years, beloved by his subjects and feared by his neighbours, Iskander Shah died in 1274, and was succeeded by Sultan Magat, who reigned only two years. Up to this period the Malayan princes were pagans. Sultan Muhammed Shah, who ascended the throne in 1276, was the first Mahometan prince, and by the propagation of this faith acquired great celebrity during a long reign of fifty-seven years. His influence appears to have extended over the neighbouring islands of Lingga and Bintan, together with Johor, Patani, Kedah, and Perak, on the coasts of the peninsula, and Campar and Aru in Sumatra; all of which acquired the appellative of Malayo, although it was now more especially applied to the people of Malaka, or, as it is commonly written, Malacca. He left the peaceful possession of his dominions to his son Sultan Abu Shahid, who had reigned only one year and five months when he was murdered in 1334 by the king of Arrakan, with whose family his father had contracted a marriage. His successor was Sultan Modafar or Mozafar Shah, who was distinguished for the wisdom of his government, of which he left a memorial in a Book of Institutes or Laws of Malaka, held to this day in high estimation. This city was now regarded as the third in rank (after Maja-pahit on Java, and Pase on Sumatra) in that part of the East.

(*Footnote. The account given by Juan de Barros of the abandonment of the Malayan city of Singapura and foundation of Malacca differs materially from the above; and although the authority of a writer, who collected his materials in Lisbon, cannot be put in competition with that of Valentyn, who passed a long and laborious life amongst the people, and quotes the native historians, I shall give an abstract of his relation, from the sixth book of the second Decade. "At the period when Cingapura flourished its king was named Sangesinga; and in the neighbouring island of Java reigned Pararisa, upon whose death the latter country became subject to the tyranny of his brother, who put one of his nephews to death, and forced many of the nobles, who took part against him, to seek refuge abroad. Among these was one named Paramisora, whom Sangesinga received with hospitality that was badly requited, for the stranger soon found means to put him to death, and, by the assistance of the Javans who accompanied him in his flight, to take possession of the city. The king of Siam, whose son-in-law and vassal the deceased was, assembled a large force by sea and land, and compelled the usurper to evacuate Cingapura with two thousand followers, a part of whom were Cellates (orang sellat men of the Straits) accustomed to live by fishing and piracy, who had assisted him in seizing and keeping the throne during five years. They disembarked at a place called Muar, a hundred and fifty leagues from thence, where Paramisora and his own people fortified themselves. The Cellates, whom he did not choose to trust, proceeded five leagues farther, and occupied a bank of the river where the fortress of Malacca now stands. Here they united with the half-savage natives, who like themselves spoke the Malayan language, and, the spot they had chosen becoming too confined for their increasing numbers, they moved a league higher up, to one more convenient, and were at length joined by their former chief and his companions. During the government of his son, named Xaquen Darxa (a strange Portuguese corruption of Iskander or Sekander Shah) they again descended the river, in order to enjoy the advantages of a sea-port, and built a town, which, from the fortunes of his father, was named Malacca, signifying an exile." Every person conversant with the language must know that the word does not bear that nor any similar meaning, and an error so palpable throws discredit on the whole narrative.)

About the year 1340 the king of Siam, being jealous of the growing power of Malaka, invaded the country, and in a second expedition laid siege to the capital; but his armies were defeated by the general of Modafar, named Sri Nara Dirija. After these events Modafar reigned some years with much reputation, and died in 1374. His son, originally named Sultan Abdul, took the title of Sultan Mansur Shah upon his accession. At the time that the king of Maja-pahit drove the Malays from Singapura, as above related, he likewise subdued the country of Indragiri in Sumatra; but upon the occasion of Mansur Shah's marriage (about the year 1380) with the daughter of the then reigning king, a princess of great celebrity, named Radin Gala Chendra Kiran, it was assigned to him as her portion, and has since continued (according to Valentyn) under the dominion of the princes of Malaka. Mansur appears to have been engaged in continual wars, and to have obtained successes against Pahang, Pase, and Makasar. His reign extended to the almost incredible period of seventy-three years, being succeeded in 1447 by his son Sultan Ala-wa-eddin. During his reign of thirty years nothing particular is recorded; but there is reason to believe that his country during some part of that time was under the power of the Siamese. Sultan Mahmud Shah, who succeeded him, was the twelfth Malayan king, and the seventh and last king of Malaka.


In 1509 he repelled the aggression of the king of Siam; but in 1511 was conquered by the Portuguese under Alfonso d'Alboquerque, and forced, with the principal inhabitants, to fly to the neighbourhood of the first Malayan establishment at the extremity of the peninsula, where he founded the city of Johor, which still subsists, but has never attained to any considerable importance, owing as it may be presumed to the European influence that has ever since, under the Portuguese, Hollanders, and English, predominated in that quarter.*

(*Footnote. It was subdued by the Portuguese in 1608. In 1641 Malacca was taken from them by the Hollanders, who held it till the present war, which has thrown it into the possession of the English. The interior boundaries of its territory, according to the Transactions of the Batavian Society, are the mountains of Rombou, inhabited by a Malayan people named Maning Cabou, and Mount Ophir, called by the natives Gunong-Ledang. These limits, say they, it is impracticable for a European to pass, the whole coast, for some leagues from the sea, being either a morass or impenetrable forest; and these natural difficulties are aggravated by the treacherous and bloodthirsty character of the natives. The description, which will be found in Volume 4 pages 333 to 334, is evidently overcharged. In speaking of Johor the original emigration of a Malayan colony from Sumatra to the mouth of that river, which gave its name to the whole coast, is briefly mentioned.)


With respect to the religion professed by the Malayan princes at the time of their migration from Sumatra, and for about 116 years after, little can be known, because the writers, whose works have reached us, lived since the period of conversion, and as good Mahometans would have thought it profane to enter into the detail of superstitions which they regard with abhorrence; but from the internal evidence we can entertain little doubt of its having been the religion of Brahma, much corrupted however and blended with the antecedent rude idolatry of the country, such as we now find it amongst the Battas. Their proper names or titles are obviously Hindu, with occasional mixture of Persian, and their mountain of Maha-meru, elsewhere so well known as the seat of Indra and the dewas, sufficiently points out the mythology adopted in the country. I am not aware that at the present day there is any mountain in Sumatra called by that name; but it is reasonable to presume that appellations decidedly connected with Paganism may have been changed by the zealous propagators of the new faith, and I am much inclined to believe that by the Maha-meru of the Malays is to be understood the mountain of Sungei-pagu in the Menangkabau country, from whence issue rivers that flow to both sides of the island. In the neighbourhood of this reside the chiefs of the four great tribes, called ampat suku or four quarters, one of which is named Malayo (the others, Kampi, Pani, and Tiga-lara); and it is probable that to it belonged the adventurers who undertook the expedition to Ujong Tanah, and perpetuated the name of their particular race in the rising fortunes of the new colony. From what circumstances they were led to collect their vessels for embarkation at Palembang rather than at Indragiri or Siak, so much more convenient in point of local position, cannot now be ascertained.

Having proposed some queries upon this subject to the late Mr. Francis Light, who first settled the island of Pinang or Prince of Wales island, in the Straits of Malacca, granted to him by the king of Kedah as the marriage portion of his daughter, he furnished me in answer with the following notices. "The origin of the Malays, like that of other people, is involved in fable; every raja is descended from some demigod, and the people sprung from the ocean. According to their traditions however their first city of Singapura, near the present Johor, was peopled from Palembang, from whence they proceeded to settle at Malacca (naming their city from the fruit so called), and spread along the coast. The peninsula is at present inhabited by distinct races of people. The Siamese possess the northern part to latitude 7 degrees, extending from the east to the west side. The Malays possess the whole of the sea-coast on both sides, from that latitude to Point Romania; being mixed in some places with the Bugis from Celebes, who have still a small settlement at Salmigor. The inland parts to the northward are inhabited by the Patani people, who appear to be a mixture of Siamese and Malays, and occupy independent dusuns or villages. Among the forests and in the mountains are a race of Caffres, in every respect resembling those of Africa excepting in stature, which does not exceed four feet eight inches. The Menangkabau people of the peninsula are so named from an inland country in Pulo Percha (Sumatra). A distinction is made between them and the Malays of Johor, but none is perceptible."

To these authorities I shall add that of Mr. Thomas Raffles, at this time Secretary to the government of Pulo Pinang, a gentleman whose intelligence and zeal in the pursuit of knowledge give the strongest hope of his becoming an ornament to oriental literature. To his correspondence I am indebted for much useful information in the line of my researches, and the following passages corroborate the opinions I had formed. "With respect to the Menangkabaus, after a good deal of inquiry, I have not yet been able decidedly to ascertain the relation between those of that name in the peninsula and the Menangkabaus of Pulo Percha. The Malays affirm without hesitation that they all came originally from the latter island." In a recent communication he adds, "I am more confident than ever that the Menangkabaus of the peninsula derive their origin from the country of that name in Sumatra. Inland of Malacca about sixty miles is situated the Malay kingdom of Rumbo, whose sultan and all the principal officers of state hold their authority immediately from Menangkabau, and have written commissions for their respective offices. This shows the extent of that ancient power even now, reduced as it must be, in common with that of the Malay people in general. I had many opportunities of communicating with the natives of Rumbo, and they have clearly a peculiar dialect, resembling exactly what you mention of substituting the final o for a, as in the word ambo for amba. In fact, the dialect is called by the Malacca people the language of Menangkabau."


Returning from this discussion I shall resume the consideration of what is termed the Sumatran empire of Menangkabau, believed by the natives of all descriptions to have subsisted from the remotest times. With its annals, either ancient or modern, we are little acquainted, and the existence of any historical records in the country has generally been doubted; yet, as those of Malacca and of Achin have been preserved, it is not hastily to be concluded that these people, who are the equals of the former, and much superior to the latter in point of literature, are destitute of theirs, although they have not reached our hands. It is known that they deduce their origin from two brothers, named Pera­pati-si-batang and Kei Tamanggungan, who are described as being among the forty companions of Noah in the ark, and whose landing at Palembang, or at a small island near it, named Langkapura, is attended with the circumstance of the dry land being first discovered by the resting upon it of a bird that flew from the vessel. From thence they proceeded to the mountain named Siguntang-guntang, and afterwards to Priangan in the neighbourhood of the great volcano, which at this day is spoken of as the ancient capital of Menangkabau. Unfortunately I possess only an imperfect abstract of this narrative, obviously intended for an introduction to the genealogy of its kings, but, even as a fable, extremely confused and unsatisfactory; and when the writer brings it down to what may be considered as the historical period he abruptly leaves off, with a declaration that the offer of a sum of money (which was unquestionably his object) should not tempt him to proceed.


At a period not very remote its limits were included between the river of Palembang and that of Siak, on the eastern side of the island, and on the western side between those of Manjuta (near Indrapura) and Singkel, where (as well as at Siak) it borders on the independent country of the Battas. The present seat, or more properly seats, of the divided government lie at the back of a mountainous district named the Tiga-blas koto (signifying the thirteen fortified and confederated towns) inland of the settlement of Padang. The country is described as a large plain surrounded by hills producing much gold, clear of woods, and comparatively well cultivated. Although nearer to the western coast its communications with the eastern side are much facilitated by water-carriage.


Advantage is taken in the first place of a large lake, called Laut-danau, situated at the foot of the range of high mountains named gunong Besi, inland of the country of Priaman, the length of which is described by some as being equal to a day's sailing, and by others as no more than twenty-five or thirty miles, abounding with fish (especially of two species, known by the names of sasau and bili), and free from alligators.


From this, according to the authority of a map drawn by a native, issues a river called Ayer Ambelan, which afterwards takes the name of Indragiri, along which, as well as the two other great rivers of Siak to the northward, and Jambi to the southward, the navigation is frequent, the banks of all of them being peopled with Malayan colonies. Between Menangkabau and Palembang the intercourse must, on account of the distance, be very rare, and the assertion that in the intermediate country there exists another great lake, which sends its streams to both sides of the island, appears not only to be without foundation in fact, but also at variance with the usual operations of nature; as I believe it may be safely maintained that, however numerous the streams which furnish the water of a lake, it can have only one outlet; excepting, perhaps, in flat countries, where the course of the waters has scarcely any determination, or under such a nice balance of physical circumstances as is not likely to occur.


When the island was first visited by European navigators this state must have been in its decline, as appears from the political importance at that period of the kings of Achin, Pedir, and Pase, who, whilst they acknowledged their authority to be derived from him as their lord paramount, and some of them paid him a trifling complimentary tribute, acted as independent sovereigns. Subsequently to this an Achinese monarch, under the sanction of a real or pretended grant, obtained from one of the sultans, who, having married his daughter, treated her with nuptial slight, and occasioned her to implore her father's interference, extended his dominion along the western coast, and established his panglimas or governors in many places within the territory of Menangkabau, particularly at Priaman, near the great volcano-mountain. This grant is said to have been extorted not by the force of arms but by an appeal to the decision of some high court of justice similar to that of the imperial chamber in Germany, and to have included all the low or strand-countries (pasisir barat) as far southward as Bengkaulu or Silebar. About the year 1613 however he claimed no farther than Padang, and his actual possessions reached only to Barus.*

(*Footnote. The following instances occur of mention made by writers at different periods of the kingdom of Menangkabau. ODOARDUS BARBOSA, 1519. "Sumatra, a most large and beautiful island; Pedir, the principal city on the northern side, where are also Pacem and Achem. Campar is opposite to Malacca. Monancabo, to the southward, is the principal source of gold, as well from mines as collected in the banks of the rivers." DE BARROS, 1553. "Malacca had the epithet of aurea given to it on account of the abundance of gold brought from Monancabo and Barros, countries in the island of Camatra, where it is procured." DIOGO de COUTO, 1600. "He gives an account of a Portuguese ship wrecked on the coast of Sumatra, near to the country of Manancabo, in 1560. Six hundred persons got on shore, among whom were some women, one of them, Dona Francisca Sardinha, was of such remarkable beauty that the people of the country resolved to carry her off for their king; and they effected it, after a struggle in which sixty of the Europeans lost their lives. At this period there was a great intercourse between Manancabo and Malacca, many vessels going yearly with gold to purchase cotton goods and other merchandise. In ancient times the country was so rich in this metal that several hundredweight (seis, sete, e mais candiz, de que trez fazem hum moyo) were exported in one season. Volume 3 page 178. LINSCHOTEN, 1601. "At Menancabo excellent poniards made, called creeses; best weapons of all the orient. Islands along the coast of Sumatra, called islands of Menancabo." ARGENSOLA, 1609. "A vessel loaded with creeses manufactured at Menancabo and a great quantity of artillery; a species of warlike machine known and fabricated in Sumatra many years before they were introduced by Europeans." LANCASTER, 1602. "Menangcabo lies eight or ten leagues inland of Priaman." BEST, 1613. " A man arrived from Menangcaboo at Ticoo, and brought news from Jambee." BEAULIEU, 1622. "Du cote du ponant apres Padang suit le royaume de Manimcabo; puis celuy d'Andripoura-Il y a (a Jambi) grand trafic d'or, qu'ils ont avec ceux de Manimcabo." Vies des Gouverneurs Gen. Hollandois, 1763. Il est bon de remarquer ici que presque toute la cote occidentale avoit ete reduite par la flotte du Sieur Pierre de Bitter en 1664. L'annee suivante, les habitans de Pauw massacrerent le Commissaire Gruis, etc.; mais apres avoir venge ce meurtre, et dissipe les revoltes en 1666, les Hollandois etoient restes les maitres de toute cette etendue de cotes entre Sillebar et Baros, ou ils etablirent divers comptoirs, dont celui de Padang est le principal depuis 1667. Le commandant, qui y reside, est en meme temps Stadhouder (Lieutenant) de l'Empereur de Maningcabo, a qui la Compagnie a cede, sous diverses restrictions & limitations, la souverainete sur tous les peuples qui babitent le long du rivage" etc.)


In consequence of disturbances that ensued upon the death of a sultan Alif in the year 1680, without direct heirs, the government became divided amongst three chiefs, presumed to have been of the royal family and at the same time great officers of state, who resided at places named Suruwasa, Pagar-ruyong, and Sungei-trap; and in that state it continues to the present time. Upon the capture of Padang by the English in 1781 deputations arrived from two of these chiefs with congratulations upon the success of our arms; which will be repeated with equal sincerity to those who may chance to succeed us. The influence of the Dutch (and it would have been the same with any other European power) has certainly contributed to undermine the political consequence of Menangkabau by giving countenance and support to its disobedient vassals, who in their turn have often experienced the dangerous effects of receiving favours from too powerful an ally. Pasaman, a populous country, and rich in gold, cassia, and camphor, one of its nearest provinces, and governed by a panglima from thence, now disclaims all manner of dependence. Its sovereignty is divided between the two rajas of Sabluan and Kanali, who, in imitation of their former masters, boast an origin of high antiquity. One of them preserves as his sacred relic the bark of a tree in which his ancestor was nursed in the woods before the Pasaman people had reached their present polished state. The other, to be on a level with him, possesses the beard of a reverend predecessor (perhaps an anchorite), which was so bushy that a large bird had built its nest in it. Raja Kanali supported a long war with the Hollanders, attended with many reverses of fortune.

Whether the three sultans maintain a struggle of hostile rivalship, or act with an appearance of concert, as holding the nominal sovereignty under a species of joint-regency, I am not informed, but each of them in the preamble of his letters assumes all the royal titles, without any allusion to competitors; and although their power and resources are not much beyond those of a common raja they do not fail to assert all the ancient rights and prerogatives of the empire, which are not disputed so long as they are not attempted to be carried into force. Pompous dictatorial edicts are issued and received by the neighbouring states (including the European chiefs of Padang), with demonstration of profound respect, but no farther obeyed than may happen to consist with the political interests of the parties to whom they are addressed. Their authority in short resembles not a little that of the sovereign pontiffs of Rome during the latter centuries, founded as it is in the superstition of remote ages; holding terrors over the weak, and contemned by the stronger powers. The district of Suruwasa, containing the site of the old capital, or Menangkabau proper, seems to have been considered by the Dutch as entitled to a degree of pre-eminence; but I have not been able to discover any marks of superiority or inferiority amongst them. In distant parts the schism is either unknown, or the three who exercise the royal functions are regarded as co-existing members of the same family, and their government, in the abstract, however insignificant in itself, is there an object of veneration. Indeed to such an unaccountable excess is this carried that every relative of the sacred family, and many who have no pretensions to it assume that character, are treated wherever they appear, not only with the most profound respect by the chiefs who go out to meet them, fire salutes on their entering the dusuns, and allow them to level contributions for their maintenance; but by the country people with such a degree of superstitious awe that they submit to be insulted, plundered, and even wounded by them, without making resistance, which they would esteem a dangerous profanation. Their appropriate title (not uncommon in other Malayan countries) is Iang de per-tuan, literally signifying he who ruleth.

A person of this description, who called himself Sri Ahmed Shah, heir to the empire of Menangkabau, in consequence of some differences with the Dutch, came and settled amongst the English at Bencoolen in the year 1687, on his return from a journey to the southward as far as Lampong, and being much respected by the people of the country gained the entire confidence of Mr. Bloom, the governor. He subdued some of the neighbouring chiefs who were disaffected to the English, particularly Raja mudo of Sungei-lamo, and also a Jennang or deputy from the king of Bantam; he coined money, established a market, and wrote a letter to the East India Company promising to put them in possession of the trade of the whole island. But shortly afterwards a discovery was made of his having formed a design to cut off the settlement, and he was in consequence driven from the place. The records mention at a subsequent period that the sultan of Indrapura was raising troops to oppose him.*

(*Footnote. The following anecdote of one of these personages was communicated to me by my friend, the late Mr. Crisp. "Some years ago, when I was resident of Manna, there was a man who had long worked in the place as a coolie when someone arrived from the northward, who happened to discover that he was an Iang de per-tuan or relation of the imperial family. Immediately all the bazaar united to raise him to honour and independence; he was never suffered to walk without a high umbrella carried over him, was followed by numerous attendants, and addressed by the title of tuanku, equivalent to your highness. After this he became an intriguing, troublesome fellow in the Residency, and occasioned much annoyance. The prejudice in favour of these people is said to extend over all the islands to the eastward where the Malay tongue is spoken.")

HIS TITLES[sunting]

The titles and epithets assumed by the sultans are the most extravagantly absurd that it is possible to imagine. Many of them descend to mere childishness; and it is difficult to conceive how any people, so far advanced in civilization as to be able to write, could display such evidences of barbarism. A specimen of a warrant of recent date, addressed to Tuanku Sungei-Pagu, a high-priest residing near Bencoolen, is as follows:

Three circular Seals with inscriptions in Arabic characters.

(Eldest brother) Sultan of Rum. Key Dummul Alum. Maharaja Alif.

(Second brother) Sultan of China. Nour Alum. Maharaja Dempang or Dipang.

(Youngest brother) Sultan of Menangkabau. Aour Alum. Maharaja Dirja or Durja.


The sultan of Menangkabau, whose residence is at Pagar-ruyong, who is king of kings; a descendant of raja Iskander zu'lkarnaini; possessed of the crown brought from heaven by the prophet Adam; of a third part of the wood kamat, one extremity of which is in the kingdom of Rum and another in that of China; of the lance named lambing lambura ornamented with the beard of janggi; of the palace in the city of Rum, whose entertainments and diversions are exhibited in the month of zul'hijah, and where all alims, fakiahs, and mulanakaris praise and supplicate Allah; possessor of the gold-mine named kudarat-kudarati, which yields pure gold of twelve carats, and of the gold named jati-jati which snaps the dalik wood; of the sword named churak-simandang-giri, which received one hundred and ninety gaps in conflict with the fiend Si Kati­muno, whom it slew; of the kris formed of the soul of steel, which expresses an unwillingness at being sheathed and shows itself pleased when drawn; of a date coeval with the creation; master of fresh water in the ocean, to the extent of a day's sailing; of a lance formed of a twig of iju ; the sultan who receives his taxes in gold by the lessong measure; whose betel-stand is of gold set with diamonds; who is possessor of the web named sangsista kala, which weaves itself and adds one thread yearly, adorned with pearls, and when that web shall be completed the world will be no more; of horses of the race of sorimborani, superior to all others; of the mountain Si guntang-guntang, which divides Palembang and Jambi, and of the burning mountain; of the elephant named Hasti Dewah; who is vicegerent of heaven; sultan of the golden river; lord of the air and clouds; master of a ballei whose pillars are of the shrub jalatang; of gandarangs (drums) made of the hollow stems of the diminutive plants pulut and silosuri; of the anchor named paduka jati employed to recover the crown which fell into the deep sea of Kulzum; of the gong that resounds to the skies; of the buffalo named Si Binuwang Sati, whose horns are ten feet asunder; of the unconquered cock, Sen­gunani; of the coconut-tree which, from its amazing height and being infested with serpents and other noxious reptiles, it is impossible to climb; of the blue champaka flower, not to be found in any other country than his (being yellow elsewhere); of the flowering shrub named Sri­menjeri, of ambrosial scent; of the mountain on which the celestial spirits dwell; who when he goes to rest wakes not until the gandarang nobat sounds; He the sultan Sri Maharaja Durja furthermore declares, etc.*

(*Footnote. The following Letter from the sultan of Menangkabau to the father of the present sultan of Moco-moco, and apparently written about fifty years ago, was communicated to me by Mr. Alexander Dalrymple, and though it is in part a repetition I esteem it too curious to hesitate about inserting it. The style is much more rational than that of the foregoing. "Praised be Almighty God! Sultan Gagar Alum the great and noble King, whose extensive power reacheth unto the limits of the wide ocean; unto whom God grants whatever he desires, and over whom no evil spirit, nor even Satan himself has any influence; who is invested with an authority to punish evil-doers; and has the most tender heart in the support of the innocent; has no malice in his mind, but preserveth the righteous with the greatest reverence, and nourisheth the poor and needy, feeding them daily from his own table. His authority reacheth over the whole universe, and his candour and goodness is known to all men. (Mention made of the three brothers.) The ambassador of God and his prophet Mahomet; the beloved of mankind; and ruler of the island called Percho. At the time God made the heavens, the earth, the sun, the moon, and even before evil spirits were created, this sultan Gagar Alum had his residence in the clouds; but when the world was habitable God gave him a bird called Hocinet, that had the gift of speech; this he sent down on earth to look out for a spot where he might establish an inheritance, and the first place he alighted upon was the fertile island of Lankapura, situated between Palembang and Jambi, and from thence sprang the famous kingdom of Manancabow, which will be renowned and mighty until the Judgment Day.

"This Maha Raja Durja is blessed with a long life and an uninterrupted course of prosperity, which he will maintain in the name, and through the grace of the holy prophet, to the end that God's divine Will may be fulfilled upon earth. He is endowed with the highest abilities, and the most profound wisdom and circumspection in governing the many tributary kings and subjects. He is righteous and charitable, and preserveth the honour and glory of his ancestors. His justice and clemency are felt in distant regions, and his name will be revered until the last day. When he openeth his mouth he is full of goodness, and his words are as grateful as rosewater to the thirsty. His breath is like the soft winds of the heavens, and his lips are the instruments of truth; sending forth perfumes more delightful than benjamin or myrrh. His nostrils breathe ambergris and musk; and his countenance has the lustre of diamonds. He is dreadful in battle, and not to be conquered, his courage and valour being matchless. He, the sultan Maha Raja Durja, was crowned with a sacred crown from God; and possesses the wood called Kamat, in conjunction with the emperors of Rome and China. (Here follows an account of his possessions nearly corresponding to those above recited.)

"After this salutation, and the information I have given of my greatness and power, which I attribute to the good and holy prophet Mahomet, I am to acquaint you with the commands of the sultan whose presence bringeth death to all who attempt to approach him without permission; and also those of the sultan of Indrapura who has four breasts. This friendly sheet of paper is brought from the two sultans above named, by their bird anggas, unto their son, sultan Gandam Shah, to acquaint him with their intention under this great seal, which is that they order their son sultan Gandam Shah to oblige the English Company to settle in the district called Biangnur, at a place called the field of sheep, that they may not have occasion to be ashamed at their frequent refusal of our goodness in permitting them to trade with us and with our subjects; and that in case he cannot succeed in this affair we hereby advise him that the ties of friendship subsisting between us and our son is broken; and we direct that he send us an answer immediately, that we may know the result--for all this island is our own." It is difficult to determine whether the preamble, or the purport of the letter be the more extraordinary.)

Probably no records upon earth can furnish an example of more unintelligible jargon; yet these attributes are believed to be indisputably true by the Malays and others residing at a distance from his immediate dominions, who possess a greater degree of faith than wit; and with this addition, that he dwells in a palace without covering, free from inconvenience. It is at the same time but justice to these people to observe that, in the ordinary concerns of life, their writings are as sober, consistent, and rational as those of their neighbours.


The seals prefixed to the warrant are, beside his own and that of the emperor of China, whose consequence is well known to the inhabitants of the eastern islands, that of the sultan of Rum, by which is understood in modern times, Constantinople, the seat of the emperor of the Turks, who is looked up to by Mahometans, since the ruin of the khalifat, as the head of their religion; but I have reason to think that the appellation of Rumi was at an earlier period given by oriental writers to the subjects of the great Turkoman empire of the Seljuks, whose capital was Iconium or Kuniyah in Asia minor, of which the Ottoman was a branch. This personage he honours with the title of his eldest brother, the descendant of Iskander the two-horned, by which epithet the Macedonian hero is always distinguished in eastern story, in consequence, as may be presumed, of the horned figure on his coins,* which must long have circulated in Persia and Arabia. Upon the obscure history of these supposed brothers some light is thrown by the following legend communicated to me as the belief of the people of Johor. "It is related that Iskander dived into the sea, and there married a daughter of the king of the ocean, by whom he had three sons, who, when they arrived at manhood, were sent by their mother to the residence of their father. He gave them a makuta or crown, and ordered them to find kingdoms where they should establish themselves. Arriving in the straits of Singapura they determined to try whose head the crown fitted. The eldest trying first could not lift it to his head. The second the same. The third had nearly effected it when it fell from his hand into the sea. After this the eldest turned to the west and became king of Rome, the second to the east and became king of China. The third remained at Johor. At this time Pulo Percha (Sumatra) had not risen from the waters. When it began to appear, this king of Johor, being on a fishing party, and observing it oppressed by a huge snake named Si Kati-muno, attacked the monster with his sword called Simandang-giri, and killed it, but not till the sword had received one hundred and ninety notches in the encounter. The island being thus allowed to rise, he went and settled by the burning mountain, and his descendants became kings of Menangkabau." This has much the air of a tale invented by the people of the peninsula to exalt the idea of their own antiquity at the expense of their Sumatran neighbours. The blue champaka-flower of which the sultan boasts possession I conceive to be an imaginary and not an existent plant. The late respected Sir W. Jones, in his Botanical Observations printed in the Asiatic Researches Volume 4 suspects that by it must be meant the Kaempferia bhuchampac, a plant entirely different from the michelia; but as this supposition is built on a mere resemblance of sounds it is necessary to state that the Malayan term is champaka biru, and that nothing can be inferred from the accidental coincidence of the Sanskrit word bhu, signifying ground, with the English term for the blue colour.

(*Footnote. See a beautiful engraving of one of these coins preserved in the Bodleian collection, Oxford, prefixed to Dr. Vincent's Translation of the Voyage of Nearchus printed in 1809.)


With the ceremonies of the court we are very imperfectly acquainted. The royal salute is one gun; which may be considered as a refinement in ceremony; for as no additional number could be supposed to convey an adequate idea of respect, but must on the contrary establish a definite proportion between his dignity and that of his nobles, or of other princes, the sultan chooses to leave the measure of his importance indefinite by this policy and save his gunpowder. It must be observed that the Malays are in general extremely fond of the parade of firing guns, which they never neglect on high days, and on the appearance of the new moon, particularly that which marks the commencement and the conclusion of their puasa or annual fast. Yellow being esteemed, as in China, the royal colour, is said to be constantly and exclusively worn by the sultan and his household. His usual present on sending an embassy (for no Sumatran or other oriental has an idea of making a formal address on any occasion without a present in hand, be it never so trifling), is a pair of white horses; being emblematic of the purity of his character and intentions.


The immediate subjects of this empire, properly denominated Malays, are all of the Mahometan religion, and in that respect distinguished from the generality of inland inhabitants. How it has happened that the most central people of the island should have become the most perfectly converted is difficult to account for unless we suppose that its political importance and the richness of its gold trade might have drawn thither its pious instructors, from temporal as well as spiritual motives. Be this as it may, the country of Menangkabau is regarded as the supreme seat of civil and religious authority in this part of the East, and next to a voyage to Mecca to have visited its metropolis stamps a man learned, and confers the character of superior sanctity. Accordingly the most eminent of those who bear the titles of imam, mulana, khatib, and pandita either proceed from thence or repair thither for their degree, and bring away with them a certificate or diploma from the sultan or his minister.

In attempting to ascertain the period of this conversion much accuracy is not to be expected; the natives are either ignorant on the subject or have not communicated their knowledge, and we can only approximate the truth by comparing the authorities of different old writers. Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller who visited Sumatra under the name of Java minor (see above) says that the inhabitants of the seashore were addicted to the Mahometan law, which they had learned from Saracon merchants. This must have been about the year 1290, when, in his voyage from China, he was detained for several months at a port in the Straits, waiting the change of the monsoon; and though I am scrupulous of insisting upon his authority (questioned as it is), yet in a fact of this nature he could scarcely be mistaken, and the assertion corresponds with the annals of the princes of Malacca, which state, as we have seen above, that sultan Muhammed Shah, who reigned from 1276 to 1333, was the first royal convert. Juan De Barros, a Portuguese historian of great industry, says that, according to the tradition of the inhabitants, the city of Malacca was founded about the year 1260, and that about 1400 the Mahometan faith had spread considerably there and extended itself to the neighbouring islands. Diogo do Couto, another celebrated historian, who prosecuted his inquiries in India, mentions the arrival at Malacca of an Arabian priest who converted its monarch to the faith of the khalifs, and gave him the name of Shah Muhammed in the year 1384. This date however is evidently incorrect, as that king's reign was earlier by fifty years. Corneille le Brun was informed by the king of Bantam in 1706 that the people of Java were made converts to that sect about three hundred years before. Valentyn states that Sheik Mulana, by whom this conversion was effected in 1406, had already disseminated his doctrine at Ache, Pase (places in Sumatra), and Johor. From these several sources of information, which are sufficiently distinct from each other, we may draw this conclusion, that the religion, which sprang up in Arabia in the seventh century, had not made any considerable progress in the interior of Sumatra earlier than the fourteenth, and that the period of its introduction, considering the vicinity to Malacca, could not be much later. I have been told indeed, but cannot vouch for its authenticity, that in 1782 these people counted 670 years from the first preaching of their religion, which would carry the period back to 1112. It may be added that in the island of Ternate the first Mahometan prince reigned from 1466 to 1486; that Francis Xavier, a celebrated Jesuit missionary, when he was at Amboina in 1546 observed the people then beginning to learn to write from the Arabians; that the Malays were allowed to build a mosque at Goak in Makasar subsequently to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1512; and that in 1603 the whole kingdom had become Mahometan. These islands, lying far to the eastward, and being of less considerable account in that age than subsequent transactions have rendered them, the zeal of religious adventurers did not happen to be directed thither so soon as to the countries bordering on the sea of India.

By some it has been asserted that the first sultan of Menangkabau was a Xerif from Mecca, or descendant of the khalifs, named Paduka Sri Sultan Ibrahim, who, settling in Sumatra, was received with honour by the princes of the country, Perapati-si-batang and his brother, and acquired sovereign authority. They add that the sultans who now reside at Pagar-ruyong and at Suruwasa are lineally descended from that Xerif, whilst he who resides at Sungei Trap, styled Datu Bandhara putih, derives his origin from Perapati. But to this supposition there are strong objections. The idea so generally entertained by the natives, and strengthened by the glimmering lights that the old writers afford us, bespeaks an antiquity to this empire that stretches far beyond the probable era of the establishment of the Mahometan religion in the island. Radin Tamanggung, son of a king of Madura, a very intelligent person, and who as a prince himself was conversant with these topics, positively asserted to me that it was an original Sumatran empire, antecedent to the introduction of the Arabian faith; instructed, but by no means conquered, as some had imagined, by people from the peninsula. So memorable an event as the elevation of a Xerif to the throne would have been long preserved by annals or tradition, and the sultan in the list of his titles would not fail to boast of this sacred extraction from the prophet, to which however he does not at all allude; and to this we may add that the superstitious veneration attached to the family extends itself not only where Mahometanism has made a progress, but also among the Battas and other people still unconverted to that faith, with whom it would not be the case if the claim to such respect was grounded on the introduction of a foreign religion which they have refused to accept.

Perhaps it is less surprising that this one kingdom should have been completely converted than that so many districts of the island should remain to this day without any religion whatever. It is observable that a person of this latter description, coming to reside among the Malays, soon assimilates to them in manners, and conforms to their religious practices. The love of novelty, the vanity of learning, the fascination of ceremony, the contagion of example, veneration for what appears above his immediate comprehension, and the innate activity of man's intellectual faculties, which, spurred by curiosity, prompts him to the acquisition of knowledge, whether true or false--all conspire to make him embrace a system of belief and scheme of instruction in which there is nothing that militates against prejudices already imbibed. He relinquishes no favourite ancient worship to adopt a new, and is manifestly a gainer by the exchange, when he barters, for a paradise and eternal pleasures, so small a consideration as the flesh of his foreskin.


The Malays, as far as my observation went, did not appear to possess much of the bigotry so commonly found amongst the western Mahometans, or to show antipathy to or contempt for unbelievers. To this indifference is to be attributed my not having positively ascertained whether they are followers of the sunni or the shiah sect, although from their tolerant principles and frequent passages in their writings in praise of Ali I conclude them to be the latter. Even in regard to the practice of ceremonies they do not imitate the punctuality of the Arabs and others of the mussulman faith. Excepting such as were in the orders of the priesthood I rarely noticed persons in the act of making their prostrations. Men of rank I am told have their religious periods, during which they scrupulously attend to their duties and refrain from gratifications of the appetite, together with gambling and cockfighting; but these are not long nor very frequent. Even their great Fast or puasa (the ramadan of the Turks) is only partially observed. All those who have a regard for character fast more or less according to the degree of their zeal or strength of their constitutions; some for a week, others for a fortnight; but to abstain from food and betel whilst the sun is above the horizon during the whole of a lunar month is a very rare instance of devotion.


Malayan literature consists chiefly of transcripts and versions of the koran, commentaries on the mussulman law, and historic tales both in prose and verse, resembling in some respect our old romances. Many of these are original compositions, and others are translations of the popular tales current in Arabia, Persia, India, and the neighbouring island of Java, where the Hindu languages and mythology appear to have made at a remote period considerable progress. Among several works of this description I possess their translation (but much compressed) of the Ramayan, a celebrated Sanskrit poem, and also of some of the Arabian stories lately published in France as a Continuation of the Thousand and one Nights, first made known to the European world by M. Galland. If doubts have been entertained of the authenticity of these additions to his immortal collection the circumstance of their being (however partially) discovered in the Malayan language will serve to remove them. Beside these they have a variety of poetic works, abounding rather with moral reflections and complaints of the frowns of fortune or of ill-requited love than with flights of fancy. The pantun or short proverbial stanza has been already described. They are composed in all parts of the island, and often extempore; but such as proceed from Menangkabau, the most favoured seat of the Muses, are held in the first esteem. Their writing is entirely in the modified Arabic character, and upon paper previously ruled by means of threads drawn tight and arranged in a peculiar manner.


The arts in general are carried among these people to a greater degree of perfection than by the other natives of Sumatra. The Malays are the sole fabricators of the exquisite gold and silver filigree, the manufacture of which has been particularly described.


In the country of Menangkabau they have from the earliest times manufactured arms for their own use and to supply the northern inhabitants of the island, who are the most warlike, and which trade they continue to this day, smelting, forging, and preparing, by a process of their own, the iron and steel for this purpose, although much is at the same time purchased from Europeans.*

(*Footnote. The principal iron mines are at a place called Padang Luar, where the ore is sold at the rate of half a fanam or forty-eighth part of a dollar for a man's load, and carried to another place in the Menangkabau country called Selimpuwong, where it is smelted and manufactured.)


The use of cannon in this and other parts of India is mentioned by the oldest Portuguese historians, and it must consequently have been known there before the discovery of the passage by the Cape of Good Hope. Their guns are those pieces called matchlocks, the improvement of springs and flints not being yet adopted by them; the barrels are well tempered and of the justest bore, as is evident from the excellence of their aim, which they always take by lowering, instead of raising the muzzle of the piece to the object. They are wrought by rolling a flatted bar of iron of proportionate dimensions spirally round a circular rod, and beating it till the parts of the former unite; which method seems preferable in point of strength to that of folding and soldering the bar longitudinally. The art of boring may well be supposed unknown to these people. Firelocks are called by them snapang, from the Dutch name. Gunpowder they make in great quantities, but either from the injudicious proportion of the ingredients in the composition, or the imperfect granulation, it is very defective in strength.


The tombak, lambing, and kujur or kunjur are names for weapons of the lance or spear kind; the pedang, rudus, pamandap, and kalewang are of the sword kind, and slung at the side, the siwar is a small instrument of the nature of a stiletto, chiefly used for assassination; and the kris is a species of dagger of a particular construction, very generally worn, being stuck in front through the folds of a belt that goes several times round the body.

<a name="sumatra-17"></a><img alt="" src="images/sumatra-17.jpg"> PLATE 17. SUMATRAN WEAPONS. A. A Malay Gadoobang. B. A Batta Weapon. C. A Malay Creese.
One-third of the size of the Originals.
W. Williams del. and sculpt.
Published by W. Marsden, 1810.

<a name="sumatra-17a"></a><img alt="" src="images/sumatra-17a.jpg"> PLATE 17a. SUMATRAN WEAPONS. D. A Malay Creese. E. An Achenese Creese. F. A Malay Sewar.
One-third of the size of the Originals.
W. Williams del. and sculpt.


The blade is about fourteen inches in length, not straight nor uniformly curved, but waving in and out, as we see depicted the flaming swords that guarded the gates of paradise; which probably may render a wound given with it the more fatal. It is not smooth or polished like those of our weapons, but by a peculiar process made to resemble a composition, in which veins of a different metal are apparent. This damasking (as I was informed by the late Mr. Boulton) is produced by beating together steel and iron wire whilst in a state of half fusion, and eating them with acids, by which the softest part is the most corroded; the edges being of pure steel. Their temper is uncommonly hard. The head or haft is either of ivory, the tooth of the duyong (sea-cow), that of the hippopotamus, the snout of the ikan layer (voilier), of black coral, or of fine-grained wood. This is ornamented with gold or a mixture of that and copper, which they call swasa, highly polished and carved into curious figures, some of which have the beak of a bird with the arms of a human creature, and bear a resemblance to the Egyptian Isis. The sheath also is formed of some beautiful species of wood, hollowed out, with a neat lacing of split rattan, stained red round the lower parts; or sometimes it is plated with gold. The value of a kris is supposed to be enhanced in proportion to the number of persons it has slain. One that has been the instrument of much bloodshed is regarded with a degree of veneration as something sacred. The horror or enthusiasm inspired by the contemplation of such actions is transferred to the weapon, which accordingly acquires sanctity from the principle that leads ignorant men to reverence whatever possesses the power of effecting mischief. Other circumstances also contribute to give them celebrity, and they are distinguished by pompous names. Some have a cushion by their bedside on which is placed their favourite weapon. I have a manuscript treatise on krises, accompanied with drawings, describing their imaginary properties and value, estimated at the price of one or more slaves. The abominable custom of poisoning them, though much talked of, is rarely practised I believe in modern times. They are frequently seen rubbing the blades with lime-juice, which has been considered as a precaution against danger of this kind, but it is rather for the purpose of removing common stains or of improving the damasked appearance.


Although much parade attends their preparations for war and their marches, displaying colours of scarlet cloth, and beating drums, gongs, and chennangs, yet their operations are carried on rather in the way of ambuscade and surprise of straggling parties than open combat, firing irregularly from behind entrenchments, which the enemy takes care not to approach too near.


They are said to go frequently to war on horseback, but I shall not venture to give their force the name of cavalry. The chiefs may probably avail themselves of the service of this useful animal from motives of personal indulgence or state, but on account of the ranjaus or sharp-pointed stakes so commonly planted in the passes (see the preceding journal of Lieutenant Dare's march, where they are particularly described), it is scarcely possible that horse could be employed as an effective part of an army. It is also to be observed that neither the natives nor even Europeans ever shoe them, the nature of the roads in general not rendering it necessary. The breed of them is small but well made, hardy, and vigorous. The soldiers serve without pay, but the plunder they obtain is thrown into a common stock, and divided amongst them. Whatever might formerly have been the degree of their prowess they are not now much celebrated for it; yet the Dutch at Padang have often found them troublesome enemies from their numbers, and been obliged to secure themselves within their walls. Between the Menangkabau people, those of Rau or Aru, and the Achinese, settled at Natal, wars used to be incessant until they were checked by the influence of our authority at that place. The factory itself was raised upon one of the breast-works thrown up by them for defence, of which several are to be met with in walking a few miles into the country, and some of them very substantial. Their campaigns in this petty warfare were carried on very deliberately. They made a regular practice of commencing a truce at sunset, when they remained in mutual security, and sometimes agreed that hostilities should take place only between certain hours of the day. The English resident, Mr. Carter, was frequently chosen their umpire, and upon these occasions used to fix in the ground his golden-headed cane, on the spot where the deputies should meet and concert terms of accommodation; until at length the parties, grown weary of their fruitless contests, resolved to place themselves respectively under the dependence and protection of the company. The fortified villages, in some parts of the country named dusun, and in others kampong, are here, as on the continent of India, denominated kota or forts, and the districts are distinguished from each other by the number of confederated villages they contain.


The government, like that of all Malayan states, is founded on principles entirely feudal. The prince is styled raja, maha-raja, iang de pertuan, or sultan; the nobles have the appellation of orang kaya or datu, which properly belongs to the chiefs of tribes, and implies their being at the head of a numerous train of immediate dependants or vassals, whose service they command. The heir-apparent has the title of raja muda.


From amongst the orang kayas the sultan appoints the officers of state, who as members of his council are called mantri, and differ in number and authority according to the situation and importance of the kingdom. Of these the first in rank, or prime minister, has the appellation of perdana mantri, mangko bumi, and not seldom, however anomalously, maharaja. Next to him generally is the bandhara, treasurer or high steward; then the laksamana and tamanggung, commanders-in-chief by sea and land, and lastly the shahbandara, whose office it is to superintend the business of the customs (in sea-port towns) and to manage the trade for the king. The governors of provinces are named panglima, the heads of departments pangulu. The ulubalang are military officers forming the bodyguard of the sovereign, and prepared on all occasions to execute his orders. From their fighting singly, when required, in the cause of the prince or noble who maintains them, the name is commonly translated champion; but when employed by a weak but arbitrary and cruel prince to remove by stealth obnoxious persons whom he dares not to attack openly they may be compared more properly to the Ismaelians or Assassins, so celebrated in the history of the Crusades, as the devoted subjects of the Sheikh al-jabal, or Old Man of the Mountain, as this chief of Persian Irak is vulgarly termed. I have not reason however to believe that such assassinations are by any means frequent. The immediate vassals of the king are called amba raja; and for the subjects in general the word rayet has been adopted. Beside those above named there is a great variety of officers of government of an inferior class; and even among the superior there is not at every period, nor in every Malayan state, a consistent uniformity of rank and title.


The smaller Malayan establishments are governed by their datus or heads of tribes, of whom there are generally four; as at Bencoolen (properly Bengkaulu) near to which the English settlement of Fort Marlborough is situated, and where Fort York formerly stood. These are under the protection or dominion of two native chiefs or princes, the pangerans of Sungei-lamo and Sungei-etam, the origin of whose authority has been already explained. Each of these has possessions on different parts of the river, the principal sway being in the hands of him of the two who has most personal ability. They are constant rivals, though living upon familiar terms, and are only restrained from open war by the authority of the English. Limun likewise, and the neighbouring places of Batang-asei and Pakalang-jambu, near the sources of Jambi River, where gold is collected and carried chiefly to Bencoolen and the settlement of Laye, where I had opportunities of seeing the traders, are each governed by four datus, who, though not immediately nominated by the sultan, are confirmed by, and pay tribute to, him. The first of these, whose situation is most southerly, receive also an investiture (baju, garment, and destar, turband) from the sultan of Palembang, being a politic measure adopted by these merchants for the convenience attending it in their occasional trading concerns with that place.

HOT SPRINGS[sunting]

At Priangan, near Gunong-berapi, are several hot mineral springs, called in the Malayan map already mentioned, panchuran tujuh or the seven conduits, where the natives from time immemorial have been in the practice of bathing; some being appropriated to the men, and others to the women; with two of cold water, styled the king's. It will be recollected that in ancient times this place was the seat of government.


Near to these springs is a large stone or rock of very hard substance, one part of which is smoothed to a perpendicular face of about ten or twelve feet long and four high, on which are engraved characters supposed to be European, the space being entirely filled with them and certain chaps or marks at the corners. The natives presume them to be Dutch, but say that the latter do not resemble the present mark of the Company. There is some appearance of the date 1100. The informant (named Raja Intan), who had repeatedly seen and examined it, added that M. Palm, governor of Padang, once sent Malays with paper and paint to endeavour to take off the inscription, but they did not succeed; and the Dutch, whose arms never penetrated to that part of the country, are ignorant of its meaning. It is noticed in the Malayan map. Should it prove to be a Hindu monument it will be thought curious.