Marong Mahawangsa: The Keddah Annals

Translated to English by JAMES LOW

Volume 1 in the Silverfish Malaysian Classics Series

Silverfish Books (Reprint, 2019)
187 pages

RM36.00

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Marong Mahawangsa: The Keddah Annals, alternatively spelt Hikayat Marong Mahawangsa and also known as the Kedah Annals, is a Malay literary work that gives a romantic account of the history and tales of Kedah. The work is thought to have been written in the late 18th century or sometime in the 19th century. Although it contains historical facts, there are also many incredible assertions in its accounts. The era covered by the text ranged from the opening of Kedah by Merong Mahawangsa, allegedly a descendant of Alexander the Great of Macedonia till the acceptance of Islam.

The beginning part of the story elaborates on the stories of kings and the founding of their kingdoms based on myths, legends or fantastical folk stories, whether its origins are indigenous or influenced by Hindu or Islamic elements. The annals tell of the forefather of all the Kedahan rulers, Raja Merong Mahawangsa; a king who not only has family ties to the King of the Romans but also the trust of the emperor’s dignitaries.

The royal fleet of Merong Mahawangsa, on its way of sailing from Rome to China, was suddenly attacked by a legendary giant phoenix called Garuda. He crashed into the shores of what is now Kedah. There, he founded a state called Langkasuka (‘Langkha‘ meaning ‘resplendent land’ in Sanskrit, while ‘sukkha‘ meaning ‘joy’ or ‘happiness’) and became its king. He returned to Rome after his son Raja Merong Mahapudisat was enthroned. Langkasuka eventually changed its name to the Kedah Zamin Turan.

Guided by the advice given by his father, Mahapudisat would later divide the Kingdom into three; the Kingdom of Siam to his eldest son, the Kingdom of Perak to his second and Kingdom of Pattani to his youngest. The youngest son succeeded their father as King of Kedah with the title of Raja Seri Mahawangsa. Raja Seri Mahawangsa began the tradition of sending “flowers of gold and silver” as gifts to the Siamese King every time he bore a son.

Raja Seri Mahawangsa dies of a broken heart upset with his son who was disobedient of the order. His son succeeded him with the title of Raja Seri Inderawangsa. Next in line was Inderawangsa’s son Raja Ong Maha Perita Deria, also known as Raja Bersiong, or the Fanged King. When the king was overthrown by his subjects due to his wickedness, his son was enthroned with the title of Raja Phra Ong Mahapudisat. Phra Ong Mahapudisat was succeeded by his son, Raja Phra Ong Mahawangsa who later converted into Islam. Sheikh Abdullah Yamani Mudzafar changed his name to Sultan Mudzafar Shah.

The annals also describe the Chola Empire’s trade relations with Kedah, where the Kedah Sultanate sends its tribute to the empire every year and after to the Siam. We still can find the antique and god statue of Chola Dynasty in Kedah. The Kedahan royal family that rules to this day traces their lineages back to Pahhra Ong Mahawangsa, and thus Merong Mahawangsa.

According to James Low, the translator of this work, “It (Marong Mahawangsa) is a history of Keddah on the Malayan Peninsula and, independently of any intrinsic value which it may possess, it is interesting to the British, since the settlement of Penang and Province Wellesley once formed an integral portion of the country of Keddah. This Keddah is the Quida of the maps, and a Siamese province, although chiefly peopled by Malays. It is about 110 to 120 miles long, with a varying breath of from 20 to 30 or 40 miles at most. It is very fertile in grain. Cattle abound in its plains, and its hills yield rich tin ore, and perhaps gold. I received the history from the hands of the late raja, whose Malayan title was Sultan Ahmed Sajoodin (Aladin) Halim Shah and whose Siamese title was Chau Pangeran, who in an evil hour had been led by bad advice to throw off his allegiance to Siam and had fled to Penang.”

Weight 0.274 kg
Dimensions 20.8 × 14.2 × 1 cm
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