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Raja Bersiong ~ Fanged Prince Part 3



The Fanged King: Part 3 2010/06/24 By Siti Nurbaiyah Nadzmi nurbaiyah@nst.com.my

HIKAYAT Merong Mahawangsa, a historical epic of the Kedah rulers commissioned during the reign of Sultan Rijaluddin Muhammad Shah (1625-1651), has a chapter on Raja Besiong.

According to the epic, Merong Mahawangsa, the first ruler of Kedah, sent his four children to open new kingdoms. The eldest was crowned Raja Siam; the second prince shot a silver arrow and became Raja Perak; the third, a princess, became Raja Pattani; the youngest, Raja Seri Inderawangsa, lived with Merong Mahawangsa in Kedah.

When Raja Seri Inderawangsa ascended the throne he married a “gergasi” or “ogre” princess, against his father’s wishes. The Kedah History Association’s Datuk Dr Wan Shamsuddin Yusof speculates that she might have been an aboriginal woman.




Kedah History Association’s Datuk Wan Shamsuddin speculates the ogre princess described by Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa as Raja Besiong's mother, might have been an aboriginal woman.
 
They bore a son, Raja Ong Maha Perita Deria, who is named in the epic as “Raja Besiong” (translated from Jawi script without the “r”). “The book described him from young as ‘kahar’ (a rogue) and he never outgrew that even when he became the ruler and took a Malay wife,” Wan Shamsuddin said.
“When he was asked to quit killing people for their blood, he shrugged them off saying that the spinach broth was simply too delicious to quit.”

 The Al-Tarikh Salasilah Negeri Kedah by Muhammad Hassan bin Dato' Kerani Muhammad Arshad, first published in 1927. This edition is published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka


 





 Philologist Datuk Dr Professor Siti Hawa Salleh, who has done a comparative study on Kedah history and Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, said it was almost impossible to prove or disprove the existence of Raja Besiong. “Can anyone prove Raja Besiong did not exist? On the other hand, can anyone prove he existed? I doubt it.”

Philologist Datuk Dr Professor Siti Hawa Salleh, who has done a comparative study on Kedah history and Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, said it was almost impossible to prove or disprove the existence of Raja Besiong.


“Can anyone prove Raja Besiong did not exist? On the other hand, can anyone prove he existed? I doubt it.”


Although Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa was written in an epic style and filled with romance, magic and adventure, the writing is based on ancient Kedah history as far back as the second century.

“There are many things that we do not know about the Kedah ancient history,” Siti Hawa said. “Even the al-Tarikh cannot date the first Kedah king.”

Siti Hawa said much remained unknown of ancient Kedah history, especially on the lifestyle and culture of the people. “Perhaps the killings were influenced by an ancient sect where human sacrifice was an important holy ritual.”

Such rituals, she explained, are described in an old text, Maha Sutasoma. A young person would be sacrificed on an altar. A monk would stab the heart with a dagger, and the blood was collected and drunk. The heart was cut out and eaten by the person who wished to be purified.


 
The cover of Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, the 1898 stone imprint of R.J. Wilkinson’s compilation of the handwritten Jawi by Muhammad Yusuf Nasru’l-din. This is a photocopy of the imprint housed by the Kedah Public Library Council in Alor Setar.
 

 The Kedah Public Library Council has a collection of rare editions of Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa by Pustaka Antara 1965 with a preface by Arenawati. There is also the University Malaysa Press 1968 edition compiled by Siti Hawa Salleh, and a 1898 stone imprint photocopy of R.J. Wilkinson’s compilation of the handwritten Jawi by Muhammad Yusuf Nasru’l-din.


This is the third of a four-part series.
NST pictures by Syaharim Abidin and Shahrizal Md Noor

Source: The Fanged King Part 3



Tags: fanged king, fanged prince, king, raja bersiong
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