Maharaja Sultan Brunei

One of the problems with Brunei History is that it is an ancient state. An ancient state with complete records is okay. It is an ancient state with incomplete record. For instance, according to Chinese records, Brunei as a country had been sending tributes and keeping diplomatic relations with China as far back as the year 515. We have no idea who the kings were and what the country looked like then. We are not even sure where the capital was, other than the Chinese records saying it is at the mouth of the current Brunei river.

The current sultanate lineage was based on the Batu Tersilah on which was carved the description to the lineage. But we know that it was completed by Khatib Haji Abdul Latif during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Tajuddin (1795-1804AD) and (1804-1807AD) which historically is quite recent. The possibility of Brunei Sultans missing from the list is very real as that tablet is not as accurate as we hoped it to be. The first obvious missing Sultan was Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan who died in Nanjing China. Even his son Xia Wang, who was said to take over the throne after the death of his father is not included in the genealogical list.

I was reading a 1996 Beriga, which is a publication produced by Dewan Bahasa, written by Haji Mohamad Salim, a curator at the Brunei Museums. In his article, he was describing about his research on tombstones or batu nisan belonging to the Sultans of Brunei. Out of the 29 listed, with the exception of Sultan Sharif Ali and Sultan Bolkiah, the 3rd and 5th Sultan, only tombstones belonging to the most recents Sultsn had been found. I read another article on Brunei Museums Journal, another tomb was discovered described as KB2. The remnants of the tomb was huge but we do not know whose it was.

The Beriga article described one other tombstone found which is the photograph above. That was inscribed to belong to Maharaja Sultan Brunei. But there was no mention of the date of hs death or his proper name. According to a Chinese researcher, this tombstone came from Quanzhou China and had similarities to the Islamic graves in Quanzhou. The researcher believe the tombstone dated around early 1300s. If that is so, then the Sultans of Brunei embraced Islam much earlier than the official history of Brunei which placed the conversion of Awang Alak Betatar as Sultan Muhammad in 1376 and not to mention push the lineage of the current Sultanate by almost another century older. Interesting.

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