The Malay Annals - Sejarah Melayu

One of the best sources for Malay history is the Sejarah Melayu or in English known as the Malay Annals. The subjects covered in the work included the founding of the kingdom of Malacca and its relationship with neighbouring kingdoms, the advent and spread of Islam in the region, the history of the royalty in the region as well as the administrative hierarchy of the Malacca kingdom and its successor states. As the Johor Sultanate was in a state of political crisis from 1612, the sultans were desperate for political legitimacy and political reasons motivated them to take liberties with their genealogy and historical dating.

During the last Book Fair at ICC, I managed to buy the Malay Annals in the English version translated by John Leyden and published in 1821.

The original version of it was said to be written during the reign of the Malacca Sultanate in Malacca. It was brought together when Sultan Mahmud Shah fled from Malacca in 1511 AD. During 1528 AD, the original document was brought to Johor from Kampar. In 1536 AD, the document was seized by the Portuguese but it was later brought back to Malacca.

The Annals chronicled the genealogies of rulers in the Malay archipelago. It spanned a period of 600 years. The Annals was said to be commissioned in 1612 by editing the naskhah of Sejarah Melayu as instructed by the Regent of Johor, Raja Abdullah who later became Sultan Abdullah Mu’ayat Syah ibni Sultan Abdul Jalil Syah.

Many Bruneians do not realize that Brunei was mentioned in the Malay Annals, many assuming that the Malay Annals only contained tales of the Malaysian states. However Brunei was mentioned in the Malay Annals.

It is in the XVth chapter that Brunei appeared. According to the translation done by John Leyden and published in 1821, the text about Brunei read as follows:
“…Then, Tun Talani sailed away for China, when a violent storm arose, and carried him with the mantra Jana Petra, to Burne. When the Sangaji of Burne was informed of the circumstance, he sent to call them into his presence, and Tun Talani and the mantra Jana Petra were brought before him. Then, the raja of Burne said to the mantra Jana Petra, “what is the stile of the raja of Malaca’s letter to the raja of China?” Tun Talani replied, “I, his servant, (sahaya,) the raja of Malaca, to the Paduca of my father, the raja of China.” The raja of Burne enquired, “does the raja of Malaca send this humble salutation to the raja of China, as an inferior?” Tun Talani remained silent, but the mantri Jana Petra pushed forward and said. “No, Sire, he does not greet him as an inferior, for the meaning of (sahaya) the word used in the address, signifies slave in the Malayu language, and of course the phrase ‘Sahaya Raja Malaca dulang kapada Paduca Ayahanda Raja China, ‘ signifies “we the salves of the raja of Malaca, humbly salute the Paduca our father, the raja of China.”

“Then said the raja of Burne, “does the raja of Malaca send a humble salutation to the raja of China?” Tun Talani was again silent, and the mantra Jana Petra pushed again forward and said, “No, Sire, he does not send a humble greeting to the raja of China, for the phrase Sahaya Raja Malaca denotes all of us here, who send the greeting, not the raja of Malaca,” on which the raja of Burne remained silent. When the monsoon for returning arrived, Tun Talani and the mantri Jana Petra asked permission of Sangaji of Burne, to return, and the raja of Burne sent a letter to Malaca, couched in this style, “May the greeting of the Paduca Ayahanda arrive beneath the majesty of the Ayahanda.” Then Tun Talani and the mantri Jana Petra returned, and then they reached Malaca, they presented the letter of the raja of Burne to Sultan Mansur Shah, and related all the circumstances which had occurred to them, to the great satisfaction of the raja, who rewarded highly Tun Talani and mantra Jana Petra, and presented them with honorary dresses, and he highly praised the mantri Jena Petra…”

According to the book ‘Sejarah Berunai’ written by Yura Halim and Jamil Umar published in 1951, the Sang Aji mentioned in the Malay Annals was Sultan Sharif Ali. Even though there was an apparent diplomatic relationship between Brunei and Malacca, Brunei was not a vassal state of Malacca.

Comments

Jimah HM said…
I hope this comment is of use to you. History is one of my talents also. Anyways, moving on to my point, Sultan Shariff Ali of Brunei can't be the Sangaji that 'The Malay Annals' were talking about, because the timeline doesn't fit. Sultan Shariff Ali ruled Brunei in the mid of 15th century which is around 1425-1433, and the Script was taken to Brunei around the 16th century which is the 1500-ish.
Mohamad Farizal said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

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