lundi, juin 04, 2012

Why I wrote Hikayat

Our Malay Hikayats deserve to be on the world stage along side all other great epics of the world.

I am ninotaziz daughter of Abang Tik daughter of Chu Rahmah daughter of Yangchik daughter of Bebunga. And I remember the stories being told night after night, grandmother to granddaughter to granddaughter.

Our history spans more than a millennia. And there is certainly a continuum of history that is preserved through the very legends of the land.

We have inherited a legacy of a myriad of legends, as rich and exciting as the Greek mythology or as revered as the Ramayana poems of Valmiki and yet sadly - these classical works are fast disappearing. Many of our Malay Hikayat originated from a Sultan’s wish to record his royal lineage. The Sejarah Melayu, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa and Misa Melayu are examples of this. The origin of Sejarah Melayu or the Sulalat us Sulatin may never be uncovered but throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, versions were zealously updated, it was time consuming work, each volume faithfully copied by hand.

Professor Dr Ding Choo Ming of ATMA, UKM says:
Dua perkara penting telah dinyatakan dalam definisi itu [classical Malay manuscripts]. Pertama, media karya sastera itu ialah manuskrip. Ia lahir di celah-celah tradisi lisan dan percetakan. Kedua, karya itu lahir di istana dan bukan daerah pedalaman dengan sastera lisan berkembang dan diperkembangkan.”

There are also astounding works of literature, which language is beautiful and cosmopolitan in nature. This is because, the Malay cultural revolution and classical literature were shaped throughout a period of changing influences which fused effortlessly in the region. Buddhist tenets during the Srivijaya empire and Hindu teachings during the Majapahit kingdoms pretty much found deep roots in the Nusantara existent until today. Our epic legends are collaborated in other classical text especially in Java, China throughout the 13th to the 17th centuries and more modern writers in the 18th and 19th. When Portuguese traveler Tomes Pires of the 16th century in his Somu Oriental recounted the story of Parameswara from Palembang who commanded his Orang Laut, his version closely corresponded to that of the Malay Annals which alludes that the descendents of Seri Teri Buana of Palembang founded Singapore and Melaka.

Then Islam arrived as part of the Muslim world expansion. In the medieval period of Islam up to the 14th century, the Muslims led the world in their pursuit of knowledge and in science. Muslim scholars were aggressively studying Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese documents, amassing huge libraries and making astounding discoveries in astronomy and mathematics. Muslims were also purveyors of stylized art and literature.In this way, the Islamic influence extended to our shores, and, to our literature. This is where the word hikayat originated. Some epics such as Hikayat Hang Tuah actually bear witness to this transition from Hindu influences in the beginning to Islam in the ending.

Historian, Prof Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim elaborates on the term hikayat:
Although the word sejarah has long existed in Malay vocabulary, hikayat was more widely used. Many historical works tended to focus on the genealogies of ruling families-these were called salasilah. When history appeared in verse form, it was also known as syair. The term hikayat indeed tends to imply that, in traditional Malay thinking, history was not punctiliously distinguished from literature.

There is no doubt, the world found the Malay epics fascinating study. Though R.O. Winstedt was critical, he was totally dedicated to the study of the Malay romances and sought to collect many of the surviving books. Amin Skinner, Teeuw and Shellbear poured over the Malay manuscripts, studying its content and influences. Today, 151 libraries and museums in 28 countries hold the bulk of the old manuscripts.

We need to bring forth these epic legends through theatre, story telling and books and other media, especially movies.


For one, these legends are priceless and part of the world’s intangible heritage, just as monumental as any historical structure such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and Java’s Borobodur. In the intricacies of our classical literature, we will rediscover a civilization so cosmopolitan and complex.

It is high time we gave it its due worth and recognition.

I am Zalina daughter of Abdul Aziz, son of Tok Muda Salehuddin, son of Tok Awang Pekan, son of Tok Nik son of Tok Tunggal son of Tok Ghafur son of Tok Haji son of Tok Sabur. And my mission is to see that these classics come back to the main stream and flourish.

Review by The Malaysian Reader
Review by Sir PokDeng
Review by Nisah Haron

Next segment : Malek Rahim - The artist who brought the Malay World to life

6 commentaires:

Sherry Blue Sky a dit…

Ninot, I so applaud your efforts to preserve this wonderfully rich history. Malay history and legend should be included in the school curriculum, so interest in it continues. Your books are works of art, both words and images. You are creating a wonderful legacy for your beautiful daughters.

ninotaziz a dit…

Thank you Sherry. I hope you know your words are like a gentle hug and an encouraging smile, warming me up across the oceans.

Sir Pök Déng a dit…

This reminds me of Dr. Farish Noor's "What Your Teacher Didn't Tell You". Minus the LGBT issue presented in the book, the contents have shed some light in me. I began to know Hang Tuah was not just a warrior who waved keris in the air like a man in trance in the name of "taat setia kepada Sultan". He was a diplomat, a kind of chap who can blend himself with new environments that were totally alien than his cultural origin.

How can I get the copy of Hikayat, ma'am?

ninotaziz a dit…

Dear Sir Pok Deng,
Wow, I think you have just paid me a hugh compliment. Thank you. I haven't been to MPH but I believe Hikayat is there already esp the Midvalley outlet.

Otherwise, you can buy it at

Al-Manar a dit…

I wish you every success in your noble mission which has already shown good results. I am trying to imagine what you are when you reach my age - what a beautiful future with children in full admiration of their great grandma, the Hikayat lady.

ninotaziz a dit…

Dear Pakcik,

Thank you so much for your encouragement and - good wishes. I look forward to being a great grandma, and being called the Hikayat lady. The latter gives me goosebumps. InsyaAllah.

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