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Sedjaret Malayou, translated by M. Devic and Chauncey C. Starkweather

LEGEND OF THE MALAY ARCHIPELAGO

 

Once upon a time lived King Iskender, son of King Darab. He traced his origin to Roum; Macedonia was his native country, and Dhoul-Garnein his surname. Now it happened that this prince set out upon his travels to find the place where the sun rose; and he arrived at the frontier of India. There reigned in this country a very powerful king, to whom half of India was in subjection; and his name was King Kida Hindi. As soon as King Kida Hindi heard of King Iskender's approach, he gave orders to his prime minister, who gathered together the armies and princes who were subject to him. When all were met together, he marched forth to meet King Iskender. The two armies engaged and the conflict was carried on with extreme activity on both sides, as is related in the history of King Iskender. Kida Hindi was defeated and taken alive. Iskender ordered him to embrace the true faith, and Kida Hindi embraced the faith and became enrolled in the religion of the prophet Abraham, the friend of God, to whom be the glory! Then King Iskender caused him to be clothed in a garment like his own, and bade him return to his own country.

King Kida Hindi was the father of a very beautiful girl, whose equal was not to be found in her day. Her face had the dazzling lustre of the sun or the moon; she was modest and discreet. Her name was Chehr-el-Beria. King Kida Hindi took his prime minister aside and said to him:

“I have summoned you to ask your advice on the subject of my daughter, whose equal in these days cannot be found. I have formed the project of presenting her to King Iskender.”

The minister answered: “Your Majesty has made a wise decision.”

“Very well,” replied the King, “to-morrow, God willing, you shall go and find the prophet Khidar and relate to him the whole matter.”

Next day accordingly the minister set out to find the prophet Khidar. After his departure King Kida Hindi commanded that the name of King Iskender should be inscribed on the coins and standards of his realm. When the minister approached the prophet Khidar he made a salaam to him, which the prophet returned and asked him to be seated. Then the minister spoke as follows:

“You must know, O prophet of God, that my King entertains for King Iskender an affection so fervent that I cannot describe it. He is the father of a girl who has no equal among the children of this world's monarchs from the rising to the setting sun. She is without a rival in face, wit, and goodness of disposition. Now the desire of the King is to present the princess before King Iskender, with the view of ultimately giving her to him for his wife.”

Now the soldiers of King Souran laid siege against the walled town of Gangga-Chah Djouhan; but those on guard repulsed them, so that they could not get near. Seeing this, King Souran advanced, mounted on an untamed elephant. Taking no heed to the arrows that were launched against him by the defenders of the wall, he reached the gate and struck it with his mace. The gate gave way and King Souran entered, followed by his warriors.

When King Gangga-Chah Djouhan saw King Souran approaching, he seized his bow and shot an arrow with haste. The arrow struck the forehead of King Souran's elephant. The elephant fell on his knees. King Souran quickly leaped to the ground, drawing his sword as he did so; at a single stroke he struck through the neck of King Gangga-Chah, and the severed head rolled to the ground. The forces of Gangga-Nagara, as soon as they saw their prince fall, demanded the aman (i.e., truce).

King Gangga-Chah Djouhan had a sister, named Princess Zaras Gangga. She was exceedingly beautiful. The victorious prince took her for his wife. Then he resumed his march.

Some time afterward he reached the city of Ganggayon. It was formerly a great city, the black stones of whose fortress survive even to this day. This fortress is at the extremity of the river Djoher. The name Ganggayon in the Siamese tongue means “treasury of emeralds.” The King of the city was Rajah Tchoulin; he was a powerful prince, to whom all the kings of the land did obeisance.

On the news of King Souran's approach, King Tchoulin called together all his troops and sent word to the kings who were his tributaries. When all were assembled he set out to repel the invaders. The multitude of his soldiers was like the waves of the sea; his elephants and horses stood up among them like islands; his flags and standards presented the appearance of a forest, and the cows' tails fluttering at the pike-heads presented the appearance of lalang ploughers.

The army came in four bodies and reached the banks of a river. There they saw the soldiers of King Souran, ranged like forest-trees. The Siamese exclaimed, “Pangkal,” a word which means “river,” and hence that river became known as the river Pangkal.

The soldiers of Siam at once joined battle with the soldiers of Kling, who were Hindoos; and the battle raged with indescribable confusion. The soldiers mounted on elephants pressed forward these great beasts; the men on horseback made their horses champ with fury; the lancers pressed home their lances; those who carried pikes plied them furiously; and those who bore sabres dealt many a doughty stroke. Blood flowed like rain. The crash of thunder would have been drowned by the shouts of the warriors and the clash of arms. The dust that rose from the plain obscured the brightness of the day like an eclipse of the sun. So complete was the confusion with which the contestants mingled that it was not possible to distinguish the combatants of either side: each assailant was at the same time the assailed, and he who struck with his weapon himself at the same moment was stricken with a blow. Sometimes the soldiers attacked a comrade by mistake. Every moment crowds of people on either side were killed and wounded, many horses and elephants had their throats cut, and the blood shed covered the ground. The dust had disappeared; the combatants were seen struggling in masses so compact that neither party was able to retire from the battle.

King Tchoulin managed to force a way by means of the elephant he rode through the innumerable horde of King Souran's soldiers; the corpses were piled up beneath his feet. A crowd of Hindoo warriors lost their lives. The rest of them began to give way. King Souran, on perceiving this, dashed forward to meet King Tchoulin in single combat. He mounted an untamed elephant eight cubits high that had no driver. But the elephant of King Tchoulin was also very brave. The two animals met; they attacked each other; the clash of their encounter was like the thunder that rends the earth; their tusks clashing and intertwining made a sound like that of a storm that never ceases. Neither could triumph over the other.

Then King Tchoulin raised himself upon the beast he rode and brandished a javelin. He hurled it against King Souran; the javelin struck the elephant on his flank and pierced deep. At the same time King Souran shot an arrow which smote King Tchoulin in the breast and came out at his back. That prince fell to the earth and expired. The soldiers seeing their king dead, broke ranks and took flight in utter disorder, pursued by the Hindoos, who put to the sword all they overtook. Penetrating the ramparts of Ganggayon the Hindoo soldiers pillaged the town; the booty was immense.

King Tchoulin had a daughter, extremely beautiful. Her name was the princess Ouangkion; she was presented to King Souran, who took her for his wife.

The King then resumed his march and arrived at Temasik. The rumor of his approach soon reached China. People said, “Lo! King Souran comes with a countless army to conquer China. He has already reached Temasik.” This news was heard with dire alarm by the King of China. He said to his ministers and to his officers:

“What must be done to repel this invading multitude? If the King of Kling arrives here, he will doubtless ruin our country.”

The prime minister said: “O King of the world; I have a device for repelling him.”

“Very good,” said the King; “do not fail to try it.”

The prime minister therefore caused a pilo, or ship, to be fitted out with rusty needles. They took also two kinds of trees, kamses and jujube trees, laden with fruit; these were placed on board ship with the soil in which they grew. Old men who had lost their teeth were chosen for passengers and crew. To these the minister gave his instructions and they started for Temasik.

When they had reached this place King Souran was informed that a ship had arrived from China. “Go and ask these strangers,” he said to his attendants, “at what distance does this country lie from us.” The attendant put this question to the crew of the pilo and received the following reply:

“When we left China we were all still young, being scarcely twelve years old; and these trees were seeds which we had sown. But you see how old we are now, and how our teeth are fallen out; the grains of seed have become trees in fruit, and all this has happened during the time it has taken us to reach here.”

At the same time they took the needles of which they had a large quantity and said as they showed them to the Hindoos:

“When we started from China, these were as thick as a man's arm, and now see how they are worn out by the rust. This will give you an idea of the length of the voyage: we could not keep count of the years and the months.”

On hearing this answer of the Chinese, the Hindoos ran to report it to King Souran, to whom they repeated all they had heard.

“If the thing is as they say,” replied the prince, “the land of China is still a very long way off. When shall we arrive there? We had better return home.”

“His Majesty is undoubtedly right,” said the officers.

King Souran meditated thus: “Behold, the contents of the land is known to me, but how can I learn the contents of the sea? I must needs enter the sea, in order to know it.”

Then he summoned his engineers and skilful men, and ordered them to fashion a box of glass with lock and fastenings within, in order that he might shut himself in it. The engineers made the box of glass just as the King desired it; they furnished it with a chain of the purest gold; then they presented it to King Souran, who was exceedingly well pleased with it, and rewarded them all with rich presents.

The prince entered into the box, disappeared from the eyes of all present, and shut the door upon himself. They took the box to the sea, and let it descend even to the bottom. What treasures, what wealth, works of the Almighty, were seen by King Souran! The box fell until it reached a land called Dika. There King Souran came out of the box, and went forward, seeing most wonderful things. He arrived at a great and strongly fortified town, which he entered and saw a vast population, whose number God alone knows. This people, who call themselves the Badsam people, were composed of believers and unbelievers.

The inhabitants of the town were astonished to see the face of King Souran, and his garments they looked upon with astonishment. They conducted him to the presence of their King, whom they call Agtab-al-Ard (i.e., Bowels of the Earth). This prince asked, “What man is this?”

“My lord,” was the reply, “it is a stranger, who arrived a moment ago.”

“Whence does he come?”

“We do not know.”

Then the King addressed King Souran himself and said, “Who are you, and whence do you come?”

King Souran replied: “I come from the world; I am the king of men; my name is King Souran.”

King Agtab-al-Ard was very much astonished on hearing these words. “There is, then,” he said, “another world beside ours?”

“The world,” replied King Souran, “contains many races.”

“Glory to God almighty,” said the King, full of surprise. Then he made King Souran ascend and sit with him on the royal throne.

Agtab-al-Ard had a daughter, of great beauty, named Princess Mah-tab- al-Bahri (“Moon of the Sea"). He gave her in marriage to King Souran. That prince dwelt three years with her and had three male children by her. When he thought about these three children King Souran felt much troubled. He said to himself: “What will become of them, here, under the earth? Or how shall I withdraw them hence?”

He went to see Agtab-al-Ard, and said to him: “If my sons grow up, will your Majesty allow me to see that they are brought into the upper world, in order that the royal line of Sultan Iskender Dhoul-Quameen may not be broken to the end of time?”

The King answered, “I shall not hinder you.”

Then King Souran took leave of the King and prepared for his return. The King and his daughter shed many tears at parting. Then the King gave orders to bring the horse Sembrani, named Paras-al-Bahri (“Sea-horse"), which he gave to King Souran. The prince mounted the horse, which bore him from the sea, and carried him in the air above the billows.

The troops of King Souran caught sight of the horse Sembrani, and recognized in its rider their King. The prime minister at once took a beautiful mare and led it to the shore. The sea-horse saw the mare and came to land to meet her, and King Souran descended. Then the horse Sembrani went back into the sea.

King Souran said to his wise men and engineers: “Raise a monument which shall witness to my journey in the sea; for I wish the memory of it to be preserved even to the Resurrection day. Write out the story, so that it may be told to all my descendants.”

In obedience to the words of the King the wise men and engineers set up a stone on which they traced an inscription in the tongue of Hindostan. This done, King Souran gathered a quantity of gold, silver, jewels, gems, and precious treasures, which he laid up under the stone.

“At the end of the centuries,” he said, “there will come a king among my descendants who will find these riches. And this king will subdue every country over which the wind blows.”

After this, King Souran returned to the land of Kling. There he built a mighty city, protected by a wall of black stone having seven rows of masonry thick and nine fathoms high; the engineers made it with such skill that the joints of the stones were invisible, and the wall seemed cast of a single substance. The gate was of steel, enriched with gold and precious stones.

This rampart enclosed seven hills. In the centre of the city extended a pool vast as the sea; from one bank it was impossible to discern an elephant standing up on the other. It contained very many kinds of fishes. In the midst of it rose a very lofty island, always covered with a mantle of mist. The King caused to be planted there every sort of flowering and fruit-bearing tree to be found in the world. None was lacking, and to this island the King would repair when he wished for recreation.

He caused also to be planted on the banks of the pool a vast forest wherein wild animals were at large. And when the King wished to hunt, or catch elephants in the snare, he went to this forest. When the town was completed the King called it after himself, Souran-Bidgi-Nagara, and this town still exists in the province of Kling.

In short, if one wished to relate all the rest of King Souran's history he would find it as long as that of Sidi Hanza.

 
 
 

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