Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tiger tales from colonial Malaya

The Tiger has featured prominently in Malay culture and history throughout the centuries, both as a symbol of authority, power and respect, as well as an object of terror, superstition and destruction.

In 2010, I was requested by the nature conservation organisation WWF Malaysia to prepare a compilation of accounts and stories of the tiger in Malayan history. This was for a fundraising event being organized by WWF Malaysia in the lead-up to the international Tiger Conservation Summit in St Petersburg, Russia, at the end of that year. Unfortunately, the fundraising event never took place but I'm providing the document I compiled here, for your edification.

Among the stories and accounts you will read about here is the legend of Tiger Rock in Pulau Pangkor; were-Tigers, including the Kerinchi were-Tigers and the fanged white Tiger-king of Kedah; Tiger superstitions and 'Kramat'(sacred) Tigers; the excommunication of Tigers by the first Bishop of Malacca; use of Tiger parts in Singapore; royal Tiger and buffalo fights; accounts of unusual Tiger attacks; the Tiger in Malay proverbs; and the Tiger in the historical flags of the Malay peninsula.

Click here to download the document (17 MB).

A Royal Malay Banquet Menu

Extracted from 'Perak and the Malays: "Sarong" and "kris"' by John Frederick Adolphus McNair (London, Tinsley Brothers, 1878).

The Maharajah entertained a departing Governor and his lady at a banquet at the Istana, or palace, when the menus were printed on pieces of rich yellow satin bordered with green silk lace. As an example of the style in which an Eastern prince who adopts our customs can give a dinner, it may not be out of place to print here in extenso the contents of the bill of fare, in spite of the peculiarity of the Malay language. It is unnecessary to give a translation in full, and the reader will surmise that Tim signifies soup, Ikan fish, and so on. Sambals  already been described; while amongst the Manissan, or sweets, plum-pudding and custard are sufficiently  English to need no interpreter. Suffice it that the list contains all the delicacies to be procured in the Straits, not omitting Dodol Baku (ices), Ananas, Susu, and Limau.


'Perak and the Malays: "Sarong" and "kris"' by John Frederick 
Adolphus McNair (London, Tinsley Brothers, 1878) is available at 
my Sejarah Melayu Library. Click here to download a copy.