Hikayat Hang Tuah (Jawi: حکاية هڠ تواه) is a Malay work of literature that tells the tale of the legendary Malay warrior, Hang Tuah and his four warrior friends - Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu – who lived during the height of the Sultanate of Malacca in the 15th century.[1]

A copy of the Hang Tuah Saga in display.

The author is unknown and it has been accepted that it was written and compiled by several different authors from the 17th century to the early 18th century.[2] The writer Kassim Ahmad argued that each writer aimed to adapt the tale to suit the society in which they lived during that specific period of time.[3] Hikayat Hang Tuah was first published by the Methodist Publishing House, Singapore in 1908[4] and was listed in UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme International Register in 2001.[5][6][7]

Story edit

The most memorable chapter in the work concerns a duel between Hang Tuah and his closest friend, Hang Jebat.[3][8] Hang Tuah was falsely accused of adultery with one of his king's maids by his jealous rivals. Upon hearing the accusation, the king ordered Hang Tuah killed, without further investigation of the alleged offense. Hang Tuah was secretly saved, however, by his executioner, the Bendahara.[9]

Hang Jebat was aware that Hang Tuah was being unjustly punished and in a show of support and deep loyalty for his friend, revolted against the sultan. The sultan's forces were unable to suppress Hang Jebat.[9]

The sultan later came to realize that Hang Tuah was innocent, and immediately regretted sentencing Hang Tuah to death. The Bendahara then told the sultan that Hang Tuah was still alive, and that only Hang Tuah could suppress Hang Jebat's rebellion. Hang Tuah was immediately recalled and given amnesty. After seven days of fighting, Hang Tuah managed to kill Hang Jebat.[9]

However, according to the Malay Annals, it was Hang Kasturi that fought with Hang Tuah instead of Hang Jebat.[10]

Significance and controversies edit

Malay culture holds the Hang Tuah legends in extremely high regard. In fact, one of the hottest debates in Malay literature centers on the duel between Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat.[11] Hang Tuah is a symbol of absolute loyalty to a ruler while Hang Jebat symbolizes freedom and justice. Hence, there is the question of who is right. Though it is generally perceived that there were five friends, there is doubt that Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu are indeed two different persons. In the Jawi script, the letter "ﺭ" (ra) and the letter "ﻭ" (wow) look similar and those were part of the nouns "Leki-r" and "Leki-u". Due to the similarity, the differentiation of Lekir and Lekiu might be due to mistranslation. Many historians and literature experts disagree however, and point out that the five friends are a Malay version of the five warriors of Lord Krishna from the Mahabharata.[12]

Apart from that, Hikayat Hang Tuah is highly critical of the Javanese and deals with the rivalry between the Malay Sultanate of Malacca and the Javanese Majapahit Empire. In the literary work, many of the crooks and the villains were from Majapahit or Java. The king of Majapahit is depicted as an indecisive person and Majapahit's grand vizier, Gajah Mada, as sly, cunning and unsympathetic.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "MCP . Hikayat Hang Tuah . bibliography". mcp.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 2023-03-19.
  2. ^ Hooker, Virginia Matheson (2016). Fleet, Kate (ed.). "Hang Tuah, Hikayat". Encyclopaedia of Islam (3 ed.). doi:10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_30299. Retrieved 20 June 2023 – via Brill.
  3. ^ a b Ahmad, Kassim (1966). Characterisation in Hikayat Hang Tuah: A General Survey of Methods of Character-portrayal and Analysis and Interpretation of the Characters of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia.
  4. ^ Hunt, Robert. 2002. International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 26.1: 31.
  5. ^ "UNESCO-CI: Hikayat Hang Tuah". Archived from the original on 2005-04-16. Retrieved 2005-04-16.
  6. ^ "Documentary heritage submitted by Malaysia and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2001". Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  7. ^ "Hikayat Hang Tuah | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". www.unesco.org. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  8. ^ "Hikayat Hang Tuah - BookSG - National Library Board, Singapore". eresources.nlb.gov.sg. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  9. ^ a b c William; Bollinger, Judith (2015). Hikayat Hang Tuah. London: British Library.
  10. ^ "The Tuah Legend". www.sabrizain.org. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  11. ^ FMT (2017-05-22). "Hang Tuah is Chinese? Hang on a second..." Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  12. ^ Asiaweek. Asiaweek Limited. 1990.

External links edit