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10February2015

ThewilyMalaymousedeer
Manyculturescelebrateananimalwho,whilenotthelargestorstrongest,
outwitsallaroundhim.InEuropethisisReynardthefoxintheMalayworldof
SoutheastAsiaitisSangKancilthemousedeer(pelanduk).Malayfolkloreis
fullofaccountsofhowthemousedeergetsthebetteroftheotheranimalsby
hisintellectandtrickery.Butinadditiontooraltalesandchildensstoriesthere
isalsoawrittenepicinMalay,theHikayatPelandukJenakaor'Taleofthe
WilyMousedeer',probablydatingfromthe15thor16thcentury,whichisa
highlysophisticatedliterarycomposition.

Sumatranmousedeer.DrawingbyaChineseartistinBengkulu,between1784
and1808,reproducedinWilliamMarsden,AhistoryofSumatra,3rd
edition(London,1811).BritishLibrary,NHD1/8.
IntheHikayatPelandukJenaka,themousedeertrickstheotheranimalsinto
thinkingthathehasmagicpowers,andholdscourtfromananthill.Heuses
these'powers'tomakepeacebetweenthegoatsandthetigersandtogain
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theirallegiance,andthenbyhiscunninggetsthebetterofthelion,elephant
andcrocodile.Finallythemousedeerseesoffhisenemiesthemonkeys,and
becomestherulerofthejungle.Thissatireonpowerhasbeencharacterised
byIanProudfoot:Itissubversiveitiscynical.Itattacksauthorityratherthan
bolsteringitItspremiseisthatroyalpowerrestsonfalseconsciousness.It
demonstrateshowagulliblepubliccanbemadetothinktheyneedanauthority
figurethroughacombinationofreligiousfraudandfalsesecurityfears
(Proudfoot2001:7071).
TherearethreeMalaymanuscriptsoftheHikayatPelandukJenakainthe
BritishLibrarywhichhavenowbeendigitised,alloriginatingfromPenangor
Kedaharound1805.MSSMalayB.2,fromthecollectionofJohnLeyden,is
dated1219AH(1804/5AD),andwaspublishedbyKlinkertin1893.The
secondcopy(MSSMalayD.5)isundated,butcomprisesthesecondworkina
volumecontainingfourdifferenttales,andisinthesamehandasthefirstitem,
HikayatMuhammadHanafiah,whichwascopiedbyMahmudibnHusainon
14Syaaban1220(7November1805).

HikayatPelandukJenaka,dated1219AH(1804/5AD).BritishLibrary,MSS
MalayB.2,ff.1v2r.

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ColophonofHikayatPelandukJenaka,undatedbutinavolumetogetherwith
copiesofHikayatMuhammadHanafiahandHikayatSyahiMardan,bothof
whichareinthesamehandanddated1220(1805/6).BritishLibrary,MSS
MalayD.5,f.169v.
ThethirdcopyofHikayatPelandukJenakaisagaininacompositevolume
(MSSMalayB.10),andwascopiedin1805byascribewhodescribeshimself
asseorangfakirAhmadKeling,ahumblemendicant,Ahmad,ofsouthIndian
origin.Bymeansofaparticulardecorativeflourishontheinitialword,alkisah,
thewritercanbeidentifiedasAhmadRijaluddinbinHakimLongFakirKandu,
authoroftheHikayatPerintahNegeriBenggala(Add.12386),andbrotherof
Ibrahim,Rafflesschiefscribe,fromaprominentChulia(southIndian)familyin
Penang.

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FirstpageofHikayatPelandukJenaka,'Thisisatalefromoldendays':Al
kisahinihikayatdaripadaorangdahulukala.MSSMalayB.10,f.2r.

ColophonofHikayatPelandukJenaka,copiedbyAhmadKelingon22Rejab
1220(16October1805):diperbuatsuratinipadadualikurharibulanRejab
hariArba'padasanat1220tahun,tahunwau,wakatibuhuseorangfakir
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AhmadKelingtamat.MSSMalayB.10,f.38r(detail).
ThefinalletterofthewordalkisahistheArabiclettertmarba,whichin
Malaymanuscriptsisoftenadornedwithadecorativeknot.Significantly,the
Malaynameofthisletteriseithertamarbutaortabersimpul,knotted
ta.Artisticvariationscanincludemultipleloopedknots,doubleheadedloops,
andconcaveorconvexheadedloopstotheseknots.Knottedtamarbutais
foundinmanuscriptsfromalloverthearchipelago,withsomeofthemost
complexversionsfoundinthesurahheadingsinQuranmanuscriptsfromJava
(Gallop2005:2039).Andyethoweverelaboratetheembellishmentsofthe
knot,theyaregenerallyconductedalongahorizontalplane.Inthemanuscript
ofHikayatPelandukJenaka,however,the5loopeddoubleheadedtamarbuta
isextendedvertically.Thisformoftheletterhasonlyeverbeenseeninone
otherMalaymanuscript:theHikayatPerintahnegeriBenggalamoreover,both
textsaresetindoubleruledframesinaslightlyacidicbrownblackinkwhich
hasbeguntoeatintothepaper.AllthesefactorsleavelittledoubtthatAhmad
KelingisindeedAhmadRijaluddin.

Verticallyextendedknottedtamarbutaofalkisahin(left)HikayatPerintah
NegeriBenggala(Add.12386,f.2v)and(right)HikayatPelandukJenaka
(MSSMalayB.10,f.2r).

TheheadingforthepenultimatechapterinaQur'anmanuscriptfromJava,
SratalFalaq,withexamplesofknottedtamarbutaonthewordsSratand
Makiyyah,andonfinaltaofayat.Thefinalexamplehassixloops,double
headedonthebottomandconcaveheadedatthetop.BritishLibrary,Add.
12343,f.189r.
Furtherreading:
A.T.Gallop,BeautifyingJawi:betweencalligraphyandpalaeography.
Malayimages,ed.AsmahHajiOmar.TanjungMalim:UniversitiPendidikan
SultanIdris,2005pp.194233.
IanProudfoot,A'Chinese'mousedeergoestoParis.Archipel,2001,61:69
97.
R.O.Winstedt,AhistoryofclassicalMalayliterature.Revised,editedand
introducedbyY.A.Talib.KualaLumpur:TheMalaysianBranchoftheRoyal
AsiaticSociety,1991Beastfables,pp.713.
AnnabelTehGallop,LeadCurator,SoutheastAsia
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PostedbyAnnabelGallopat1:04AM

Tags
Digitisation,Malay,SouthEastAsia

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