|A gorgeous depiction of Lela Menchanai or |
Chanai Lela by Yokinoshee.
|The Malay Archipelago, used to be known as the East Indies or the Spice Islands.|
|Photo of Tanjung Tokong in Penang, probably taken in the early 20th Century|
This excerpt taken from a Tourism Malaysia website:
In the early days, Malay seafarers were renowned for their adventures on the high seas. Great sailors, these virile young men sailed through uncharted territories to build their empires. One such man was Nakhoda Ragam, a nakhoda or sea captain famed for his sea exploits around the Malay Archipelago. Well-known for his musical abilities Nakhoda Ragam was often seen playing his set of musical instruments on his ship hence the nickname 'Singing Captain'.
It is believed Nakhoda Ragam was the first to give Penang its name while trading in the Straits of Malacca from Lingga to Kedah. As there was no higher or larger isolated island in his travels, he named it Pulau ke Satu directly translated as Single Island. He also gave names to other bays, rivers and points on the island.
At the mouth of the river that flows into the bay, he released a tame bird called Bayan, which led to the origins of Bayan Lepas. Similarly, while passing Pulau Betong on the western coast of Penang, he encountered a heavy gale. At one point, the storm grew fiercer and his wife's face turned pale with fear. From then on the place was referred to as Pucat Muka, which means "pale faced".
|From left: Elliot Cowan (Gunner), Marama Corlett (Rina), Dimitry Leonidas (Anwar) and Elliot Knight as SINBAD, a character quite similar to Nakhoda Ragam?|
The President of the Philippines on the other hand, claims to be related to Lela Menchanai...
Also, the President Datin Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo confirmed her royal link with Brunei in an interview with the media, while visiting the country.
Excerpt from report (it's in hardcopy) reads:
...President Arroyo said:
"It happened this way. During the 16th century, the first Sultan Bolkiah married a Filipina (Sulu Princess Lela Menchanai), whose grandson is Lakandula (a Manila nobleman), whose cousin went to Brunei in 1575, and whose grandchild is a Macapagal.
The first Sultan Bolkiah, known as the Singing Captain or Nakohda Ragam, ruled during the golden age of Brunei when its territory reached the Philippines.
His wife, Princess Lela Menchanai, the daughter of a Sulu ruler, has a school named after her in Kampong Ayer [Brunei], where one of the teachers is Filipina Jhonita Rivero, who has been teaching there for 16 years.
"In our Pampango dialect, macapagal means something that is 'tiring'. So my cabinet members said it is tiring to work in Malacanang," she said.
|Buy online from www.mphonline.com Description of the book:|
I tend to subscribe to the argument that Nakhoda Ragam was in fact Malim Dewa, a Sri Vijayan nobleman who was the son of Demam Lebar Daun (Notes and Queries, edited by W.E. Maxwell, MBRAS 1885 - 1887.) He helped Sang Nila Utama and his retinue, including his own father, Demam Lebar Daun, flee Sri Vijaya and brought them to safety to the island of Bintan. From there, they sailed to Temasik, the old name of Singapore. For the details of the story, read my book, Eight Treasures of the Dragon.
|Santubong and Sejinjang an illustration from the children's book, |
Legendary Princesses of Malaysia,
written by Raman and illustrated by Emila Yusof.
The other thing Nakhoda Ragam did not know was that their father was a faerie lord. Nakhoda Ragam sailed away, unaware of the heartbreak and tragedy he left in his wake because the two sisters ended up killing each other. Naturally, the only outcome is a curse.
The third episode in the life of Nakhoda Ragam occurred after he espoused the fabulous Faerie Princess of Mount Ledang or Puteri Gunung Ledang. This story is uncannily similar to that of Lela Menchanai - while sailing in his perahu, Nakhoda Ragam surprised his wife with an embrace while she was sewing his garment and she accidentally stabbed him with a gold needle. He collapsed and died in her arms. The princess was naturally, horrified and heartbroken. At the same time, she was terrified that his crew would discover his death. They were fiercely loyal to him and she feared that they would do her harm. She hid in the cabin with the dead body of her husband and waited for night to fall. Then she quietly went up to the deck, donned her faerie robes and flew to Mount Ledang; vowing never to marry again... this little vignette came from Notes and Queries, edited by W.E. Maxwell, MBRAS 1885 - 1887.
In my version of the story of the Princess of Mount Ledang (in Eight Jewels of the Phoenix), the attempt by the Sultan of Malacca, to win her hand in marriage in order to acquire "a wife who would outshine all the wives of the princes of the world" took place centuries after the death of Nakhoda Ragam. We all know that the Sultan failed miserably to win over the morose beauty. Read an online account of this quest here: http://www.sabrizain.org/malaya/melaka3.htm
As for the princess, according to legend, "To this day, the princess is said to reside in a magical cave in Gunung Ledang, where she transforms from a beautiful young girl in the morning to an old hag at night." (parts in quotation came from an article by Joane le Roux, In pursuit of a were-tiger, which appeared in the Nov 2, 2014 issue of the New Sunday Times.)
|Puteri Gunung Ledang/Princess of Mount Ledang. Photo by Yaman Ibrahim. National Geographic Your Shot.|