Monday, 20 October 2008

The abode of a princess

On Saturday, I attended the wedding of my colleague whose kampung is at Sungai Mati in the district of Muar, Johor. After the wedding, I traveled on the Bukit Gambir - Panchor road to access the North-South highway at Pagoh.

This particular road passes through the rice-planting region of Gersik where the spectacular scenery of Gunung Ledang fills the background. It was already almost dusk when I took the photograph shown below. With the very low level of light and without a tripod, it was difficult to avoid camera shake. I didn't have time to scout around for better angles either. How I wished to have a good dSLR camera in my possession.

Gunung Ledang, also known by the English name of Mount Ophir, is famous for the legend of a beautiful princess whose hand was sought in marriage by the Sultan of Melaka. The princess set seven practically-impossible conditions for the Sultan to fulfil before his marriage proposal can be accepted. One version of the fable has it that the first six conditions were met but the Sultan failed the final one... to provide a bowl of blood from the Sultan's own son.

When I was younger, listening to this story always filled me with awe. Nowadays, I've come to realise that it was meant to teach something... that men can become so stupid and senseless upon being enchanted by the beauty of a woman. The princess set all those impossible conditions because she didn't want to marry the Sultan in the first place. In other words, she was trying to politely decline... but the Melaka ruler just didn't get it. To paraphrase it in Malay, tak kan tak paham-paham lagi.

As I said, there are many versions of this folklore. A very good research piece done by Sabri Zain can be read here -> The Fairy Princess of Gunung Ledang.

12 comments:

su said...

Hi Oldstock

I've always liked this story. Was one of my favourites when I was in primary school, I used to borrow the book from my library every other week or so.

I reckon it's rather sad, that not many children actually know of this story today. One such example is my own brother. *sigh*

HLiza said...

Yeah one of my favourites too..sayangnya new generations now had never heard of the story. Ha ha teringat di suatu masa dulu a schoolmate called me PGL coz I used to play 'hard-to-get'!

Patricia said...

You take good pictures Oldstock - never mind the SLR lah!

About the story, yes, he just didn't get it, did he? But I think not only men act like this: some women can be as bodoh, if you ask me! Perhaps it's this need to have what you can't. But what to do? The world is made up of all sorts!

Pat

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Oldstock
I wrote about Gunung Ledang for Johor Buzz sometime in June. I've never gone there; my late father never allowed us.
There are lots stories about Ledang and we tend to believe the superstitions around it.

Oldstock said...

Su, I don't think you should worry too much if some of today's children don't know this story.

It just part of the cycle of life. Not everybody have the interest to learn about history or folklore, but I'm sure someone would. People like these keep the tradition alive.

Sooner or later, some old stories would disappear from memory but new ones will emerge. Human beings are great story-tellers, even from ancient times. They drew the stories on cave walls so that the people who come after, would know about them.

Rest assured, the PGL story would be around for awhile.

Oldstock said...

Hi Hliza,

My, my... someone called you PGL huh?

Well, to be called PGL meant that you had two characteristics. One is the `hard-to-get' part that you've mentioned.

The other, of course, is the beauty part lah. You must've been (and I'm sure still is) very pretty to have a guy try so hard like that... heheheh... :-)

Oldstock said...

Hi there Pat,

I guess you need to give the Sultan of Melaka full points for effort! But then again, this is just fable. I very much doubt they actually managed to collect 7 trays of mosquito hearts... if mosquitoes do actually have hearts!

But the underlying message in this story is so attractive, so much so that the logic of it becomes secondary.

p/s - I still dream of getting my hands on that dSLR camera... dalam mimpi pun jadi lah... :-)

Oldstock said...

Salam Fauziah,

Yes, I've read your June article about Gunung Ledang but I didn't leave any comment.

I've never actually climbed this mountain up to the peak but I've been about halfway up, some years ago in the course of my work. There is actually a dam that holds back water somewhere midway up the mountain. This dam supplies water to a treatment plant located at a lower level. The treated water is then supplied to Tangkak town by gravity.

The dam and treatment plant were built by the British before merdeka. The whole facility was really a novel design... who would've thought of building a water treatment plant up the side of a mountain?

The dam and reservoir is a beautiful area and used to be open to the public. You could reach the place if you have a sturdy 4WD vehicle. The area is now controlled by the state parks department and you need permission to go there.

One of these days, I'll try to make my way up there again.

VersedAnggerik said...

Sometimes I can't help wonder, this PGL, is she a legend or is she for real eh?

Oldstock said...

Verse,

I would think, there could've been a real princess involved in there somewhere. But the part of her climbing up the mountain to make it her place of abode.... that's stretching it a bit. Then comes the part about the marriage dowry, tak mungkin langsung.

But as I said, its an interesting story anyway.

Outskirt Outreach said...

Frankly I want to believe there was a puteri who thumbed her nose at the sultan. Women lib in its earliest form against miang-ness ... haha. Actually I was at Ledang foothill last year I do feel its mystical aura and this is coming from a hardcore jungle trekker. Call me superstitious but one gotta have respect for anything with a history. Some teachers from Spore died there last year, kena tindih dek pokok during thunder storm.

BTW, I heard from Helena, thanks so much for the donation.

Oldstock said...

Hi there Double-O,

Yes, the mountain is mysterious, charming and dangerous at the same time. My three younger brothers have all climbed GL, separately and a number of times.

Don't mention about the donation. Kecik aje. You guys continue with the good work.