Wednesday, October 2, 2013


The PNM-RTM 2013 Book Awards will be upon us tomorrow. Apart from being shortlisted for an award, Hikayat is also one of the Top 10 finalists in the Undian Pilihan Penonton. I am blessed, to be among such distinguished entries, in particular my fellow writers Kekanda Mahaya Mohd Yassin and Nisah Haron.

I never expected Hikayat to be a popular choice. It was a journey I took because I was compelled to write these stories for my children, and my children's friends. For future generations of Malaysians. For my late grandmother who told me the stories when I was younger. For my mother who still tells the stories until today.

Therefore, I do not consider Hikayat a mainstream choice. 

However, there are some extraordinary people involved in the making of Hikayat. First my Mother, my Mak, Puan Kamariah Jaafar, who edited Hikayat and wrote the Introductions for each story. Secondly my Editor at Utusan Publishers, Noor Fuzana for believing in my work. My English teacher Mrs Choon Ean Khaw ( whose book, Magic Eyes has also been shortlisted) who encouraged my writing all those years ago, and still does until today! Evelyn Lam who designed Hikayat and the iconic Hikayat khat design (inspired by Mak Ungku Raja Teh Zaitun) , DatinVasanthi, Raduan Man who painted the princess for the cover, Ram, ImanInas and of course Malek Rahim whose artwork really brought Hikayat to life.

A special thanks to Datuk Feisol. Many years ago, he said to me, "Zalina, I would like the theme for our Sovereign Ball to be Tradition. And I'd like to have Makyung at the Ball." And so he sent me on the road to discovery of our heritage, and how I might be able to help bring it to more people…

Most of all, I am grateful to Rudy Daud, my husband who is the reason I started writing again after many years.

I do not know what will happen tomorrow. But I thank God Hikayat managed to garner some attention. I thank all of you who voted for Hikayat and those who shared the news and encouraged their own friends to vote. It has been a humbling experience that makes me believe in my fellow Malaysians and their BIG hearts.

Sunday, April 11, 2010



Our history spans more than a millennia. And there is certainly a continuum of history that is preserved through the very legends of the land. Many of our Malay Hikayat originated from a Sultan’s wish to record his royal lineage. The Sejarah Melayu, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa and Misa Melayu are clear examples of this. The origin of Sejarah Melayu or the Sulalat us-Sulatin may never be uncovered but throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, versions were zealously updated, it was time consuming work, each volume faithfully copied by hand. Professor Dr Ding Choo Ming of ATMA, UKM says:

Dua perkara penting telah dinyatakan dalam definisi itu [classical Malay manuscripts]. Pertama, media karya sastera itu ialah manuskrip. Ia lahir di celah-celah tradisi lisan dan percetakan. Kedua, karya itu lahir di istana dan bukan daerah pedalaman dengan sastera lisan berkembang dan diperkembangkan.”

“Two important factors define the classical Malay manuscripts. Firstly, the media is in manuscript form, a transition between the oral storytelling and era of printed publications. Secondly, the stories and legends originated from the royal houses, and not from the rural and plebeian society, where royal scribes worked zealously to improve literature works.”

To the sultans and their royal scribes, and to many historians, whose interest in the Malay Hikayat became a lifelong passion, we owe a profound debt for the survival of these manuscripts.

The Malay Cultural Revolution and classical literature were shaped throughout a period of changing influences which fused effortlessly in the region. Buddhist tenets during the Srivijaya Empire and Hindu teachings during the Majapahit kingdoms found deep roots in the Nusantara existent until today. Our epic legends are collaborated in other classical text especially in Java, China throughout the 13th to the 17th centuries and more modern writers in the 18th and 19th. When Portuguese traveler Tomes Pires of the 16th century in his Somu Oriental recounted the story of Parameswara from Palembang who commanded his Orang Laut, his version closely corresponded to that of the Malay Annals which alludes that the descendents of Seri Teri Buana of Palembang founded Singapore and his descendents founded Malacca.

Islam arrived as part of the Muslim world expansion. In the medieval period of Islam up to the 14th century, the Muslims led the world in their pursuit of knowledge and in science. Muslim scholars were aggressively studying Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese documents, amassing huge libraries and making astounding discoveries in astronomy and mathematics. Muslims were also purveyors of stylized art and literature. In this way, the Islamic influence extended to our shores, and, to our literature. This is where the word hikayat originated. Some epics such as Hikayat Hang Tuah actually bear witness to this transition from Hindu influences in the beginning to Islam in the ending.

Historian, Prof Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim elaborates on the term hikayat:

Although the word sejarah has long existed in Malay vocabulary, hikayat was more widely used. Many historical works tended to focus on the genealogies of ruling families-these were called salasilah. When history appeared in verse form, it was also known as syair. The term hikayat indeed tends to imply that, in traditional Malay thinking, history was not punctiliously distinguished from literature.

And in the words of Ruud Spruit, the Director of the Westfries Museum,Hoorn,the Malay Hikayat is:

a mixture of classical romance and factual description.’

No doubt, the world found the Malay epics fascinating to study. Though R.O. Winstedt was critical, he was totally dedicated to the study of the Malay romances and sought to collect many of the surviving books. Amin Skinner, Teeuw and Shellbear poured over the Malay manuscripts, studying its content and influences. Today, European museums hold the bulk of the old manuscripts.

We need to bring forth these epic legends through theatre, story telling and books and other media.


For one, these legends are priceless and part of the world’s intangible heritage. Given the due recognition and appropriately showcased they would be as just as monumental as any historical structure such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and Java’s Borobodur. In the intricacies of our classical literature, we will rediscover a civilization so cosmopolitan and complex.

Our continuous documentation of these stories is important. It is our responsibility to popularise these legends, give them legitimacy, its due worth and world recognition. More so, if we do not revive the stories for future generations, they will actually disappear.

HIKAYAT is the result of years of research, interviews and inspiration.

We hope readers would come to appreciate this legacy.


What a marvelous piece of work!

Tan Sri Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Kim
Professor Emeritus
University Malaya

You [ninotaziz] have lifted the heavy veil locking so many interesting stories from traditional Malay folklore – epicenter of Malay literature written down in paper centuries later. The assortment of stories in the book keep extending with one’s imagination and creativity. With such diversity, we have stories in prose and poem. This book happens to represent a selection of all the stories known to the Malay people in the past. In the book we have spellbinding myths in the collective imagination and creativity of the Malay story tellers, authors. Without imagination and creativity, many of the stories will be flat, dry and unattractive. I am proud that you have taken us into another world of fantasy by stepping into some of the various stages in story telling.

I am pleased to find so many indigenously Malay characters in the book. They include Anak Panah Gade Wat Ekor, Berantai Kepala Naga, Tuan Puteri Lindungan Bulan, Tengku Malim Deman, Si Kembang China, and Sepit Bentala Sang Naga Maha Gangg. Their appearance means so much to the authenticity of the tales in the book. They are certainly pre-Islam, thus help to push these stories back to their original sources before the coming of Hinduism at least in 100 BC and Islam in the 13rd century.

Professor Dr Ding Choo Ming

Selama dua tahun yang lepas, Puan Zalina Abdul Aziz, penulis buku HIKAYAT, telah dengan bersungguh sungguh meminta saya mengajar dan menerangkan kepada beliau jalan cerita dari wayang kulit dan makyung. Beliau telah menulis cerita Hikayat Maharaja Wana dari Wayang Kulit, Anak Raja Gondang dan Raja Besar Ho Gading dari makyung untuk dimuatkan ke-dalam buku terbarunya ‘HIKAYAT – Legends From The Ancient Malay Kingdoms.’ Saya telah meneliti setiap jalan cerita yang di-tulis beliau dan dapat mengesahkan jalan cerita ini sahih mengikut tradisi Wayang Kulit Kelantan tulen.

Saya telah lama menyarankan bahawa pihak ASWARA memerlukan dokumentasi sebegini untuk pelajar khususnya dan masyarakat serta peminat kebudayaan Melayu secara amnya. Usaha gigih Zalina yang mendalam untuk menulis cerita cerita hikayat lama ini amat membanggakan dan saya menyokong Zalina dalam usaha murni memahsyurkan tradisi Wayang Kulit dan Makyung ini.

Adiguru Wayang Kulit, ASWAR


Zalina Abdul Aziz @ ninotaziz
Pustaka Alam Nusantara

ninotaziz, born in Tasmania, Australia, is the author of several books, specialising in Malaysian heritage and legends including the ‘From The Written Stone’ with a foreword by Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism and ‘From The Gathering’, both published by Utusan Publishers. Her first book, ‘From the Written Stone’ was awarded special mention at the BITARA AWARDS, the Malaysian chapter of the International Books and Books for Youth(IBBY).

HIKAYAT is an anthology of legends from ancient Malay kingdoms. Her other current book projects include ‘NAGARA – From The Lost Kingdoms, From The Wayang Kulit. ninotaziz also writes work of fiction and her first major attempt is ‘Dreams Of The Pomegranate’.

An event organiser with 20 years experience, including royal banquets for the King and the Prime Minister, ninotaziz is driven to organise exhibitions and carnivals with a cultural emphasis. At such a royal banquet, she organised a special presentation by the Mak Yong grand dame (the late) Khadijah Awang for His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

ninotaziz has collaborated with the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, the National Archives, the British Council, the American Embassy, Malaysia Airlines and various other organisations.


More than a millennium ago, the Hindu sages roamed the world and some came to settle peacefully in South East Asia. Then the conquerors followed suit, determined to rule over the prosperous lands in their frenzied search for gold, and more gold. The famous legacy of this exodus from the Indian Ocean to the Southern Seas were the Ramayama legends in the many different forms of storytelling in Siam, Kelantan, Campa and Jawa. Some re-tellings, as in this version, have changed somewhat in its interpretation and flow, but in essence, it is the story of good prevailing over the evil.

For this version of Maharaja Wana, I thank Pak Nasir, Adiguru Wayang Kulit ASWARA who put aside many many hours over the span of 2 years to impart this story. The Adiguru also went through the finished work to ensure its authenticity.
My debt is profound.

Hikayat Maharaja Wana

Greed knew no bounds. And on earth, Maharaja Dati Kuaca was envious of his neighbour, Raja Burma. He dispatched a challenge to him; “Surrender or your country will be no more.” The Raja laughed in the face of the messenger, and cut off his head. He then meticulously prepared a huge army for war.

After years of war, the Maharaja was killed and his victor’s son, Batara Baha wedded his widow, the most beautiful queen of the land and ruled the new kingdom in peace and order.

Langit tujuh

Up in the seventh skies, Dewa Serajuk was the ruler of the land of the sunset, Sinar Runduk. And Dewa Berembun the land of sunrise, Sinar Naik. The heavans existed in a semblance of harmonious existence between the two powerful dewa.
But Dewa Serajuk was capracious, greedy and lustful for that which belonged to others. And most of all, he coveted Siti Andang Dewi, the beloved wife of Dewa Berembun. Day by day, his amourous thoughts for the queen grew and became unbearable. He then promised himself that he would desert Sinar Runduk and all its untold pleasures in return for just one day with Siti Andang Dewi, to possess her but once.

Towards this end, he transformed himself into a perfect replica of Dewa Berembun, and through clever deception, the devious Dewa Serajuk succeeded to beguile and possess Siti Andang Dewi. With this conquest, Dewa Serajuk promptly descended to earth to enter the womb of Batara Baha’s queen and was reborn on earth as the evil Maharaja Wana.

Siti Andang Dewi could not live with herself once she realised that she had been deceived by the vile Dewa Serajuk. At first she wasted away feeling utter disgust and disgraced. The queen then vowed revenge and decided she will descend to earth to seek Dewa Serajuk and destroy him.

When his queen disappeared, the bereft and dejected Dewa Berembun had no will for his throne.  He had two young followers. Dewa Sayang Kenung, the loyal and brilliant apprentice, and Dewa Bota Keme, just as loyal but slightly slow-witted disciple.
To help his apprentice, he entrusted his symbols of authority, Canggar Api to Bota Keme. The Canggar Api, which gives its owner to power to destroy by merely flicking his fingers was a tool of destruction, with its power unleashed:

Manusia hancur, bukit runtuh, dewa cair
Man destroyed, mountains fell, dewa melted

But Dewa Bota, using them carelessly, pointing them here and there, caused terrible chaos in heaven and then descended to earth for more mischief and demolition,

Jadi padang jarak padang terkukur
He aimed for utter chaos and destruction

Dewa Berembun called for Dewa Sayang Kenung, his worldly and clever disciple to catch Bota Keme and to teach him the right ways. Sang Kenung looked at the destruction around him, promised his master and mahaguru to get his Canggar Api back and do what is necessary.

Sang Kenung descended to earth and saw the destruction in a distance caused by Bota Keme, his old friend. He knew Bota Keme was angry that throughout all the years he was ridiculed by all the other Dewas. Sang Kenung then transformed himself into a beautiful woman and went straight up to Bota Keme with all a maiden wiles.
Bota Keme couldn’t take his eyes off the beautiful stranger in front of him and asked her where and why she was there. Sang Kenung answered in his disguised and maidenly voice that she was in search of a husband who could dance, and dance so well to entrance the bees from honey and fish from the sea. Bota Keme began to dance for her not realizing that the Canggar Api was in his hands still. He was so entranced – danced this way and that - and accidentally killed himself with a blast from the Canggar Api.

At that moment, Sang Kenung appeared back in the heavans in front of his mahaguru. Before he realised it, he felt Dewa Berembun’s hands all wrapped around him whispering sweet nothings. Then he remembered that he had taken the form of the most beautiful Dewi he knew, Siti Andang Dewi. He realised there and then that Dewa Berendam thought Siti Dewi had returned. Dewa Berembun, in his amorous state of pent-up desire and longing, came to a thunderous climax, his seed pouring into Sang Kenung’s cupped hands.

Sang Kenung stepped back and said, “Mahaguru, don’t you recognise me, this is your student, Sayang Kenung, having returned from earth with your Canggar Api. Bota Keme is dead.”

With a cry of utter disappointment, Dewa Berembun said, “You have caused me great dishonor, Sang Kenung. Behold in your hand, pure essence from the depths of me. It shall not fall onto anything impure, beware!“ With that, Dewa Berembun disappeared from sight to enter the womb of the Queen of Sirat Maharaja on earth to be reborn as the pure and worldly Seri Rama.

Sang Kenung then flung away the essence of Dewa Berembun, willing it to fall where it may and do good to the world.