Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Identities and Ethnicities

I have a difficult page to write - it is about ethnicity and identity, for my book, to clarify why I have included "mamak" doctors in my book, The Early Malay Doctors. I therefore need everyone's help re definitions of these terms.

Melayu (me-la-yu, mo-loe-yo, Malay)
What is the definition of the word "Malay" or "Melayu"?

The word Malay is very confusing because the names can be Arabic but the souls are Indian-, Mamak-, Mat Salleh-, Chinese, Japanese- or Malay-looking. When I first collected the names of these early doctors, I had trouble figuring out whether they were truly Malay or otherwise. There is one name which I don't know is Malay or not - Dr Yahya Cohen. Cohen is a Jewish name. Yahya is a Malay name. Mana boleh orang Islam kahwin Yahudi?

If I go by religion, not all Malays who are born Muslims die as Muslims; I think a few gyrated to other religions of their own wants.

Some Malay names also have English names, which makes me think either the person has 2 religions or no faith, and the more difficult for me to clarify the word "Malay".

British Census
Anyone has the British census for Malaya? How were the Malays classified?

Indian Muslim = Orang berketurunan India, berbahasa India dan/Melayu, beragama Islam, lahir dan/tinggal di Malaysia
mamak - used for indian muslim lelaki (origin from mama - means uncle)
mami - used for indian muslim perempuan (origin from mami - means aunty)
mamu - is also used for uncle (being changed after years using mama - glamour sikit panggil mamu)
tambi - its actually little/younger brother (pinjam dari perkataan tamil)
- by Dr Shaik Farid Abdul Wahab (

Jawi Peranakan
Jawi Peranakan is an umbrella term while Jawi Peranakan of Penang is more specific to Penang. Jawi Peranakan refers to the ethnicity of the child of a mixed marriage between an Indian Muslim man and an indigenous Malay woman. These marriages are commonly found on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia which is in close proximity to the Indian subcontinent (about four hours by flight).

Jawi Pekan =
Melayu Peranakan =
Melayu-Pekan =

Chinese Muslim (Cina-Muslim) = Orang berketurunan Cina berbahasa Cina dan/ Melayu, beragama Islam, lahir dan/tinggal di Malaysia
Baba = Orang lelaki Cina berbahasa Melayu, beragama Buddha, lahir dan/ tinggal di negeri Melaka
Nyonya = Orang wanita Cina berbahasa Melayu, beragama Buddha, lahir dan/ tinggal di negeri Melaka

Melayu Seantero
Melayu-Champa - Melayu berbahasa Champa
Melayu-Jawa - Melayu berbahasa Indonesia
Melayu-Siam = Indian, speak Urdu
Melayu-Kedah - Orang keturunan Arab/India/Siam
Melayu-Pattani = Orang Siam berbahasa Melayu Pattani
Melayu-Penang = definitely Mamak

Bugis vs Melayu-Sumatera
Why do we consider Malays from Sulawesi as more Malay than the other not-so Malay looking people?

The Bugis are dark and look fierce but there is a group of Bugis who are fair.

The Sumateran Malays are also of many types, some are descended from the Indians, some from the Arabs, some from don't know where. If I go by religion, the Sumateran Malays are of stronger faith then the Bugis although they may look more Indian and not so Malay.

Malaysian Constitution
To me, everyone residing in Malaysia or born in Malaysia, with Muslim parents, is Malay unless they choose to be something else.

MyKad does specify religion (under the photo, on the left).
MyKad does not specify ethnicity.

Bumiputera or Bumiputra is a Malay term widely used in Malaysia , embracing indigenous people of the Malay Archipelago . The term comes from the Sanskrit word bhumiputra , which can be translated literally as "son of land" (bhumi = earth or land, putra =son).- Wikipedia

So putera , puteri , putra , putri in Malay names indicate Indian origin of the person or his ancestry.

Raja (also spelled rajah , from Sanskrit rājan- , nominative rājā , also written raj in many modern languages) is an Indian term for a monarch , or princely ruler of the Kshatriya varna . The female form, the word for "queen", mainly used for a raja's wife, is rani (sometimes spelled ranee ), from Sanskrit rājñī , or ratu in Southeast Asia . - Wikipedia

So Raja in Malay names indicates Indian origin of the person or his ancestry.

Just a note: Most of the east coast Malays with a Raja name have dark skin. Most of the west coast Malays with a Raja name are fair.

Tengku adalah gelar kebangsawanan Melayu yang otomatis melekat pada seorang laki-laki keturunan dari Sultan -sultan dan para Raja-Raja di Kerajaan Melayu. Tulisan “Tengku” di awal nama setiap orang Melayu merupakan status yang menandakan kedudukannya dalam masyarakat adat.

Gelar Tengku ini hanya bisa didapat jikalau ayahnya juga bergelar Tengku. Sementara jika yang bergelar Tengku hanya ibunya tetapi ayahnya tidak, maka gelar Tengku ini tidak bisa disandang olehnya.

Beberapa daerah yang menggunakan gelar ini seperti di Riau , Malaysia , Sumatera Utara .
 - Wikipedia

Awalan nama Wan ialah gelaran yang digunakan untuk orang dari keturunan bangsawan Melayu. Nama ini digunakan oleh dua golongan:

    1. Keturunan Ahlul Bait , lihat Wan (Ahlul Bait) .
    2. Keturunan Raja Patani di Kelantan, di zaman Cik Siti Wan Kembang .
    3. Keturunan panglima-panglima Kedah.
- Wikipedia

Nik is when mum is tengku and dad is a commoner..then the sons will carry on the nik's name.
- by Dr Maya Mazuwin bt Yahya (


biblio1 said...

Call for Entries on the Jawi Peranakan Experience in Malaysia

Would you like your family to be featured in an exciting book on the Jawi Peranakan? Do you know your family genealogy? Can you do a kinship chart?

I am helping to edit a collection of autobiographical stories and part anthology on the lives and experiences of being Jawi Peranakan in Malaysia. Its editors are respected women of Jawi Peranakan descent.

The Jawi Peranakan of Penang, Kedah, Melaka and of other Malaysian cities were locally-born, Malay- and, often, English-speaking Muslims of mixed non-Malay and Malay ancestry. See also the definition of Jawi Peranakan in the book “Straits Muslims: Diasporas of the Northern Passage of the Straits of Malacca” by Wazir Jahan Karim et al (2009).

Each prose piece must be autobiographical in nature, but considerable latitude will be given to content and narrative style. Manuscripts in English should be double-spaced using Word format and not be more than 10 pages or 2,500 words in length. Only one entry per person will be accepted.

The best nine entries will be accepted for publication in the collection mentioned above. Those chosen for publication will be asked to submit scanned family photos to accompany their pieces. Photos should be high resolution of above 300 pixels. They should contain detailed captions of place, date of event, description of persons in the photo from left to right, with comments on the persons’ dress, context of photos, etc.

This is a great chance for you to test your talent as a writer.

Submit entries for consideration by July 1, 2012 to Questions on prose requirements may be directed to this email address as well.