Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Malacca Malays

Malacca Malays fall into a few distinct types. Most are mixes and they live in towns (urbanised). The pure Malays are usually of Bugis descent and often of dark complexion.  They live is far out villages and some are farmers. Their counterparts are Bugis of fair complexion and can be found in the far reaches of rivers of Terengganu, Pahang and Selangor (most are sea-farers and they travel by sea or river). The mixed Malays are distinct but can be confusing trying to discern where they actually belong. The Indian-Portuguese mixes are dark and they can be found in the Portuguese Settlement. I've found some who even migrated as far as Sabah, Borneo island. The Chinese-Portuguese mixes are often tan and they may also live in the Settlement. The Malay-Portuguese are very rare because they cannot marry on religious grounds. The Chinese can be pure bred and they inbreed to keep wealth within limits. However, some do marry outside the clan, and they give rise to the Malay Nyonya & Malay Baba. These people look Chinese and often have fair complexion. They speak Malay and dress like Malay kampung folks. They speak Nyonya-Baba Malay which is very distinct and only they speak this type of Malay. When they speak, they also joke, and when it's really a big joke, they laugh so loud (boleh pecah rumah). Another type of mixed Malays are the Arab-Malays. They are usually dark but after many generations of marrying to the Chinese, they can become fair but not as fair as the pure bred Chinese. They do have slant eyes but they speak very good Malay. They can be called Baba-Nyonya but often they are regarded as orang atas (big people) and given some high status in society. Thus, they go by salutation and when you hear the salutation, you know their status within their community. The most noticeable salutation is Inche which became Enchik for males and now Encik. When the salutation is used, the maiden name is automatically dropped and never asked, and usually nobody knows the real names of such women. There are many women in Malacca who are known by a single syllable and nothing else! There is another group of Malays who are very dark and their nose and cheeks very prominent. These are the Chetty people. Their women dress in tight small kebaya. Another group of Malays is the Malay mixes with Chinese and who may have slant eyes or normal eyes but they dress in long loose kebaya panjang. These elegant women are from the higher class and usually their fathers or relatives work for the Malay Sultans in nearby Malay states. These ladies have Chinese call names and Malay full names. Often the full Malay names are unknown and they go by just the call names. They usually work/exist in a group of related individuals of three (don't ask me why three). There is a group of Malays in Malacca who have natural tight curly orange hair and blue irises. These are Malays from Cocos Keeling island of Australia. They are Malay and speak Malay but sometimes they can't understand what we say in Malay. They are the result of inbreeding which went on on Cocos Keeling island long ago. I can't recall the inbreeding anymore. You may be able to dig up old history books for that. The White man who owned the Malay slaves needed manual labour to farm the island so inbreeding was done (don't ask me how but there's only one way). The Malay slaves were paid shells. I have seen them and they have rosy cheeks and freckles. If only one Malay was there and the White man was master, and the slave raped, of course every child will bear the features of the White master. That's history.

Overall, I think the Malacca Malays are most complicated but most fascinating of all the Malays in this big Malay Archipelago.  I'm not from Cocos Keeling island. I'm from the Malacca Malays and have been mistaken for a Portuguese or Eurasian and such weird mixes.