Monday, 24 September 2012

Kota Jembal, Kelantan

If you reach the Kubang Kerian traffic lights, and proceed towards Bachok (beach), you will pass by a place named Kota Jembal. As you approach the traffic lights at the Kota Jembal junction, the marketplace will be on your left. Why is Kota Jembal important in Kelantan Malay history?

Kota Jembal was one of the many 'kingdoms' or 'rajadom' in the early vast Malay kingdom in Kelantan. Kota Jembal is a region on the eastern bank of Sungai Pengkalan Datu. As a landing place or pengkalan, it was (may still be) a place of trade. Pasar Kota Jembal is the present marketplace in Kota Jembal, an ancient Malay city. Its architecture is a mark of the ancient Malay architecture, very unique to the Kelantan Malay craftmanship of this region, and I don't think it is found outside Kelantan - I have not seen it outside Kelantan.

Next time you come and visit Kelantan, come and visit this ancient princely city of Kota Jembal and see its marketplace, Pasar Kota Jembal (they didn't have malls in ancient cities). I have not been around on foot in this city, but my vibes tell me, this place is 'very ancient'. Looks spooky too but I didn't see any big blood-shot eyes. That's ancient legend.

The people of Kota Jembal were religious people (Hindu in ancient times but now Muslims) and some of the descendants of that early kingdom are still around and rule this state. They are related to the other Malay royalties of a large Malay kingdom in this region. The ancient Malay kingdom spreads from southern Siam (now Thailand) to Kota Jembal and beyond. Sungai Pengkalan Datu opens into the South China Sea. There is an artificial sandbar built by the villagers to dampen the waves, to avoid erosion of the beach front. Many Malays settle at this rivermouth (muara). The homes are wooden and built high on stilts as this rivermouth is flooded during the monsoon season. Malay people from Cambodia and also from Malacca probably came to Kota Jembal via this rivermouth. The Malacca migrants settled at Pulau Melaka (a large sandy island in Sungai Pengkalan Datu) and others settled on the river bank at Kota Jembal. Both cities are princely cities. I would say that this part of the Malay region probably contains inhabitants who are descended from ancient Malay royalties, and thus we see the prefix 'Raja' and 'Puteri/Putri' in their names. Most have dark skin as they are descended from ancient Indian forebearers. However, the ones descended from the Cambodian Malays have fair skin - they carry the prefix 'Wan' in their names.

Prayer place at the entrance to the Ramadan bazaar adjacent to Pasar Kota Jembal.
I can't make out what the buildings are. The Ramadan bazaar is in the centre.
Ramadan bazaar in full swing in 2012
After the Ramadan bazaar, after the fasting month was over, back to normal.
Fenced marketplace, this is Pasar Kota Jembal. Note the unique architecture. Looks like a lodge or a princely residence. This is an example of fine Malay architecture. I like it very much.

There is a meeting of the royals of Kota Jembal on 6 November 2012(?).