Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Malacca History (5)

I'm thankful to readers who dropped by to read some of the pages in this blog. I'm most grateful to those of you who cared to pen a line or two in the comments. The comments are useful as any small piece of information creates another big area of search and further research in a more defined direction. Nothing goes to waste. The comments are precious especially to this type of research that digs far back into our history.

For now, I have managed to go back into our history. The ancient Malay graves are in Semabok, in an enclosed low perimeter thick brick wall. I haven't been back to see the ancient graves in Semabok since university teaching has just begun for the new academic session 2012/2013. I have vivid memories of the graves there - the gravestones resembled the large Minangkabau ones. Whether the people buried there were from Pagarruyung or descended from their Pagarruyung ascendants is not known. But evidence from a Penang clan may shed some light that these graves could be Minangkabau; they could also be mixed Arab. Could also be Chinese Muslims.

Other questions arise; if there was a marriage of the Chinese Muslim princess to the Sultan of Malacca, where would she be buried? Where would he be buried? So, the graves at Semabok are important to Malacca history. Maybe the anthropologists and archaeologists missed that place as they don't have connection.

But as far as I know from my late father, Datuk Prof Dr Zuraina Abdul Majid is related to my father; therefore she should know. I only met her twice but can only recall the second time I met her. According to my father, she attended my wedding in Penang. But because I didn't know her at the time, I didn't talk to her and took no notice of her. The second time I met her, she was in the panel that interviewed me for my Associate Professor post at USM in Kelantan; I didn't know she was in the panel, so it was a surprise for me and probably for her too. I have not met her after that interview but I met her husband a few times.

A visit to the graves at Semabok should be worth a visit. I don't know the grave digger or graveyard caretaker at all as usually my late father and Imam Haji Yusof went there; they knew who were buried there. I only visited the graves once with my father and he pointed to our family plot (so very ancient).

Another small ancient Muslim burial plot actually lies beneath Masjid Banda Hilir, now renamed to Masjid an-Nur. As far as I know, only babies were buried there and the adults were buried in Semabok.

There are other ancient graves in Malacca, at Kampung Hulu and somewhere near the Malacca High School (if I'm not mistaken).

The last Sultan of Singapore is buried behind Masjid Tengkera? He went to live in Banda Hilir, Malacca first. Did he live in my grandfather's house? Whose house did he live in at Banda Hilir?

There were no other Malay houses in Banda Hilir at the time except my grandfather's (and his ascendants); the Malays lived farther down the road in Ujong Pasir and Umbai (according to my father and his uncle Coco). Banda Hilir or Banda Ilir is also in Dutch maps. Who was the last Sultan of Singapore? Was he related to the Malacca Sultanate?

Why did Coco and my paternal grandmother tell me that we are related to the Chinese princess? Did she really exist? Did the Malacca sultan marry her? Did they have issue? Nobody has tried to explain how our family is related to the Chinese Ming princess.

My mother said most of the Chinese wooden furniture (black) were used as firewood during the Japanese war, and she had bought modern furniture for our house in Malacca when she married to my father in 1955.

So there are none of the ancient Chinese furniture left today. I had seen some of the Chinese furniture when I was growing up in Malacca; most resembled the dressing tables and cabinets at Penang Museum. The European cupboards are also familiar to me. I haven't searched the thousands of photos my grandfather and my father left behind. A lot of photos are still missing. Both my grandfather and my father were avid photographers. They documented a lot of our history in B/W photos.

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