Monday, 12 November 2012

Panglima Awang (1)

The search for the real identity of Panglima Awang who accompanied Magellan on his first journey to circumnavigate the globe continues till today. Did Magallen circumnavigate the globe at all? No, he died in the Philippines before the last leg of circumnavigation was completed; someone else completed it. Was he the first person to circumnavigate the globe? No, he did not complete his mission. He died before his misison was completed. If no, who then was the first to do so? It is a mystery till today. There maybe a few names but only one shall concern us. He was known as Panglima Awang in the Malay World (Dunia Melayu). He was known as Enrique or Henry the Black in world history. He was probably of Sumatran origin. Black here may mean he had dark skin and hair; he was probably a dark Malay, a dark Indian or a Black African. We don't know. He was definitely Asian or African, not Caucasian.

I started writing about the Mayans and Malayans in Facebook, and the similarity of the plants they shared. The discussion then moved to Panglima Awang.

Help on this big maritime mystery was provided by Ahmad Fuad, Dr Abdul Ghani (Pak Din) and Abidin Hussin in the Medicinal Plant Interest Group in Facebook. Here is a re-post of the discussion thread:

Abidin Hussin Maybe Ulam is a Mayan word. Our language is a mixture of many languages. Or it can be by chance.

Faridah Abdul Rashid I don't think it is by chance. A lot of the Mayan fruits are the same fruits we have in Malaysia. Even the flowers are the same ones. Only the people are different. I think the Arabs came to Malaya, and then went to Spain, and then the Spaniards went to Yucatan peninsula, and the Mayan people learned from us in that way. There must be something that we did in the past that we are now in Mayan territory.

Pak Din Prof., my take on this is that the Malays are seaferers by nature and we colonised the tropical belts and build communities along the places we stop over. I study the distribution of plants and found that the Periwinkle is one important plant in our society in the past. The distribution is widespread throughout the tropics from Madagascar to Hawaii and probably across the Panama strip into the Carebbean Islands. The features of the people along this belt is very strikingly similar and the language too contains words almost similar to each other with similar meaning. We were once a great nation and our language was the language of trade through out the tropical belt.

Faridah Abdul Rashid > Pak Din, Yes, the Malays have always been the greatest seafarers and shipbuilders since time immemorial. The Malays have always had the greatest civilisation and an exhaustive materia medica. So most probably, they sailed the equatorial belt and brought along their medicinal plants. Even the Chinese respected the Malays for their skills working with wood, esp intricate carvings of flora. That is how important and great the Malays were and are even today.

Ahmad Fuad Haji Morad The distributional range of the Malayo-Polynesian race stretches from Madagascar to Easter Islands on the western coast of South America. Ain't that far to have some influence.

Pak Din But Che Mat, I think we went further than that, to cross over Panama and into the Caribbean Islands too.

Ahmad Fuad Haji Morad The Malays seafaring adventures definitely more extensive. Thot' Henry The Black atau Enrique (Panglima Awang) played a pivotal role navigating after Magellan's death to complete circumnavigating the globe.

Faridah Abdul Rashid I don't have the full biography of Panglima Awang to be able to appreciate his panglima role in our naval maritime history.

Ahmad Fuad Haji Morad Google the keywords Panglima Awang, Enrique or Henry the Black and you will find some lead about him. In fact there's a novel, Panglima Awang (1957) written by Harun Aminurrashid. "Historians and trivia buffs have often speculated that Enrique was the first to circumnavigate the world" not Sebastián Elcano after Magellan's death in the Philippines.
Here's some links to appreciate him: ; .

Faridah Abdul Rashid Thanks. Will follow the links. He maybe a Sulu Malay.

Ahmad Fuad Haji Morad Claimed from Sumatra, and if you run thru the Malay Annals the whole Malay archipelago were interconnected w' many Sultanates and regarded all alike.

Faridah Abdul Rashid Yes, I saw the illustration where the sea level was lower than that today, and one could walk throughout the Malay lands. Sailing & boat-building came much later when the water level rose.

New Bedford, MA, USA (photo by Alan Tan, 13 Oct 2012, Facebook)