Monday, 14 January 2013


I have always wondered what the word "siantan" meant. I've heard it many times but I never knew what it meant. Today, I found the word at a botanical blog and it points to the ixora plant. To the Malay people, it is called siantan or tudung periuk, and the related Malay ballad is Seri Siantan or Sri Siantan.

Siantan or tudung periuk (Ixora). Photos were taken at the USM Herbal Garden, Health Campus, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan.
When I wrote my books on the early Malay doctors, and covered the origins of Bugis people, I had thought that Siantan was an island, and therefore the people from "that island" were referred to as Orang Siantan. Just my imagination, because I don't know this Malay language that well to make sense of that word. Well, at least now I know what "siantan" is. A synonym is tudung periuk, and I wonder why. The Malay language is mysterious, and many Malay words have a hidden meaning.
A storm lasting nine days and nine nights stalled their journey and they found refuge among the Indonesian islands. Arong Abdul Rasul and his entourage anchored at Pulau Siantan, Kepulauan Anambas in Indonesia, which became their new home. They established a village, planted paddy and erected mosques. It was recorded by a scribe, Haji Jaafar, that the famous Bugis Daing warrior brothers came to the Riau Archipelago at about this time.
Three generations of Arong Abdul Rasul remained at Pulau Siantan – himself, his son Arong Muda and Arong Muda’s son Daing Abdul Latiff. The fates of the other two brothers, Arong Mustafa and Arong Marang, are unknown at the time of writing.Dr Abdul Latiff’s great-great-great grandfather was Arong Muda (Pulau Siantan),[1] who had three children, two sons and a daughter – Daing Abu, Daing Abdul Latiff and Daing Mahaya.Dr Abdul Latiff’s great-great grandfather was Daing Abdul Latiff (Pulau Siantan),[2] who had nine children, eight sons and a daughter – Omar, Maimon, Jumaat, Abdul Rahim, Haji Abdul Karim, Haji Tahir, Khamis, Haji Mohamed Kassim[3] and Haji Mohd Ali.

[1] Also styled Arong Muda Pulau Siantan, to mean Arong Muda of Pulau Siantan where he resided.[2] Also styled Daing Abdul Latiff Pulau Siantan, to mean Daing Abdul Latiff of Pulau Siantan where he resided.[3] It is possible that Haji Jaafar could have been the son of Haji Mohamed Kassim.
I know from the old days, ladies would wear the red ixora florets in their buns and when the petals dried out, one by one they fell to the ground. Of course men could trace the ladies' trail by following the fallen ixora florets.

I remember sucking the nectar from the red, pink and yellow ixora florets. There's also the Malaysian Ixora vehicle (van). I wonder why we never used Seri Siantan for our Ixora vehicles.

I have tried planting ixora but it always died. Almost all Malay homes plant this ixora plant except my house. I have to learn how to grow this plant so that my home can also be grouped as a Malay home. Trying my best for 30 years now!! LOL.

External links:
Siantan, tudung periuk or ixora:
Bugis kings in Riau-Lingga-Johor: