17 June 2008

The Taming Sari

Standing in front of the legendary Taming Sari, one felt a sense of awe; all around, the air positively crackled with reverence. It was a rare chance to get a glimpse of this 500-year-old keris which was displayed at Galeri Sultan Azlan Shah in April in conjunction with the Sultan of Perak's 77th birthday.

Legend had it that the mystical Taming Sari could fly and seek out the enemy, just like modern missiles. Not only that but it would even rattle in its sheath to warn its owner of potential danger. In view of this, perhaps the glass showcase made good sense - for the protection of curious viewers, rather than the other way around!

Politics were pretty nasty even in 15th Century. When he wanted to ask for the hand in marriage of Majapahit princess Raden Galoh Chandra Kirana, Sultan Mansur Shah travelled to Java with his royal bodyguard Hang Tuah.

Unfortunately, Hang Tuah, instead of the Sultan, became the centre of attention there. This was the opportunity that Pateh Gajah Mada had been waiting for to oust Hang Tuah permanently from the Sultan's favourites list.

The envious palace official engaged a Javanese warrior, Taming Sari, to kill Hang Tuah but the tables turned and Hang Tuah won the fight as well as Taming Sari's keris (also named Taming Sari). Thus began the legendary saga of Malaysia's most celebrated dagger.

Taming Sari, classified as keris kuasa or bawar, is made of an alloy of 20 metal composites, some said to come from bolts holding Mecca's Holy Kaabah gates. A keris kuasa is said to possess supernatural powers and has to be "cleansed" in the melimau ceremony periodically to retain its potency.

When he could not persuade Puteri Gunung Ledang to marry Sultan Mahmud, Hang Tuah threw the Taming Sari into Sungai Duyong out of frustration. Tun Mamat did history a favour when he recovered it for the Sultan's safekeeping.

In 1511, the Portuguese conquered Malacca and Sultan Mahmud fled to ]ohor-Riau and later to Kampar in Sumatera. Taming Sari finally found a permanent home in Perak as part of its state regalia when Sultan Mahmud's son, Sultan Muzaffar Shah I, was installed as the first Sultan of Perak and the keris was passed on to his successors till present day.

The keris is a weapon peculiar to the Malay Archipelago which encompasses Thailand's Pattani region, Malaysia, Indonesia, The Philippines' Mindanao region and certain parts of Cambodia. Historians believe the first keris was developed in the 9th Century and perfected by the 14th Century. In Aceh, the keris is called rencong and Sulawesi, badik.

The keris is surrounded by mystery and there are tales of deaths being caused by simply thrusting the keris into a victim's footprints. Sculptures of keris, dating back more than 400 years have been found in Central Java's Chandi Borobudur where it is known as kujang.

Another keris frequently mentioned in Malay folklore is Keris Mahsuri though no one really knows where it is today. It was said to be the keris used to kill Mahsuri who was wrongly accused of adultery.

By Casey Ng
Sourced from New Straits Times (Travel Times) 24 May 2005


Anonymous said...

Personally to me, Hang Tuah & Taming Sari signifies neither strength nor magical ability. It is a sign of wisdom come out from proper knowledge understanding. It is actually a tale of mind over matter, brain over brawn; signify the power of knowledge and the wonder of wisdom.

Mohd Nadzrin Wahab said...

Salam hormat Ustaz,

I wish there was some way we could properly understand Hang Tuah, other than reading of hikayat and unconfirmable accounts. Any ideas?

Salam persilatan,

Anonymous said...

There is, insyaAllah. :)