Apr. 16th, 2010

frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item is a leather-bound book that has been badly damaged, missing half or more of its original pages and obscured with soot. Its contents appear to be a stylised biography of well-regarded admiral (laksamana), written in classical, highly poetic Malay and printed in the Jawi script.

Measurements:
Length: 23 cm
Width: 16 cm
Origin: Unknown

An examination of the item reveal that the book was machine-produced. The binding and the woodpulp paper pages are of serviceable but medium-lasting quality, perhaps suggesting that the item was -- for lack of a better term -- mass-produced. The edition notice tell us that the book is the tenth edition of the original publication, though attempts at salvaging the rest of the text revealed only that the date of printing is 1340 Hijrah. Two words are written in a childish hand on the title page, one on top of the other. The second one was written in Jawi, transliterated as Muhang (no other name given), while the first utilises a writing system unfamiliar to the researchers. These are, presumably, the name(s?) of the owner(s?). There are other written notations in the book, but written in a finer hand. Numerous creases, stains and dog-eared pages point to the frequency with which the book was likely to have been read.

I have excerpted below some rough translations for what remains of the book, with accompanying notes. Regrettably the full measure of what the book has to offer for our ongoing research will only be evident after it has spent some time in the hands of the linguists and literary experts.

Title and notes:
حکاية لقسامان وان زافيرة ابنا وان مهمود
ڤڠليما بايو ريبوت کراجاٴن ملاک

Hikayat Laksamana Wan Zafirah ibna Wan Mahmud
Panglima Bayu Ribut Kerajaan Melaka


The Tale of Admiral Wan Zafirah ibna Wan Mahmud
Warrior of the Storm Wind of the Kingdom of Malacca
It is clear from the admiral's name that she is identified as a woman, though the use of the prefix "ibna" is quite uncommon in the literature catalogued so far. It was also suggested that there may be two ways of reading the subtitle: that the admiral is a "storm wind warrior", or that she is a warrior of the storm winds of Malacca. More on these points later.

Translated excerpts and notes )

EDIT: Speaking of Aceh, after much persuasion from the minions assistants, I've included excerpts from a chapter particularly favoured by some of the staff. And, if the state of the pages is any indication, the owner(s?) of the book found it equally riveting. The chapter is set just after Wan Zafirah was appointed by the Sultan of Malacca to lead three airships to the Kingdom of Aceh on a diplomatic mission to strengthen ties between the two kingdoms. Earlier passages narrate that this mission was a set-up by rivals in the court, who (understandably) assumed that a warrior hitherto known solely for her skills on the battlefield would fail quite thoroughly.

A second set of excerpts and notes )
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