Sunday, 29 June 2008

The Debut of Dang Sarat in Liverpool

…on 21st June 2008, to be exact.

Some said she had a very good singing voice and that she was a fine perfomer. Some said she was just very good at what she was doing; delegating work, a mine of information and a shrewd leader of those under her wings. But most agree that she was not much to look at and in fact lived up to her name – the over laden maiden. And to make it worse, she suffered a kind of skin condition that made her look quite unsightly. Bidasari she certainly wasn’t.

However, the former employee of the Singapore ruler knew how to transform herself into a real beauty - if only in the eyes of those who mattered. And this she did by befriending those dark forces from the other world and summoning their help during the bleakest nights when she yearned for the warmth of his body next to hers. On nights like this the owlet would appear on his rooftop, as if calling out his name and to beckon him over and leave his unsuspecting wife in their comfortable boudoir.

Once the king fell victim to her black magic, he could see no wrong in anything she did. Not with her blotched skin, nor her demands for an oversized chastity belt.

That is Dang Sarat or Dayang Dang Sarat, although some had suggested she is Dang Sirat or Serat, depending on how you read the old Jawi text in the early 19th century manuscript. But it matters not as the lady in question, the femme fatale and monstrous feminine is the same one that not only destroyed the union of a loving couple but also that of two nations; Patani and Johor.

I was introduced to Dang Sarat, the eponymous character of this early 19th century syair in 2005. The manuscript, bought from John Crawfurd in 1824, has been in the safekeeping of the British Library and is still in pristine condition, in beautiful handwritten Jawi script by one or possibly more scribes from the days gone by. Trawling through the Syair was to say the least a most painstaking experience, especially for one who was not competent in the reading of Jawi scripts. But one had to learn the hard way, and throughout the journey on the number 7 to and from the uni, the character and the story of Dang Sarat unfolded before my eyes, but of course not without a lot of help from the likes of Wilkinson and Winstedt and my Sifu.

To say that I was consumed by Dang Sarat and the beauty that lies in between the finely composed verses, was an understatement. I ate, slept, talked and thought in syair . I was overwhelmed by what my professor described as Keindahan erti dan erti keindahan – the meaning of which came through vividly in many scenes; especially the one of the king wooing his new bride, the longing for the beauty he had never set his eyes on, the shy young princess battling with understandable insecurities and apprehension and more.

Last weekend, at a conference in Liverpool. I finally introduced Dang Sarat to my audience of mostly scholars from the world of Traditional Malay Literature who came from far and wide. The experience was not unlike delivering a baby long overdue and all this while had waited for this moment within the chapters of my dissertation. The post conference euphoria was akin to post natal bliss – what pain?

I leave you this little beauty:

“Setelah jauh malamlah hari - tirai pelaminan dilabuhkan beri
duduklah baginda raja pis[t]ari - teralu suka membujuk isteri
dipeluk dicium seraya berkata - ‘Tuanku nyawaku emas juwita
Tuanku jadi cahaya mahkota - sudah termeterai di dalam cita

Berbagailah bujuk raja bangsawan - dipeluk dicium di dalam pangkuan
Peracau pun tunduk malu-maluan - sedap manis barang kelakuan

ayam berkokok pungguk merindu - baginda kedua masuk beradu
di dalam tirai kelambu beledu - ditunggui kanda Dang Raya Dadu
Setelah selang sudahlah hari - bangunlah baginda dua laki isteri
keluar dari peraduan memimpin jari - keduanya manis tiada berperi.

Alas, it has a very ugly ending. More later.


aireene said...

Welcome back Kak Teh. Dand Sirat, what an interesting story. Never heard of this tale before and please guide us to the end..can't wait.

Kak Teh said...

aireene, wow! I had just pressed the published button!
anyway, Syair Dang sarat had never been studied. I have done the studym done the transliteration and one day, one day it will be published. A very short chapter of Dang Sarat appears in Hikayat Patani. For the ending?..its quite tragic.

ruby ahmad said...

Hello Kak Teh,

I left a comment before in your other entry, but I think there was a glitch. Nevermind, we'll chat here.

Woo..Dang Sarat? Like Aireene, I too have not heard of this one. But wow, sounds interesting. Did you say in 'jawi'? Goodness...ha ha. I merangkak baca jawi.

The way you indicated in your entry she sounded so evil. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story especially the ending as you have hinted to us.

So sorry, I have not blog hopped actively of late as I am currently tied up with some new projects. But I am always peeking at my Facebook. It is a lighter hobby there..ha ha. Come join FB Kak Teh. You can use your cute red-head avatar there too..he he. At Facebook it is easier to keep in touch. There's a poke button to say hello.

You take care dear.

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yg alim.

Assalamualaikum Kak Teh,

Saya sangat suka membaca syair itu, kata Pak Malim sambil menggaru kutu. Namun, saya perlu beradu sekarang, kata kucing ray sambil memegang parang. Looking forward for the hikayat's ending (kata Pak Malim yang sedang landing).

Kak Teh said...

Ruby, like i said Syair Dang sarat was unstudied until i did it for my MA. And hopefully it will be published. I dont think anyone else has studied it - hopefully!!!

and yes, she is evil. If you are interested I would suggest you read syair Bidasari - so lah very romantic!

abt facebook - minta ampun beribu ampunnnnnnn - Blog satu ni pun susah nak update! see you around in the mail box!

Kak Teh said...

Pak Malim suka baca syair?
saya juga suka tapi tak begitu mahir.
masih belajar dari tok guru,
banyak ceritanya lama dan baru,
nanti tamatnya kak teh bagitahu!
Selamat Pak Malim landing mimpi seribu.

Queen Of The House said...

I think I am hooked! More! More! She seems like an evil, evil character. Where and how did you enearth this syair, Kak Teh?

Kak Teh said...

QOTH, when i was seraching for a topic to do my dissertation, my friend who is the head of Malay indonesian collection at the British Library suggested that I do this syair as no one had studied it before - it is a very beautiful one - once you get over the transliteration - and understand the story , you'll appreciate it.
But i think a more beautiful story is syair bidasari - which has been published. It IS SO SO BEAUTIFUL.

melayudilondon said...

I don't think Dang Sarat will ever ever thought she will debut in Liverpool!

KAKTINY said...

salam kakteh.. dah pulang ke blog rupanya..

saya minat sgt sastera.. bergaduh dgn pengetua berkeras nk amik subjek sastera masa sekolah dulu.. (end up jadi lain lak..)

sastera melayu unik.. tapi tak berpeluang nak mendalaminya...

Kak Teh said...

melayudilondon, i dont think it ever crossed her mind. anyway, she was too preoccupied with something or rather someone else.

kaktiny,i did sastera masa Form six and then dah masa dewasa bi teringin pula nak sambung for my MA. Insyaallah kalau ada tenaga dan kudrat - dapat kut buat PhD - itu cuma impian di sian hari.

Zabs said...

Salam Kak Teh,
Dulu masa sekolah2 dulu, suka juga dengar Bangsawan di Radio, syair begini dibaca antara dailog2 pelakon. Tetapi tak pernah dengar Syair Dang Sarat ni.
Bidasari ni is it as in the Film "Bidasari" tu?.

Kak Teh said...

zab, syair ni memang belum dipublish sebab sebelum kak teh belum ada sesiapa yang study syair ini. Itu setahu kak teh lah dan juga pakar2 yang ada di sini yang termasuk professor kak teh sendiri.
Mengenai Bidasari - tak tahu pulak ada filem mengenai bidasari. Taopi syairnya memang indah.

Pak Tuo said...

Dikasihi Kekanda Teh dan keluarga moga dilindungi adanya Allah Azawajahallah hendaknya,

Maka ada pun hajat adinda mencoret warkah ini ingin mewadakan kepada Kekanda bahawa sesunggoh menggairahkan akan perilah-laku Sang Dang Sarat itu.

Ada kiranya termaklum akan hal Pasal 42 tersohor didalam Hukum Kanun Melaka akan hukum-hakam nya.
Termaklum sekelian rakyat ,hamba sahaya,tua dan muda,copak dan champing ,jantan dan betina memjunjung duli akan nobatnya Hukum Kanum tersurat.

Walhal hamba rakyat,hanya merafak sembah akan ehwal sejatera sahaja.
Akan hamba sahaya bak pepatah 'diguris terhuris,menghuris tergolek'

Akan begitu adanya kabar adinda buat maklum buat Kekanda dan keluarga dinegeri atas angin adanya.

Kak Teh said...

pak tuo,
Sungguh bijak adinda pak tuo mengarang warkah. Dayang Dang sarat sememangnya pandai dengan ilmu segala warna jadi tak hairanlah pak tuo juga terpesona.

Kenny Mah // Life for Beginners said...

Oh, the ending please! I love tragic endings... :P

Kak Teh said...

kenny dear, it is not an end you would wish on to your worst enemy! believe me. But keep a watchful eye - unintended pun in the word end.

NJ said...

Wow, you certainly raised my curiosity on this Bidasari. I agree with QOTH, her character does sound kinda ruthless/develish yet sweet. Yes, more story on Bidasari please :D

Kak Teh said...

NJ, Bidasari and Dang Sarat two different characters. You read Syair Bidasari and you will fall in love with her but Dang Sarat? She is bad news! But the syair is beautiful.

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Kak Teh
Thank you for introducing us to Dang Sarat. As it is, we don't know that this "character" existed in syair Melayu lama.
I think its a pity that our Malay literature are kept outside our own country but then again, it is also a blessing because the foreigners tend to value them more than we do.
Keep safe and take care.

Kak Teh said...

Fauziah, this syair shd interest you as it is the story of the sultan of Johore and relationship of Johore with Patani. Once i publish it, will let you review - nak tak??

chinta said...

indahnye syair tuh..minat tapi tak cukup kreatif tuk lebeh memahami klasik melayu ( x reti nak explain)...

sampai liverpool DS nie yek..btw, kak teh buat dissertation yek..

Ida said...

Hi K. Zaharah,
Sounds like you had tremendous fun! How I wish I was there to hear you speak of your 'baby':-) I wanted to email you earlier to wish you Good Luck; I surfed ASEASUK website and saw your name. But, seems like all went well, huh? Take care now.

Kak Teh said...

chinta - yes, i have already done dissertation based on Syair dang sarat - hope to get it published.

Ida - pls email me - must keep in touch. are you here or there? miss you at conferences - no gang!

Chet said...

Sunday Rose ... isn't that what Brits serve for dinner on Sundays?

Oh wait ... that's Sunday roast.

I was once on a fam trip to the East Coast and found myself seated at lunch with one of the reporters from one of the Malay papers. I asked "what's your name?", he replied what I thought sounded like "whose name?", so I asked again, and he replied the same again, and this went on a few times until I figured out his name was Husni. Might've been the hair covering my ears and obstructing my hearing.

Brain of Creativeness said...

saya juga tertarik kpd syair dang sirat ni, cuma ada sedikit kekeliruan azimat yg dipakai oleh dang sirat tu adakah dalam bentuk pencucuk sanggul?

Brain of Creativeness said...

boleh saya dapatkan email akak?

Kak Teh said...

boleh -