Chura Si-Manjakini

The mystical Chura Si-Manjakini. (Source: Buku Pertabalan DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah)

The Chura Si-Manjakini is a sword that forms part of the Perak regalia. It is also known as Curik Man-Dakini, and was said to have been the sword of Raja Suran (likely to be Rajendra Chola Dewa I) that was described in Sejarah Melayu. The original name of the sword was believed to be Cureka Si Manjakinicurik being a Tamil-Sanskrit word that meant ‘to cleave’ (Malay: mata besi, alat pemotong, penetak, penebas); man deriving from the Sanskrit mantera; and Dakini which was a mambang kecil (bentara perempuan) that was said to devour the flesh and blood of man. It was likely that Chura Si-Manjakini was a pedang kuasa used in war by Raja Suran that had been mantera-ed (puja) invoking the name of the aforementioned Dakini, as he and his army attacked Srivijaya c.1025 – 1028AD. There is also another description of the derivation of the sword’s name – churika meaning ‘blade’, whilst Mandakini is a tributary of the river Ganges in India.

According to Hikayat Ketinggian Salasilah (Sejarah Raja-Raja Negeri Perak), the Sultan of Perak is descended from Sang Sapurba, the son of Raja Suran and Puteri Mahtab al-Bahari, the daughter of Aftab al-Ardzi. Chura Si-Manjakini was carried by Sang Sapurba as he arrived at Seguntang Mahameru in Palembang. It was said that Sang Sapurba had once instructed Permasku Mambang to use Chura Si-Manjakini as a weapon to destroy Saktimuna, a serpent-dragon that wreaked havoc in the state of Minangkabau. This has been described in John Leyden’s version of Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals):

Then the ancient chiefs desired them first to enquire if he would engage to kill the snake Sacatimuna (Ichktimani) which destroys all our cultivation… Sangsapurba assented, and requested them to shew him its den. Then a champion, named Peramas Cumambang, was sent by with his famous sword Chora Samanda Kian, to perform this service… the champion smote it with the sword, and cut it into three parts… In this combat, however, the sword Chora Samanda Kian received one hundred and ninety notches.”

It was also described that Parameswara bore this sword during his installation ceremony as the first Sultan of Melaka in 1405. The sword was handed down to the subsequent Sultans and after the demise of Sultan Mahmud Shah in Kampar, following the fall of Melaka to the Portuguese, Chura Si-Manjakini was brought to Perak by Sultan Muzaffar Shah in 1528, and the sword had remained as part of the regalia since.

According to YM Raja Razman bin Raja Abdul Hamid in an interview with the Straits Times in 1953, the sword is known as Chorek Manja Kenen. He revealed that the sword was taken away to England following the friction between Sultan Ismail and Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II  that led to the assasination of J.W.W Birch in 1875. He also added that no installation of a Sultan can be made without the sword which has been handed down to Perak Sultan from Sang Sapurba, the founder of Malay dynasty.

During the installation ceremony, the YM Raja Chik Muda Pawang Di-Raja presents Chura Si-Manjakini to the Sultan. The DYMM Sultan will unsheath the sword to kiss the edge of the sword’s blade, following which the sword is resheathed and carried over the right shoulder, the same way it was carried by Sang Sapurba when he made the promise with Demang Lebar Daun, the Raja of Palembang.

Reference:

1. The Straits Times: On the Margin. 5 March 1953. p. 6
2. YM Raja Kobat Salehuddin Almarhum Raja Muda Musa
3. Buku chenderamata pertabalan Sultan Idris II.
4. Leyden J. John Leyden’s Malay Annals. Kuala Lumpur: MBRAS; 2009. p38-39.
5. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak.

The Toh Seri Nara DiRaja: a preamble

The Seri Nara DiRaja is the chief herald of the royal household whose role had been extensively described in Sejarah Melayu since the days of the Melaka sultanate. According to John Leyden’s appraisal of Sejarah Melayu, it was the Seri Nara DiRaja who had a pivotal role in assisting Raja Kassim, the son of Almarhum Sultan Muhammed Shah (Sri Maharaja), to become the Sultan of Melaka, after the ill-fated death of Sultan Abu Shahid (Sri Paramaeswara Dewa Shah). Raja Kassim was then known as Sultan Muzaffar Shah, who ruled Melaka wisely and had ordered the compilation of Kitab Undang-Undang, so that “the laws might not be perverted by his chief officers, or mantris“.

The post of Seri Nara DiRaja is held by orang kalur of a ‘higher/purer’ pedigree than those who hold positions as royal musicians playing the nobat. Orang kalur are said to be descendants of orang muntah lembu. According to Sejarah Melayu, a descendant of Iskandar Dzukarnain (Alexander the Great) by the name of Bichitram Shah (or Nila Utama, or Sang Sapurba), descended on the mountain of Sagantang Mahameru on a bull. As described in Leyden’s translation of Sejarah Melayu:

“The name of the prince (Bichitram Shah) they changed into Sangsapurba. The bull which was his conveyance, vomited foam, from which emerged a man named Bat’h, with an immense turban, who immediately stood up, and began to recite the praises of Sangsapurba.”

An extensive description of the orang kalur can be found in a paper written by YM Raja Iskandar Raja Halid, which have been posted in SembangKuala in June 2009.

The post of Seri Nara Diraja still exists, and he is referred to as Toh Seri Nara Di-Raja in the court of DYMM Paduka Seri Sultan of Perak. During the installation of a Paduka Seri Sultan, the Toh Seri has an important ceremonial role during the Tabal Adat and Tabal Pusaka. The Toh Seri would walk into the Balai Rong Seri after the Paduka Seri Sultan is handed the sword Cura Si-Manja Kini. The Toh Seri steps up to the singgahsana and presents the Mastika Embun and inserts the Cap Halilintar behind the right ear of Paduka Seri Sultan, following which the Rahsia Nisab Sultani is whispered. The Toh Seri Nara Di-Raja then performs a salutation (menyembah) and retreats respectfully. The Toh Seri Nara Di-Raja is also involved in the Mengambil Air Bersiram Tabal.

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The next SembangKuala post by YM Raja Kobat Sallehuddin Raja Muda Musa will touch on the origin of the term nara, and its significance in early Indo-Malay civilisation.

Reference:
1. John Leyden. John Leyden’s Malay Annals. MBRAS Reprint 20.
2. Sabri Zain. The coming of Islam: The ship from Juddah. Sejarah Melayu.
3. Tabal Adat. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak.
4. Tabal Pusaka. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak.

Amelia Ceridwen’s ‘The Silsilah Raja-Raja Perak I: A historical and literary investigation into the political significance of a Malay court genealogy’

This text was kindly provided by Amelia Ceridwen. Underlying manuscript: MS Maxwell 105, Royal Asiatic Society, London. From the edition of: Amelia Ceridwen. The Silsilah Raja-Raja Perak I: An Historical and Literary Investigation into the Political Significance of a Malay Court Genealogy. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society: Volume 74(2); 2001. pp.23-129.

Date of the manuscript: Completed subsequent to the death of Raja Bendahara Mahmud of Perak on March 31st 1815, most probably before or not long after the demotion of his son from the position of Raja Muda (most likely successor to the Perak throne) in October 1826.

Provenance:
Perak (Given to W.E. Maxwell by Raja Bendahara Osman of Perak).

Location references:
To the folios (i.e. pages, 1-171) of the Maxwell 105 manuscript, noted in Ceridwen’s published edition.

Editorial notes:
The M105 deals with the genealogy of the Perak royal line. The first two thirds of MS Maxwell 105 appear to have been selectively copied from a version of the Sulalatus Salatin or Sejarah Melayu similar to that contained in MS Raffles 18. Features of the original orthography have been retained as far as possible in the transcription. Non-standard word divisions have been sacrificed. The contents of the manuscript may be summarized, thus:

1*-9: Raja Culan aborts a planned attack on Cina and visits a kingdom under the sea. (p.1 missing)

9-14: Three princes, sons of Raja Culan, descend on Bukit Siguntang.

14-25: Exploits of the youngest prince, Seri Teria Buana, who becomes ruler of Palembang, subsequently shifting to Bintan and later Singapura.

26-30: Details of heirs to the throne in Singapura.

30-32: Kingdom shifts to Melaka.

32-41: Chain of succession to the Melaka throne.

42-45: Bendahara’s loyalty.

46: Marriages of the Melaka Sultan to daughters of prominent figures.

46-52: Heir apparent to the Melaka throne demoted, exiled and subsequently installed as Sultan of Perak.

52-55: Displacement of descendants of the Melaka Sultans in Johor by the Bendahara line.

55-61: Succession and royal marriages in Perak, including intervention by Aceh.

62-65: Conflict and reapproachment between the Perak Sultan and his brothers (as potential successors).

66-68: Bugis attacks on Perak, disunity among the court ultimately resulting in the Raja Muda taking over as Sultan.

68-70: Restoration of order, prosperity.

71: The illustrious career of the Sultan’s son as Raja Bendahara.

Bibliography:
1. W.E. Maxwell, “Notes on Two Perak Manuscripts” Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, No.2, Dec 1871, p.181-91.
2. Straits Settlements Records, Fort Cornwallis Council Proceedings, The India Office, London.