The origin of the Perak name

Most people would assume that Perak was named after the abundance of tin ore found in the state especially in Kinta & Larut. This assumption is not quite right. According to Misa Melayu (a Perak primeval manuscript), it was written that during the reign of the second Sultan of Perak, Sultan Mansur Shah I ibni Almarhum Sultan Muzaffar Shah was leading a delegation to determine the boundary between his kingdom and Siam, and he noticed that one of the tributaries was as white as coconut milk. He then requested Megat Terawis to investigate the source of the stream. He reported to Sultan Mansur Shah that a large fish suckling its young, with milk flowing from her ample white breast. Thus, he gave the name ‘Perak’ meaning silver, after the silver-like appearance of the fish milk in the main river which flows from the north to the south of the state.

[Note:  The naming of a place, territory or state in Malaysia was mainly based on historical (mostly mythical) incidents, for instance Melaka. Melaka was named over a tree where Parameswara was standing while he was discussing with his guards after failure to hunt a pelanduk!]

The same can be said about places in Perak. Examples given here include:

1. Ipoh was named after the pokok upas (Antiaris toxicaria).

pokok ipoh

The ipoh or upas tree.

2. There are two versions of how Gopeng was named. First, it was named after a Chinese miner i.e. Goh Peng. The second story was based on type of fruit called pulai, which describes the pulai fruit excreted by a squirrel. In addition, there is also a place that has a lot of pulai trees – hence the name Simpang Pulai!


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