Of river legends there are not a few. The following extract relates to one of the largest rivers of the Peninsula, the river Perak, which gives its name to the largest and most important of the Malay States of the West Coast. Perak means silver, though none is mined in the country ; and the legend is a fair specimen of the sort of story which grows up round an attempt to account for an otherwise inexplicable name:
“On their return down-stream, the Raja and his followers halted at Chigar Galah, where a small stream runs into the river Perak. They were struck with astonishment at finding the water of this stream as white as santan (the grated pulp of the cocoa-nut mixed with water). Magat Terawis, who was despatched to the source of the stream to discover the cause of this phenomenon, found there a large fish of the kind called haruan engaged in suckling her young one. She had large white breasts from which milk issued.
He returned and told the Raja, who called the river ‘Perak’ (‘silver’), in allusion to its exceeding whiteness. Then he returned to Kota Lama.”
Source: MALAY MAGIC AN INTRODUCTION TO THE FOLKLORE AND POPULAR RELIGION OF THE MALAY PENINSULA BY WALTER WILLIAM SKEAT, 1900