Selection of a Town Site

In close connection with the ceremonies for the
selection of individual house sites are the forms by
which the princes of Malay tradition selected sites
for the towns which they founded. The following
extract will perhaps convey some idea of their
character

In close connection with the ceremonies for the selection of individual house sites are the forms by which the princes of Malay tradition selected sites for the towns which they founded. The following extract will perhaps convey some idea of their character:

“One day Raja Marong Maha Podisat went into his outer audience hall, where all his ministers, warriors, and officers were in attendance, and commanded the four Mantris to equip an expedition with all the necessary officers and armed men, and with horses and elephants, arms and accoutrements.  The four Mantris did as they were ordered, and when all was ready they informed the Raja. The latter waited for a lucky day and an auspicious moment, and then desired his second son to set out. The Prince took leave after saluting his father and mother, and all the ministers, officers, and warriors who followed him performed obeisance before the Raja.  They then set out in search of a place of settlement,  directing their course between south and east, intending to select a place with good soil, and there to build a town with fort, moat, palace, and balei.

They amused themselves in every forest, wood, and thicket through which they passed, crossing numbers of hills and mountains, and stopping here and there to hunt wild beasts, or to fish if they happened to fall in with a pool or lake. After they had pursued their quest for some time they came to the tributary of a large river which flowed down to the sea. Farther on they came to a large sheet of water, in the midst of which were four islands. The Prince was much pleased with the appearance of the islands, and straightway took a silver arrow and fitted it to his bow named Indra Sakti, and said : ‘O arrow of the bow Indra Sakti, fall thou on good soil in this group of islands; wherever thou mayest chance to fall, there will I make a palace in which to live.’ He then drew his bow and discharged the arrow, which flew upwards with the rapidity of lightning, and with a humming sound like that made by a beetle as it flies round a flower, and went out of sight. Presently it came in sight again, and fell upon one of the islands, which on that account was called Pulau Indra Sakti. On that spot was erected a town with fort, palace, and balei, and all the people who were living scattered about in the vicinity were collected together and set to work on the various buildings.”

Source:  MALAY MAGIC  AN INTRODUCTION TO THE FOLKLORE  AND POPULAR RELIGION OF THE MALAY PENINSULA BY WALTER WILLIAM SKEAT, 1900

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