Previous social custom of the Malays – birth of an Anak Raja (final part)

“The infant’s head is shaved when it is about seven days old. Notice is given that, at about 8 am, the Raja will instruct the prince’s head to be shaved (Raja hendak mencukur putera-nia). A pretty woman of rank is selected and is placed on the child’s kasau with the baby on her lap. A box is behind her and she is surrounded by women. On the penterana in front of of her, a silver bowl is placed. The chief woman in the palace then commence to shave the child’s head taking it in turn according to their rank. Each shave a little bit. Then the handmaidens strike up a song (tarik nyanyi) called ‘Anak gajah jantan‘ and this is the signal for all the men to come forward and put money into the bowl. Hundreds of dollars are thus piled up sometimes. All the women of rank then have to make similar offerings. The inang and pengasoh are then appointed and named, and receive dresses suitable.

“After two or three months another ceremony, the rite of placing the infant in the swing (naik buaian) is performed. A transverse pole wrapped round with yellow cloth is fastened corner-wise to two posts of the house and a cloth forming a swinging cot is hung from this.

“A balai is then built at the river side, it is in two stages. The first level on the bank and the second just under water so that the women sitting on it have the water running over their knees. The child is carried down the lower platform and the upper one is crowded with spectators. When foremost boy (kepala kanda) is then enveloped in a black cloth. All are placed on the elephants and the procession starts. The foremost boy carries the earthen pot (periok) on his head if he is big enough, if not his father who accompanies him on the elephant carries it before him. The kepala kanda has the right pannier, the penangkah on the left. A suitable place has been selected for burying the temuni and there it is buried and a coconut is planted. This cocoa-nut (nyiur gajah) is the one which was taken to the river on the occasion of the infant’s first bath, which has been described.

“The procession returns to the palace. The kepala kanda, whose face and head is still covered with black cloth, is led up to the infant’s bed and he lifts his black veil and kisses the child. All the kanda are thenceforward regarded as the brothers or relations to the Raja.”

Secretary TH. Social Customs – Birth Ceremonies in Perak. Journal of the Straits Branch Royal Asiatic Society (JSBRAS). Supp. Notes and Queries. 1886. p78-79.


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