According to legend, the first Sultan of Perak, Sultan Muzaffar Shah I ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Shah (1528 – 1549) set sail to Perak to form the Perak Sultanate following an invitation by Tun Saban. Sultan Muzaffar was the second prince born to the last Sultan of Melaka, Sultan Mahmud Shah, who was then exiled to Johor following the fall of Melaka to the Portuguese. He carried on his ship many of the royal regalia of the Melaka Sultanate, including the Royal Crown of Melaka.
On nearing Perak, the ship carrying Sultan Muzaffar Shah entered shallow waters and was stuck. They decided to lighten the load of the ship to get the ship sailing again. Many of the items carried on the ship were thrown into the sea but the ship still refused to budge, until all that was left was the Royal Crown. The sea was pleased with the offering of the Royal Crown because the ship subsequently miraculously set sail on its own to Perak.
Sultan Muzaffar Shah saw the miracle as a sign, and he swore that he and his descendants would never wear a crown as Sultans, or never be crowned during their installation. This practice came to be followed by the Malay Sultans of the other states. Therefore, the Malay head-dress known as the Tengkolok came to be the replacement for a crown.
The styles, persons who are eligible to wear them and the colour normally associated with rank* are as follows:
1. DYMM Sultan – Balong ayam. White and gold.
2. DYTM Raja Muda – Ayam patah kepak. Yellow and gold.
3. DYAM Raja Di-Hilir – Lang Menyusun Angin/Lang Menyonsong Angin. Black and silver.
4. Empat Raja Bergelar – Lang sioh. Purple and silver.
5. Orang Besar Empat – Getam pekasam/Ketang pekasam. Green and silver.
[* In our opinion, adhering to a particular style may not be that strict, as seen from the photo of YAM Raja Di-Hilir Kamaralzaman in the previous post, where he is seen wearing a Balong ayam, but in the black/silver colour of a RDH Perak. – the Editors]
Other styles include Anak gajah menyusu and Pucuk Pisang Patah:
[The black and white photos are taken from Hj Mubin Sheppard’s 1962 article in Malaya In History, and the tengkoloks were tied by Tuan Hj Shukor bin Yusuf of Bukit Chandan, Kuala Kangsar.]
1. Sheppard M. Malay tengkolok – Court head-dresses in Perak, Trengganu and Kelantan compared. Malaya In History. 1962; VIII (1): 32-36.
2. Tengkolok. Laman Rasmi Pejabat DYMM Sultan Perak.