Sejarah Melayu – Munshi Abdullah (1881)


Sejarah Melayu – Munshi Abdullah (1881)


A remarkable, extremely scarce 1881 edition of Munshi Abdullah’s version the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals), printed in Jawi.

Title: Sulalatul Salatin : Iaitu Sejarah Melayu.

Author: Munshi Abdullah

Publisher: Brill, Leiden, 1881. Reprinted from the Singapore edition of 1831.

Condition: Quarter leather, marbled boards. Recent binding. Very good. A stamp of the first page (presumably a library stamp), obscuring the text slightly. Hinges reinforced with cloth. “History of Malaya” on spine title. Text very clean, binding tight. Extremely scarce.

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About the book (from Wikipedia):

The Malay Annals (Malay: Sejarah Melayu, Jawi: سجاره ملايو), originally titled Sulalatus Salatin (Genealogy of Kings),is a literary work that gives a romanticised history of the origin, evolution and demise of the great Malay maritime empire, the Malacca Sultanate. The work which was composed sometime between 15th and 16th centuries, is considered one of the finest literary and historical works in the Malay language.

The original text has undergone numerous changes, with the oldest known version dated May 1612, through the rewriting effort commissioned by the then regent of Johor, Yang di-Pertuan Di Hilir Raja Abdullah. It was originally written in the Classical Malay on traditional paper in old Jawi script, but today exists in 32 different manuscripts, including those in Rumi script. Notwithstanding some of its mystical contents, historians have looked at the text as a primary source of information on past events verifiable by other historical sources, in the Malay world. In 2001, the Malay Annals was listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme International Register.

In 1821, the English translation of Raffles MS no.18 by John Leyden was first published in London. Then, it was followed by the edited version in Malay language by Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, published in Singapore in 1831 and the compilation by Édouard Dulaurier in 1849. In 1915, William Shellabear’s edition was published. It is considered as a hybrid long text, primarily based on Abdullah and Dulaurier’s version but containing extracts from other texts as well. It was then followed by another translation of Raffles MS no.18, this time by Richard Olaf Winstedt in 1938. Another important version, compiled by Malaysian historian Abdul Samad Ahmad in 1979, uses the original title of the text, Sulalatus Salatin. Abdul Samad’s compilation was based on three manuscripts that he named as A, B and C, kept in the library of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur. Two of the manuscripts, alternatively named as MS86 and MS86a by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, were later referred in the nomination form submitted for UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme International Register.

About Munshi Abdullah (from Wikipedia):

Abdullah bin Abdul al Kadir (1796–1854)also known as Munshi Abdullah, was a Malayan writer of mixed ancestry. He was a famous Malacca-born munshi of Singapore and died in Jeddah, a part of the Ottoman Empire.

Munshi Abdullah has been popularly regarded as among the most cultured Malays who ever wrote, one of the greatest innovators in Malay letters and the father of modern Malay literature.

The term Munshi means “teacher” or “educator”. Munshi Abdullah was a great-grandson of a Hadhrami Arab trader, and also had Tamil and to a smaller extent, Malay ancestry. Owing to his ethnic and religious background, the Malays would refer to him as a Jawi Peranakan or Jawi Pekan.

Munshi Abdullah followed his father’s career path as a translator and teacher of colonial officials in the Malay Archipelago, mainly the British and the Dutch.

J.T. Thomson, a contemporary of Abdullah, described him thus: “In physiognomy he was a Tamilian of southern Hindustan: slightly bent forward, spare, energetic, bronze in complexion, oval-faced, high-nosed, one eye squinting outwards a little. He dressed in the usual style of Malacca Tamils. Acheen seluar, check sarong, printed baju, square skull cap and sandals. He had the vigour and pride of the Arab, the perseverance and subtlety of the Hindoo – in language and national sympathy only was he a Malay.”