Tuesday, 12th June, 2012 § 2 Comments
Just as Noor Suraya wanted to introduce Hang Tuah’s story in a manner that would interest younger readers (see here), Hikayat is the result of ninotaziz’s wish to preserve and introduce classical Malay epics to today’s generation. Unlike Noor Suraya’s adaptation which is in Malay, the tales in Hikayat have been translated into English which from a marketing standpoint is just plain smart. Author Nisah Haron in her review of this book opined that telling these mostly pre-Islamic Malay epics in English means that today’s young Malaysian bookworm who is probably already more exposed to English books than Malay ones would be more willing to pick up Hikayat. If that is the best way to let them know about the rich literary heritage of Malaysia then I’m all for it.
The book is divided into three parts:
First is The Epics of Millenia which includes the historical epics of Hang Tuah, Merong Mahawangsa, Sulalatus Salatin (the Malay Annals), Malim Deman, Hikayat Awang Sulong Merah Muda, Syair Siti Zubaidah Perang China (the poetry of Siti Zubaidah and of the war with China), Hikayat Panji Semirang and my personal favourite, An Ode to Huminodun, because it is a tale from my birthplace Sabah. I must admit I was surprised to see it here because I did not expect to see a non-Peninsula story included in this book.
The second part is The Seven Royal Princesses which as the title suggests collects seven stories featuring prominent women both historical, fictional and a bit of both. They are Puteri Gunung Ledang, Tun Teja, Hang Li Po, Puteri Sa’Dung, Mayang Sari, Mahsuri and Puteri Santubong (another non-Peninsula tale. Yay!)
The third part covers stories that were told through music, dance and wayang kulit (shadow puppets). From the Ancient Arts includes Wayang Kulit Kelantan Tulen – Hikayat Mahraja Wana, Mak Yong, Dewa Muda, Anak Raja Gondang and Raja Besar Ho Gading.
All the stories collected in this book are the abridged versions, naturally. At only 276 pages, Hikayat is way to slim to include all the epics in their complete form. Nevertheless the book acts as a wonderful primer and a treasure trove of stories that risk extinction through lack of interest, read only by stuffy academics in stuffy halls of academia. Ninotaziz wants these stories to be enjoyed by the people as they were originally intended. Let’s hope her efforts will be rewarded.