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The Legend of Puteri Gunong Ledang PDF Print E-mail
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Legends, Beliefs and Superstitions
Saturday, 10 July 2010 10:41

The Legend of Puteri Gunong Ledang

When it is presented again, go and see this excellent musical production with jewel-like costumes and dramatic dances. The 2004 film version with M. Nasir and Tiara Jacquelina was a huge success.

Erm … not to be picky about it, because both the musical and the movie were beautifully costumed in the eyes of the foreign beholder, but true Johorians were a bit upset that the liberal artistic license in costuming leaned towards the Javanese.

This is Johor’s most popular legend about a princess who is said to have lived on Mount Ophir or Gunung Ledang in Johor. She was quite some bird: independent, impetuous, strikingly beautiful, possessed magical powers and was not really interested in the usual husband-kids-happy home deal.

The most important man in the land, the Sultan of Malacca, of course heard of her beauty and very much desired to marry her. Since she was not impressed she set him seven impossible demands which were:

1. to build her a golden bridge for her to walk to Malacca from her mountain

2. to build her a silver bridge for her to return from Malacca to her mountain

3. to present her with seven bowls of betel nut juice

4. to present her with seven trays filled with hearts of fleas

5. to present her with seven trays filled with hearts of mosquitoes

6. to present her with seven jars of virgins’ tears, and finally

7. to present to her a bowl filled the blood of the Sultan's own young son

There are different versions of how the legend unfolds after that episode. One said that the Sultan was unable to fulfill any of these demands. Another said that he ruined Malacca in fulfilling the first six demands (one wonders just how) but found himself unable to meet the final demand which would have meant he would have had to to kill his son.

Anyway, the Sultan of Malacca did not get to marry the Princess, and lived frustrated for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, the Princess took a fancy to a handsome, strong and fierce warrior known as Nakhoda Ragam. And they lived very happily together in Johor for a long time, and enjoyed sailing in his ship. But the legend unfortunately ends in tragedy for these two strong characters.

Nakhoda Ragam had the deplorable habit, which he could not control, of tickling the Princess in the ribs. This was highly annoying to her and one day whilst she was sewing he came up to her and did it again.

Well, she had had just had enough of that. She stabbed her husband with her needle right in the middle of his chest and though she was remorseful, he got furiously annoyed and stomped off to sail away.

A storm arose and in the shipwreck, the warrior Nakoda Ragam perished. The Princess was distraught, and returned to the top of Gunong Ledang, forswearing all men till death.


They say that from the wreckage of Nakoda Ragam’s ship the six islands off Malacca were formed: Pulau Hanyut from the kitchen, Pulau Nangka from a cake tray, Pulau Undan was from a jar containing water, Pulau Serimbun arose from the incense burner, Pulau Burong from the ship’s chicken coop, and, most romantic of all, the state room where Nakoda Ragam and the Princess of Gunong Ledang spent their honeymoon became Pulau Besar.


The gold and silver bridges built by the unsuccessful Sultan of Malacca are still hidden under the lianas of the forest leading to the secret palace of the Princess on the top of the mountain.


And which spoilsport really cares about the ‘true’ facts when the legend is so enthralling? Feminists would have a field day picking the story to pieces.


Last Updated on Friday, 17 September 2010 07:16