SHAMAN, SAIVA AND SUFI

(e) INSTALLATION CEREMONIES

The selection of a ruler is supposed to be made before his predecessor's body is consigned to the grave. In one
Malay folk−tale, where a king has died childless and his successor is chosen by a sagacious elephant (as in many
Indian stories), the prince selected is bidden to sit beside the corpse of the deceased, while guns are fired and the
drums and trumpets of the royal band are sounded seven times. In Naning and in many parts of Negri Sembilan, a
chief's successor must mount the bier; failure to achieve this is regarded as a bar to election and, if there are more
claimants than one, they scramble on to the hearse together or one after another. At his installation a new
commoner chief of Jelebu has to sit on the dais on which the body of the last chief was washed for burial.
The formal installation of a ruler is made some while after the obsequies of his predecessor. There are
festivities for seven days or forty days. Then the prince is bathed ceremonially and dons robes of state. A Perak
Sultan wears a gold neck−chain, dragon−headed armlets of gold, and a creese in his belt; in his head−kerchief is
thrust the royal seal, and from his shoulder hangs a sword with an Arabic inscription, reputed to have been the
weapon of his ancestor, Alexander the Great! Seven times he is taken in procession round the royal domain, to the
thud and blare of the state drums and trumpets, escorted by courtiers carrying flags and pennons, creeses, lances
and swords. On his return to the palace, he listens to a herald reading a proclamation from an unintelligible
version of an old Sanskrit formula. He is cooled with rice−paste and sprinkled with rice. About him clusters a
retinue, holding umbrellas, weapons, and betel−caskets. The Sultan's pages rest swords and creeses on the right
shoulder; the pages of the heir to the throne may not lift his insignia above their arms. His Highness enters the hall
of audience, mounts the throne, and has to sit motionless " while the royal band plays a certain number of times. .
. . The number should not exceed nine or be less than four. Any movement by the Sultan would be extremely
inauspicious." At this moment the genies of the State are apt to make the sword of Alexander the Great press on
the royal shoulder. Into the Sultan's ear, the king's secret, namely, the real Indian names of the divine founders of
his house, is whispered by a descendant of the herald who came out of the mouth of a bull when first the bearers
of those Indian names alighted on earth and required a pursuivant. His subjects in the hall bow to the earth seven
times in homage.
In Negri Sembilan the Yamtuan's regalia comprise sets of eight, eight weapons of each kind, eight umbrellas,
eight betel−boxes, eight tapers, eight water−vessels, eight handfuls of ashes, and a bowl with one strand of human
hair. When all is ready for the installation, chamberlains invoke the archangels to send down the divine power of
kings by the hand of angels. "The weapons are taken out of their yellow wrappings, the royal umbrellas are
opened, the royal candles lit, the water−vessels and betel−boxes are lifted up on high for all to see. A copy of the
Quran is set down before these mighty regalia, and ewers filled with every kind of holy water are arranged before
them. One ewer contains water mingled with blood; another contains water with a bullet in it; another may have
water mixed with the pure rice−paste that sterilizes all evil influences. A censer is waved. . . . The great chiefs are
about to swear allegiance to the king. The presence of the holy regalia, the water crimsoned with blood, the water
that washes the lead or iron of war−all these things lend additional terror to perjury." The herald who proclaims
the election of a new Yamtuan "is expected to stand on one leg with the sole of his right foot resting against his
left knee, with his right hand shading his eyes, and with the tip of the fingers of his left hand pressing against his
left cheek!" The chiefs sweep forward on their knees, raise folded hands seven times to their brows, kiss their
overlord's hand thrice and retire. Again incense is burnt, "and the word of God as written in the Quran is believed
to come down and is repeated in Arabic in the hearing of the people, 'Lo, I have appointed a Caliph to be My
vicegerent on earth.'"
When a commoner chief is installed by the Sultan of Perak, he stands at the entrance to the palace under a
large banana leaf, while a herald reads over him the chiri, that unintelligible Sanskrit formula "in the language of
the genies." Then the oath of allegiance is taken. Drums clash. An old man steps forward, and using a grass brush
sprinkles rice−paste down the banana leaf that covers the candidate's head. The brush and the leaf are cast away
and the rice is scattered over his body. When the new chief has doffed his creese and crawled up to the throne to
do homage, the Sultan moistens his brow with rice−paste, tucks a bunch of yellow chempaka bloom under his
head−kerchief and sprinkles him with rice. The chief retires backwards, doing obeisance as when he came. A curtain is dropped midway across the hall and he goes out. He must cross water and may not look upon the Sultan
or his palace or his elephants or anything that is his for one week. Violation of this rule may cause death to chief
or ruler.
To the primitive patriarchal and matriarchal communities of the Malay race kings and royalty were foreign.
The description in Malay romance of royalty's silks, seamless, fast of dye, iridescent, of gossamer muslins tangled
by a dewdrop, and of other wonderful raiment, are only the hyperbole of village rhapsodists marvelling at the
luxurious novelties of the court and winning favour by lauding them. The yellow umbrella of the Malay ruler was
imported from China. Court sumptuary laws for cloths, weapons, and houses came from India. Among Malay
regalia, the sword and the seal are foreign, and the names of half the drums and trumpets are Persian. The idea
that a ruler can slay at pleasure without being guilty of crime is not Malayan. The word Raja is Sanskrit; the word
Sultan introduced with the religion of Muhammad. The divinity that hedges a modern ruler is Muslim and
conferred by Allah during the recital of the text: "Lo! I have appointed a Caliph to be My Vicegerent on earth."
The white blood of Malay princes is that ascribed by Muhammadan mystics to certain saints.




Shaman, Saiva and Sufi

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