Friday, Jan 29

Discover The Top-5 Myths and Legends of Langkawi

By Joel Teh

Growing up with storybooks and fairytales, I always find myself falling into the prey of curiosity to unearth the native ‘folklore’ in a strange place. In summary, folklore, or also known as oral traditions, are beliefs passing down from the older generations through tales, jokes, and proverbs. For instance, The Origin of ‘Jiangshi’ (Chinese zombie) in China, Irish Banshee in Ireland, The Headless Horseman in Germany, and The Leopard Man in Africa are some of the mythologies around the world, but the locals are still convinced that these stories are somewhat real, despite the upsurge of modern technology in our daily life.

There is a circulation of popular myths among fellow Malaysians as well. Whenever people gather in a group and tell stories, anecdotes such as Puteri Gunung Ledang, Pontianak and the Yellow Volkswagen in Karak Highway, and The Thrilling Story of Mona Fandey would be brought up as the tell tales among locals until today.

Langkawi, being awarded ‘Geopark’ by UNESCO for its geological heritage and outstanding travel scenes, is always a holiday destination to unwind oneself from bustling city life and bond with nature. Nonetheless, a beautiful island as such came with its local legends as well. Therefore, we are going to uncover five of the popular legends in Langkawi in hope that they would enhance the historical value of this tourist spot.

The Legend of Mahsuri

In the previous article of 10 interesting places to visit in Langkawi, we stumbled upon the Mahsuri Tomb with its background story that narrates the death of a pretty maiden in the golden age. This story has become the reason many tourists came to the museum for visitation. But what’s the factor behind this place that amplifies the tourism value of the entire Langkawi in general?

The story goes like this. Moving from Siam (current Thailand) and settling down in Langkawi, Mahsuri was the prettiest woman at her age. Not only that, she married a warrior named ‘Wan Darus’, who eventually went to trading in Namnoi which left her alone to fend for herself. During her husband’s absence, Mahsuri befriended Deraman, a young minstrel.

Being an object of jealousy and feudal vassal, Mahsuri was accused of adultery by Wan Mahora, the wife of the village headman. Consequently, the rumour spread to the entire village and she was put to the death sentence. Despite pleading her innocence, no one believed her statement. Thus, she’s stabbed by his family keris (asymmetrical dagger) and white blood came off of her body.

According to the legend, Mahsuri cursed Langkawi in her last breath that this island was to be doomed with seven generations of bad luck. As a result, there was the burning of paddy fields and the colonization of Siam soon after. After the curse was lifted, Langkawi became prosperous again, hence the exuberance of its tourism scene today.

 

Field of Burnt Rice (Beras Terbakar)

Following the curse of Mahsuri, we have another story in Langkawi that recounts the burning of paddy fields in Padang Matsirat. As known by its strategic location in Kedah, Langkawi received its supply of food and grain through paddy fields, which also put them as the target of attack by Siam to occupy the Kingdom.

To defend from the Siam conquest, the army chief of Langkawi, Datuk Panglima Hitam urged all villagers to assemble their harvest to a field in Kampung Raja and burn all the crops in hope of warding off Siamese. He also commended the villagers to poison the water wells as an additional measure. This far-fetched yet convincing idea, however, did not go effectively as expected. As a counter-attack, Siamese killed and destroyed the entire place, which was believed as a result of the curse laid down by Mahsuri in the past.

The hole of the field, though under special preservation, is known as The Field of Burnt Rice (Beras Terbakar) where traces of black burnt rice can still be seen during rainy days until today.

The Story of Gunung Machinchang

This legend explains the origin of some famous places in Langkawi. There were once two giants- Mat Cincang and Mat Raya. They were best friends but somehow got into a fight during their children’s wedding reception.

The sudden commotion has caused the birth of a few places, for instance:

  • Kuah Town (a pot of gravy)
  • Ayer Hangat (hot water)
  • Belanga Pecah (broken pot)
  • Selat Cincin (ring handles)

Regretting their behaviour, Mat Cincang and Mat Raya turned themselves into mountains while having Mat Sawar, their mediator to be the smaller hill in between to prevent future fights.

The Tale of A Vampire in Gua Langsir

Gua Langsir, or also known as the Cave of the Banshee, is believed to house a banshee with its high-pitched, scream-like sound that flows out from the depths of the cave. Named after Langsiar, the female vampire makes creepy sounds and sucks human blood from its victims. Thus, locals don’t dare to enter this haunted cave due to the legend, but it somewhat becomes one of the tourist attractions for adventurous climbers of perfect physical condition and prominent climbing expertise.

Gua Langsir is located at Pulau Dayang Bunting. Visitors can take a speedboat from Kuah Jetty to reach there in no time.

The Pregnant Maiden of Dayang Bunting Lake

Another story from Pulau Dayang Bunting is about the romantic exploratory of two genies- Mat Teja and Mambang Sari. Falling deeply in love with the fear that it wasn’t going to be reciprocated, Mat Teja wiped his face with the tears of a mermaid from the sea when seeing Mambang Sari as instructed by Tok Diong, an old man in the village. The magic worked and Mambang Sari fell back in love with Mat Teja too.

After being intimate with each other, Mambang Sari got pregnant and delivered her baby at Tasik Dayang Beranak. Nevertheless, the baby passed away seven days after birth. Devastated by the incident, Mambang Sari laid the body of her baby in the same lake.

Ever since that, locals started to believe that the lake possesses a magical power to heal women with infertility issues.

By writing this, I hope it escalates the taste of Langkawi’s myths and urban legends. While all the stories above may seem far from reality, they are still a good source of entertainment that makes the travel experience in Langkawi more valuable than ever.

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