Traditional Malay Literature after ~1550AD: B. Key Works

I have decided to go with the simple way. Start with one post that focuses on works; and then another posts focusing on key authors. Instead of chronological lists (which is hard anyway as the dates are quite sparse; and then the overview post has already given the general outline of the dates of the various genres), this first list of key works are based purely on number of extant manuscripts mentioned. The cut-off number is >10 (exclusive). 13 texts selected out by this criteria

Rank Group


Author Date (A.D.)  # of MSs 
1 F Bustan as-salatin Nuruddin ar-Raniri 1638-41  33
2 C Hikayat Indraputra   2H-16th to early 17th c. 30
2 C Hikayat Syah Mardan Syaikh Muhammad Asyik Abd al-Fakar (editor?) 1690-1736, likely after 1700 30
4 E Hikayt Bayan Budiman (abscribed to) Qadi Hasan ~1600AD (1st extant MS) 25
5 G Taj as-salatin Bukhari al-Jauhari 1603 20
5 C Hikayat Hang Tuah   Between 1688-1710s 20
5 C Hikayat Isma Yatim (a certain) Ismail mid-17th c. or a little later 20
5 E Hikayat Bakhtiar   2H-17th c. ('Persian' recension) 20
9 H Hikayat Sultan Ibrahim ibn Adham   late 17th or early 18th c. 12
9 J Syair Ken Tambuhan   Most likely 18th c. 12
9 J Syair Bidasari   ~1750? or 2H-18th c. 12
9 J Syair Selindung Delima   2H-18th c. (before 1775) 12
9 M Syair Burung (1st recension) Raja Hasan (son of Raja Ali Haji) - copied or composed variation in 1859 Before 1826 (original) 12



Some general comments on this list:

1. Using the same cut-off there will be 7 texts from before 1550AD that should also be included (detailed see this post in Feb): Hikayat Muhammad Hanafiyah (30), Sejarah Melayu (29), Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati (29), Hikayat Seri Rama (20), Hikayat Amir Hamzah (20), Hikayat Iskandar Zulkarnain (17), Hikayat perang Pandawa jaya (12) - creating a total list of 20 works.


2. The categories are defined in the prior post. Categories not represented are: D, K (historical hikayats and syairs), I (non-fiction prose after 1750), L (miscellaneous "non-fiction" poetry). While the latter two categories will actually be represented in the later post on key authors, it is clear that I need another post on Malay-language historiography (here).

Now some specific comments some of the works:


1. Bustan as-salatin: See next post

2. Hikayat Indraputra: "popular and artistically perfect;" can be interpreted as Sufi didactic work; adapted / translated into Buginese, Makasarese, Javanese, Acehnese, Magindanao, Maranao, Cham

4. Hikayat Bayan Budiman: "one of the earliest Malay translations / adaptations of Persian writings;" "the earliest example of framed narratives in Malay literature;" "one of the most important books of instruction in Malay literature."

5. Taj as-salatin: "one of the most important books of instruction in Malay literature;" "preface and epilogue provided the most complete exposition of the correct expression of meanings in literary work;" translated into Javanese Makasarese, Acehnese 

5. Hikayat Hang Tuah: "mergest elements of all 3 functional spheres into a unity of artificial historico-heroic epic;" "one of the pinnacles of classical Malay literature;" "18th c. Velentijn described this as a 'very rare gem' and 'the best of Malay compositions;'" "breadth and scope like Sejarah Melayu;" influenced modern authors

9. Hikayat Sultan Ibrahim ibn Adham: "earlier than and undoubtedly more popular than Hikayat Rabi'ah and Hikayat Syaikh Abu Yazid al-Bistami;" translated into Sundanese, Javanese, Acehnese, Buginese

9. Syair Ken Tambuhan: Panji-poem; "prototype of a series of similar syair devoted to the theme of women;" "can be viewed as forerunner of many sorts of Malay/Indonesian works composed in early modern and more recent periods;" "'best specimen of the classical style, imbued with a note of joy and beauty never again recaptured' according to Windstedt;" has Minangkabau version dated 1848

9. Syair Bidasari: "synthetic work resembling classical fantastic adventure hikayat but surpasses most of them in local Malay-Javanese colouring"  

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