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Genie Tales 2 - Myths from Langkawi

Updated on July 22, 2017

Fifteen minutes away from Langkawi Island is the second largest island off the coast of Kedah, the Isle of Dayang Bunting. The word dayang is usually used to denote a fairy and it is descriptive of someone who is enchantingly pretty.

According to legend, hundreds of years ago a female genie named Mambang Sari lived on the island of Langkawi and everyday Mambang Sari and her fairies would go to the water’s edge to play. Mambang Sari was a genie of some prominence and one day while she was out playing with her fairy entourage she was spotted by a male genie called Mat Teja.

Enamored by the pretty Mambang Sari, Mat Teja started to watch her discreetly. He followed her silently from a distance, observing her every move as she frisked and frolicked with other fairies, unaware of her secret admirer.

Now, in order to reach the water’s edge daily to spy on the lovely Mambang Sari, Mat Teja had to walk past a place called Diang, home to an elderly man who was known as Tok Diang. One day while he was walking past the home of Tok Diang, the elderly man called out to him and asked him where he was headed. Mat Teja replied that he was out in search of Mambang Sari and that he had fallen in love with her but he did not have the courage to approach her.

The wise old man decided to give him some advice. He told Mat Teja to find a small bamboo stalk and walk along the seashore. When the tide recedes, he instructed Mat Teja to fill the hollow of the bamboo with the tears of a mermaid.

Mat Teja was then instructed to wash his face with the tears of the mermaid. One it was done he was free to approach Mambang Sari and the old man assured him of success.

Mat Teja did as he was told and went in search of a mermaid. He walked along the seashore for hours and just as the tide receded he saw a mermaid sitting by herself on an isolated rock, crying because the receding tide had abandoned her.

The tears were streaming down her cheeks and when Mat Teja saw the desolate mermaid, he grabbed the bamboo that was attached to a belt strapped across his waist and rushed to gather the tears that left her cheeks and fell to the ground.

Mat Teja then returned to where Mambang Sari was playing with her fairies and just before he approached her, he washed his face with the tears of the mermaid.

He then came out of hiding and allowed Mambang Sari to see him for the first time. As soon as the lovely genie caught a glimpse of her admirer, she fell instantly in love with him.

Soon after she fell pregnant and had a child. Seven days after the birth of the child, the baby died under mysterious circumstances. The disheartened Mambang Sari threw the child’s remains into a lake and the lake became known as Dayang Bunting Lake.

More compelling than the tragic tale of Mambang Sari is that of the enchantingly pretty Mahsuri. As the story goes, Mahsuri was married to a warrior called Wan Darus and the couple made their home in Padang Matsirat on the Isle of Langkawi.

Soon after they were wed, war beckoned and Wan Darus had to leave his wife. While he was away, a stranger named Deraman came calling and the young lady befriended the man. Mahsuri was reputably the prettiest lass in Langkawi, to the envy of many including her sister-in-law Wan Mahora.

Following the arrival of Deraman, vicious rumors started circulating around the village propagated by the jealous Wan Mahora and Mahsuri was accused of adultery. The young woman pleaded her innocence but none of the villagers paid her any heed and she was sentenced to death by the village elders.

She was tied to a pole and was repeatedly stabbed with a traditional dagger (keris) while she continued to plead her innocence. The thrusts of the dagger however failed to penetrate her body and she finally revealed that she could only be killed by her family dagger.

She was then stabbed with her family dagger and as the blade entered her body, a stream of white blood came gushing out, shocking the onlookers. The color of her blood proved her innocence and her death was followed by a series of natural disasters including failing crops and bad harvests.

© 2016 Kathiresan Ramachanderam and Dyarne Jessica Ward


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