Our shoulder bags have been a long time coming. Inspired by a romantic notion of the old Southeast Asian archipelago, also known as the nusantara, we desire to create fresh stories from a forgotten era — lush, idyllic and fascinating.
A curiousity to uncover the Southeast Asian archipelago led us to the Malay Annals or Sulalatus Salatin (Genealogy of Kings). In an incredible mix of mystical folkore, myths and legends, it is a fascinating literary work that gives an introduction to the great Malay Maritime empire — rich with anecdotes of triumphs, downfalls and their relations with other regions by trade, marriage and war.
An excerpt from the Malay Annals, Chapter 14:
"THE Raja of Majapahit died without leaving any son to inherit the throne, but he left a daughter named Radin Galah Wi Casuma, who was raised to the succession by Pati Gaja Mada (Prime Minister).
How long did the Princess Naya Casuma sit on the throne of Majapahit, and the Pati Ari Gaja Mada under her? Till many persons began to accuse the Pati Ari Gaja Mada of forming the design of marrying the Princess himself.
He therefore presented himself before the Princess Naya Casuma, and stated that as she was now full-grown, she ought to take to herself a husband. The Princess said, if that was his opinion, she would agree to it; but she requested him to collect all the people of the country, that she might choose the person whom she preferred. The Pati Ari Gaja Mada promised to comply with her wishes, in collecting the inhabitants, and choose she a man, or choose she a dog, he promised to recognise him as his lord and master.
Then the Pati Ari Gaja Mada sent and proclaimed by drum and trumpet, through all the land of Majapahit, that the Princess Naya Casuma intended to choose herself a husband. As soon as the proclamation was heard, all the raja-rajas, para-mantris, seda-sidas, bentaras, hulubalangs, and all the people great and small, young and old, high and low, crooked and halt, and lame and limping, bow-legged and wry-legged, blind and deaf, all of them assembled at the fort of Majapahit. The fewer that were personally invited, the more numerous those who came of their own accord; for every one said to himself, "It may very easily happen that the Princess should pitch upon me, and what should hinder me from becoming Raja of Majapahit?
When all were assembled, the Princess went up to a lofty balcony which commanded a view of the road, and the Pati Ari Gaja Mada ordered them all to parade before her singly. Then all the chiefs passed in review before her, and then the whole of the rest of the people, but she did not approve of any of them."
Excerpt from Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals), translated by Dr John Leyden
Printed by Silverfish Books, 2012. First published by Longman, Hurst, Orme, and Brown, 1821.