Regalia of Malaysia
The regalia of Malaysia (Malay: Alat-alat Kebesaran DiRaja Malaysia; Jawi: الت٢ كبسرن دراج مليسيا) includes all the items which are deemed sacred and symbolic of the supremacy and authority of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Supreme King of Malaysia and his consort, the Raja Permaisuri Agong. The installation of the Supreme King is a very special ceremony. Only on this particular day are the masses able to see his regalia. Several of these are Malaysian National Treasures since 2009.
The motifs are coloured gold, to add regality and an imperial aura to the throne, and all the designs point upwards to indicate that all beings are created by Allah.
Tengkolok Diraja (Royal headdress)
According to Malay legend, the first Sultan of Perak, Sultan Muzaffar Shah I Ibni Almarhum Sultan Mahmud Shah (1528–1549) set sail to Perak to form the Perak Sultanate. Sultan Muzaffar was a descendant of the Malacca Sultanate which was then exiled in Johor by the Portuguese. He carried on his ship many of the royal regalia of the Malacca Sultanate, including the Royal Crown of Malacca.
However, during his journey, his ship entered shallow waters and was stuck. The only way to get the ship sailing again was by reducing the ship load. So one by one the many items of the ships were thrown into sea but the ship refused to budge. Until finally the only thing left to throw into sea was the Royal Crown of Malacca. The sea was happy with the offering of the Royal Crown because immediately after that the ship miraculously set sail on its own to Perak.
The Sultan seeing the miracle as a sign swore that he and his descendants would never wear a crown as Sultans or never be crowned during their installation. This practice came to be followed by the Malay Sultans of the other states. Therefore, the Malay head-dress known as the Tengkolok came to be the replacement for a crown.
For centuries Malay Rulers have worn head-dresses as part of their regalia. They have been wearing head-dresses made of embroidered silk folded in different styles since the days of the Malay Sultanate. The style of folding is called solek and there are various styles depending on the tradition of the royal family of the particular state. The colour of the head-dress varies from one state to another.
The royal head-dress worn by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong during his installation is made of black fabric embroidered with gold thread. It is folded in the style called Dendam Tak Sudah (Persistent Vengeance) which originated from Negeri Sembilan. Affixed at the front of the headwear is a crescent-shaped ornament and a 14-pointed star. At the centre of the star is the crest of the Malaysian Government.
Royal attire, Muskat
The royal attire of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the installation ceremony is the Muskat—the King's Royal Dress. The origin of the Muskat can be traced to the ancient kingdom of Muscat, present day Oman. Originally the Muskat was worn by government officials of Kedah.
The Muskat was first worn in 1960, at the installation of the third Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail. It was the brainchild of the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-haj, Malaysia's first prime minister, who was a prince from the Kedah royal house.
The Muskat is made of black wool embroidered with gold threads, in the pattern of the hibiscus, Malaysia's national flower. The dress is worn with headgear and embroidered long pants, at ceremonies to mark the King's installation, birthday, official visits to the states and during the opening of the Parliament sitting. Past Hari Merdeka celebrations saw various other appearances of the dress.
The Pending or Royal Buckle is made of pure gold and decorated with 11 rubies. There is an engraved centrepiece featuring the Federation Crest. The belt is made of heavy ribbed silk and embroidered with floral motifs in gold thread.
The most revered item in the Malay royal regalia is the keris. Two—the Keris Pendek di-Raja and Keris Panjang di-Raja—are among the Royal Regalia worn by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Keris Pendek di-Raja
Keris Pendek di-Raja or Royal Short Keris is the short keris made from the steel blades of older keris. It has an ivory hilt and gold-decorated sheath. The hilt is called Hulu Pekaka and shaped like the head of the legendary Garuda bird. The Federation Crest is embossed on the crosspiece of the sheath. It can only be carried or worn by His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Keris Panjang di-Raja
The Keris Panjang di-Raja is the most important symbol of authority during installation ceremonies. The Keris Panjang Diraja or Government Keris symbolises power and authority. Both its hilt and sheath are covered with gold. The crosspiece of the keris is engraved with the Emblem of Malaysia and that of the eleven Peninsular Malaysia states.
Its blade was forged from steel taken from eleven keris from the eleven states. The hilt of the keris is in the form of a horse's hoof with decorations resembling the jering (Archidendron pauciflorum) fruit. This keris is worn by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on certain occasions only.
Gendik di-Raja (Royal tiara)
The Gendik di-Raja or Royal Tiara is worn by the Raja Permaisuri Agong during royal ceremonies and on the day of installation.
The Gendik is made of platinum and studded with diamonds. It is so designed that it can be separated to form a locket and two brooches.
Kalung di-Raja (Royal Necklace)
The Kalung di-Raja or Royal Necklace is made of platinum and studded with diamonds. The kalung can be separated into a pair of earrings, brooches and kerabu (ornament for the ears).
Sceptres and maces
The Cogan Alam (Sceptre of the Universe) is part of the Royal Regalia. This silver mace symbolises power and is 162.66 cm long. It consists of an orb mounted on a long shaft. The orb has a crescent and an 11-pointed gold star sitting on it. Around the centre of the orb, the crests of the 11 states of Malaya are embossed in gold. The orb is supported by four tigers while the shaft itself is decorated with six padi stalks carved in gold.
The Cokmar, or War Clubs, is another symbol of power and part of the panoply of authority of the Malaysian Government. The Cokmar are two in number and made of silver. Each is 81.32 cm long and consists of a circular, fluted orb made of plain silver and mounted on a short shaft, also made of silver.
The other Royal Regalia are the Pedang di-Raja (Royal Swords) and Sundang di-Raja (royal sword-keris). The Pedang and Sundang are traditional Malay weapons that have become symbols of royalty. These have silver-gilt hilts and sheaths.
The Payung Uburubur Kuning (yellow royal umbrellas) are 20 in number and made of silver. Yellow symbolises royalty and is reserved for royal usage. The Royal Umbrellas are each tipped with an 11-pointed star and crescent.
The Tombak Berambu (long spears) are also 20 in number,and have blades with three curved indentations. They are made from ancient spears from the 11 states of Peninsular Malaysia.
The Nobat or Royal Musical Ensemble is a form of traditional Malay music, and is considered part of the royal regalia. The Nobat only plays on special occasions like the Installation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the investitures of the other Malay Rulers, and the Agong's birthday. The ensemble was introduced in the 15th century.
The term originates from the Persian word naubat, which means nine types of instruments. Currently, only Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Perak and Selangor have their own Nobat ensembles, with instrumentation differing by state. The Kedah and Perak ensembles are the oldest in the federation, while Terrenganu's and Selangor's uses loaned sets (the former from the Riau-Lingga Sultanate, last used there in 1910, and the latter as a complete set from Perak given when the state's first ruler was enthroned). Kelantan's ensemble, reformed in 2016, is the youngest (existing since the early 20th century). It is termed Pasukan Gendang Besar only in that state unlike the 4 others in which nobat is used.
A typical arrangement has six instruments:
- the gendang negara ("state" or large, two-headed drum)
- gendang ibu ("mother" gendang)
- gendang anak ("child" gendang)
- one to two serunai (flute or clarinet)
- nafiri (trumpet)
- caklempong (small gong).
The Kedahan Nobat adds a velvet-covered mace or sceptre, Nahara drums, and a medium-sized mounted gong. The ensembles in Perak and Selangor have the same instrumentation, while that of Terengganu includes not only the flute, medium drums and trumpet, but also the Gendang Negara or Saku kettle drum and a set of clash cymbals. Kelantan's has an additional serunai plus 2 rebab lutes, 2 large gongs, and 2 more gendang anak.
During the installation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Nobat will play the tune PaluPalu Melayu as the royal regalia are borne into the Balairong Seri (throne room). Other songs played during the Installation rites are Iskandar, Belayau, Nobal Tabal, Perang, Ibrahim Khalil and Seri Istana.
The leader and conductor of a Nobat ensemble is known as the Mahaguru, and is responsible for the musicians under him and for the care and maintenance of the instruments. The Kedahan Mahaguru also holds the namesake velvet-covered mace present in performances and ensemble rehearsals.
While the Perak, Selangor, Terengganu and Kelantan ensembles play in occasions only, Kedah's play everyday before prayer hours and during holidays and celebrations.
- bin Haji Taha, Adi (2004). Pameran Raja Kita. Kuala Lumpur: Department of Museums and Antiquities, Malaysia. ISBN 967-9935-17-5.