I present for you the greatest origin myth in the history of the world. It’s from Signe Howell, Chewong Myths and Legends, p. 7, copyright 1982 by the MBRAS (Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society). I’m blogging it to share it more widely with the world, and also so that next time I want to read it I don’t have to get it from Interlibrary Loan. (The Chewong are the ‘jungle people’ of the tale.)
HOW THE MALAYS CAME TO MALAYA
A long time ago there were no Malays or Chinese in Malaya. There were only jungle people (bi brete). Then a young Malay raja arrived on his own. He met Batin Tasimpaey and married his daughter. Later, lots of Malays arrived in many ships. They were looking for the raja. They looked around and saw that it was a beautiful place and they wanted to live there. The demanded Malaya for themselves. Batin Kokn who was a woman and a great putao, would not given the island to the Malays. She said they would have a test. She and a Malay would both plant a sapling and if that planted by the Malay was still alive the following morning, the Malays would be allowed to enter. They both planted. The next morning the Malay’s plant had died, whereas that of Batin Kokn was alive. It had grown during the night into a tall tree with many flowers. Seeing this the Malays went away. Later they returned in three thousand ships and they had guns. The jungle people became very frightened and they ran away into the jungle where they have lived ever since.