Saturday, January 5, 2008

BERUAS, the lost Kingdom



By FOONG THIM LENG

A photograph at the museum of a tombstone which indicates a Muslim kingdom once existed in Beruas.UNKNOWN to most visitors, the quiet town of Beruas, Perak, has an interesting history.
There are claims that it could possibly be the site of the lost Hindu kingdom of Gangga Negara and also that of the Malay kingdom of Beruas.
Research on the Beruas kingdom was first conducted by Colonel James Low in 1840 and a century later by H.G. Quaritch-Wales.
According to the Museum and Anti-quities Department, both researchers agreed that the Beruas kingdom existed but could not ascertain the exact site.
For years, villagers had unearthed artefacts, including tombstones with inscriptions, that indicated that Beruas could have been the starting point for the spread of Islam in Peninsular Malaysia.
Most of the artefacts, believed to be from the ancient kingdoms, are today displayed at the Beruas Museum.
Artefacts on display include a 128kg cannon, swords, kris, coins, tin ingots, pottery from the Ming Dynasty and various eras and large jars.
Based on museum information, a brief account of the kingdom was given in the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals).
It told of a kingdom called Gangga Negara under the rule of Raja Gangga Shah Johan.
The kingdom was said to be on a hill with its rear side facing a valley.

The exhibition hall in the Beruas Museum where artefacts from the lost kingdom are on display.The account strongly suggested that the kingdom could possibly be situated in the Dinding district (now Manjung), between the south of Gunong Bubu and east of Segari hills somewhere in Beruas.
However, researchers believed that the Perak River had changed its course several times due to extensive flooding and it is possible that the capital of Gangga Negara had also shifted several times along the river to Pengkalan, Tanjung Rambutan, Bidor and Sungai Siput, where bronze Hindu and Buddhist idols from the sixth to 10th century had been found.
Many researchers also believed that the Gangga Negara kingdom collapsed after an attack by King Rajendra Chola of Coromandel, South India, between 1025 and 1026.
It was renamed Beruas after Islam was established there.
Beruas is the name of a wild mangosteen and according to local oral history, the town was originally located at Pengkalan Baru where the trees grew in abundance.
Another historical source mentioned that Beruas was established by a prince from Aceh, Sumatra, named Malik al-Mansur, who was driven out of his country due to his unbecoming behaviour.
His entourage sailed from Aceh and landed in Perak. Malik was told that the tree he was resting on was named beruas and he named the area after the tree.
A number of royal Acehnese gravestones in the area lay testimony to the claim that the area is first ruled by them.
However, the beruas trees, which is now extinct in Beruas, can still be found in the nearby villages of Pengkalan Baru and Batang Kubu.

Antique Chinese ceramic ware pieces are displayed at the Beruas Museum.Historical records also showed that a Malay kingdom existed in Beruas before the 16th century.
It is believed that this kingdom was located at Kampung Kota where a number of royal tombs, tools and numerous 16th century Chinese ceramic shards had been found. The Malay Annals recorded that the Kingdom of Beruas paid tribute to Sultan Mahmud Shah of Malacca (1488 to 1511) and was conferred the title of Tun Aria Bija DiRaja.
Another important source came from Tom Pires, a Portuguese official who wrote in 1512 that Beruas was an active trading port.
At that time, ships were able to navigate up to 90km inland on the Beruas River.
According to Pires, a large number of ocean-sailing ships sailed to Beruas to trade.
The people of Beruas were said to have been very much involved in the maritime trade and had “travelled as far as Pasai, India, Thailand, Kedah and Benggala.”
According to Pires’ account, the people cultivated padi. The ruler was then Tuan Acem, a Chinese from Malacca, and Beruas was said to have sent 6,000 pieces of timas (tin ingots) as a tribute to Malacca.
During the 17th century, the Beruas River was badly silted and lost its role as an important trading centre.
Beruas, once a kingdom of splendour, regressed into a small settlement.

Originally published in The Star on Saturday February 19, 2005
© 1995-2003 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

4 comments:

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Ryehanna said...

Assalamualaikum, org beruas!

same la kite. heheh

rahimJidin said...

Good to see some history abt my Hometown get published. From what I heard, Bruas was initially called Blukar Sambang ..near Gangga Negara.. then name change to Antah Brantah (wonder why) then when the Palace sent people to reopen, they met Beruas trees..and hence name Beruas--> Bruas..

norizan hashim said...

Zan duduk di bruas dri tahun 1978-1986..
1978 masa tu tingkatan 2....spm 1981....bruas sgt mendamai kan....