Manuscript (MSS 25) of Syair Siti Zubaidah Perang China

Manuscript (MSS 25) of Syair Siti Zubaidah Perang China

Country  Malaysia
Repository  National Library of Malaysia, 232, Jalan Tun Razak Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Section  Other Documentary Heritage that Contributes to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
Gender Dimension  Stories from women's perspective
GEM  GEM 1– Gender Sensitive
Description  Syair Siti Zubaidah Perang China (Malay for Poem of Siti Zubaidah's War on China, often abbreviated Syair Siti Zubaidah) is a 19th-century syair (poem) by an unknown author.

The manuscript (MSS 25) of the syair is held at the National Library of Malaysia. Other institutions also hold manuscripts including the National Library of Indonesia (MI 727). The earliest known extant manuscript of Syair Siti Zubaidah Perang (MS 37083) can be traced back to 1840 and is in the custody of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Research on the poem suggests that it is set in the period of the colonization of South East Asia in the 16th century.

The classic Malay poem is a romantic narrative that portrays the bravery and courage of Siti Zubaidah in seeking the release of her husband, Sultan Zainal Abidin King of Kembayat Negara, who has been captured by Chinese princesses and imprisoned after Kembayat Negara was attacked by China. Siti Zubaidah also seeks to make her country a free and independent nation again.

In the poem Siti Zubaidah disguises herself as a man, leads her troops into battle and wins the war. When reunited with her husband she presents herself as a perfect wife and lover. Her courage and Islamic devotion also impress the Chinese princesses who convert to Islam.

The manuscript has been recognized as an object of national heritage by the Heritage Department under Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia.
Reference  - Syair Siti Zubaidah Perang China: perspektif sejarah, by Abdul Rahman al-Ahmadi. Kuala Lumpur: Perpustakaan Negara Malaysia (National Library of Malaysia), 1994.

- Syair Siti Zubaidah Perang China, by Abdul Mutalib Abdul Ghani. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1983.

- Photo credit: © National Library of Malaysia