Hang Tuah

Hang Tuah is famous for quoting the words ‘Takkan Melayu Hilang di Dunia’ which literally means ‘ Malays will never vanish from the face of the earth’ or ‘Never shall the Malays vanish from the face of the earth’. The quote is a famous rallying cry for Malay nationalism.

Considered by many as a legend and a man with supernatural powers, Hang Tuah made a name for himself as a popular warrior during the Melaka Sultanate era. Together with his four companions , Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu. The five of them had been in each other’s company since their childhood. It was said that Hang Tuah’s parents, father Dang Mahmud and mother Dang Merdu Wati, migrated from Bentan to Melaka in search of a better life where they settled in Kampung Duyung.

From his early days, Hang Tuah and his four friends embodied comradeship and stood by each other through thick and thin. As they grew older, Hang Tuah and his buddies learnt the Malay art of self-defence or silat from a renowned guru named Adiputra in a cave somewhere in a remote part of Melaka. Their courage and mettle, coupled with their expertise in martial arts, all the five friends helped in keeping the peace in Melaka.

The turning point in Hang Tuah’s life came when he save the Bendahara from falling victim to a man who ran amok in town. When Sultan Mansor Shah (1456-1477) heard about Hang Tuah’s bravery, he was made the Laksamana cum Syahbandar. His friends were appointed the knights of Melaka.

Back in those days, accepting invitations and calling on foreign countries as far as China was the norm for the Sultan of Melaka and Hang Tuah was a constant aide to the Sultan on such visits. During the sojourn to Majapahit, Taming Sari, a famous Majapahit warrior, challenged Hang Tuah to a duel. After a fiery fight, Hang Tuah emerged as the winner and the Sultan of Majapahit bestowed Taming Sari’s kris, which is said to be the source of Hang Tuah’s magical powers, to Hang Tuah.

Apart from carrying the responsibilities as the Laksamana and the Syahbandar, Hang Tuah was always assigned to the task of being the Sultan’s ambassador in fostering closer ties with the Sultan’s allies including China, India, Siam and Turkey.

According to Hikayat Hang Tuah, in his blind loyalty to the Sultan, Hang Tuah sailed to Inderaputra to persuade the already engaged Tun Teja, the princess of Pahang to be the Sultan’s companion. Thinking that Hang Tuah himself would be marrying her, Tun Teja eloped with him to Melaka. However, it was only during the voyage home, that Hang Tuah revealed the truth.

Hang Tuah’s popularity soon became the envy of a few noblemen and this led to one of them, Pateh Karma Wijaya, to fabricate a story that Hang Tuah was having an illicit affair with one of the palace’s lady-in-waiting. Without a fair trial, the Sultan sentenced Hang Tuah to death for the alleged offence. However, the Bendahara who know the truth, went against the Sultan’s orders and hid Hang Tuah in Ulu Melaka.

This became the turning point in the relationship between Hang Tuah and his best companion Hang Jebat. Believing that Hang Tuah was innocent, Hang Jebat avenged his death, first by killing Pateh Karma Wijaya. The Sultan was unable to do anything as none of his warriors dared to challenge the ferocious Hang Jebat. Only then did the Bendahara confided in the Sultan and told him that Hang Tuah was still alive. Ordered to be brought before him, the Sultan later instructed Hang Tuah to kill Hang Jebat, which he did after seven grueling days of fighting.

Hang Tuah continued to serve Malacca after the death of Hang Jebat. Later in his life, as Hang Tuah progressed in his years, the warrior was ordered by the successive Malaccan Sultan to court a legendary princess on the Sultan’s behalf. The Puteri Gunung Ledang  (Princess of Mount Ledang) was so named because she resided on Mount Ledang at the Melaka-Johor border. According to legend, the Princess met with Hang Tuah, and only agreed to marry the Sultan if he satisfied a list of requirements, or pre-wedding gifts. The list included a golden bridge linking Melaka with the top of Gunung Ledang, seven trays of mosquito livers, seven jars of virgins’ tears and a bowl of the Sultan’s first born son’s blood.

Hang Tuah knew the tasks would not be fulfilled, and was said to be so overwhelmed that he failed his Sultan that he flung his kris into a river and vowed only to return to Melaka if it resurfaced, which it never did. It was also said that he then vanished into thin air.


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