Selasa, 20 September 2011

`Bedil` The Traditional Brunei Cannons

Bandar Seri Begawan - As everyone stood rapt to attention at the Taman Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Saadul Khairi Waddien to the national anthem being played, the 21 cannon volleys reverberated throughout Bandar Seri Begawan, marking the beginning of His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei‘s birthday celebrations.

The firing of the cannons by the country‘s Armed Forces is a centuries-old tradition, adopted not just in Brunei but throughout the world.

Not everyone knows the origin of the gun salutes _ and why 21?

It is said that the origin of gun salutes is usually attributed to soldiers demonstrating their peaceful intentions by intentionally placing their weapons in a position that rendered them ineffective.

One way to render cannons "ineffective" was to fire them, as reloading cannons in ancient days was a very difficult affair. Originally, at sea, seven shots were the norm due to superstition and mysticism about the number seven.

However, on land, with more supply of gunpowder, they could fire three guns for every one shot from a ship, so a salute from a ship of seven guns would be answered by a salute from the shore batteries of 21 guns.

With improving gunpowder technology and storage, everyone adopted the 21-gun salute including us in Brunei Darussalam.

Likewise, not everyone knows that cannons were already being manufactured in Brunei at least 500 or 600 years ago. Many cannon moulds have been found at archaeological sites throughout the country.

Historical records also indicate that cannons had been used in Brunei. The historical records of Antonio Pigafetta when he was in Brunei as Magellan‘s chronicler in 1521 stated that "in front of the Sultan‘s palace, there was a thick wall of bricks, with towers in the manner of a fortress on which mounted fifty-six brass and six iron cannons".

!The Bruneian cannons, known in the Brunei vernacular as bedil, are used not just on land but also on board Brunei ships. A record of the Spanish attacks on Brunei stated that the Brunei ships used cannons.

!The origin of the cannons is unknown, they were most probably of Chinese and European origins. The first cannon in Europe probably appeared during the Islamic era in Spain. Brunei cannons probably are more influenced by our relationship with the Chinese Empire.

!In Brunei, the art of casting metals had been in existence for many centuries. As far back as 1225, a visiting Chinese official, Chau Ju Kua, found that the Bruneians had been carrying swords and metal armour made of bronze when attending funerals. It was said that during the era of Sultan Bolkiah, the fifth Sultan, 40 Javanese metal craft experts had been brought back to teach Bruneians their craft.

Cannons played important roles in Brunei‘s history. They were used as Brunei‘s main defences and a good number were positioned at the mouth of the Brunei River and were placed there until the British came to Brunei in 1846.

Some famous cannons bore names, such as Si Tunggal and Si Dewa. These two were taken by the Suluks during the Brunei civil wars and were later taken to Manila. Another well-known cannon during Sultan Bolkiah‘s reign was Si Gantar Alam which was used during the attacks on Luzon and Manila.

The Brunei cannons had their own attributes. In the manufacture of the cannons, the local craftsmen would pay attention to eight main parts of the cannons known locally as the batang (barrel), muncung (mouth), kancing lumba-lumba (trigger), pistaran (sightscope), sumbu dan gargasa (ignition), gamban (barrel end), gaganok (holder) and sangka (holder).

Each part would be intricately designed with Bruneian motifs, thus distinguishing Bruneian cannons from other cannons in the world.

Cannons are not just used for defensive purposes but play important role in the royal courts.

Cannon shots are fired on many important royal events, with different numbers for each event. The highest are obviously events connected to His Majesty the Sultan and Her Majesty Raja Isteri, with 21 shots.

Other events feature 17 shots (for a circumcision ceremony), 16 (for the opening of the nightly vigil ceremony or the anointment of Wazirs) and 7 (for the births of Princes and Princesses).

Royal Wedding ceremonies feature 12 shots fired to mark the beginning of the Royal wedding ceremonies and 17 during the nikah and other occasions.

Brunei cannons were also used in the economy as monetary tokens for payments and the remittance of fines.

A number of exhibits at the Currency Gallery of the Brunei Currency and Monetary Board are miniature cannons between 6 inches and 12 inches long which were used as currency in Brunei in place of coins and other monetary tokens. It was said that the value of these miniature cannons could be as high as $30 (straits dollar) each.

Cannons were used as part of the dowry to be paid. In Belait, a groom had to send a cannon among other items to the bride‘s family. Cannons were also used as tribute payments. When an ‘Orang Kaya‘ - a titled local minister died, landowners had to pay a tribute of a cannon. Cannons were also accepted as replacement of other punishments in some Brunei ethnic cultures.

One interesting use of a Brunei cannon had been found used to mark a grave in Rangas.

Brunei cannons are unique and it is one of our few remaining historical assets.

The author runs a website on Brunei at bruneiresources.comThe Brunei Times

Source: (23 Juli 2007)

Marketing Won`t Hurt Museums

Brunei-Muara - Brunei‘s museums need to do more to educate people to appreciate the institutions that store the sultanate‘s most precious historical artifacts, some Bruneians said.

Only two out of 10 Bruneians would enjoy history, said Lim Han, a Universiti Brunei Darussalam student. The majority of them would spend their time at the shopping mall or the arcade instead.
Lim, 22, who has visited Brunei‘s museums for more than 100 times, said that Bruneians in general find it "boring" and lack the curiosity to understand Brunei‘s history.

"One of the reasons that the museums do not make an effort to improve, is because Bruneians do not treasure the place," he said, adding that there were instances where the air-conditioner was not functioning during his visits.

The student majoring in primary education, said that when he last visited the museum one week ago, there were only a few tourists and "one or two Bruneians".

He said that he enjoyed going to the museum because "being there to see the display of artifacts, I feel closer to what happened in the past."

Lim suggested the idea of the museums organising annual competitions and inviting children as part of their school excursion trips.

"Most children study history based on the memorisation of facts, rather than fully understanding," he added.

Harpan Hj Yusof, a father of three said that the museums need to improve their image by introducing new ideas on showcasing the artifacts, which signify Brunei‘s rich local and cultural heritage.

"It is a bit sad that most Bruneians are not really interested in the history of Brunei, but would go to The Mall for entertainment purposes," said Mohd Azwan Hj Mahudin.

The Institut Teknologi Brunei student, who last visited the Royal Regalia Building three years ago, said that museums can be a family outing that allow family members to bond.

More information dissemination would help the museums to stimulate interest among Bruneians, he said.

The Brunei Museum in Kota Batu has collections on Islamic art documenting the origins of Brunei‘s culture, military artifacts and a wide range of natural history subjects, particularly the fauna of Brunei Darussalam.

Source: (23 Juli 2007)

History Of Thailand

The Thais are related linguistically to Tai groups originating in southern China. Migrations from southern China to Southeast Asia may have occurred in the 6th and 7th centuries. According to, Malay, Mon, and Khmer civilisations flourished in the region prior to the arrival of the ethnic Tai.

Thais date the founding of their nation to the 13th century. According to tradition, in 1238, Thai chieftains overthrew their Khmer overlords at Sukhothai and established a Thai kingdom. After its decline, a new Thai kingdom emerged in 1350 on the Chao Praya River.

The first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist kingdom of Sukhothai was founded in 1238, followed by the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th _ 15th century AD.

A century later, Sukhothai‘s power was overshadowed by the larger Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century. After the sack of Angkor by the Siamese armies in 1431, much of the Khmer court and its Hindu customs were brought to Ayuthaya, and Khmer customs and rituals were adopted into the courtly culture of Siam.

After Ayuthaya fell in 1767 to the Burmese, Thonburi was the capital of Thailand for a brief period under King Taksin the Great. The current (Ratthanakosin) era of Thai history began in 1782 following the establishment of Bangkok as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great, says

Pibul Songgram and Pridi Phanomyang, both educated in Europe and influenced by Western ideas, came to dominate Thai politics in the ensuing years. In 1934 the first general elections were held; a year later Prajadhipok abdicated, and a council of regency chose Ananda (reigned 1935-46) as Rama VIII. Pibul Songgram, a militarist, became premier in 1938. He changed the country‘s name to Thailand and instituted a programme of expansion. Taking advantage of the initial French defeat (1940) in World War II, he renewed Thai claims in Cambodia and Laos. Japanese mediation resulted (1941) in territorial concessions to Thailand. At the outbreak of World War II, Japanese forces attacked Thailand. After five hours of token resistance Thailand yielded to Japan on December 8, 1941, subsequently becoming a staging area for the Japanese campaign against Malaya. Following the demise of a pro-Japanese puppet government in July 1944, Thailand repudiated the declaration of war it had been forced to make in 1942 against Britain and the US, according to

Source: (23 Juli 2007)

Lectures On Comparative Literature For A New, Radical Perspective

Bandar Seri Begawan - The Southeast Literature Council (MASTERA) will be conducting a series of lectures on comparative literature on July 28 at Balai Sarmayuda, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Brunei in the effort to bring a new, radical and pragmatic territorial perspective for local literature in relation with the archipelago context.

Two lectures will be delivered by Prof Dr Abdul Hadi W.M. of Universiti Paramadina, Indonesia in the one-day event.

The opening ceremony of the event will be conducted by Dato Paduka Dr Awang Haji Ismail bin Haji Duraman, the Vice Chancellor ofUniversiti Brunei Darussalam.

The Director of DBP Dr Mataim bin Bakar in his capacity as the chairman of MASTERA of Brunei Darussalam will also deliver a speech.

At the closing ceremony, a speech will be delivered by lecturer Prof Abdul Hadi W.M. who will be presented with souvenirs.

The output of the lectures will be of utmost significance to local researchers of Malay literature in their attempt to compare local works with established regional writers.

The lectures, organised by the Southeast Asia Literature Council (MASTERA) has been conducted annually since 1997 commencing with Dr Sapardi Djoko Damono from Indonesia conducted a lecture, Modern Literature of Indonesia: Hybrid Literature.

Prof Dr Md Salleh Yaapar of Malaysia delivered a lecture on "Literature Comparison and 21st Century Southeast Asia Literature" in 1998.

It was the turn of the late Dr Luisa J Mallari Hall of the Philippines in 1999 when she made a literary comparison between the Philippines and Malaysia.

A Universiti Brunei Darussalam lecturers, Dr Ampuan Hj Brahim bin Hj Tengah, delivered a similar lecture entitled "Brunei Literature as an entity of Southeast Asian Literature" in 2000. Associate Professor Dr Hadijah Rahmat of University Technology Nanyang, Singapore delivered a similar lecture, Malay Indonesian Literature and the Capability of Poet Munsyi Abdullah and Hamzah Fanshuri, in 2001.

In 2002, a lecture entitled Relationship of Malay and Thailand Literature was conducted by Associate Professor Rattiya Salleh,` the deputy head of Thai and Eastern Languages Department and Malay Language course coordinator at the Thaksin university, Thailand.

In 2003, local literature activists listened to such lecture conducted by Dr Budi Darma of Indonesia who delivered "The Anatomy of Comparative Literature".

In 2004, it was the turn of Malaysian Prof Madya Dr Sahlan Mohd Saman to give out such lecture entitled Malaysian Literature in relation with Malay Archipelago Literature.

Prof Madya Dr Hj Hashim bin Hj Abd Hamid of Universiti Brunei Darussalam delivered a series of 4 lecturers in 2005 in relation with the topic "Jalur Sastera Brunei Dalam Sastera Nusantara" (Varieties of Brunei Literature in the Literature of the Malay Archipelago).

Last year it was the turn of Prof Madya Dr. Shahrudin bin Maaruf of National University of Singapore delivering a lecture entitled "Eternal and Dedication in Regional Literature".

Source: (23 Juli 2007)

Seeking Fresh Blood at Silat Championships

Bandar Seri Begawan- The 2007 Brunei Darussalam National Silat Championships was officially launched at the Multi pupose hall, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Sports Complex in Berakas last night.

Held in conjunction with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu‘izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam‘s 61st birthday celebration, the tournament also acts as a pre-selection process for the national team.

On hand to launch the event was Hj Musa Pengarah Hj Jair, the first deputy vice-president of the Brunei Darussalam National Silat Association (Persib).

The honours of citing the national "pesilat" oath was given to 16-year-old exponent, Nurul Aimi Amalidya Zainidi, who did the country proud at the 2007 World Pencak Silat Junior Championships in Singapore when she bagged the gold medal in the "seni bela diri" category and silver in the "tanding" (class A) category.

Although the official launching was in the evening, the tournament had begun its preliminary matches at 2pm, with the men‘s "tanding" (class A and C), "silat cakak asli"and "kuntau".

The men‘s and women‘s "seni bela diri" matches were held last evening, with the men‘s "tanding" (class B) closing the night.

The "tanding", "silat cakak asli" and "kuntau" categories for both men and women will continue today until July 27.

More than 200 participants are competing this year coming from Brunei-Muara, Tutong, Belait, Temburong as well as the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Royal Brunei Police Force, Brunei Darussalam Prison Department and Sports School.The Brunei Times

Source: (23 Juli 2007)

Govt`s Agencies to Hold Cultural Products Weeks 2007

Jakarta - For the first time 12 government agencies with the Chamber Of Commerce and industry (Kadin) and the National Handicraft Council will hold an "Indonesian Cultural Products Week 2007" at the Jakarta Convention Center on July 11-15, 2007.

The activity, which will carry the theme: "A Bunch of Flowers of Indonesian Cultural Products for the World", will present the best handicraft products from various areas in Indonesia.

It will also show traditional food from 33 provinces, arts performance from 5 tourist destination areas and cross-Malay traditions from six regions.

Several provinces that will present performance of arts are East Nusa Tenggara, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Riau, Riau Islands, West Nusa Tenggara, West Sumatra, and West Kalimantan.

Chairman of the Cultural Product Week 2007 committee, Sakri Widianto said the event constitute a meeting site of policy makers, professional associations, businessmen, artists, craftsmen, financial agencies and the community.

"This meeting is important to increase the commitment and synergy in developing cultural products as the strength of national economy," said Sakri.

During the Cultural and Tourism National Coordinating Meeting June 27-29 in Jakarta, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated that the economic prospect in the fourth wave of civilisation would originate in the cultural wealth, including the legacy of the past that was united with tourism, including ecotourism as one integrity.

"To welcome this matter and to develop the positive image for the Indonesian cultural product in the eyes of the world, we will hold this event in one week time by producing exhibitions, seminars and training as well as performance of cultural art," said Sakri.

Source: (23 Juli 2007)