Prof. der Putten specializes in Austronesian languages at the Department of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia (Asia Africa Institute), University of Hamburg.
Prof. der Putten is one of the primary investigators of the Digital Repositories
of Endangered and Affected Manuscripts in Southeast Asia (DREAMSEA) Programme,
funded by Arcadia. His main research interests lie in literary texts in Malay in different media.
The founding narrative of the great city state of Melaka and its history up to the Portuguese conquest and the relocation of the royal family and the continuation of its rule in Johor are well known from the studies about Tomé Pires’s Suma Oriental and the Malay Genealogy of Kings (Sulalatu’l-Salatin). It is also rather well established that the latter text became a model for succeeding royal families to legitimate their rule in certain localities as they were opposed by competing factions of the family or, not infrequently, by outside forces that encroached upon and undermined the power of the ruling elite.
A foundational text that would underpin the elite’s ruling position would be a prerequisite for its reign and certainly Sulalatu’l-Salatin was one of the models to be emulated. Traces or reflections of the narratives contained in the Sulalatu’l-Salatin can be found in traditional texts written in polities from Aceh to the Moluccas giving these texts a certain authority and also sometimes undermining the authority of the model text. In this paper, I will look into a few examples of texts that are closely related to Sulalatu’l-Salatin to find out how these texts validate the rule of the elite of the kingdom and how they relate to the model text. I will pursue the basic argument that after the fall of Melaka Malay court culture was distributed to a number of newly-established courts that vied for cultural hegemony in the Malay world by emulating the assumed greatness of the Melaka court and its traditions as narrated in the Sulalatu’l-Salatin.