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Goudie, Donald James (1976) A Critical Edition of the "Syair Perang Siak," With a Consideration of its Literary and Historical Significance. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033639

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Abstract

The discovery of tin in its upper reaches in the late Seventeenth Century made the Siak River the principal access to the Menangkabau Dare in the Eighteenth Century when Menangkabau gold and tin were important commodities in trade between Europe and China. Prosperity in the Straits of Malacca also attracted the Bugis, and regional politics in the Eighteenth Century was characterised by continual conflict between the Menangkabau and Bugis. The Dutch Company in Malacca broke its longstanding policy of neutrality when an alliance between Alam, the ruler of Siak, and the Bugis threatened their flow of goods from Siak. The Dutch helped Alam's half-brother, Mahmud, take the throne, and placed a garrison at Pulau Guntung to ensure their monopoly. Mahmud denied Malacca's sovereignty or right to restrict trade, and massacred the garrison. The Syair Perang Siak gives a Siak account of the Dutch punitive expedition of 1761. The campaign was an aside in the flow of international history and had little lasting significance. The thesis analyses the structure and contents of the syair and it is shown that (i) Raja Kecil's story is introductory and serves to show that Siak was not subject to Johor or Malacca; (ii) Mahmud is the central figure in the eyes of the poet; and (iii) although most of the text concerns Ismail, he serves only to keep alive the right of Mahmud's descendants to rule in Siak. The hypothesis is presented that the syair is a work of political propaganda written to establish the right of Mahmud's heirs to the Siak throne. It is inferred that the syair was written in about 1820, at the time when the Netherlands was reentering Sumatra after the Napoleonic Wars. It was designed to press the claim of Raja Akil, an officer of the colonial militia, to succeed Said Ali as Sultan of Siak. KL 154 is adopted as the base manuscript. It is the one manuscript written in the social milieu of the syairist. KL 153 and v.d.W. 273 are copies of KL 154 and were written for Dutch scholars by scribes unfamiliar with the background to the text.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033639
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:14
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/33639

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