The Malay community is lazy? Archaeologists release their studies.

(Article is in Malay Language)

Thursday, 3 May 2018, BERITA Mediacorp

Masyarakat Melayu malas? Pakar arkeologi dedahkan kajiannya

BERITAMediacorp: Masyarakat Melayu merupakan masyarakat yang rajin dan aktif sejak 700 tahun lalu dengan tanggungjawab dan peranan yang berbeza – dari bidang pertukangan, hingga ke perdagangan dan ilmu perakaunan.

Itulah antara hasil kajian Profesor John N. Miksic dari Universiti Nasional Singapura (NUS) yang menemui 300,000 bukti arkeologi yang berkait rapat dengan masyarakat Melayu.

Bahan bukti ini dirakamkan dalam buku ilmiah,‘Singapore – The Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800’, yang memenangi Hadiah Sejarah Singapura pada Januari lalu.

BERITAMediacorp bertemu dengan pakar arkeologi ini untuk mengetahui dengan lebih mendalam tentang penyelidikannya itu.

MASYARAKAT MELAYU TERDAHULU MAHIR DALAM PELBAGAI BIDANG

Menyingkap semula sejarah lama Singapura, mungkin ramai yang masih menggambarkannya sebagai sebuah ‘kampung nelayan’ yang mundur.

Namun, kisah Singapura bermula jauh sebelum Sir Stamford Raffles menjejakkan kaki di sini, pada tahun 1819.

Profesor Miksic membentangkan sejarah Singapura dalam konteks perdagangan maritim jarak jauh antara tahun 1300 hingga 1800, dengan adanya bidang-bidang pekerjaan yang kurang diketahui tentang masyarakat Melayu.

“Jadi mereka membuat gerabak sendiri, mereka juga membuat barang-barang dari logam, mereka mengolah tembaga untuk membuat kail untuk tangkap ikan, mereka juga membuat barang-barang dari besi, mereka juga membawa barang-barang seperti keris dan tombak, senjata,” kongsi penyelidik itu yang mengambil hampir 10 tahun untuk menyiapkan buku ilmiah tersebut.

Beliau turut berkongsi bahawa dapatan penting hasil galian yang dijalankan beliau bersama pasukan pengkajinya selama hampir 20 tahun di 10 lokasi yang berbeza.

BUKTI SEJARAH PECAHKAN MITOS ‘MELAYU MALAS’

Menurutnya lagi serpihan tembikar yang ditemuinya serta logam dan batu-bata lama menunjukkan gambaran yang penting tentang masyarakat Melayu – bahawa ia menggambarkan hasil pertukangan bangunan yang canggih ketika zaman tersebut.

Bahkan menurut Profesor Miksic, bukti-bukti ini juga antara lain menunjukkan dengan jelas kerajinan masyarakat Melayu terdahulu, dan secara tidak langsung memecahkan mitos dan tanggapan bahawa masyarakat Melayu terdahulu malas.

“Orang Melayu memang dari dulu sudah terkenal sebagai orang awal yang membuat kota, yang mendirikan bandar menjadikan satu sistem perhitungan untuk perdagangan.

“Orang-orang Portugis pertama datang ke Brunei, mereka hairan sekali melihat sistem yang dipakai orang-orang akauntan di Brunei untuk menghitung perdagangan. Jadi mereka sudah pandai sekali orang-orang Melayu,” jelasnya.

PENTING PELAJARI PERINTIS SPURA SEBELUM 200 TAHUN

Dalam memperingati 200 Tahun Singapura diasaskan tahun depan, Profesor Miksic berkata amat penting untuk mengenali sejarah Singapura seawal abad ke-14.

“Jadi ini merupakan satu kesempatan untuk kita melihat lebih dahulu lagi, bukan hanya melihat 200 tahun, tetapi melihat 200 tahun itu sebagai satu tempoh dalam sejarah Singapura.

“Orang Inggeris bukan orang yang utama yang bertempat di sini yang memainkan peranan utama, orang Melayu, Bugis, Jawa, Minangkabau dan juga orang-orang Cina yang ada di Selat Melaka orang-orang India yang sudah lama berdagang di sini,” tambahnya lagi.

HANG TUAH – MITOS ATAU BUKTI SEJARAH MELAYU?

Menyentuh tentang individu signifikan daripada masyarakat Melayu, Profesor Miksic turut mengambil perhatian tentang teks klasik lama seperti Sulalatussalatin, atau Sejarah Melayu.

Menurutnya beberapa bukti sejarah yang ditemuinya sebenarnya sejajar dengan apa yang dirakam di dalam teks tersebut dan teks klasik yang lainnya.

Ditanya sama ada Hang Tuah merupakan hanya mitos Melayu atau individu sebenar, ini pendapatnya:

“Saya yakin bahawa ada seorang laksamana yang wataknya, keperibadiannya seperti
Hang Tuah yang disebut dalam sejarah Melayu kerana ada seorang laksamana yang disebutkan juga dari sumber dari Jepun dari abad-15, mahupun Portugis.

“Namanya tidak pernah disebutkan, tapi wataknya, keperibadiannya bahawa perwira yang juga pandai, dan mempunyai bakat untuk bertemu dengan orang lain, itu semunya terbukti dengan sumber-sumber lain, jadi pasti ada orang yang seperti Hang Tuah.

“Namanya tidak penting, tapi orang yang sepertinya, yang jadi laksamana, yang juga dasar kegiatannya di Singapura, tersebut dalam Sejarah Melayu juga, dan kami dapatkan banyak sekali bukti dari arkeologi bahawa ada satu pelabuhan dengan armada laut yang cukup besar di sini pada zaman Melaka,” kongsinya bersama BERITAMediacorp.

Atas kajiannya yang terperincinya itu, Profesor Miksic menang anugerah Hadiah Sejarah Singapura, bernilai $50,000 yang diadakan buat julung-julung kalinya, tahun ini.

– BERITAMediacorp/ur

by

‘“Here be Dragons”: Monsters, Mermaids and Myth in Southeast Asia’ (Wednesday, 11 April 2018)

Speaker: Prof Barbara Watson Andaya (Professor of Asian Studies, University of Hawai’i)
Date: Wednesday, 11 April 2018
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS8, Level 6, Conference Room (06-46)

Synopsis

The oldest known representation of the New World, discovered in 2013 and dated to 1504, is engraved with immaculate detail on two conjoined halves of an ostrich egg. Apart from the names of countries and regions, it includes only one short phrase, Hic Sunt Dracones, “Here be Dragons”, which appears in the vicinity of Southeast Asia. This presentation uses this rare object to consider the ideas about the inhabitants of the sea environment that Europeans brought to Asian waters, particularly the notion that the oceans were teeming not only with monsters and underwater dragons, but also with humanoid creatures, mermen and merwomen. It will discuss the ways in which these ideas interacted with indigenous beliefs in sea beings, some of whom were kindly and well-disposed, and others distinctly malevolent, and ask why belief in such beings has persisted, even to the present day.

About the speaker

Barbara Watson Andaya is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i. Between 2003 and 2010 she was Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and in 2005-06 she was President of the American Association of Asian Studies. In 2000 she received a John Simon Guggenheim Award, and in 2010 she received the University of Hawai‘i Regents Medal for Excellence in Research. Her specific area of expertise is the western Malay-Indonesia archipelago, on which she has published widely, but she maintains an active teaching and research interest across all Southeast Asia. Her publications include Perak, The Abode of Grace: A Study of an Eighteenth Century Malay State (1979); To Live as Brothers: Southeast Sumatra in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1993); and The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia (2006). Her most recent books, in collaboration with Leonard Y. Andaya, are A History of Early Modern Southeast Asia (2015), and a third edition of A History of Malaysia (2016). She is also currently working on a book on gender and sexuality in Southeast Asia and another on religious interaction in Southeast Asia.

From Borneo Due West

Join an amazing voyage on a classic sailing ship. Explore remote Indonesian islands. Experience life at sea.

2-16 June 2018

Open to all NUS students, staff, and alumni! There are limited slots—sign up NOW!

Costs: Students $1200; staff and alumni $1600.

Not inclusive of miscellaneous expenses of about $200. Non-final semester undergraduates (SG citizens and PRs) may be eligible for additional subsidy of $800, and/or Edusave (PSEA).

If interested and/or have questions, email seajm@nus.edu.sg 

From Pontianak, a busy city in Kalimantan/Borneo, we sail down the mighty Kapuas River and then far into the South China Sea, where we spend most of our time, exploring remote archipelagos (Tambelan and Badas) and lonely islands (Penjantan, Pengibu, etc.), before heading to Tanjung Pinang (Bintan), a fascinating provincial capital.

Meet locals and learn about life in small, remote island communities – how isolated are they, how connected?  Learn history, culture, environment, and economics from their perspective. Get to know intimately the sea and its importance in this region, past and present. On kayaks explore streams and lagoons. Experience how it feels to live with fellow sailors in the tiny floating world of the boat. Learn how to sail: hoisting sails, keeping watch, navigating, reading charts, taking the helm and steering the ship. We will have a captain, but we will be the crew!

The voyage is led by two scholars of Indonesian culture and society. Pak Jan specializes in arts, travel and travel writing, with particular interest in the sea. He has travelled throughout Indonesia, when possible on ships and ferries, and voyaged on a container ship from Europe to Singapore. Mas Miguel is an expert on theatre, digital media, archives, and videography – he will guide us in documenting our voyage.

Organized by the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, with support from the Provost Office and the Global Relations Office, NUS.

 

Archaeology database offers greater access to region’s past

Digital product can be downloaded so it is easier to share info with public, researchers

Monday, 12 March 2018, The Straits Times

Women in 14th-century Singapore used to make their own pottery for activities such as cooking.

Fragments of these low-fired kitchenware, featuring decorative grooves and patterns, were uncovered at an excavation at the Singapore Cricket Club and can now be accessed online in a new database developed by NUS Press Singapore.

The database (http://epress.nus.edu.sg/sitereports/scc) is the first of its kind in the region that features data sets which can be downloaded. It so far lists 2,000 of the more than 38,000 artefacts recovered in the 2003 dig.

Eventually, a total of 4,998 key artefacts will be listed on the site, supplemented by 700 photographs and 200 sketches.

The project, which has been two years in the making, is led by National University of Singapore archaeologist John Miksic, 71, and assistant history professor at Nanyang Technological University Goh Geok Yian, 46. It is under a Creative Commons Licence and received some $43,000 in funding from the National Heritage Board (NHB).

Dr Miksic said: “The database makes it a lot easier to share information with the general public and scholars who are invested in Singaporean or South-east Asian archaeology during the period of maritime trade.”

NUS Press’ director Peter Schoppert said the digital product is a “practical” way to present the immense amount of data. He added that the information has been uploaded in a format that allows for statistical analysis, visualisations and detailed comparisons with other sites in Singapore and beyond. It can aid others to produce their own analysis and research projects.

“It is an important first step in building a regional library of archaeological data that is fully accessible and reusable,” said Mr Schoppert.

On the earthenware pottery made here, the archaeologists said its general style is typical of the area from southern Thailand, along both coasts of the Straits of Melaka (as the Straits of Malacca was referred to), to western Borneo in the Temasek period. They added that the Singaporean earthenware used in the kitchen was made from “clay mixed with very fine sand”. They also said that clay suitable for pottery-making was found in Bras Basah.

The project comes at a time when NHB prepares to ramp up archaeological research and documentation, as part of the upcoming heritage plan – a comprehensive blueprint for the heritage sector.

NHB’s assistant chief executive of policy and community, Mr Alvin Tan, said the database “provides a good model for comparative research across the region; and it offers the public information and insights into our archaeological past”.

Dr Miksic said the selection of artefacts on the site was based on each item’s potential “to illuminate socio-cultural and economic matter”.

Most of the Temasek period artefacts from the Singapore Cricket Club consisted of stoneware – a material used mainly for storing perishable commodities – and porcelain-finer ware used for eating and display.

The archaeologists also noted their discovery of a layer of pristine white sand at the Padang. Its presence correlates to an account in the Malay Annals which describes Singapore’s founder, Sang Nila Utama, as having landed on the island because he was attracted by sand so white, it looked like a sheet of cloth.

Later excavations showed that the white sand beach extended all the way to Kampong Glam.

Next up for the team – the addition of artefacts from a 2010 dig at Fort Canning’s Spice Garden. They hope to complete this phase of the project in time for Singapore’s Bicentennial commemoration next year which will be located at Fort Canning.

By Melody Zaccheus, Heritage and Community Correspondent  for The Straits Times

‘To Keep or Not to Keep: King Bhumipol’s Funeral Meru Platform’ (Wednesday, 14 March 2018)

Speaker: Prof M L Pattaratorn Chirapravati (Head of Studies, Arts and Humanities, Division of Humanities, Yale-NUS)
Date: Wednesday, 14 March 2018
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS8, Level 6, Conference Room (06-46)

Synopsis

Traditional Thai royal funeral (Meru) platforms are built of wood and adorned with beautiful Hindu and Buddhist mythical beings. The Meru platform represents the center of the universe in both Buddhist and Hindu cosmologies. Typically, following the funeral, the platforms would be torn down and the wood given to temples or recycled for other uses (e.g. sold to Chinese merchants for building ships). Funeral materials are considered inauspicious and so are not kept or reused. On October 26, 2017, King Rama IX (King Bhumipol Adulyadej, r. 1946-2016), who passed away on October 13, 2016, was cremated. His Meru structure was the largest in Thai history. For the first time, it was built of steel and wood. The royal coffin, in which the body was seated straight up with the hands folded in a veneration hand gesture, was only used symbolically; instead the king’s body was laid in a rectangular coffin. The decoration of the Meru platform was not only embellished with traditional religious themes, but also images inspired by the King’s royal projects for Thailand. The funeral materials will be kept and a museum built. What of this will be preserved and why? What else have been changed and since when have they changed? This paper covers the transformation of funeral procedures that occurred during the reign of King Bhumipol as well as the new designs of the Meru structure and decoration.

About the speaker


Professor M L Pattaratorn Chirapravati obtained her PhD and MA in Southeast Asian Studies at Cornell University in 1994. She graduated with a BA in Art History (first class honours) at Silpakorn University (Thailand) in 1982. Professor Chirapravati specialises in Southeast Asian art and visual culture. Prior to joining Yale-NUS as a Visiting Professor, Professor Chirapravati worked as a faculty member of California State University, Sacramento, in the Art Department and has served as both the Director and Vice Director of the Asian Studies Program (2007-2016). She has been a member of the Southeast Asian Council (SEAC), one of four regional councils operating within the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) since 2014. She was an assistant curator of Southeast Asian art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (1997-2002) and later co-curated two major art exhibitions there of Thai and Burmese art entitled The Kingdom of Siam: Art from Central Thailand (1530-1800) and Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma (1775-1950). Professor Chirapravati has published on ancient Buddhist art and Southeast Asian visual cultures. She works on religious icons and the interpretation of religious practices and texts from art work in Southeast Asia. She is also interested in the political usage of images and identity. Her major publications include: ‘Thai Funeral Culture: Studies of Images and Texts in Thai Art’ (forthcoming), ‘Divination Au Royaume De Siam: Le Corps, La Guerre, Le Destin’ (Presses Universitaires de France, 2011) and ‘Votive Tablets in Thailand: Origin, Styles, and Uses’ (Oxford University Press, 1997)

NUS hope to produce students who are South-east Asia-savvy

NUS to nurture graduates who are students for life

Monday, 12 February 2018, The Straits Times

It aims to weave lifelong learning into higher education to prepare alumni for future jobs

After spending three to four years studying for a degree, most people head out to work – and much of what they have learnt in university is forgotten.

But this concept of being a student needs to change because of changing workforce demands, said National University of Singapore (NUS) president Tan Eng Chye. “We are proposing that our graduates will be students for life,” he said.

The aim is for NUS to be an “anchor” for its community of graduates – nearly 300,000 of them – so that they can return to it throughout their lives for continual learning, he said.

The university is now experimenting with having more than 10 per cent of adult learners in each class, he said. “But what if we increase to 20 per cent, to 30 per cent, what’s going to happen?”

The intention is to grow these figures, Prof Tan said in an interview with The Straits Times last month.

In fact, the university is considering expanding the proportion of adult learners to more than half of its modules, said the 55-year-old, who officially took on the top position last month.

Each year, the university offers about 4,800 undergraduate modules. It now offers 167 undergraduate and postgraduate modules for alumni to take for free.

“That would have a tremendous impact on the whole campus,” he said, adding that this concept of mixing adult learners with undergraduates is “revolutionary”.

While it would be easier to teach the two groups separately, there are benefits to getting them to interact. “Adult learners bring with them experience and maturity, and the adult learners can get a lot of enthusiasm and energy from younger undergraduates.”

An initiative that NUS introduced last August to allow alumni to attend its classes for free has proven to be popular, receiving more than 8,000 applications for 404 places in 79 modules. In January, its second run, it took in 1,200 students across 88 modules.

Since Prof Tan, who was NUS provost for the past 10 years, became president, he has met students, staff and alumni, listening to them and sharing his thoughts, over the course of 30 sessions.

One of his aims, he said, is for NUS to weave lifelong learning into higher education, so that graduates and the wider community will be better equipped for future jobs.

Prof Tan, a mathematician, added: “The world is changing very quickly in terms of jobs… in part because of new technology and knowledge. Universities and higher education will need to respond appropriately to produce future-ready graduates.”

Another plan he has is to build on the university’s efforts in innovation and grow its networks in the region. More than 300 students now head overseas every year as part of the NUS Overseas College programme which aims to groom entrepreneurs in different business nodes of the world.

The initiative started in 2002 in Silicon Valley and now has nine locations around the world, including New York in the US, China’s Beijing, Switzerland and Germany.

Prof Tan said NUS will now also turn its attention to opportunities in the region: “While we remain global, how can we deepen our focus in South-east Asia?”

Tapping on a region with 625 million people would allow access to talent, funds, ideas and markets, he pointed out.

Last year, in partnership with Indonesian conglomerate Salim Group, NUS Enterprise – the university’s entrepreneurial arm – set up Block 71 Jakarta, an incubation space for start-ups.

Over the next five years, NUS will build new start-up nodes globally, including in cities across South-east Asia, such as Jakarta.

The hope is also to produce a group of NUS students who are South-east Asia-savvy. “You need to know their language… you need to understand a little bit of the social, economic and political environments in each of these places.”

By Amelia Teng, Education Correspondent  for The Straits Times

 

‘“Moreness” in Motion: Toward an Anthropology of Intensity’ (Wed, 7 February 2018)

Speaker: Dr. Andrew M. Carruthers (Max Weber Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Southeast Asian Studies, NUS)
Date: Wednesday, 7 February 2018
Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Venue: AS8, Level 6, Conference Room (06-46)

Synopsis

Indonesia’s Bugis people are a mobile, seafaring ethnic group who have long migrated to neighboring Malaysia in search of kelebihaŋ or “moreness.” Nominalized from Malay lebih or “more,” “moreness” is the meta-quality of being “more” in some respect or capacity. It is a quality that Bugis predicate about some (unstated yet semiotically salient) quality whose perceived intensity exceeds imagined typicalities. In three expository sketches, this talk examines the relation between “moreness” and mobility among a people in motion. Throughout, I argue that discernments, evaluations, and characterizations of “moreness” are causally linked to Bugis patterns of movement, and hinge upon acts of “grading” — a process prior to measurement or counting whereby semiotic agents evaluate the qualitative intensities that suffuse everyday life, characterizing them as “more” or “less” relative to a ground of comparison or “point of departure” (Sapir 1944). First, I attend to “moreness” as an object of aspirational desire, describing how “moreness” materializes across entities and events. Second, I approach migrants’ clandestine border-crossings as movements across virtual thresholds, examining how borders qua “thresholds” serve as points of departure for processes of commensuration. Third, I address practical challenges faced by the Malaysian state as it seeks to police so-called “illegal” Indonesian immigrants whose habits of talk and comportment are “more-or-less the same” (lebih kurang sama) as those of “genuine” Malaysian citizens. These three sketches serve concluding observations about “intensity” as a mediating concept and object of ethnographic analysis, and what an anthropology of “intensity” — of the “mores” and “lesses” of everyday life — might look like.

About the speaker

Andrew M. Carruthers is Max Weber Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at NUS. A linguistic and sociocultural anthropologist specializing in Indonesia and Malaysia, he studies the relation between language, mobilities, and infrastructures as a source of insight into the ways people navigate shifting and potentially hazardous terrains in their everyday lives. His essays have appeared in the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology and SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia. He holds an A.B. (magna cum laude) in Anthropology and Southeast Asia Studies from Cornell (2009), and an M.Phil. (2012) and Ph.D. (2016) in Anthropology from Yale.