Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-swr86 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-20T17:05:07.906Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

5 - The Orang Laut and the Negara Selat (Realm of the Straits)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2021

Get access

Summary

The Orang Laut played a significant role in the history of the Straits. This area is centred on the Straits of Melaka and the islands, the seas and the straits at the northern and southern entrances of the Straits and at the southernmost end of the South China Sea. This world or Realm of the Straits (Negara Selat) gained prominence because of the vibrant east–west international maritime trade between Europe, the Middle East, India and Sri Lanka in the west and China, Japan, Korea and the Ryukyu Islands in the east. Southeast Asia lay athwart this trading lane, with the Straits of Melaka being the only known passageway for centuries. Even after the Sunda Straits between Java and Sumatra came to be used increasingly after the sixteenth century, the Straits of Melaka continued to be the most travelled maritime route through Southeast Asia. The waters of the Straits were generally calm, and the mountain chains running along both spines of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula provided all-year protection from the annual northeast and southwest monsoon winds. Before entering and leaving the southern end of the Straits of Melaka, ships had to cross a dangerous stretch of waters from the southeastern coast of Sumatra to Singapore, the Riau-Lingga Archipelagos and the islands and straits of the southern end of the South China Sea. For this reason, the entire area was considered to be a single maritime unit and came to be referred to simply as “the Sea” or “the Straits”.

In the Raffles MS 18 version of the Sulalatus-Salatin, more commonly known as the Sejarah Melayu or Malay Annals, the Malay word “Laut” or sea is the term used for this maritime space. When the Palembang lord Sri Tribuana decided to leave permanently to go abroad, he said to his minister: “I want to go to the Sea (Laut) to look for a good place so I can build a settlement (hendak berankgkat ke Laut, hendak mencari tempat yang baik hendak beta perbuatkan negeri).” Once he left Palembang he crossed over to the Sepat Straits and from the Sepat Straits to the Sambar Straits.

Type
Chapter
Information
1819 & Before
Singapore's Pasts
, pp. 45 - 54
Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×