Sang Nila Utama
|Sang Nila Utama / Seri Teri Buana
|King of Singapura|
|Successor||Sri Wikrama Wira|
13th centurySumatra, Indonesia
1347Kingdom of Singapura
|Burial||Fort Canning Hill or Bukit Larangan|
Sang Nila Utama is a Srivijayan prince from Palembang who founded the Kingdom of Singapura in 1299. His official style, Sri Maharaja Sang Utama Parameswara Batara Sri Tri Buana, translates as "Central Lord King of the Three Worlds", signifying his lordship over Palembang, Bintan and Singapura. Sang Nila Utama strengthened his position by establishing powerful relationships with China, and an envoy of the Chinese emperor officially recognised him as the ruler of Singapore in 1320. He died in 1347; his son, Paduka Seri Wikrama Wira succeeded him.
The founding of Temasek
Sang Nila Utama was a prince of Palembang, which was then the capital of the Srivijaya Empire. He and his men were on Bintan island on a hunting trip.
While hunting, he spotted a stag and started chasing it up a small hill but, when he reached the top, the stag vanished. He then came to a very large rock and decided to climb it. When he stood on top of the rock, he looked across the sea and saw another island with a white sandy beach which had the appearance of a white sheet of cloth.
Asking his chief minister what land it was, he was told that it was the island of Temasek. He then decided to visit Temasek. However, when his ship was out on the sea, a great storm erupted and the ship was tossed about in the huge waves. The ship began to take in water.
To prevent it from sinking, his men threw all the heavy things on board into the sea to lighten the ship. But still water kept entering the ship. On the advice of the ship's captain, he threw his crown overboard as a gift to the sea. At once, the storm died down and he reached Temasek safely. (Another version of the legend states that his crown was too heavy for his ship.)
He landed at present-day Telok Blangah and went inland to hunt wild animals. Suddenly, he saw a strange animal with a red body, black head and a white breast. It was a fine-looking animal and moved with great speed as it disappeared into the jungle.
He asked his chief minister what animal it was and was told that it was a lion. He was pleased with this as he believed it to be a good omen—a sign of good fortune coming his way. Thus, he decided to build his new city in Temasek. He and his men stayed on the island and founded a city in 1323.
While the earliest known historical records of Singapore are shrouded, a 3rd-century Chinese account describes it as the "island at the end of a peninsula" or Pulau Ujung. Later, the city was known as Temasek ("Sea Town"), when the first settlements were established in the 12th to 13th centuries.
He renamed this city Singapura, which in Old Malay means "Lion City". He established diplomatic ties with China and was officially recognised as the ruler of Singapore by an envoy of the Chinese emperor in 1366. Sang Nila Utama ruled Singapura for 48 years and was buried at the foot of Bukit Larangan (present-day Fort Canning Hill). It is said that he was buried beside his wife, but the tombs and remains of him and his wife have not been located.
The events in the tale of Sang Nila Utama contain symbolisms and meanings behind them as well. For example, the throwing of the crown into the sea could represent the shift of power from Palembang to Singapura. During that period of time, the Srivijaya Empire was nearing its end and as Palembang had been the capital of the Malay World at that time, the throwing of the crown could meant to say that Palembang had been denounced from its role as the gathering place of the Malay people and that Temasek would then be the new centre of power for the Malay kings.
However, recent studies indicate that lions have never lived in Singapore (not even Asiatic lions), and the beast seen by Sang Nila Utama was probably a tiger, most likely to be the Malayan tiger. However, it was refuted by some that since tigers were found in many in ancient Southeast Asian regions, Sang Nila Utama and his men could have easily known a tiger when they saw one.
- Discussion of the contribution of the Sang Nila Utama story to the mythology of Singapore, in the context of nation branding in Koh, Buck Song (2011). Brand Singapore: How Nation Branding Built Asia's Leading Global City. Marshall Cavendish, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-4328-15-9.
- Singapore. Ministry of Culture, Singapore. Ministry of Communications and Information. Information Division (1973). Singapore facts and pictures. Singapore: Ministry of Culture. p. 9. ISSN 0217-7773.
- Abshire, Jean (2011). The History of Singapore. The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations. ABC-CLIO. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-313-37743-3. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
The Malay Annals do not include dates, but tracing the succession of Sang Nila Utama's descendants and dates surrounding events during their reigns suggests the establishment of the new settlement took place in 1299.
- "Ruling House of Malacca-Johor". Christopher Buyers. October 2008. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
- "Studying In Singapore". Search Singapore Pte Ltd. Retrieved 2006-04-14.
- "Sang Nila Utama" (PDF). 24hr Art. Retrieved 2006-04-14.
- "The National Day Webspecial". The Straits Times.
Sang Nila Utama
House of Sang Sapurba
|Raja of Singapura
Sri Wikrama Wira