Yamtuan Besar

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Yamtuan Besar
Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan
Tuanku Muhriz
Style His Royal Highness
First monarch Raja Melewar
Formation 1773

Yamtuan Besar, also known as Yang di-Pertuan Besar, is the royal title of the ruler of the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan. The ruler of Negeri Sembilan is selected by a council of ruling chiefs in the state, or the Undangs. This royal practice has been followed since 1773. The Yamtuan Besar is selected from among the four leading princes of Negeri Sembilan (Putera Yang Empat).

This unique form of government later inspired the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, to implement a form of rotational constitutional monarchy for a newly independent Malaya. Thus, the office of Yang di-Pertuan Agong was created.


Tuanku Muhammad Shah (seated in the middle) with his personal attendants, 1897.

Negeri Sembilan has been receiving immigrants from Sumatra for hundreds of years. Prior to the implementation of this unique form of monarchy, the area was ruled by the Sultan of Malacca. After Malacca was defeated by the Portuguese, it was ruled by the Sultanate of Johor.

By 1760, however, Johor, which was having trouble from the Dutch, decided to allow the state to find a leader from Minangkabau in Sumatra. Between 1760 and 1770, a council of leaders known as the penghulu luak (the predecessor of the Undangs today) left for Pagar Ruyung in Minangkabau in search of a leader.

The Raja of Pagar Ruyung—who was believed to be a descendant of Dhul-Qarnayn (possibly Alexander the Great or Cyrus the Great ), gave them a leader in the form of his son, Raja Mahmud. Raja Mahmud later became known as Raja Melewar when he came to Negeri Sembilan.

When Raja Melewar died in 1795, instead of selecting his son as their new leader, the same council of leaders once again set out on a journey to their ancestral land. This time, the Raja of Pagar Ruyong gave another one of his sons—Raja Hitam as their new Yamtuan Besar. Raja Hitam married Raja Melewar's daughter, Tengku Aishah, but they had no children. He died in 1808.

Once again, the leaders of Negri Sembilan went to Minangkabau in search of someone to replace their leader. The Raja of Pagar Ruyung at that time sent his son, Raja Lenggang. He wedded Raja Hitam's second daughter, Tengku Ngah, from another marriage. They had two sons—Tengku Radin and Tengku Imam.

Before he died in 1824, Raja Lenggang said it was his wish that Tengku Radin be made the Yam Tuan. This time, the Undangs did not embark on a trip to meet the Raja of Pagar Ruyong. Thus, for the first time in its history, Negri Sembilan had a hereditary leader.

Yam Tuan Radin ruled for 30 years before he died. Then, his brother, Yang di-Pertuan Imam, ruled for eight years.

When he died, Negri Sembilan was plunged into uncertainty when Yam Tuan Radin's son, Tengku Antah, and Yang di-Pertuan Imam's son, Tengku Ahmad Tunggal, scrambled for the throne.

The Undangs did not want to accept Tengku Ahmad Tunggal, so Tengku Antah became ruler until 1888. His son, Tuanku Muhammad, later took over until his death in 1933.

Tuanku Muhammad's son, Tuanku Abdul Rahman, took over in 1933. Tuanku Abdul Rahman later became the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaya in 1957.

The latter's son, Tuanku Munawir, ascended the throne in 1960 and ruled until 1967. When Tuanku Munawir died, his brother, Tuanku Ja'afar Tuanku Abdul Rahman, became the ruler of Negri Sembilan. Tuanku Jaafar also served as the tenth Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. During this period, Negeri Sembilan was ruled by the regent, Y.A.M. Tunku Laxamana Tunku Naquiyuddin. However, he was bypassed to the throne by the Undangs in the favor of Tuanku Muhriz, who is the son of Tuanku Munawir and nephew of Tuanku Jaafar, and succeeded Tuanku Jaafar in 2008.

List of Yamtuan[edit]

Pagaruyung Dynasty[edit]

Further reading[edit]