Yamtuan Besar

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Yamtuan Besar
Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan
Tuanku Muhriz
since 29 December 2008
installation 26 October 2009
First monarchRaja Melewar
Formation1773; 246 years ago (1773)
ResidenceIstana Seri Menanti, Seri Menanti

Yamtuan, 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.

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 Yamtuan Imam, Yamtuan Sri Menanti died in 1869, there was a power struggle among the prince to ascend the throne. Yamtuan Imam left a son, Tunku Ahmad Tunggal who should have inherited the throne. Dato 'Siamang Gagap instead elevated Tuanku Ampuan Intan as a temporary Regent (1869-1872) on the grounds that a temporary successor to Yam Tuan Imam can be decided. As a result, in 1874, fierce warfare between Yamtuan Antah and Tunku Ahmad Tunggal erupted. This war was known as 'Bukit Putus War'. Yamtuan Antah was defeated by Tunku Ahmad Tunggal, and fled to Johor and seek Sultan of Johor assistance to tell the British to help him. At the urging of the Sultan of Johor, the Governor of the Straits Settlements agreed to reconcile the dispute between Yamtuan Antah with Tunku Ahmad Tunggal and Dato 'Kelana Sungai Ujong. In 1876, witnessed by the British Governor of the Straits Settlements, this agreement was signed by the rulers of Luak Johol, Inas, Ulu Muar, Jempol, Terachi and Gunung Pasir. Through this agreement they acknowledge and ratify Yamtuan Antah as Yamtuan Sri Menanti.

Yamtuan Antah's 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 (during which time his brother Tunku Laksamana Nasir was regent).

Tuanku Abdul Rahman'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, by-passing Munawir's son Muhriz of Negeri Sembilan, who at 19 years of age was a minor. 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, on the death of Tuanku Jaafar in 2008, the Undangs voted to re-instate Tuanku Muhriz (eldest son of Tuanku Munawir and nephew of Tuanku Jaafar), who should have rightfully been elected ruler on the death of his father.

List of Yamtuan[edit]

Pagaruyung Dynasty[edit]

Further reading[edit]