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Tun Sri Lanang

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Title: Tun Sri Lanang  
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Subject: Ethnic Malays, Iskandar of Johor, Kris, Malay Annals, Bendahara, Biawak Busuk, Kota Buruk, Laman Tun Sri Lanang, Tun Abdul Jamil, Tun Habib Abdul Majid
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Tun Sri Lanang

Tun Muhammad bin Tun Ahmad, better known as Tun Sri Lanang,[1] is the Bendahara (Grand Vizier) of the royal Court of Johor Sultanate who lived between the 16th and 17th centuries.[1] He served under two Sultans of Johore namely; Sultan Ali Jalla Abdul Jalil Shah II (1570–1597) and Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah III (1597–1615) and also advisers to 3 Acheh sultans namely; Sultan Iskandar Muda (until 1636), Sultan Iskandar Thani (1636–1641) and Sultana Tajul Alam Safiatuddin Shah (1641–1675). He had two honorific titles throughout his lifetime; as the Bendahara of Johor, Bendahara Paduka Raja Tun Mohamad,[2] while he was given the title of Orang Kaya Dato' Bendahara Seri Paduka Tun Seberang after settling in Aceh.

Early life and events in Johore

Tun Sri Lanang was born in 1565 in Seluyut, Johore, and was descended from Tun Tahir, a brother of Bendahara Tun Mutahir of Malacca.[3] There are not many records about his period as Bendehara in Johore. However during the rule of Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah III, he shouldered a heavier burden on the affairs of the state as the Sultan is a weak ruler. He shared the responsibility with the Sultan's brother Raja Abdullah (later to become Sultan Abdullah Maayah Shah which reigns between 1615 to 1623).

During the period the Dutch were attacking the Portuguese for the port of Malacca. The Dutch signed a friendship treaty with the Johore Sultanate (in 1606) with Tun Sri Lanang as a representative. Tun Sri Lanang refused the Dutch request of helping the Dutch to blockade the port of Malacca preferring the Dutch do it themselves.

In 1612, at the request of Raja Abdullah to pen the Malay Annals to ensure " ... all the adat, the rules and the ceremonies of the Malay Sultans and Rajas to be heard by our descendants and is made known all utterances so that it may benefit them". At this time, under the orders of Sultan Alauddin Riaayat Shah, Tun Sri Lanang oversaw the editorial and compilation process[4] of the Malay Annals, better known as Sejarah Melayu in Malay.

In 1613, Acheh attacked Johore and in the battle of Batu Sawar. Johore was defeated and the Royal Family and Tun Sri Lanang was captured and brought to Acheh. The Bendaharaship was continued by his descendants. His notable descendants include Bendehara Tun Habib Abdul Majid and the Raja Temenggung of Muar.[5][6]

Later life in Acheh

In Aceh a brief "reeducation" the Johor Royal Family was returned to Johore. Tun Sri Lanang elected to stay in Acheh. He became advisor to the third Sultan of Acheh and was bestowed an Acheh honorific title. He was awarded a personal fief in Samalanga, Aceh in 1613 and held the title Uleebalang of Samalanga. He died in 1659 in Samalanga.[7]


Some of Tun Sri Lanang's descendants rule as the Uleebalang of Samalanga until 1949, when Indonesia was formed in the same year. Many of his descendants are fervent nationalists including the female warrior Pocut Meuligo,[8] Teuku Muhammad Daud, Teuku Abdul Hamid Azwar and Teuku Hamzah Bendehara. Some of his descendants carry the "Bedahara" suffix to their names indicating their ancestry.

His legacy is not only the magnum opus "Sejarah Melayu" but also includes the strongly Islamic flavor of Samalanga. Samalanga is also known as "Kota Santri",[7] or "Town of Medrassas" is the centre of Islamic propagation in Acheh until today. Samalanga was also among the last town to fall to the Dutch during the time of the last Sultan of Acheh, Sultan Muhammad Daud Shah and also one of his strongholds.

Places named in honour of Tun Sri Lanang

Buildings and Institutions




  • Agus bin Salim, Abdul Ghani bin Abdul Aziz, Tokoh yang Kukoh, dalam Kesusasteraan Melayu Lama dan Baru, oleh Agus Salim: Dengan Sejarah Sastera, Pustaka Nasional, 1966
  • Haji Buyong bin Adil, Sejarah Terengganu, published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia, 1974
  • Hamilton, A.W., Source of the Malacca Johore and Pahang Genealogies, Journal of Malayan Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, 1933
  • Safian Hussain, Johan Jaaffar, Mohd. Thani Ahmad, Hawa Abdullah, History of Modern Malay Literature, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Malaysia, 1992, ISBN 983-62-2745-8
  • (Tun) Suzana (Tun) Othman, Tun Seri Lanang, Sejarah dan Warisan Tokoh Melayu Tradisional, 2008, Media Satria, ISBN 983-43485-6-4
  • (Tun) Suzana (Tun) Othman, Institusi Bendahara; Permata Melayu yang hilang, 2002, ISBN 983-40566-6-4
  • Winstedt, R. O, A History of Johore (1365–1941), (M.B.R.A.S. Reprints, 6.) Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1992, ISBN 983-99614-6-2

Additional Readings

  • Borschberg, Peter, ed., "War, Diplomacy and Commerce in 17th-Century Southeast Asia: The Memorials, letters and Treaties of VOC Admiral Cornelis Matelieff de Jonge, Singapore: NUS Press, 2013.
  • Rouffaer, G.P., “Was Malaka Emporium vóór 1400 A.D. genaamd Malajoer? En waar lag Woerawari, Ma-Hasin, Langka, Batoesawar?”, Bijdragen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Volk- en Letterkunde, 77 (1921): 1-174 and 359-604.
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