Keramat Radin Mas


 

Keramat Radin Mas is the shrine of Radin Mas Ayu, a Javanese princess who shielded her father from being killed. In the legend of Radin Mas, she was described as a beautiful, pious and filial daughter loved by her father but hated by her stepmother. Radin Mas Ayu came with her father when she was an infant to Temasek (old Singapore) and lived in a village at Telok Blangah. Her father, a skillful warrior prince, married into the royal family in Singapore. Her tomb lies in a little grove behind Mount Faber Lodge Condominium and still receives visitors. The authenticity of the tomb could not be verified.

Description
The tomb of Radin Mas Ayu sits on the shoulder of a hill overlooking Kampong Radin Mas which had been demolished. It is surrounded by a great banyan tree. A stream used to run in the valley below and its water was believed to have healing properties. The stream had been converted into a monsoon drain.

There used to be a hut enclosing the tomb but its condition was very poor. The surrounding compound was littered with rubbish and overgrown with bushes and tall grass. In 2000, Mr Zainal Atan also known as Pak Daeng decided to spruce up the tomb to give Radin Mas Ayu a more deserving recognition. In the late 1999, with the permission from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), Pak Daeng cleaned up the place and repaired the hut using his own funds. Garnering help from friends, he levelled the ground around the tomb, carrying sand and cement up the hill.

Mr Zainal realised that to make the tomb more presentable, he needed more funds. He collected contributions from the community that totalled a sum of $15,000. A contractor was hired and works started in August 2002. The hut was torn down and a new one was built. A low fence was erected along the perimeters of the tomb. The surrounding compound was laid with ceramic tiles and a water tank was installed to store rainwater. A flight of steps was constructed to increase access to the shrine. Both the hut and the stairs were painted yellow which is the symbol of both royalty and holiness. A place to perform prayers was also provided. Pak Daeng went to the shrine everyday to clean it and he made sure that visitors did not carry out un-Islamic practices commonly associated with Muslim shrines. He hoped that the authorities could verify the history behind the tomb and recognise it as Singapore's heritage and a tourist destination.

The legend
Pangeran Adipati Agung was the younger brother of a king in the kingdom of Java. He was a skilful and brave warrior much loved by the people. He fell in love with the leading dancer of a dance troupe. As he could not marry a commoner, he wedded her in secret. Their happy union bore them a beautiful little girl whom they named Radin Mas Ayu. Her name means "sweet golden princess". Before long, the king found out and was extremely furious.The king was determined to get rid of the dancer. Opportunity came when his kingdom was threatened by some hostile invaders. The king sent Pangeran to quell the threat. The dancer's heart was slightly heavy at this but saw a chance of reconciliation between her husband and his brother, the king if he was to return with victory. It was in vain as when Pangeran left for battle, the king had his men burned their house. Pangeran's wife perished while their daughter was rescued by a loyal servant. When Pangeran returned from a victorious battle, he was crestfallen to find the truth and severed ties with his brother and the palace. He left the kingdom together with Radin Mas Ayu and the loyal servant.

They set sail and landed on the island of Singapore and settled down in a village at Telok Blangah. He was silent on his royal lineage and lived as other villagers did. One day, the island was under attack from menacing sea pirates and Pangeran fought bravely to save the island. News of Pangeran's valour reached the Sultan of Singapore and he was commended accordingly. When an envoy from Java was sent to meet the sultan, he was surprised to see Pangeran and related to him the Javanese king's remorse. The Sultan of Singapore was delighted to know that Pangeran was a prince and arranged for his princess to be wedded to him. Pangeran agreed to the marriage and a son was born to them. He was named Tengku Chik. Meanwhile Radin Mas Ayu was now grown up but was disliked by her stepmother. One day, little Tengku Chik accidentally cut his foot on a piece of broken plate dropped by Radin Mas Ayu. Her stepmother despised her even more. The Pangeran refused to believe it was done on purpose. To get even, her stepmother together with her nephew, Tun Bagus plotted against Pangeran and his daughter. Tun Bagus was deeply offended that his marriage proposal had been declined by Radin Mas Ayu. He took this opportunity to avenge the humiliation he felt from Radin's rejection.

Tun Bagus got Pangeran intoxicated and held him prisoner in an unused deep well. He threatened to kill Pangeran if Radin Mas Ayu refused to marry him. During the solemnisation ceremony however, Radin Mas was asked if she had her father's permission to marry. Fearful for her father's life, she lied saying that he died while visiting Java. At this instant,Tengku Chik blurted out that he saw her father alive in the unused well. The plot was revealed and Pangeran was rescued. Afraid of Pangeran's revenge, Tun Bagus drew his kris and lunged at him. Radin Mas Ayu sprang forward to shield her beloved father and the kris plunged into her heart with a fatal blow. During the commotion, the stepmother stole away to escape but through divine intervention, the sky darkened, the clouds rolled and lightning struck and killed her.

Radin Mas' legacy
Radin Mas was buried at the foot of Mount Faber and today, her shrine was still visited by many. A black and white film on the legend had been produced by Cathay Kris Productions in 1959 showcasing heavyweights, Nordin Ahmad and Latifah Omar. The film which became a Malay classic echoed one of Singapore's legends.

Kampong Radin Mas is in Bukit Purmei and Telok Blangah areas. Kampong Radin Mas had been demolished and the villagers relocated to flats. Radin Mas Primary School used to occupy an istana building in the area before it moved to another premises in 1984. Today, the constituency is called Radin Mas Constituency. There used to be Radin Mas Mosque or Masjid Radin Mas at the foot of Mount Faber but it had been demolished circa 2001 and replaced by a new mosque, Masjid Al-Amin which is located nearby.

 

Author
Marsita Omar

 

References
Ang, D. (1996, September 4). TCS did not dispute legend of Radin Mas. The Straits Times, Letter. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Lim, C. G. S. (2001). Legendary tales of Singapore (pp.101-114). Singapore: Asiapac Books.
(Call no.: SING 398.2095957 LEG)

Lim, K. T. ( 1991). Cathay: 55 years of cinema (p. 209). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 791.43095957 LIM)

Mardiana Abu Bakar. (1990, August 16). Golden princess and her tomb. The Straits Times, Life!, pp. 1-2. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Musliha A. Husaini Ajmain. (1996, August 29). Radin Mas story was treated poorly. The Straits Times, Letter. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Nadzri Eunos. (2001, July 3). Bakti Masjid Radin Mas terus dihidupkan. Berita Harian, p. 5. Retrieved June 10, 2005, from Factiva database.

Nazri Hadi Sapari. (2003, January 19). Pak Daeng penjaga Makam Radin Mas. Berita Harian, p. 11. Retrieved June 10, 2005, from Factiva database.

Noor A. Rahman. (1999, June 25). Masjid berasal dari surau kecil. Berita Harian, p. 15. Retrieved June 10, 2005, from Factiva database.

Maxinfo Communications Pte Ltd. (2002). The legend of Radin Mas Ayu. Retrieved June 10, 2005, from www.kampungnet.com.sg/modules.php?op=modload&name=Subjects&file=index&req=viewpage&pageid=53

Pugalenthi, S. (1996). Myths and legends of Singapore (pp. 106-116). Singapore: VJ Times.
(Call no.: J R SING 398.2095957 PUG-[FOL])

Radin Mas Primary School. (2005). Walkin down memory lane. Retrieved June 10, 2005, from www.radinmasps.moe.edu.sg/

Singapore Survey Department. (1957). Singapore street directory and guide (p. 257). Singapore: Survey Department.
(Call no.: RSEA 959.57 SIN)

 

The information in this article is valid as at 2006 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources.  It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Historic Buildings
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Religious Buildings
Islamic shrines--Singapore
Tombs--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Religious buildings

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