Iskandar Shah



Iskandar Shah, also spelt as Iskandar Syah,1 is closely associated with Singapore and Melaka during the 14th and 15th century.2 He is also associated with other names in Singapore history such as Parameswara and Sri Tri Buana.3 His identity remains an enigma – he was either the ruler of late-14th century Singapore who subsequently founded Melaka, or the successor of the founder of Melaka.4 Some scholars believe that Parameswara and Iskandar Shah were two names used by the same person.5 One theory suggests that Parameswara became a Muslim and changed his name to Iskandar Shah.6 Others believe that Parameswara died around 1414 and Iskandar Shah succeeded him.7 His name is remembered in Singapore with a keramat (shrine) named after him at Fort Canning Hillkeramat Iskandar Shah.8 

The Malay annals

The Sulalat al-Salatin (Genealogy of the Kings), better known as the Sejarah Melayu or Malay Annals, refer to Iskandar Shah as Sri Sultan Iskandar Shah (also romanised as Seri Sultan Iskandar Syah), descendant of Paduka Sri Maharaja and heir to the Singapura throne.9 He is the fifth in a line of kings and ruled Singapura for three years.10 He fled Singapura during a Javanese attack, and eventually established Melaka.11 He ruled Melaka for twenty years12 and was succeeded by his son, Raja Kechil Besar, who went by the title of Sultan Megat.13 In Leyden’s translation of the Sejarah Melayu, he is referred to as Raja Secander Shah.14

The Portuguese accounts
Portuguese writers such as d’Albuquerque (son of Afonso d’Albuquerque who conquered Melaka in 1511), de Barros, and de Eredia wrote that the founder of Melaka was Parameswara, a vassal of Java who fled to Singapura, murdered the local ruler and usurped the throne.15 He was driven out some time later, and went on to establish Melaka.16 The historian De Couto was an exception who wrote that the last king of Singapura, also the first king of Melaka, was Iskandar Shah who was driven out by a Javanese attack, thus largely provided the same account as the Malay Annals.17


Another Portuguese, Tome Pires, who resided in Melaka from 1512 to 1515,18 wrote that Parameswara settled at Bertam, Malacca19 after fleeing Singapura.20 According to Pires, Parameswara’s son, Iskandar Shah, persuaded his father to settle at Melaka after he encountered a mousedeer there during a hunting session. The mousedeer turned on his hunting dogs and sent them running away.21 Iskandar Shah succeeded Parameswara after the latter died.22 Pires also recorded that Iskandar Shah was born in Singapore, and married the daughter of one of his father’s nobles, the orang laut (sea people).23

The Ming dynasty records
The Chinese records indicate that the ruler of Melaka, Parameswara, sent tribute missions to China in 1405,24 1407, and 1409.25 In 1411, Parameswara, his consort, and a retinue of 540 persons went to China and stayed at Nanjing for two months.26 The records included details of banquets, gifts, and audiences that this mission had with the Chinese emperor, Yongle.27 Two more missions were led by Parameswara's nephews in the following two years.28 The Yongle Shi Lu (Veritable Records of the Yongle reign) for October 1414 recorded that the son of the king of Melaka, Mu-gan Sa-yu-di-er-sha (Megat Iskandar Shah), came to the Chinese court and memorialised that his father Bai-li-mi-su-la (Parameswara) had died.29 An edict was then promulgated that Mu-gan Sa-yu-ti-er-sha should succeed his late father as king. Gifts of gold, silver, brocades and fine silks, headgear and belts, and robes of woven gold thread were given.30 The Yongle Shi Lu also recorded the visit of the Melaka king, Xi-li Ma-ha-la-zhe (Sri Maharaja) in April 1424, newly succeeded to the throne after his father's death.31


It has been suggested that Parameswara changed his name to Iskandar Shah, and this confused the Chinese into thinking that Iskandar Shah was a different person.32 However, it has also been argued that the Chinese, including the emperor, had met Parameswara when he visited in 1411, and were unlikely to have mistaken him for someone else three years later.33

Iskandar Shah and Sri Tri Buana
Iskandar Shah in the identity as the founder of Melaka has also been associated with another name in the Malay Annal - Sri Tri Buana (who is also known as Sang Utama, Sang Nila Utama, and Nilatanam), the first king of Singapura in the Malay Annals.34


In the Malay Annals, Sri Tri Buana and his two brothers were discovered by two widows at the top of Bukit Si-Guntang Mahmeru in Palembang.35 The night before, the widows saw a fiery glow on the hill.36 They climbed up the hill the next morning and discovered that the padi they planted there had turned into golden grains with leaves of silver, and stems of gold alloy.37 Here, they also saw three youths adorned like kings.38 The eldest was made the raja of Minangkabau, with the title Sang Sapurba; the second was made raja of Tanjong Pura, with the title Sang Maniaka; and, the youngest was made raja of Palembang with the title Sang Utama.39

Sang Utama was later bestowed the title Sri Tri Buana.40 Later in the narrative, he and his entourage sailed to Temasek where they saw a strange animal while hunting.41 It had a red body, a black head, and a white chest. It was bigger than a goat, strong and active in build and moved with great speed.42 His chief minister told him the animal could have been a lion.43 Sang Utama decided to establish a city in Temasek, and called it Singapura (Lion City).44

It has been argued that several critical aspects in the story of Sri Tri Buana in the Malay Annals was based on Parameswara,45 who also ruled in Palembang before establishing himself in Singapura.46 Hence, if Iskandar Shah and Parameswara were assumed to be the same person – the founder of Melaka – they were also equated with Sri Tri Buana.47

Variant names

Iskandar Shah - Iskandar Syah,48 Chaquem DaraxaXaquem Daraxa, and Xaquem Darxa49



Author
Cheryl-Ann Low




References
1. Andaya, B. W. (2001). A history of Malaysia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, p. 43. (Call no.: RSEA 959.5 AND)
2. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
3. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 57–60. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
4. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.). Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 57. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
5. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 66. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
6. Hall, D.G.E. (1981). A history of Southeast Asia. Basingstoke, Hants: Macmillan, p. 225. (Call no.: RSING 959 HAL)
7. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 57. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
8. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
9. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 59. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, p. xxxii. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ); Sulalat al-Salatin: Yani Perteturun Segala Raja-Raja (Sejarah Melayu) [Genealogy of the Kings (The Malay Annals) / Essay by Tun Seri Lanang; studied and introduced by Muhammad Haji Salleh]. (1997). Kuala Lumpur: Yayasan Karyawan and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, p. 56. (Call no.: Malay R 899.28 SER)
10. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 60. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, p. xxxii. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
11. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 60. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
12. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 60. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 42. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
13. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 64. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]); John Leyden's Malay annals. (2001). Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 48. (Call no.: RSING 959.51 JOH); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. xxxiii, 42. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
14. John Leyden's Malay annals. (2001). Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 45. (Call no.: RSING 959.51 JOH)
15. Teixeira, M. (1961). The Portuguese missions in Malacca and Singapore, 1511–1958. Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do Ultramar, p. 21. (Call no.: RCLOS 266.25953 TEI); Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 62–63. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
16. Teixeira, M. (1961). The Portuguese missions in Malacca and Singapore, 1511–1958 (Vol. 1). Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do Ultramar, pp. 21–23. (Call no.: RCLOS 266.25953 TEI); Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 63. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
17. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 63. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
18. Hall, D.G.E. (1981). A history of Southeast Asia. Asia. Basingstoke, Hants: Macmillan, p. 224. (Call no.: RSING 959 HAL)
19. Teixeira, M. (1961). The Portuguese missions in Malacca and Singapore, 1511–1958 (Vol. 1). Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do Ultramar, p. 22. (Call no.: RCLOS 266.25953 TEI)
20. Teixeira, M. (1961). The Portuguese missions in Malacca and Singapore, 1511–1958 (Vol. 1). Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do Ultramar, p. 22. (Call no.: RCLOS 266.25953 TEI); Cortesao, A. (Ed.). (2005). The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires: An account of the East, from the Red Sea to China, written in Malacca and India in 1512–1515; and, the book of Francisco Rodrigues: Pilot-Major of the armada that discovered Banda and the Moluccas: Rutter of a voyage in the Red Sea, nautical rules, almanack and maps, written and drawn in the East before 1515 (Vol. 2). New Delhi and Chennai: Asian Educational Services, pp. 232–235. (Call no.: RSEA 915 PIR-[TRA])
21. Teixeira, M. (1961). The Portuguese missions in Malacca and Singapore, 1511–1958 (Vol. 1). Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do Ultramar, p. 23. (Call no.: RCLOS 266.25953 TEI); Cortesao, A. (Ed.). (2005). The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires: An account of the East, from the Red Sea to China, written in Malacca and India in 1512–1515; and, the book of Francisco Rodrigues: Pilot-Major of the armada that discovered Banda and the Moluccas: Rutter of a voyage in the Red Sea, nautical rules, almanack and maps, written and drawn in the East before 1515 (Vol. 2). New Delhi and Chennai: Asian Educational Services, pp. 236–237. (Call no.: RSEA 915 PIR-[TRA])
22. Teixeira, M. (1961). The Portuguese missions in Malacca and Singapore, 1511–1958 (Vol. 1). Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do Ultramar, p. 24. (Call no.: RCLOS 266.25953 TEI); Cortesao, A. (Ed.). (2005) The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires: An account of the East, from the Red Sea to China, written in Malacca and India in 1512–1515; and, the book of Francisco Rodrigues: Pilot-Major of the armada that discovered Banda and the Moluccas: Rutter of a voyage in the Red Sea, nautical rules, almanack and maps, written and drawn in the East before 1515 (Vol. 2). New Delhi and Chennai: Asian Educational Services, p. 238. (Call no.: RSEA 915 PIR-[TRA])
23. Teixeira, M. (1961). The Portuguese missions in Malacca and Singapore, 1511–1958 (Vol. 1). Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do Ultramar, p. 23. (Call no.: RCLOS 266.25953 TEI); Cortesao, A. (Ed.). (2005). The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires: An account of the East, from the Red Sea to China, written in Malacca and India in 1512–1515; and, the book of Francisco Rodrigues: Pilot-Major of the armada that discovered Banda and the Moluccas: Rutter of a voyage in the Red Sea, nautical rules, almanack and maps, written and drawn in the East before 1515 (Vol. 2). New Delhi and Chennai: Asian Educational Services, pp. 236. (Call no.: RSEA 915 PIR-[TRA])
24. Andaya, B. W. (2001). A history of Malaysia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, p. 43. (Call no.: RSEA 959.5 AND); Hall, D.G.E. (1981). A history of Southeast Asia. Basingstoke, Hants: Macmillan, p. 225. (Call no.: RSING 959 HAL); Wang, G. (2005). The opening of relations between China and Malacca, 1403–05. In Leo., Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 16. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
25. Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In L., Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 32, 34-35. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
26. Hall, D.G.E. (1981). A History of Southeast Asia. Basingstoke, Hants: Macmillan, p. 225. (Call no.: RSING 959 HAL); Wade, G. (Trans.). (2005). Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: An open access resource. Retrieved 2016, June 6 from the Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore website: http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/entry/1781; Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In Leo, Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
27. Wade, G. (Trans.). (2005). Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: An open access resource. Retrieved 2016, June 6 from the Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore website: http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/entry/1781; Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In L., Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
28. Hall, D.G.E. (1981). A History of Southeast Asia. Basingstoke, Hants: Macmillan, p. 225. (Call no.: RSING 959 HAL); Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In L., Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 32, 35. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
29. Hall, D.G.E. (1981). A history of Southeast Asia. Basingstoke, Hants: Macmillan, p. 225. (Call no.: RSING 959 HAL); Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In Leo, Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
30. Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In L, Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 35. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
31 Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In L., Suryadinata (Ed.). Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 39. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
32. Hall, D.G.E. (1981). A History of Southeast Asia. Basingstoke, Hants: Macmillan,
p. 225. (Call no.: RSING 959 HAL); Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In L., Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 27. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
33. Wang, G. (2005). The first three rulers of Malacca. In L., Suryadinata (Ed.), Admiral Zheng He and Southeast Asia. Singapore: International Zheng He Society and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 37. (Call no.: RSING 951.026 ADM)
34. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 57–60. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 13–15. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
35. John Leyden's Malay annals. (2001). Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 21. (Call no.: RSING 959.51 JOH)
36. John Leyden's Malay annals. (2001). Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 21. (Call no.: RSING 959.51 JOH); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
37. John Leyden's Malay annals. (2001). Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 21. (Call no.: RSING 959.51 JOH); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 13–14. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
38. Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 14. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
39. Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 13–15. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
40. John Leyden's Malay annals. (2001). Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 959.51 JOH); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 13, 15. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
41. Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 19–20. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
42. John Leyden's Malay annals. (2001). Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 43. (Call no.: RSING 959.51 JOH); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 20. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
43. John Leyden's Malay annals. (2001). Malaysia: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 44. (Call no.: RSING 959.51 JOH); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 20. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
44. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS]); Sejarah Melayu or Malay annals. (1976). Kuala Lumpur, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 20. (Call no.: RSING 959.5 SEJ)
45. Andaya, B. W. (2001). A history of Malaysia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, p. 42. (Call no.: RSEA 959.5 AND)
46. Linehan, W. (1982) The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, p. 57. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
47. Linehan, W. (1982). The kings of 14th century Singapore. In T.S.D.M Sheppard (Ed.), Singapore 150 Years. Singapore: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 57–59. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])
48. Andaya, B. W. (2001). A history of Malaysia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, p. 43. (Call no.: RSEA 959.5 AND)
49. Teixeira, M. (1961). The Portuguese missions in Malacca and Singapore, 1511–1958 (Vol. 1). Lisboa: Agencia Geral Do Ultramar, p. 23. (Call no.: RCLOS 266.25953 TEI); Cortesao, A. (Ed.). (2005). The Suma Oriental of Tome Pires: An account of the East, from the Red Sea to China, written in Malacca and India in 1512–1515 ; and, the book of Francisco Rodrigues: Pilot-Major of the armada that discovered Banda and the Moluccas: Rutter of a voyage in the Red Sea, nautical rules, almanack and maps, written and drawn in the East before 1515 (Vol. 2) New Delhi and Chennai: Asian Educational Services, p. 236. (Call no.: RSEA 915 PIR-[TRA])



Further resources
Taylor, K. (1999). The early kingdoms. In Tarling (Ed.), The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia. Part 1. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, pp. 137–182.

(Call no.: RSEA 959 CAM)

Wolters, O. W. (1970). The Fall of Srivijaya in Malay History. Kuala Lumpur and Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSEA 959.5 WOL)



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 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
Personalities
Parameswara, Sultan of Malacca, d.1424
History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia>>Singapore
History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia>>Malaysia
Personalities>>Biographies
Sultans--Singapore--Biography
Sultans--Malaysia-- Malacca (State)--Biography