Legends of Langkawi

The best known legend of Langkawi is of Mahsuri, a pretty maiden who lived some 200 years ago. She died under tragic circumstances for a crime she did not commit. She died a victim of a conspiracy plotted against her out of jealousy for her magnetic personality. She was accused of committing adultery and was sentenced to death by the Chief of Langkawi, Dato Karma Jaya, her own father-in-law. As the legend goes, Mahsuri was the object of envy, of the village headman’s wife Wan Mahora. She accused Mahsuri of adultery with a handsome minstrel visiting the island while Mahsuri’s husband, Wan Darus, was away.As proof of her innocence, some people say, white blood was seen gushing out of her wound during execution. Others maintain there was the sudden appearance of white mist that enveloped the spot where she was executed, which it was believed was a sign of mourning of her innocence.Mahsuri is best remembered for her curse on Langkawi which was uttered before she died. She had said, “For this act of injustice Langkawi shall not prosper for seven generations to come.”Decades after Mahsuri’s death, Langkawi experienced a period of tribulation with her population dwindling in size. The island became a desolate place, beset by series of misfortunes. It was not able to regain its splendour for a long period of time.

The curse, believed to have brought destruction and doom to the island and was to last for seven generations, lifted only after the birth of Wan Aishah.

There are two well known mountains in the heart of Langkawi Island, Gunung Raya and Gunung Mat Cincang. Added to the two and appearing to separate them is a hill called Bukit Sawar. The three were said to be human beings with respective names of Mat Raya, Mat Cincang and Mat Sawar.
Legend says Mat Raya’s son was interested in marrying Mat Cincang’s daughter, much to the displeasure of Mat Cincang. The boy was said to be of bad character. Despite the reluctance on Mat Cincang’s side to accept the boy the marriage did take place. But unfortunately a fight broke out during the wedding feast.During the fight everyone became violent and pots and pans were flung at one another. A big pot of gravy was broken and the contents spilt on the ground. The spot where the gravy spilt is known as Kuah (gravy) and where the pot was broken as Belanga Pecah (broken pot). A couldron of hot water was also spilt on the ground and the spot is known as Air Panas (hot water). The fight between the two families went on until it was intervened by Mat Sawar. Both parties reconciled and decided to transform themselves including Mat Sawar into their present forms.
Tasik Dayang Bunting is a fresh water lake on the island of Dayang Bunting, the second largest in the Langkawi archipelago. There appears to be several versions of the Dayang Bunting legend.
One version has it that Dayang Bunting was a giant guardian spirit that kept watch over the islands. The lady’s defenses include her pet lion and poison from the tuba root, potent weapons for her protection. Hence, the two islands closest to Pulau Dayang Bunting, whose silhoutte resembles that of a reclined pregnant giant, are named Pulau Singa Besar (Great Lion Island) and Pulau Tuba (Poisonous Root Island). The story goes that, a group of rude merchants failed to pay the obligatory respects to Dayang Bunting as they passed by the islands. Rudely awakened by the intrusion, she summoned her pet lion to despatch the trespassers. She roused the spirits of wind and water, stirring up a tropical storm that unleashed its fury on the incoming fleet of sailors.The howling winds and tossing waves threw and dashed vessels on Pulau Jong (Junk Island), hence the remains of wrecked vessels. In the stormy affair, a cargo of black and white water buffaloes escaped to Pulau Gubang Darat (Land Stable Island) and Pulau Gubang Laut (Sea Stable Island) while the white buffaloes sheltered at Pulau Balar (White Water Buffalo Island). Yet other boats, laden with rice, was stranded at Pulau Beras Basah (Wet Rice Island).In another story, a prince once ate half cooked rice during a wedding feast. He suffered indigestion and farted at two spots now known as Pulau Kentut Besar (big Fart Island) and Pulau Kentut Kecil (Small Fart Island)!The second version of Dayang Bunting is closely associated with the romantic exploitery of Mambang Sari, a beautiful female genie and Mat Teja, a male genie. Mambang Sari used to frequent the island accompanied by her maids. Their favourite spot was Pasir Teluk Air Tahun and Teluk Lawak. One day Mat Teja saw Mambang Sari and was struck by her beauty. He fell in love with her and used to follow her wherever she went. Once while on a lookout for her, he met Tok Diang an old man from the village. Mat Teja told him of his love for Mambang Sari but just did not know how to reveal this secret. He feared that his love might not be reciprocated.

Tok Diang asked Mat Teja to get the tears of a mermaid from the sea and to wipe them on his face the next time he met Mambang Sari. He did just that and when Mambang Sari saw him she fell in love with him. They often met at various places to enjoy the beauty and serenity of these spots. They became more intimate and as a result Mambang Sari became pregnant.

She chose to retire at Tasik Dayang Beranak (Lake of Born Maiden) to give birth. Unfortunately the child died after seven days. Saddened by the death Mambang Sari took the child’s body and threw it into the lake, Tasik Dayang Beranak. The lake later came to be known as Tasik Dayang Bunting. Some people believe the water of the lake possesses some mystical power of helping barren women to bear children