What’s in a Name? Malay Seals as Onomastic Sources

(Apa Ada pada Nama? Cap Mohor Melayu sebagai Sumber Onomastik)

 

Annabel Teh Gallop

annabel.gallop@bl.uk

 

The British Library

 

Abstract

Most studies of Malay names to date have been based on ethnographic and literary sources. This article presents a new dataset for Malay onomastics, namely Islamic seals from Southeast Asia, inscribed in Arabic script and dating from the late 16th to early 20th century, over half of which bear a personal name. A high proportion of these seals are of sovereigns, and Malay seals are thus an exceptionally valuable primary source for regnal names. Yet while in Malay texts and chronicles the use of personal names is generally avoided in favour of kinship terms, relational names, titles and descriptive epithets, Malay seals are almost invariably inscribed with standard Arabic-Islamic personal names. This feature  should be interpreted in the context of the image of self which the sealholder wished to project to the outside world, in which his or her Islamic identity, and membership of the universal ummah, was of prime importance.

Keywords: Malay names, onomastic, Malay seals, regnal names, Islamic names

 

Abstrak

Kebanyakan kajian tentang nama Melayu setakat ini diteliti dalam bidang etnografi dan sumber persuratan. Makalah ini mempersembahkan set data onomastik Melayu, secara khusus cap mohor Islam dari Asia Tenggara yang bertulisan Arab, dari abad ke-16 hingga abad ke-20. Hampir separuh daripadanya terdiri daripada nama perseorangan. Kebanyakan cap mohor Melayu merupakan milik raja sendiri, dan menjadi sumber yang amat berharga bagi nama pemerintah. Penggunaan nama perseorangan biasanya dielakkan dalam teks dan riwayat Melayu, dan sering digantikan dengan nama timang-timangan yang menunjukkan pangkat keluarga atau hubungan persaudaraan, gelaran pangkat, ataupun julukan deskriptif, tetapi cap mohor Melayu pula sentiasa ditulis dengan nama perseorangan Arab-Islam. Ciri ini perlu diinterpretasikan dalam konteks imej diri yang ingin ditampilkan oleh pemilik cap mohor kepada dunia tentang identitinya, iaitu memberi kepentingan kepada dirinya sebagai sebahagian daripada ummah sejagat.

 

Kata kunci: Nama Melayu, onomastik, cap mohor Melayu, nama pemerintah, nama Islam

 

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