Rahimah Haji A. Hamid

(imah@usm.my)

Tarmiji Masron

(mmiji@usm.my)

School of Humanities

Universiti Sains Malaysia

Abstract

Mountains and hills (hereinafter referred to as mountains) are a special part of God’s creation. In addition to being mentioned in the Qur’an as being “bolts” of the Earth and water catchment areas, mountains are seen in a variety of religious and cultural traditions as being sacred and special places. There are thus many Asian literary works that boast of mountains existing in their locations. This paper seeks to examine why mountains are such an important element in the life of society by examining them in terms of their location and function. This study will attempt to use spatial information technologies such as Geographic Information System (GIS) to aid understanding of literary works, namely by taking the views of Harvey (1973) that “geographical space has a close relationship with the culture of a place”. Thus the location of an area will be linked to its function in terms of cultural space, social space, economic space, ideological space, and space movement. In this essay, GIS will be used to map the location mountains that play a role in literary works to try to see the elements of space and the location of the mountain together with the cultural and narrative elements of the work. Among the literary works selected in which the location and function of these mountains will be observed are Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals), Hikayat Hang Tuah, Hikayat Seri Kelantan, Hikayat Seri Rama (Nusantara), Syakuntala (India), and Dewi Putih, as well as Liang Shan-Bo and Zhu Ying-Tai (China). Based on these works, it is found that mountains are important because they serve several functions such as the residence of rulers/spirits (ghosts, spirits, fairies); as a sacred place inhabited by the gods; as the source of the inheritance of kings; as places of study or for seeking spiritual and physical knowledge; as well as places that are rich in medicinal herbs. In the end, this essay shows that the nature of the mountains studied may explain the link between location and the culture of a certain race.

Keyword: Geographic Information System, Sejarah Melayu, Global Positioning System, spirit, Asian Literature.

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