Category Archives: Pre-Sultanate Period

The first official and written visit to China (Part 4)

For the Part 1 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
For the Part 2 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
For the Part 3 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
Yes, there is a 4th and final entry [1] chronicling the first official and written visit to China. The entry was roughly 22 Oct 1417 or about a month after their arrival in the Imperial capital. Unfortunately, this final entry is with sadness, the demise of the Eastern ruler, Paduka Batara.
“Ba-du-ge Ba-da-la, the Eastern king of the country of Sulu, proceeding on his return journey, died of illness when he reached De-zhou. When the death was announced, officials were sent to confer sacrifices and the authorities were commanded to build a tomb and to entomb him with the honours due to a king. The Emperor personally composed a text, and a tablet and grave alley were erected. The king’s consort, concubines and servants, a total of 10 persons remained to watch his grave and were instructed to return home after three years. Also, an envoy was sent with Imperial orders of instruction for the king’s eldest son Du-ma-han (Alt: Du-ma-she), noting: “Your father knew how to respect China. He personally led his family members and attendant ministers across the sea for 10,000 li and came to Court. I looked on his sincerity with special affection, enfeoffed him as king, conferred bountiful rewards upon him and sent people to escort him back to his country. However, when the boat reached De-zhou, he died of illness. When I heard of this, I was deeply greived. The burial and sacrifices have already been arranged in accordance with the rites. You are the eldest son of the primary wife. Of the people in your country, it is appropriate that you inherit the title and keep peace in the border feudatory (藩服). Now I am especially enfeoffing you as the Eastern king of the country of Sulu. You should increasingly act in a loyal and upright manner and mu st increasingly respect the Way of Heaven so as to be worthy of my concern and in order to carry forward your father’s ideals. Respect this!”

What this is telling us is that number of people temporarily staying – 10 of them composed of the ruler’s consort, concubines and servants – and can only return home after 3 years in China! Who returned and who did not and eventually become the An and Wen ancestors?
It also describe the only succession in the Sulu history in Chinese soil – the demised Paduka Batara succeeded by his eldest son (Du-ma-han) from his first wife and; facilitated and endorsed by the Chinese emperor himself! 
Aside from imperial conferment and an instruction of loyalty, the Chinese emperor also wrote eulogy. Was this the one written on the tablet? What is the imperial text?
Source:

[1] Yong-le: Year 15, Month 9, Day 13 (22 Oct 1417) – http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/entry/2414?hl=Sulu

The first official and written visit to China (Part 3)

For the Part 1 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …

For the Part 2 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
For the Part 4 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …

The third entry in the Ming Annals came about 18 days after the delegation’s stay and is about the return home [1]. It also provides an additional clue on “Sulu dong” led by the 3rd and female Sulu ruler.

“Ba-du-ge Ba-da-la, the Eastern king of the country of Sulu, Ma-ha-la-zha Ge-la-ma-ding, the Western king of the country of Sulu, and Ba-du-ge Ba-la-bu, the ruler of the Sulu aborigines, departed on their return journey. A gold and jade belt, 100 liang of gold, 2,000 liang of silver, 200 bolts of silk gauzes, brocades and patterned fine silks, 300 bolts of thin silks, 10,000 ding of paper money, 3,000 guan of cash, a set of gold-embroidered mang dragon robes and a set of qi-linrobes were conferred upon each of them. Patterned fine silks, variegated thin silks, cash and paper money, as appropriate, were conferred upon the accompanying chieftains.”

Instead of the usual “Sulu dong (峒)” as written in the first two entries, she is now address as “the ruler of the Sulu aborigines”. Is the Chinese “dong” equivalent to “aborigines”? Who are these aborigines? The Buranun, perhaps?

The farewell gifts for them was a list of immense wealth. A gold and jade belt for each of them? Where are they now? There is also “gold-embroidered mang dragon robes and a set of qi-lin robes”. What is a Mang dragon robe or a qilin robe?

I’m not sure if we have any of these gifts preserved for us. It would be interesting to see them.

Source:
[1] Yong-le: Year 15, Month 8, Day 27 (7 Oct 1417) – http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/entry/2417?hl=Sulu

The first official and written visit to China (Part 2)

For the Part 1 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
For the Part 3 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
For the Part 4 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
Seven days after the first entry, the second entry [2] in the Ming Annals – Yong-le: Year 15, Month 8, Day 8 (18 Sep 1417) –  wrote about their “conferment” or “confirmation” as rulers of their respective countries, regalias and including the “accompanying chieftains” in the delegation. 
“Ba-du-ge Ba-da-la was enfeoffed as the Eastern king of the country of Sulu; Ma-ha-la-zha Ge-la-ma-ding was enfeoffed as the Western king of the country of Sulu; and Ba-du-ge Pa-la-bu was enfeoffed as the ruler of the Sulu dong. Title patents, suits of clothing, a set of formal clothing, seals, horses with saddles and ceremonial insignia were conferred upon them. Headwear, belts and clothing made from patterned fine silks interwoven with gold thread, as appropriate, were conferred upon the accompanying chieftains, who totalled over 340 persons.”
Please note that the 3rd in this triumvirate was a female, “wife of the deceased administrator of the Sulu dong (峒)”. By this text, with slight spelling variation in the first syllable of her second name (from “Balabu” to “Palabu”), she too was confirmed as successor of her husband who was until his death “administrator of the Sulu dong (峒)”. Who are they? Interesting, who is this lady ruler?
The conferment came with title patents and regalias. What is written in the patent and how does it looks like?
The text specified the regalias as composing largely of a “set of formal clothing, seals, horses with saddles and ceremonial insignia.” According, these clothing were made of fine silks and gold thread.
Did they brought these horses back home? It would be interesting to dig and to know if they are the progenies of today’s horses in Sulu. What happen to these royal uniforms? How do they look like? What of these uniforms eventually influenced our traditional wears like the “kuput”, “sawwal”, “samra” and “sablay”?
Source: 
[2] Yong-le: Year 15, Month 8, Day 8(18 Sep 1417) – http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/entry/2441?hl=Sulu

The first official and written visit to China (Part 1)

The good thing about the internet is the wealth of information available online. Of particular interest is the online and translated Ming Shi-lu (Veritable Records of the Ming Dynasty), a collective name for the successive reign annals of the emperors of Ming China between the periods 1368-1644. This one is from the National University of Singapore.
Now on Sulu, the Ming Shi-lu (MSL) has about twelve (12) entries from 1417 to 1610, although the bulk of it is more of entries during the 15th century. 
The first three entries provides a glimpse about pre-sultanate period – the 3 Sulu rulers comprising the Eastern, Western and dong (aborigine) countries. There is also description of gift exchanges and regalias. 
The first record [1], Yong-le: Year 15, Month 8, Day 1 (11 Sep 1417) identified not one but three (3) pre-sultanate Sulu rulers heading a 340-contingent and the tributes offered.
“The Auxiliary Ministry of Rites advised: “Ba-du-ge Ba-da-la, the administrator (權) of the Eastern country of Sulu; Ma-ha-la-zha Ge-la-ma-ding, the administrator of the Western country of Sulu; and Ba-du-ge Ba-la-bu, the wife of the deceased administrator of the Sulu dong (峒) have led their family members and accompanying chieftains, a total of over 340 persons to come to Court to offer a memorial engraved in gold and to offer tribute.” They also presented pearls, precious stones, tortoise-shell and other products. Rewards and hospitality were conferred upon them, at a level equal to those accorded to the king of the country of Melaka.”

From this text the three Sulu rulers were as follows:
  1. Ba-du-ge Ba-da-la, the administrator (權) of the Eastern country of Sulu – Is this equivalent to Paduka Batara? Where is this Eastern country as some say this is based in Jolo [2]? there is one note that says the name of this ruler is Pa-Tu-Ko-Ha-La (Patugohada) [2]?
  2. Ma-ha-la-zha Ge-la-ma-ding, the administrator of the Western country of Sulu – Is this equivalent to Maharaja Kolamating [3]? Where is this Western country as some say this is based in Dungon, Tawi-Tawi [2]?
  3. Ba-du-ge Ba-la-bu, the wife of the deceased administrator of the Sulu dong (峒) – The only female in this triumvirate, is this equivalent to Paduka Prabu [2]? What and where is this so-called Sulu dong? 
What they brought with them was a memorial engraved in gold. What was written perhaps we will never know. What we know now are the tributes – “pearls, precious stones, tortoise-shell and other products.”
The text also specify the equivalence and magnificence of the pre-sultanate Sulu countries – that of Malaka!

For the Part 2 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
For the Part 3 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …
For the Part 4 of “The first official and written visit to China”, please click here …