Ancient Writings of Malay

- The Past and Present of Rencong

While researching on Malay ancient writings for Bahasa Melayu kuno, Wan's little brain keep thinking: "What is Rencong writing like?"

So far from what Wan can gather, Malay was written in the Rencong script of South Sumatera which looks like this:

ancient writings, rencong

Rencong, South Sumatera

Be careful, there are many types of Rencong script! In West Sumatera, Rencong look like this:

ancient writings, rencong

Rencong, West Sumatera

You might notice this set has a lot of dots on the syllables. Take the first syllable "ki" for example, if you take away the dot on top, you get "ka", move the dot to the bottom, you get "ku" and if you use a diacritic "v" at the bottom, you get "ko". Yeap, Rencong's vowel sounds are expressed by dots, lines and diacritics placed on four corners of the syllables.

There are three types of Rencong scripts in North Sumatera, they use diacritic and they look basically like this:

ancient writings, rencong

Rencong, North Sumatera

On the island of Sulawesi, Rencong uses a basic alphabet and diacritic:

ancient writings, rencong

Rencong, Sulawesi

Ancient Writings, Multiple Identities

In each table, I arranged " Ka, Ga, Nga" on the first row. This is because what is popularly known as "Rencong", in fact, is used in many districts within the Malay archipelago and is called by a different term in EACH district. Among its other names are: Ka Ga Nga, Toba, Karo, Mandailing, Kerinci, Minangkabau, Rejang, Lampung, Surat Ulu, Musi Banyuasin, Ogan, Bengkulu and etc --- mind you, these are only examples from Sumatera.

The Jawi spelling for Rencong can also be pronounced as: Runcing,Rencang, Rancang, Rincing and Rancung. Most scholars are in favour of Rencong so that's the term we use here.

Unlike many old writings that have become obselete, Rencong is in use until this very day though only by very few people mainly the older generations of Kalimantan Dayaks, Mindoro Filipinos and Bugis.



Please kindly contact me if you wish to use my article for educational purposes.

To the people who think they are smart enough to write for Wikipedia on this topic and say that the info here is "badly sourced" and wrong :I recommend you check from references in Bahasa Malaysia itself. So you assume I am a bongok who simply write about this important topic without double checking my Then, go and find you own great references, don't use mine-lah.

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