Malay Magical Bamboo

Buluh Perindu

Hang Jebat's voice was likened to the "yearning bamboo" in Malay literature Hikayat Hang Tuah. I suggest you read the details if you are interested to understand what is buluh perindu. Here's an excerp recorded in Utusan Malaysia:

“Maka raja pun keluar duduk di bendul dihadap oleh segala biduanda. Maka Hang Jebat pun datang menghadap. Maka disuruhnya oleh raja membaca hikayat, kerana ia tahu membawa suara bagai-bagai, tambahan suaranya terlalu baik. Maka Hang Jebat pun membawa hikayat, terlalu nyaring suaranya lagi merdu.

Maka segala dayang-dayang dan perwara dan gundik raja sekaliannya pun duduk mengintai di balik dinding, mengintaikan Hang Jebat membaca hikayat itu. Maka segala gundik raja pun berahilah akan Hang Jebat. Maka raja pun terlalu suka cita mendengar Hang Jebat membaca hikayat itu, suaranya terlalu manis seperti buluh perindu, kerana Hang Jebat pandai mengadakan suara memberi sekalian mendengar dia pilu dan rawan, barang siapa mendengar dia menjadi kasih hatinya. Maka raja pun beradulah di ribanya Hang Jebat. Maka Hang Jebat pun berhenti daripada membaca itu lalu bernyanyi pula mengulit raja beradu itu, terlalu sekali merdu suaranya. Maka raja pun tidurlah di riba Hang Jebat terlalu nyedar."

Background for the above scene: A palace official Karma Wijaya slandered Hang Tuah by saying that he had an illicit affair with a palace maiden. Subsequently, the Sultan passed death sentence on Hang Tuah. Hang Jebat desiring to avenge Hang Tuah's unfair treatment, rebelled against the Sultan.

But I must say it is almost...magical the way Hang Jebat hypnotized the Sultan to fall into a deep sleep on his lap and then seduced 700 women in the palace by means of his "buluh perindu" voice!

In the myths of Malay people, this particular species of bamboo, scientific name bambusa magica ridl, is said to possess magical power. A small piece of buluh perindu in the mouth, makes the speaker's voice irresistable to his listeners. Hang Jebat's conquest must have inspired the emergence of buluh perindu oil in the market $25 a bottle. The price cannot be cheap for another reason-buluh perindu has only limited supply around Titiwangsa range nearby Cameron Highlands.

Initially, I thought this simile refers to the bamboo flute,buluh sembilang. However, Jebat's episode and the fact that there is a musical award named after buluh perindu point to the mesmerizing effect of one's voice points to one conclusion

"Buluh Perindu is Love Charm."


For further reading on bamboo and Malay language please click here

Numeral Coefficient for bamboo in Malay language.

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