Revisiting Atas Angin: A Review of the Malay Imagination of Rum, Ferringhi and the Penjajah
Over the centuries, the Malay description of the Other in neutral and unproblematic. Unlike, for example, the Japanese, who were fearful of the Portuguese and Spaniards of the Nanbanjin, or “southern barbarians” as they described the Europeans in the 16th century, the Malays accommodated those from the atas angin into the Malay world, geographically, peoples from the west of the river Sindh. The Japanese expelled the “southern barbarians” and wanted no part of the then ongoing colonization elsewhere. This book reflects how the West was imagined, constructed, described, projected and represented by the Malays in Malay texts. It is the knowledge of the Occident out of itself.
In a significant way, this book represents how the Malays produced knowledge and constructed an image about Europe and the Western world. The book comprises two major parts commentaries and the corpus. The latter is to provide sufficient insights into early encounters of the Malays with the West. It allows the text to speak for itself. Rum, Ferringhi/Feranggi/Pefanggi/Frangy; Belanda/Holanda/Wolanda; Inggeris/Engrees/Inglan and their various spellings as well as orang putih and Eropah are used as markers in Malay texts which are writings in prose from the Malay Archipelago stretching from Acheh to Ambon. These markers display the Malay engagement with the West, indicative of the form of knowledge of the other which reflects the geographical, theological, culture and ethnicity of the Other.