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Malay history

Perak Sultanate

istana iskandariah
Iskandariah Palace

1. History

Perak is one of the oldest states in the Malay land. Little information is obtained regarding the early years of Perak State establishment. One thing for sure is that Perak State constitutes the seed of recent-day Perak Sultanate. Some historians associate Perak State with a kind of metal called perak (silver). Halim Nasir, another historian, contends that the name of Perak is derived from a river called the Perak River in Chegar Galah where some silver fishes are found.     

The early years of Perak can be traced back through two main references, Sejarah Melayu (Malay History) and Salasilah Perak (The Genealogy of Perak). Both references note that the Perak Sultanate established in 1528 A.D. The role of Malaka (Malacca) Sultanate was very decisive role in the making of Perak Sultanate. In 1551 A.D., the Melaka Sultanate was overthrown by the Portuguese. Sultan Mahmud Shah, the seventh Sultan of Malaka who ruled between 1488 and 1551 A.D., escaped to Kampar and settled there. The region is recently includes into Riau Province territory. Mahmud Shah was then installed as the Sultan of Kampar.  

Tun Saban, a Perak State functionary who administered the region of Hulu Sungai Perak to Kuala Temong, together with Nakhoda Kassim met Sultan Mahmud Shah. During the meeting, Sultan Mahmud Shah was officially asked to appoint Muzaffar Shah, his son, as the next Sultan of Perak. Perak State functionaries saw that they were in need of strong leader to rule their region. They chose Muzaffar Shah in specific considering the power of Melaka offspring and its Sultans. Besides, the structure of political system of Melaka, well known for its systematic order and efficient system, had growing influence on the rest of Malay regions.

The consultation was followed by the official appointment of Muzaffar Shah in 1528 A.D. as the First Sultan of Perak, bearing the title of Paduka Seri Sultan Muzaffar Shah I. Then capital of sultanate was centered in Tanah Abang (literally means Red Land). According to the above fact, it can be said that the Perak Sultanate was the continuation of Malaka Sultanate that was overthrown by Portuguese in 1551 A.D.

2. Sultans of the Sultanate

  1. Sultan Muzaffar Shah (1528-1540 A.D.)
  2. Sultan Mansur Shah I (1549-1577 A.D.)
  3. Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin (1577-1584 A.D.)
  4. Sultan Tajul Ariffin Shah (1584-1594 A.D.)
  5. Sultan Alauddin Shah (1594-1603 A.D.)
  6. Sultan Mukaddam Shah (1603-1619 A.D.)
  7. Sultan Mansur Shah II (1619-1627 A.D.)
  8. Sultan Mahmud Shah (1627-1630 A.D.)
  9. Sultan Salehuddin Shah (1630- 635 A.D.)
  10. Sultan Muzzaffar Shah II (1636-1653 A.D.)
  11. Sultan Mahmud Iskandar Shah (1653-1720 A.D.)
  12. Sultan Alauddin  Mughayat Shah (1720-1728 A.D.)
  13. Sultan Mudzaffar Shah III (1728-1744 A.D.)
  14. Sultan Muhammad Shah (1744-1750 A.D.)
  15. Sultan Iskandar Zulkarnain (1754-1764 A.D.)
  16. Sultan Mahmud Shah (1764-1771 A.D.)
  17. Sultan Alauddin Mansur Shah (1771-1786 A.D.)
  18. Sultan Ahmaddin Shah (1786-1806 A.D.)
  19. Sultan Abdul Malek  Shah (1806-1818 A.D.)
  20. Sultan Abdullah Mu`azzam Shah (1818-1830 A.D.)
  21. Sultan Shahabuddin Ri`ayat Shah (1830-1851 A.D.)
  22. Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah (1851-1857 A.D.)
  23. Sultan Ja`afar Shafuddin  Shah (1857-1865 A.D.)
  24. Sultan Ali Al-Mukammil Innayat Shah (1865-1871 A.D.)
  25. Sultan Ismail Mu`abiddin Ri`ayat Shah (1871-1874 A.D.)
  26. Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah (1874-1877 A.D.)
  27. Sultan Yusuf Sharifuddin Mu`azal Shah (1877-1887 A.D.)
  28. Sultan Idris Murshidul Azam Shah (1887-1916 A.D.)
  29. Sultan Abdul Jalil Nasiruddin Shah (1916-1918 A.D.)
  30. Sultan Alang Iskandar Shah (1918-1938 A.D.)
  31. Sultan Abdul Aziz Al-Mutasimbillah Shah (1938-1948 A.D.)
  32. Sultan Yusuff Izzuddin Shah (1948-1963 A.D.)
  33. Sultan Idris Iskandar Shah (1963-1984 A.D.)
  34. Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah (1984-now)

3. Sultanate Period

As from 1528 A.D. to now, the Perak Sultanate has established for five centuries. The Sultanate joined in the Federasi Kerajaan Malaysia (Federation of Malaysian Kingdoms) on February 1st, 1948 A.D. Later on, in September 16th, 1963 A.D., the Perak Sultanate was officially included into Negeri Persekutuan Malaysia (Federation of Malaysian States), carrying the name Negeri Perak Darul Ridzuan. The State is presided now by Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah.


In Hikayat Misa Melayu (The History of Misa Melayu), Sultan Iskandar Zulkarnain (1754-1764 A.D.) is depicted as an influential hero with idealistic characters. During his administration, Sultan Iskandar Zulkarnain achieved at least two historic breakthroughs. The first is when he successfully played a decisive role in unifying the Perak Sultanate that once experienced the friction and was divided into two after the protracted war. The second is the entering of Perak Sultanate into the golden age. Some historians described the era as the glorious era of Perak Sultanate had ever been.

Historically, the Perak Sultanate had ever been under the colonies of Great Britain. Prior to dominating the Sultanate, the British researchers had provided a complete insight into political, economic, and social system of Malay to their country. This preliminary information assisted them to have a full control over the Malay Sultanates, included the Perak Sultanate. The domination of British gradually increased when a conflict occurred during the rule of Sultan Ali al-Mukammil Innayat Shah (1865-1871 A.D). The conflict arose from the dissent on the legitimate heir of Sultanate.

After Sultan Ali al-Mukammil Innayat Shah passed away in 1871 A.D., the throne would be assumed by his son, Raja Muda Abdullah who settled in Batak Rabit, a land located in Hilir Perak, Perak Sultanate, Malaysia. However, Raja Muda refused to return to Sayong and to become the next Sultan of Perak. The refusal resulted in the late of Sultan Ali al-Mukammil Shah`s burial that took place a month after his death. By then, the officials of Perak waited the answer of Raja Muda. After the prolonged debate over the next successor, despite the difficult decision, the Sultanate officials chose to bury the body of Sultan immediately and appointed Raja Bendahara Ismail as the next Sultan of Perak, carrying the title Sultan Ismail Mu`abiddin Ri`ayat Shah (1871-1874 A.D).  

The conflict continued since Raja Muda Abdullah was not in the agreement with the appointment of Raja Bendahara Ismail. Regarding the reason why such denial, there is only meager information and data on it. The clash between the two functionaries of Sultanate, Raja Muda Abdullah and Sultan Ismail, was something unavoidable, resulting in the ascending of Raja Abdullah to the throne. Thus, Raja Ismail abdicated from the Sultanate. Raja Abdullah became the next Sultan and carried the title Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah (1874-1877 A.D). The conflict in the Perak Sultanate centered not only on the legitimate heir, but also between the illegal traders coming from China, Ghee Hin, and Hai San. Such conflict took place in Kelian Puah region and Kelian Baharu, and then spread to other regions (throughout the year of 1861-1862 A.D., and 1871-1874 A.D).  

The political upheaval ensued in the Sultanate was effectively utilized by British to intervene its internal affairs. For establishing statutory right over their involvement, the British stated the cogent reason to the Sultanate administration, claiming that all natural resources should be exploited immediately for the best interest of people. Such political strategy was designed to convince Raja Muda Abdullah and some other functionaries to confer several days in Pangkor Island. Some tradesmen from Ghee Hin and Han Sai were also engaged in the meeting. In February 20th, 1874 A.D., a political treaty, which had big influence on Malay in general and Perak people in specific called Pangkor Treaty, was signed before the then presents.  

The treaty recognized the authority of Sultan of Perak, but limited to two domains: religious aspect and Malay tradition. In regard to the administration and economic reins of sultanate were held by British resident, the Governor of Negeri Selat. He was mandated to work out the development plan of resident system in Perak. The first British resident appointed for such a job was J.W.W. Birch. Besides distributing the domain of power, the treaty also achieved another enormous success by reducing the growing tension amongst different conflicting groups in Perak Sultanate.  

Despite the wide acceptance of the signed treaty, by degrees, the Sultanate functionaries began to regret deeply involving in the Pangkor Treaty. The disappointment arose after the breathtaking arrogance displayed by the British Resident who controlled in full power the whole economic and political administration of Perak Sultanate. At the mean time, the legal authority of Sultan was limited to only religious affairs and Malay custom. On November 2nd, 1875 A.D., based on the collective consensus, the functionaries agreed to murder J.W.W. Birch and all his staff in Pasir Salak. In consequence, the British government launched military attack against Perak people who committed the murder. Leaded by Speedy Lieutenant, the British forces besieged the Perak waters. In the war, the forces burnt the people`s houses, attacked the central defensive of Perak in Batak Rabit, and killed all Perak people they met. Armed with simple weapons, people of Perak and its forces kept struggling against the British forces for sustaining the prestige of Perak Sultanate. The protracted war came to an end in 1876 A.D.

4. Sultanate Territory

The Perak Sultanate governs nine territories in total: Batang Padang (2,730 km2), Kinta (1,958 km2), Kuala Kangsar (2,541 km2), Larut Matang/Selama (2,103 km2), Hilir Perak (1,727 km2), Keriang (938 km2),  Manjung (1,168 km2), Hulu Perak (6,558 km2), and Perak Tengah (1,282 km2). The whole area of Perak is vast, about 21,005 km2 (2.1 millions hectare). 

5. Sultanate Structure

In a nutshell, the administrations system of Perak Sultanate is similar to that of Malaka Sultanate, in which the Sultan assumes the very top position in the Sultanate. In managing the daily administration, the Sultan is assisted by some Sultanate functionaries, which amount 12 people with different titles:   

Yang Amat Berhormat Orang Kaya Bendahara Seri Maharaja Wakil al Sultan Wazir Kabir (The people who assumed this position in the administration of Sultan Muzaffar Shah was Megat Terawis)

  1. Yang Amat Berhormat Orang Kaya Besar Maharaja Di Raja
  2. Yang Amat Berhormat Orang Kaya Temenggong Paduka Raja
  3. Yang Amat Berhormat Orang Kaya Menteri Paduka Tuan
  4. Yang Berhomat Orang Kaya-kaya Laksamana Raja Mahkota
  5. Yang Berhomat Orang Kaya-kaya Sri Adika Raja Shahbandar Muda
  6. Yang Berhomat Orang Kaya-kaya Panglima Kinta Sri Amar di-Raja
  7. Yang Berhomat Orang Kaya-kaya Panglima Bukit Gantang Sri Amar Bangsa di-Raja
  8. Yang Berhomat Orang Kaya-kaya Shahbandar Paduka Indra
  9. Yang Berhomat Orang Kaya-kaya Setia Bijaya di-Raja
  10. Yang Berhomat Orang Kaya-kaya Imam Paduka Tuan
  11. Yang Berhomat Orang Kaya-kaya Mahakurnia Indra di-Raja

Compared to other systems of succession to the throne in the Sultanates of Malaysia, the process of Perak succession is considered little bit involute. The incumbent Sultan appoints the princes from his offspring to bear noble title. The arrangement of candidate Sultans is based on the strict rule. However, the next ruler is able and entitled to change the stipulated policy and the order of legitimate successors. And the same is true about the next Sultan. Below is the list of princes who has been appointed since February 25th, 1953 A.D.:  

  1. Duli Yang Teramat Mulia (Tuanku) Raja Muda, Wakil us-Sultan, Wazir ul-Azam Negara Perak Dar ur-Ridzwan
  2. Duli Yang Amat Mulia Raja di-Hiler
  3. Yang Amat Mulia Raja Kechil Besar
  4. Yang Mulia Raja Kechil Sulong
  5. Yang Mulia Raja Kechil Tengah
  6. Yang Mulia Raja Kechil Bongsu.

6. Socio-cultural Life

The total population in Perak Sultanate is 1,930,382 consisting of: Batang Padang (152,137), Kinta (751,825), Kuala Kangsar (154,048), Larut Matang/Selama (273,321), Hilir Perak (191,098), Keriang (52,651),  Manjung (191,004), Hulu Perak (82,195), and Perak Tengah (82,103). 

The main economic income of Perak people was tin ore mining. Relying heavily on this sector, the Perak Sultanate experienced expanding economic growth. With such natural resources, many kingdoms were interested in dominating the Perak. It is no wonder then if the region throughout history passed several wars. In 1575 A.D., the Aceh Sultanate had deployed amount of military forces to take over the region and made it as Aceh`s colony. In 1651 A.D., the Dutch forces besieged the Perak Sultanate and imposed Sultan Muzaffar Shah the Second to sign a treaty with VOC. In the next development, in 1953 A.D., there was a memorandum of understanding between Perak Sultanate and the Dutch government signed by each representative, Iskandar Zulkarnain and Thomas Acheppers respectively. Following the agreement, the Perak Sultanate agreed to sell its tin ore to the Dutch.

In terms of art and cultural legacy, the Perak Sultanate inherits three kinds of Malay arts which presented below:

1. Fine Arts

The Perak`s legacies of fine arts are reflected in every buildings in Perak such as city structure, palace, mosque, tomb, etc. In the landscape of Malay sultanate palace, the city plays an important role since the other buildings are constructed within. The Sultans of Perak ruled the administration in the palace. 

Sultan Iskandar Zulkarnain (1754-1764 A.D.) had commanded the Sultanate functionaries to take care of Palace Sultanate in Indera Sakti Island, the most lavish palace in then era. Three functionaries, the treasurer Megat Abu Kasim, Temenggong Tan Bantan, and Minister Sharif Hussain, abdicated their responsibility and resigned from the position. It was so since they didn`t feel ready to carry out such responsibility properly.

2. Performing Art

Performing art includes all art involves any movements and activities, such as dances, songs, folk games, etc. This kind of performing art is conducted to accompany traditional festivities and events, by sultanate officials or commoners. One of the most known events is “melenggang perut” when the pregnant women entered the seventh month. 

3. Literary Art.

It consists of peribahasa (proverb), pantun (quatrain), syair (poem), and other kinds of oral traditions.



  • “Brief History”, in, retrieved at January 23rd, 2008.
  • “Negeri Perak”, in, retrieved at January 17th, 2008.
  • “Sejarah Perak”, in, retrieved at January 17th, 2008.
  • “Genealogical Tree of The Royal Families of Perak State”, in, retrieved at January 18th, 2008.
  • Yatim, Othman, “Sejarah Kebudayaan Perak: Unsur-Unsur Kebudayaan dalam Misa Melayu”, in Prosiding Seminar Antarbangsa Kesultanan Melayu Nusantara: Sejarah dan Warisan, Kuantan, Pahang Darul Makmur, May 8th-11th, 2005.

Credit photo :

  • Dr Farish Ahmad-Noor (Badrol Hisham Ahmad-Noor)
    Senior Fellow for the Contemporary Islam Programme;
    S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS),
    Nanyang Technological University (NTU),
    Block S4, Level B4, Nanyang Avenue,
    Singapore 639798
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Comment of "perak sultanate"

20 Feb 2010. yahya
Dalam buku sejarah diMalaysia menyatakan Kerajaan Melayu Melaka jatuh ketangan Portugis pada tahun 1511M.
04 Feb 2013. imam
asalammualaikum wr wb,,bisakah ditampilkan foto foto,,raja, makam, dan, semua sudah memuaskan,thanks

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