History of Legends
Surpassing them all is the well-known – and well-beloved – story told time and again of the Princess Mahsuri who lived in Langkawi in the fourteenth century. Mahsuri laid a curse on the islands following the wrongful accusation that she had committed adultery while betrothed to the Sultan of Kedah. When a soldier pierced a kris (dagger) into her bosom, he drew white fluid instead of blood, this viewed as a sign of her innocence. Others are of the opinion that a white mist that suddenly enveloped the spot of her execution was an illustration of mourning over her undeserved punishment. Mahsuri laid a curse on Langkawi for the act of injustice. Thus, for seven generations, it had been a land of isolation and misfortune.
Gunung Raya and Gunung Mat Cincang In the heart of the main island are these two familiar mountains. Adding to, yet seeming to separate, them is a third called Bukit Sawar. The trio are believed to be human beings going by the names of Mat Raya, Mat Cincang and Mat Sawar.Mat Raya – of bad repute – married Mat Cincang’s daughter against the latter’s wishes. A fight with pots and pan flying, ensued during the wedding feast. A big pot of gravy broke and its contents spilled onto the ground. The spot the contents spilled is known as Kuah (gravy) and where the pot broke, Belanga Pecah (broken pot). A couldron of hot water was likewise spilled, hence the spot known as Air Panas (hot water).
The fight between the two families continued until intervened by Mat Sawar. Following reconciliation, all three decided to turn themselves into their present forms.
Caves of Legends
There are several stories associated with caves. Gua Cerita – the cave with a legend – is actually two fascinating limestone caves in the northeast of Langkawi, one above the other, both facing the sea. The story tells of the failed ploy by the legendary Geruda (phoenix) to thwart the “marriage” of the children of the Roman and Chinese emperors.
Gua Langsair (Cave of the Banshees)
is believed to be a haven for vampires.
are the seven wells believed to be the favourite haunts of mountain fairies who frequently bathed there in the absence of human beings.
Tasik Dayang Bunting
What would an island near Langkawi be without a legend. In this case we have even more than one.
One version has it that Dayang Bunting was a giant guardian spirit that kept watch over the islands. The lady's defenses include her pet lion and poison from the tuba root, potent weapons for her protection. Hence, the two islands closest to Pulau Dayang Bunting, whose silhoutte resembles that of a reclined pregnant giant, are named Pulau Singa Besar (Great Lion Island) and Pulau Tuba (Poisonous Root Island).
The story goes that, a group of rude merchants failed to pay the obligatory respects to Dayang Bunting as they passed by the islands. Rudely awakened by the intrusion, she summoned her pet lion to despatch the trespassers. She roused the spirits of wind and water, stirring up a tropical storm that unleashed its fury on the incoming fleet of sailors.
The howling winds and tossing waves threw and dashed vessels on Pulau Jong (Junk Island), hence the remains of wrecked vessels. In the stormy affair, a cargo of black and white water buffaloes escaped to Pulau Gubang Darat (Land Stable Island) and Pulau Gubang Laut (Sea Stable Island) while the white buffaloes sheltered at Pulau Balar (White Water Buffalo Island). Yet other boats, laden with rice, was stranded at Pulau Beras Basah (Wet Rice Island).
The second version of Dayang Bunting is closely associated with the romantic exploitery of Mambang Sari, a beautiful female genie and Mat Teja, a male genie. Mambang Sari used to frequent the island accompanied by her maids. Their favourite spot was Pasir Teluk Air Tahun and Teluk Lawak. One day Mat Teja saw Mambang Sari and was struck by her beauty.
He fell in love with her and used to follow her wherever she went. Once while on a lookout for her, he met Tok Diang an old man from the village. Mat Teja told him of his love for Mambang Sari but just did not know how to reveal this secret. He feared that his love might not be reciprocated.
Tok Diang asked Mat Teja to get the tears of a mermaid from the sea and to wipe them on his face the next time he met Mambang Sari. He did just that and when Mambang Sari saw him she fell in love with him. They often met at various places to enjoy the beauty and serenity of these spots. They became more intimate and as a result Mambang Sari became pregnant.
She chose to retire at Tasik Dayang Beranak (Lake of Born Maiden) to give birth. Unfortunately the child died after seven days. Saddened by the death Mambang Sari took the child's body and threw it into the lake, Tasik Dayang Beranak. The lake later came to be known as Tasik Dayang Bunting.
Some people believe the water of the lake possesses some mystical power of helping barren women to bear children.
Kampong Raja at Padang Matsirat was the ancient capital of Langkawi. During the heyday of Langkawi the island's rice granary was located there. During the Siamese invasion of Langkawi in 1821 the Chieftain of Langkawi, Dato' Karma Jaya, ordered the granary to be burnt in order to starve the enemy. Remnants of the burnt rice could still be seen today at the very spot of the burnt granary which is known as Beras Terbakar (Burnt Rice).The burnt rice is said to have been buried a few metres below ground but often appears on the surface after a rainy day.