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The Princess of Mount Ophir
Republished with permission from World Scientific Education (WSE)
Mount Ophir is the highest mountain in Johor, Malaysia. Although it is the sixth most difficult to climb, Gunung Ledang remains one of the most popular and frequently climbed mountains in Malaysia. Read on to find out about the legend of a princess who lived at the top of Gunung Ledang and check out the activity sheet at the end!
The Princess of Mount Ophir is part of the Pop! Lit for Kids collection originally published by WSE.
One day, Sultan Mahmud Shah of Melaka ordered Hang Tuah and Tun Mamat to appear before him. He had an important task for them.
“I hear that Puteri, the Princess who lives on Mount Ophir is an exceptionally beautiful woman. Find her and tell her that I would like to marry her.”
Hang Tuah, Tun Mamat and another warrior, Sang Setia, set out for Mount Ophir. The forest on the mountain was thick with plants and vegetation. They had heard many frightening stories about the mountain and were determined to reach the top before nightfall.
The warriors felt frustrated as they seemed to be walking in circles and not making any progress.
Tun Mamat was concerned for Hang Tuah. His health was falling, and he was not as strong as before. Tun Mamat asked Hang Tuah to stay put while he and Sang Setia continued on their journey.
After many hours of struggling through the forest, Tun Mamat and Sang Setia finally reached the garden at the top of the mountain. They met a hunchbacked old woman who was limping towards them.
“Excuse me, madam, do you know where we can find the palace of the Princess?”
“Why are you looking for the Princess?” the old woman asked. Tun Mamat told her about the King’s intention to propose to the Princess.
The old woman said that she was a servant of the Princess. She gave Tun Mamat a crooked smile and told him to wait while she conveyed his message to her.
After what seemed like an eternity, the old woman reappeared.
She told Tun Mamat that the Princess had agreed to marry the King provided he fulfil her seven conditions. According to the old woman, the King must:
1. Build a golden bridge from her home in the mountains to Melaka;
2. Build a silver bridge for her to return from Melaka to the mountaints;
3. Give her seven large clay jars of maidens’ tears;
4. Give her seven large clay jars of young betel nut juice;
5. Give her seven trays filled with hearts of fleas;
6. Give her seven trays filled with hearts of mosquitoes; and
7. Give her a bowl of the blood of the King’s young son.
Tun Mamat was stunned to hear the conditions!
“These demands are outrageous! Surely, our King won’t agree…” he thought to himself.
On the contrary, when the besotted King heard the conditions, he ordered Tun Mamat to start work immediately.
Tun Mamat gathered all the people of Melaka and organised them into groups: smelting, construction, hunting and gathering, and crying.
All the gold and silver available in the city were collected and melted for the construction of the two bridges. Maidens were gathered in a room and made to cry into large jars. Hunters had to catch miniscule fleas and mosquitoes. Villagers faced the impossible task of squeezing juice from young betel nuts which naturally did not produce any juice. Everyone was forced to complete their tasks or risk facing the King’s wrath.
“Come play with me…” the King’s son called to the King. The King’s son was very dear to him. The King doted on his son even more after his wife’s death. The thought of losing his only child saddened the King. He was torn between his love for his young son and his love for the Princess.
With a heavy heart and with tears glistening in his eyes, the King drew out his keris slowly and aimed it at his son’s chest.
Before the sharp blade could pierce the child’s chest, the Princess suddenly appeared before the King. The King was taken aback and dropped his keris.
The Princess had appeared just in time to stop the King from committing murder. She condemned his cruel action. She expressed her disappointment at how badly the King had oppressed his people.
“What kind of a man is willing to kill his own son, just to win over the love of a woman he barely knows?”
The Princess told the King that her unreasonable demands had been created merely as an excuse to reject his marriage proposal. She told him that she would never marry such a cruel King and father.
Before the Princess of Mount Ophir walked away, she gave Sultan Mahmud Shah a parting smile. It was the same smile the hunchbacked woman had cast upon Tun Mamat on the mountain.
Did you enjoy this folktale? Now, let's make it even more exciting and bring these characters to life with the activity sheet below!
Taking classic stories from Asia and the West, Pop! Lit for Kids reimagines them into easy-to-read stories that provide the perfect introduction to classic tales. The most well-loved stories from around the world have been adapted into a form that will excite and entertain children everywhere. Readers can embark on new adventures with famous beloved storybook characters. In addition, the books come to life with augmented reality features, giving readers an enhanced experience that they'll never forget! Learn more about the Pop! Lit for Kids series here.
The Princess of Mount Ophir is one of the many stories featured in The Malay Annals: Attack of the Garfish and Other Adventures which can be purchased here.
Hidayah Amin is the author of children’s books and non-fiction books pertaining to Malay culture and literature. She has written children’s books such as My Name is Mikhail. I have Cerebral palsy., Mina meets Cambridge and many more. Her book, The Mango Tree, won the 'Hedwig Anuar Children's Book Award' and was the Grand Prize winner of the 'Samsung KidsTime Author’s Award' in 2015
Eliz Ong is an freelance illustrator cum designer based in ever sunny Singapore. She has worked with various publishers and design companies both local and overseas. Doing children’s book illustrations is her first love, with her second love being lino printing!