Malay Myths

It is very likely that in their ancient past the Malays did had some true mythology of their own as did the Javanese. While in the case of Java some of these stories are still retained by the folk memory, stories such as those that have to do with the harvest or those dealing with Semar which to some extent also found their way into the Malay peninsula through theatre forms such as the shadow play, little local mythology remains. Most seems to have been almost totally lost either through syncretism into the myths of Hinduism of through the process of being altogether abandoned with the arrival of Islam. Through various categories of oral traditions including the folk theatre, however, it is possible, to discern at last some of these ancient Malay myths. The core repertoire of the Mak Yong theatre form, for instance, consists of a dozen plays based upon indigenous mythology. The most important of these is Dewa Muda.