Between the Broad Daylight and the Shadow: Metamorphoses of the Bakhtiar Tale in Persian and Malay

  • Vladimir Braginsky University of London


Barthes defined the literary text as "a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture". Developing this statement, we can postulate two forms of existence of the literary text. On the one hand, it may exist as a holistic entity in which all components are interlinked so that they can bear an integral meaning. This is a "syntagmatic" existence of the literary work as a "tissue", or a certain structure. On the other hand, the literary text may exist as a destructuralised set of the same components isolated from each other-its "paradigmatic" existence as a sum total of quotations that contribute to the all-embracing repository of "quotations", which makes up the intertext of a particular literature. This intertext provides "building blocks" for the construction of new literary pieces. In this article I shall discuss the two forms of existence of literary works on the basis of one piece of Persian literature translated into Malay. The example chosen is Hikayat Bakhtiar (Tale of Bakhtiar), and its transformations and diverse literary constructions that were built of "quotations" from it over more than two centuries. This discussion, among other things, will help us to explain the strong Persian influence on Malay traditional literature, despite the relatively small number of Persian writings translated into Malay.

Keywords: traditional Malay literature, persian influence, Hikayat Bakhtiar, quotation, recension, intertext, Hikayat Maharaja Ali, Syair Bidasari

Author Biography

Vladimir Braginsky, University of London

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)


Baharuddin bin Zainal, 1963. Hikayat Bakhtiar; Bunga Rampai Sastera Lama. Vol. III. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Barthes, R., 1998. "The Death of the Author" in P.Rice and P. Waugh (eds.), Modern Literary Theory; A Reader. 3d Edition. London - New York - Sudney - Auckland: Arnold.

Bausani, A., 1979. Notes on the Structure of the Classical Malay Hikayat. Translation by L. Brakel. Clayton: Monash University. Department of Indonesian and Malay Languages.

Berthels, Y.E. (ed.), 1926. Bakhtiyar-name; Persidsky Tekst i Slovar (Bakhtiyar-name, the Persian Text and Glossary). Leningrad: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk SSSR.

Braginsky, V., 2004. The Heritage of Traditional Malay Literature: A Historical Survey of Genres, Writings and Literary Views. Leiden: KITLV Press.

Braginsky, V., 2009. "Jalinan dan Khazanah Kutipan: Terjemahan dari Bahasa Parsi dalam Kesusastraan Melayu, Khususnya yang Berkaitan dengan 'Cerita-Cerita Parsi"' in Henri Chambert-Loir (ed.), Sadur: Sejarah Terjemahan di Indonesia dan Malaysia. Jakarta: Gramedia – Ecole Française de Extreme Orient, 2009, pp. 59-117.

Brandes, J., 1891. "Het onderzoek naar de Oorsprong van de Maleische Hikayat Kalila dan Damina" in Feestbundel De Goeje, pp. 79-106. Leiden: Brill.

Brandes, J., "Nadere Opmerkingen over de Maleische Bewerkingen van de Geschiedenis der Tien Vezieren, Hikajat Golam, Hikajat Kalila dan Damina (Laast Gedeelte) en de daroom te Onderscheiden, bij de Maleische Voorhanden Uiteenlopende Hikayat's Bakhtiyar" in Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 38:33, pp.101-273, 1895.

Brandes, J., "De Inhoud van der Groote Hikayat Bakhtiyar, Volgens een Aantekening van Dr. H.N. van der Tuuk" in Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 41 3-4, pp. 291-99, 1899.

Carey, P.B.R., "Book Review: ‘Catalogue of Indonesian Manuscripts. Part 2 […]. By F.H. van Naerssen, T.G.T. Pigeaud and P. Voorhoeve. Copenhage 1977" in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1 pp. 87-88, 1979.

Dewall, A.F. von (ed.), 1880. Hikajat Bachtijar. Batavia: Albrecht.

Djamaris, E. (ed.), 1978. Hikayat Bakhtiar. Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa, Departamen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.

Ethe, H., 1903-1937. Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office. 2 vols. Oxford: H. Hart, Clarendon Press.

Gonggrijp, J.R.P.F. (ed.), 1892. Hikajat Kalila dan Damina. Leiden: A.W. Sijthoff.

Goriaeva, L., "La Hikayat Bakhtiar: Un Recit a Tiroirs" in Archipel 40, pp.137-52, 1990.

Haan, F. de, "Uit Oude Notarispapieren I" in Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 42-4, pp. 297-308, 1900.

Hanaway, W.L., 1989. "Bakhtiyar-nama" in Encyclopaedia Iranica. (ed.) by Ehsan Yarshater. Vol. III, p. 564. New York: Bibliotheca Persica Press.

Hikayat Maharaja Puspa Wiraja, 1900. Hikayat Maharaja Puspa Wiraja di Negeri Astana Pura Negara. Singapura: Welsh Ltd. (In Jawi.)

Hoëvell, W.R. van (ed.), "Sjair Bidasari. Een Oorspronkelijk Maleisch Gedicht" in Verhandelingen van Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen 19, 1843

Hollander, J.J. de. (ed.), 1845. Geschiedenis van Djohor Manikam. Breda: Broese.

Horovitz, J. and H. Masse, 1960. "Bakhtiyar-nama" in Encyclopaedia of Islam. Second Edition. Vol. I, p. 95. Leiden: Brill and London: Luzac.

Iskandar, T., 1995. Kesusasteraan Klasik Melayu Sepanjang Abad. Brunei: Jabatan Kesusasteraan Melayu. Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Iskandar, T., 1999. Catalogue of Malay, Minangkabau, and South Sumatran Manuscripts in the Netherlands. 2 vols. Leiden: Documentatie Bureau Islam-Christendom.

Ivanow, W., 1924. Concise Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Collection of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Jelani Harun, 2009. Bustan al-Salatin: A Malay Mirror for Rulers. Pulau Pinang: Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Juynboll, H.H., 1899. Catalogus van de Maleische en Soendaneesche Handschriften der Leidsche Universiteits-Bibliotheek. Leiden: Brill.

Kazimirski, M. (ed.), 1839. Bakhtiar-Nameh, Texte Persan. Paris: Dondey-Dupré.

Lescallier, B., 1805. Bakhtyar Nameh ou le Favori de la Fortune. Paris: [n.p.].

Maier, H.M.J., 1985. Fragments of Reading: The Malay Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. Alblasserdam: Kanters. Ph.D. Thesis, Leiden University.

Millie, J. (ed.), 2004. Bidasari: Jewel of Malay Muslim Culture. Leiden: KITLV Press.

Mohd. Yusof Md. Nor (ed.), 1989. Antologi Enam Hikayat. Petaling Jaya: Fajar Bakti.

Mulyadi, Rujiati S.W., 1983. Hikayat Indraputra; A Malay Romance. Dordrect: Foris.

Nikmah A. Soenardjo (ed.), 1978. Hikayat Gulam. Jakarata: Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.

Nöldeke, T., "Ueber die Texte des Buches von den Zehn Veziren, besonders über eine alte persische Recension desselben" in Zeitschrift der Deutchen Morgenlandische Geselschaft 45:97-143, 1891.

Osmanov, N.O., 1977. "Noviy Persidsky Prozaichesky Variant 'Bakhtiyar-name'. Poslesloviye" (New Persian Prose Version of "Bakhtiyar-nama". An Epilogue). Daqa'iqi, Uslada Dush ili Bakhtiar-name (The Delight for Souls, or the "Bakhtiyar-nama"). Transl, Comment, and Epilogue by N.O. Osmanov, pp.163-67. Moskva: Nauka.

Ouseley, W. (transl.), 1883. The Bakhtyar-nama: A Persian Romance. Translated from a Manuscript Text. Edited with Introduction and Notes by W.A. Clouston. London: Privately Printed.

Tumanovich, N.N., 1981. "Opisaniye Persidskih i Tadzhikskih Rukopisey Instituta Vostokovedeniya AN SSSR; Vypusk 6. Folklor [Zanimatel'niye Rasskazy i Povesti] (A description of Persian and Tajik Manuscripts in the Institute of Oriental Studies, Academy of Sciences of the USSR” ini Folklore (Entertaining stories and romances). Issue 6. Moskva: Nauka.

Voorhoeve, P., "Het Book der Tien Vizieren in het Maleisch" in Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 73:427-35, 1933.

Voorhoeve, P., "De Groote Bachtiar" in Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land- en Volkenkunde 125-3, pp. 374-75, 1969.

Wieringa, E.P., 1998. Catalogue of Malay and Minangkabau Manuscripts in the Library of Leiden University and Other Collections in the Netherlands; Vol. I, Comprising the Acquisitions of Malay Manuscripts in Leiden University Library up to 1896. Edited by J. de Lijster-Streef and J.J. Witkam. Leiden: Legatum Warnerianum in Leiden University Library.

Wilkinson, R.J., 1932. A Malay-English Dictionary (Romanised). 2 vols. Mytilene: Salavopoulos and Kinderlis.

Winstedt, R.O. (ed.), 1920. Hikayat Bayan Budiman atau Cherita Khojah Maimun. Singapore: Methodist Publishing House.

Winstedt, R.O., 1991. A History of Classical Malay Literature. Revised edition and introduced by Y.A. Talib. Petaling Jaya: Eagle Trading.
How to Cite
BRAGINSKY, Vladimir. Between the Broad Daylight and the Shadow: Metamorphoses of the Bakhtiar Tale in Persian and Malay. Malay Literature, [S.l.], v. 27, n. 2, p. 205-228, dec. 2014. ISSN 2682-8030. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 feb. 2024. doi: