Literature and the Mercantile Culture During the Transitional Period Traditional-Modern of the Malay World

(Sastera dan Budaya Niaga dalam Masyarakat Nusantara pada Abad Transisi Tradisional-Moden)

  • Noriah Taslim Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia


The essay is an attempt to examine the socio-cultural changes in malay society brought about by its commercial engagement in the 17th-19h century Malay world, as reflected in various works of literature. The period may also be termed as the "transitional era", so-called because it manifested a significant shift or progression from tradition to modernity, affecting the various facets of Malay society - culture, politic, economy. Theoretically and pragmatically, works of literature are the best documentation of Malay society and subsequently become the ideal yardstick to measure and evaluate changes in attitudes, values and perceptions of the society in its encounter with the commercial culture that emerged during the transitional era. These changes are traceable not only in the mutation of the literary convention but also manifested through themes and issues relating to Malay partcipation in the "money" culture. Hikayat Nakhoda Muda (17th century text from bencoolin) relates the involvement of a Minangkabau family in the pepper trade in sumatera; Hikayat Ranto (18th century text from Aceh) highlights the sosio-cultural issues emerging from Acehnese involvement in pepper plantation; Syair Sinyor Kosta (a 19th century text from Palembang/riau) on the other hand, displays the author's tendency to break genre convention to accomodate with the new democratic, liberal and cosmopolitan trading society.

Keywords: transitional period, transitional genres, genre convention, mercantile culture, cosmopolitan society

Author Biography

Noriah Taslim, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Institut Alam dan Tamadun Melayu


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How to Cite
TASLIM, Noriah. Literature and the Mercantile Culture During the Transitional Period Traditional-Modern of the Malay World. Melayu: Jurnal Antarabangsa Dunia Melayu, [S.l.], v. 7, n. 2, p. 123-136, july 2014. ISSN 2682-8049. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 feb. 2024.