—For the traditional Malay society, it is taboo to talk
openly about sexuality. This is due to the perception that
literary works that incorporate elements of sexuality will be
criticised as weak and inferior work coming from an author
with bad morals and character. Furthermore, the traditional
Malay authors wrote at the request of the king. Hence, all that
was written had to exalt the status of the king as the sovereign
ruler. The works should be rich in 'character', so as to
consolidate the integration of intellectual, epistemological and
cultural values for the moral benefit of the community.
However, in examining the literary genre of Hikayat such as
Syair Seratus Siti, it has been found that these works include so
many elements of sexuality that they indirectly reflect a gender
system that was supported by the society. Using Braginsky’s
(2001) perspective about the function of literature, this study
will weave together two literary functions for entertainment
and instruction at the same time. This means that elements of
'sexuality' (entertainment) must be synthesized with teaching
functions for the benefit of the audience. The results show that
Syair Seratus Siti successfully exploited those functions to the
extent that they submerged the elements of sexuality that were
reflected by the author from the start.
—Gender, Malay, traditional, sexuality.
Rahimah Hamdan is with the Department of Malay Language, Faculty of
Modern Languages and Communication, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400
UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia (e-mail: email@example.com).
Cite: Rahimah Hamdan, " The King Who Loves Sex:
The Functions of Literature in Traditional Malay Poetry," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 291-298, 2015.