Descendants relate history of ‘Harimau Taring Raja Salar’

NIAH: The over 200-year–old tombs of descendents of ‘Harimau Taring Raja Salar’ from the Brunei Sultanate era, once feared by pirates in the Brunei bay and those fighting to reclaim the sultanate throne, were found near Kampung Sungai Segerat, Niah.

Tuah Gapar, the son of Harimau Taring and the second generation of Harimau Taring after being crowned as the Sultan of Brunei by his father Harimau Taring Raja Salar fled with his wife, only known as Marata, in a boat – paddling the sea at night and landed somewhere in the coast of Niah.

(From left) Sarihat Yahya, Hasrie Sarihat and Guru Mahli sprinkle water at the tomb of Harimau Taring while Rogi Salleh looks on.

“My ancestor, Tuah bin Gapar was crowned by his father Raja Salar Sultan of Brunei but was not willing to become the sultan because during those years there were many clashes among the sultan groups fighting to claim the throne,” Sarihat Yahya told The Borneo Post during an event to clear tall grass at the ancestors’ tombs yesterday.

The engraved belian tomb of Harimau Taring’s son – Tuah Gapar.

Sarihat is the fifth generation of Harimau Taring’s descendent.

The tombs of Tuah Gapar and his wife Marata were sited side by side while the fourth generation Harimau Taring, Yusof Tuah who was a Kedayan martial art master in Niah, was buried not far at Kampung Segerat, Niah.

The tombs of two Pehins from Brunei were also found near the belian tombs of Tuah Gapar and Marata, engraved with design and Arabic wordings and other unmarked tombs were also found buried there which are now surrounded by oil palms.

According to Sarihat, 69, his mother had told him that his ancestors were buried near Kampung Sungai Segerat, Niah when they were small and a village (kampung) was set up nearby but due to disease most of the villagers left the area and migrated to an area in Sibuti.

He said Harimau Taring was also feared among the people in Brunei for his bravery and strength. However not much was known about why Tuah Gapar declined to take up the throne.

Nowadays, he said he and his son and a few Kedayans clear the tall grass surrounding the tombs which are about one and a half hour’s drive from Miri city.

The tombs of Harimau Taring (left) and Marata.

He also said his father had told him that there was a ‘Kampung Segerat’ there which later moved to Kampung Batu Satu Lutong while other descendents moved to Niah, Kelulit and Tiris due to disease outbreak.

“I am the fifth generation of Harimau Taring descendent of Raja Salar from the Brunei Sultanate era and my late father was the fourth generation,” Sarihat said.

According to Sarihat, his late mother told him that Raja Salar, who was once the sultan of Brunei, was most feared among the pirates and the people of the sultanate for his strength and he knew how to beat his opponents with his wisdom.

However, no one knows where Raja Salar was buried in Brunei until today, Sarihat said.

Sarihat also said the exact year of Harimau Taring’s burial here was unknowns because the words on the tombs were written in Arabic and were not legible due to passing of time but he believes it is more than 200 years.

He said ‘1346’ was engraved on Marata’s tomb but was not sure whether the year was based on Muslim or Roman calendar.

(From left) Hasrie Sarihat, Sarihat Yahya, Rogi Salleh and Guru Mahli visit the tombs of Harimau Taring and his wife.

A few individuals from Brunei visited the tombs of Harimau Taring a few years ago.

Hasrie Sarihat, the sixth generation of Harimau Taring, hopes the authority concerned can record the history of their ancestors so that the future generations of the Raja Salar know their roots and historical background. He said the history of Raja Salar can either be kept in Brunei or Sarawak.

The descendents of Harimau Taring of Raja Salar are found living in Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak.

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