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Badang was a poor young man who made his home on the banks of Sungai Singapura (Singapore River). He was thin and weak but dreamed of becoming strong. Badang had an old fish trap that he set every evening in the river to catch fish. On one unfortunate morning, he discovered that his fish had been eaten up and all that were left were fish bones scattered near where the fish trap was set. His old fish trap was also damaged.
Determined to catch the culprit, Badang secretly monitored the activities around his fish trap and it paid off as the identity of the thief was revealed; a strange scaly genie. Badang fearlessly confronted the genie who alas at the sight of Badang's ferocious eyes begged to be let go while promising to grant Badang any wish. Badang wished to be stronger than any man but had to fulfill an unpleasant condition; he had to eat up what the genie threw up. True to the genie's words, after downing the genie's vomit, Badang was able to uproot a tree effortlessly.
Badang's newfound might set his quiet fishing village abuzz and before long the news reached the throne, and Badang was appointed a hulubalang (court warrior) . His fame went beyond to as far as India. Not to be outdone, the ruler of India sent the kingdom's strongest man, Wadi Bijaya, to Singapura for a duel with Badang. Wadi Bijaya set sail with seven ships filled with valuables as prizes for the winner. Should he win, Raja Singapura would in turn give seven ships of the same valuables to him. There was a series of matches to test the two strong men's strength. Badang won all of them. The last was a rock throwing contest. While Wadi Bijaya could only lift the enormous rock up to his knees, Badang lifted it up over his head and flung it into the sea where it landed near the mouth of Sungai Singapura (Singapore River).
The account of Badang's feats in Buckley's An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819-1867, as taken from the Malay Annals, had slight variations; the Indian ruler who sought to pit Badang's strength against his own Hercules was the Rajah of the land of Kling (Coromandel) and Badang's opponent was Nadi Vijaya Vicrama. Badang was buried at the point of the Straits of Singhapura (Straits of Singapore) where the rock he threw landed. When the Rajah of Kling knew his death, he sent two stone pillars to plant over his grave as a monument.
The Singapore Stone
In June 1819, Singapore was set abuzz by the discovery of an old rock at the mouth of the Singapore River. A group of Bengal sailors employed by Captain Flint (the first Master Attendant) found the rock and were terrified by the inscriptions. The island's inhabitants including Raffles then attempted to decipher the language of the inscriptions, said to be of some Hindu script, but none could. This large rock was a point of danger for ships during the early colonial days. To warn them, Captain Jackson of the Bengal Artillery erected a post at the site. This rock was then fabled to have been the one hurled by Badang. The rock was blasted in 1843 when the colonial government built a sea-wall round Fort Fullerton. The blasting of the stone erased a significant clue to Singapore's past. A fragment of the stone, called the Singapore Stone, is now found in the Singapore History Museum.
Legacy of Badang
The story of Badang is a popular folklore and it entered the entertainment world in 1962 when Cathay Kris produced a Malay movie on the legend.
Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819-1867 (pp. 88-94). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
Chia, N. (1993). Legends from old Singapore (pp. 81-92). Singapore: Cobee Publishing House.
Hill, A. H. (1982). The founding of Singapore described by 'Munshi Abdullah'. In Singapore 150 years (pp. 109-110). Singapore: MBRAS.
(Call no.: RSING 959. 57 Sin-[HIS])
Lim, C. G. S. (200). Legendary tales of Singapore (pp.101-114). Singapore: Asiapac Books.
Makepeace, W., Brooke, G. E., & Braddell, R. St. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 1, pp. 4-6). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
Malay annals (John Leyden, Trans., pp. 53-59) [Electronic version]. (1821). London: Longman.
Pugalenthi, S. (1996). Myths and legends of Singapore (pp. 106-116). Singapore: VJ Times.
Tan, S. S. (1999, April 9). Its ok to pass up the past. The Straits Times.
The information in this article is valid as at 2005 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
Ethnic Communities>>Customs and Traditions
Events>>Historical Periods>>Pre-Colonial (before 1819)
Folk literature, Malay
People and communities>>Customs>>Folklore>>Paranatural and legendary
Language and literature>>Literatures>>Austronesian and Oceanian literatures>>Malay literature