Feb 20, 2005
PETALING JAYA: Ancient Chinese manuscripts have indicated the existence of the lost city of Kota Gelanggi as a city of shining black stone, according to a Chinese history expert.
The city, also believed to be called Klang Kiu, was mentioned in the more than 1,000-year-old manuscript found in the book Strange Countries from the Cambridge Library Rare Books Collection, said Universiti Putra Malaysia chemical engineering Prof Dr Tan Ka Kheng who has been researching for several years.
Tan, who minors in History of Science, said the book had an illustration of a bell adorned by two Buddhas, lotus flowers and birds, which apparently existed in the city, which had a stupa-like multi-tiered structure.
“The structure according to the book was 32 chang (each chang is 3.3m) high and they were surrounded by 300 graves,” he said.
“The structure could accommodate 360 people at any one time,” he told The Star.
“The scriptures had indicated that this city was somewhere in the peninsula,” he said.
Another sketch from the manuscript had a picture of a Buddha and a Hindu deity on an altar and a worshipper paying homage to them and this could also be from the lost city which was also called Pulau An, he said.
He said Pulau An meant peace and took four nights by boat to travel from Majapahit in Jawa then.
Dr Tan also noted that Chinese maps dating 1600AD had mentioned the existence of the ancient city in the peninsula.
“The city was an important point for trade and supplies and functioned as a stop over for people,” he said.
“Many of the scriptures recorded the observations of Chinese travellers at their port of call such as the characteristics of the people and the area, distinct cultures and customs of the locals,” he added.
Dr Tan said artefacts found downstream from the site in Kota Gelanggi, which were being kept by the Johor Heritage Foundation, confirmed that the city was a trading post.
Among the artefacts found were porcelain items from the Chinese dynasties like the Soong, Ming and Qing, and from Thailand, Khmer and Vietnam.
Earthenware with carvings believed to be from the 11th century had also been located.
Dr Tan, who has studied Chinese maps and scriptures for 15 years, said the city of Klang Kiu should not be confused with Langkasuka, which is believed to be sitting at the bottom of Tasik Chini in Pahang.
“Chinese scriptures indicated that Langkasuka had lotus ponds and people who wore sarong, made pottery and had the practice of cutting their long hair,” he said.