Kampong Pancur Murai tells its origins

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I have written in the past about the origin of place names in Brunei Darussalam. Some place names are pretty straightforward and one can guess easily how the name originated.

Though in my research, one place name takes the cake and wins hands down the prize for the most interesting way how the place is named.

The village is called Kampong Pancur Murai and if you have not come across it, it is located about 22km from our capital Bandar Seri Begawan and is bounded by Kampung Batong and Kampung Wasan, in Mukim Pangakalan Batu.

According to the older village folks, Kampong Pancur Murai was originally known as Pangkalan Imang.

In those days, the trading people especially local Brunei traders (called pengalu) come from the capital to the place via Sungai Imang. And Sungai Imang was not even a real river. It was just a watering hole and a villager named Kajimang dug a waterway and made it into a river.

The waterway became known as Kajimang River and later as Imang River. The interesting bit is why does this name of Pangkalan Imang not stick? Because the next story is more interesting. According to legends, the name Pancur Murai came about from the story of a Princess known as Puteri Bongsu Kembang Kiapu who had a guard named Samurai. The Princess was staying in a luagan — a small swampy lake — and she wanted to take a bath from a "pancur". A "pancur" is like a natural shower — water sprouting or squirting out from a natural source. So she asked Samurai to make it. So Samurai scouted around and found the place and built it as requested by the Princess. When it was completed, the Princess took her bath there. That place became so famous that it was named as Pancur Samurai which later became Pancur Murai.

So many people wanted to marry the Princess but she rejected all suitors. It was said that because she did not want to be married and so she fled to Mount Mulu in Sarawak.

Today, Kampong Pancur Murai still has many attractions such as Wasai Mandian Jin (apparently a "jin" or "genie" has been seen to take a bath there together with his seven children); and Wasai Si Abdul named after many villagers dreamed that the wasai belonged to "Si Abdul" (orang kebenaran or a fairy).

There are also "Telaga Lakau" and "Telaga Lubok Si Untong" — water wells which used to be the main sources of water for the village. Telaga Lakau is said to be the site of an old treasure burial grounds. At one time the villagers tried digging for the treasure but stopped when the sky was filled with thunder and lightning as well as numerous snakes appearing. It is said that the hole for the attempted dig remained till today. Telaga Lubok Si Untong also played a very important in the village. The well dug by someone called si Untong was used as a place to fetch water.

Two more smaller lakes are also known as Luagan Bumbun and Luagan Kembang Kiapu. Luagan Bumbun is called that because someone called Ahmad Tunggang Tunggal threw a gold cannon named 'bumbun' into the swampy lake. About 30 years after that, a villager while fishing snagged on the golden canon but the cannon was too heavy to be lifted and fell back into the water. The villagers used the story as a way to verify that there still exists a small golden canon in the lake. Luagan Kembang Kiapu is believed to be the residence of the Princess — Puteri Kembang Kiapu. The village also has a couple of hills with their own stories — Bukit Tenggilan and Bukit Si Madat; and an orchard (in Malay known as "Pulau Buah" or fruits island) called Pulau Durian Basing.

Bukit Si Madat was used by a villager named Si Madat. He loved to visit up the hill and meditate there. Bukit Tenggilan is named after a tall Tengilan tree. The tree was so tall that people used to used it as an icon or direction finder even as far away as Limbang.

Pulau Durian Basing is an area full of matured local fruit trees such as durians. During the durian season, squirrels, known in Brunei Malay as "basing" will occupy the place and hence the place is call Pulau Durian Basing.

In the village, there are two Muslim cemeteries. One is called Perkuburan Luagan Lamidi and the other Perkuburan Bukit Nanas.

The Luagan Lamidi cemetery is named after the Luagan and the Luagan is in turn named after someone called Lamidi. It was said that while fishing in the luagan, he fell and drowned. When his body was eventually discovered, he was buried and where he was buried is now called Luagan Lamidi Cemetery. Bukit Nanas was named because there are so many pineapples (nenas in Malay) being planted in the area.

Pancur is not an unusual name. In Tutong, two villages using the word "pancur" are Kampong Pancur Papan and Kampong Pancur Dulit. Both are naturally named after sources of water — spouting from a hill or any water source.

Pancur Papan gets its name from the way the villagers who stayed in the area obtained their water. In Pancur Papan, they used wooden planks (or called "papan" in Malay) to divert the water from the source to their houses. And hence the name of the village, Pancur Papan.

Whereas Pancur Dulit also gets its name from the way the villagers get the water into the village. In their case, they did not use wooden planks but used the bark of trees (or called "kulit kayu" in Malay). Hence over time, the place name became Pancur Dulit. In fact the amount of water which came from Pancur Dulit was so plentiful that the authorities in the 1950s decided to use it as the source of water for Tutong Town. It was used until the 1970s and stopped being use as a water source when Layong came into full operation.

In Brunei, there are many places with interesting tales. One has to open one's ears and one's eyes in order to see the wonder in our country of unexpected treasures.

The writer runs a website on Brunei at bruneiresources.com.

The Brunei Times