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Kedahan Malay people

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Kedahan Malay people

Kedahan Malay (Malay: Melayu Kedah, Jawi: ﻤﻼﻴﻮ ﻗﺪﺡ ) or commonly known as Orang Utara is a sub-group of Malays that is native to northern Malaysia (in the states Kedah, Penang and Perlis as well northernmost parts of Perak) and in southernmost parts of Thailand (in the provinces of Phuket, Trang and Satun) and Burma (in Mergui Archipelago). They are among the earliest settlers in the Malay peninsula. Kedahan Malays comprised at least 15% of the total Malaysian Malay population.



According to history, Kedah was very popular among Arabian traders. Thus, this has led to interracial marriages between Arabs and Malays. Due to Arabic influences in the Kedahan Malay language, some Kedahan Malay are of Arab descent. However some of the Kedahan Malays that resided on the island-state of Penang might have Indian and/or Chinese blood and some who lived in Thailand might have Thai blood.

Kedah Valley

Kedah Valley is an area where the majority inhabitants are Kedahan Malays. The valley covered the Satun province of Thailand and the three northern states of Malaysia (Perlis, Kedah, Pulau Pinang) with at least an area of 25,908 km square.


Nowadays, most Kedahan Malays known themselves as Orang Utara or People Of The Northern Region instead of Kedahan Malay since that they resided the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia. So are their language, which is called Pelat Utara or Northern Dialect.


The Kedahan Malays have their own unique variety of Malay known as Kedah Malay or Pelat Utagha (northern dialect) as known by its native speakers. It is related to other varieties of Malay spoken in the peninsular but has its own unique pronunciation and also vocabulary. Kedahan Malay language can be divided into several sub-dialects, namely Kedah Persisiran (standard) or Kedah Hulu, Kedah Utara, Perlis-Langkawi, Penang and some others (sub-dialects spoken in Satun and Southern Myanmar). For instance instead of using kamu to denote as 'you', hang (English pronunciation: hung) is used instead and cek for 'i/me' instead of aku in other Malay varieties in the peninsular. Besides proper Kedah Malay, another variety of Malay spoken is Baling Malay, which is distinct from Kedah Malay and more closely related to varieties of Malay spoken in Southern Thailand and East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Kedah Malay is considered distinct enough to have its own ISO code that is meo.

Customs and culture

Kedahan Malay shares the same customs and traditions with other Malay in Peninsular Malaysia. The only thing that make them different is just their spoken dialect. Many aspects of Kedahan Malay culture includes:

Dance theater

  • Mek Mulung
  • Mak Yong Kedah
  • Jikey
  • Boria (theatre): The most famous Kedahan culture of Indian origin. It is quite similar to a musical theater. The theater used a fully Kedahan Malay language while the song used a mix of standard Malay and Kedahan accent or sometimes, a fully standard Malay. This theater is said to be created after the hybrid of Malay and Indian culture in Penang.
  • Inai dance
  • Canggung dance
  • Art theater

  • Wayang Kulit Gedek
  • Customs

  • Berendul (pronunciation: be-ghen-doi): A group of men would sing traditional Kedahan folk songs to a newborn baby in celebration of birth of the child.
  • Poetry

  • Ghazal Kedah
  • Martial arts

  • Silat Kuntau Tekpi: A Silat Melayu style that was founded by Panglima Taib bin Wan Hussain who was a Panglima (Palace Warrior-General) of the empire of Kedah. It is also a 'sister-art' of silat styles that stemmed from Panglima Tok Rashid, including Silat Kalimah and Silat Cekak.
  • Silat Cekak: A Silat Melayu style that was founded by Ustaz Hanafi, a Kedahan Malay but is now popular throughout Malaysia and to some extent in Indonesia as well.
  • Films

  • Raja Bersiong
  • Rempit V3
  • Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa
  • Cun (2011)
  • Television series

  • Cinta Anak Kedah
  • Makbul
  • Dari Kodiang ke Kolumpo.
  • Notable Kedahan Malay

  • Abdul Rahman Abbas, current Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang
  • Tun Dato' Sri Haji Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi, 5th Prime Minister of Malaysia (Kedahan Malay of Chinese and Arab descent)
  • Anwar Ibrahim, political detainee and opposition leader
  • Askora Asbar, Malaysian and International Ping Pong star
  • Azizan Abdul Razak, Chief Minister of Kedah from 2008 to 2013
  • Farid Kamil, Malaysian Actor
  • Hani Mohsin, actor and TV host
  • House of Jamalullail (Perlis), the ruling royal family of the state of Perlis (Kedahan Malay with Arab descent)
  • Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, Malaysian 4th Prime Minister (Kedahan Malay with Indian descent)
  • Mahdzir Khalid, current Minister of Education, Chief Minister of Kedah from 2005 to 2008
  • Mazlan bin Ahmad, famous Malaysian comedian
  • P.Ramlee, Malay film actor (Kedahan Malay maternal ancestry, Acehnese father)
  • Sharifah Rodziah Syed Alwi Barakbah, Spouse of the Prime Minister of Malaysia
  • Syed Ahmad bin Syed Mahmud Shahabuddin, Chief Minister of Kedah from 1967 to 1978 and Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Malacca from 1984 to 2004
  • Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, the 7th richest corporate figure in Malaysia (Kedahan Malay with Arab descent)
  • Syed Sheh Hassan Barakbah, 3rd Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang and President of the Dewan Negara from 1959 to 1969
  • Syed Sheh Shahabudin, 2nd Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, 1st Prime Minister of Malaysia, also regarded as "Father of Independence" and member of the Kedah royal family (Kedahan Malay with Thai descent)
  • Zulkifli Ismail, Malaysian actor
  • Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, a political cartoonist famously known as Zunar and a 2016 Cartooning for Peace Prize winner.
  • References

    Kedahan Malay people Wikipedia