Negri Sembilan small heads issue - Lin Yangchen
  • Negri Sembilan small heads issue

©Lin Yangchen

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They slipped inconspicuously across the narrow waters in small boats, landed unobserved on the Malayan shore and plodded inland.—Gullick (2003)

The Minangkabau people of Sumatra, who first settled in Negri Sembilan in the 14th century, were still crossing over to Malaya up to the late 1940s—another testimony to Malaya’s affinity with other parts of the archipelago. In Malaya, the immigrant Minangkabau planted rice in narrow side valleys with streams (Gullick 2003), rather than on the plains as was the usual practice in the peninsula.

The padi (rice) stalks in Negri Sembilan’s coat of arms represent the nine Minangkabau districts of the state. The motto, in this case the state name, is embedded within the shield instead of being presented on a banner below. The state name therefore appears twice on the stamp. The nine-pointed star again signifies the nine districts, topped by a staff representing the Yang di-Pertuan Besar (head of state) fronted with a crossed sword and scabbard representing justice.

The rim of the medallion sometimes appears finely bevelled on one side, like a picture frame lighted from the side. The three segments of the shield are inventively hatched, cross-hatched and dotted to correspond to the relative luminances (of red, black and yellow respectively) of the colour version of the arms. A portrait of the Yang di-Pertuan Besar was not used because he was elected rather than hereditary, unlike the sultans (Hackney 1982).


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