Tun Fatimah: The Malay Woman Warrior is the story of a historical heroine who fought against Portuguese oppression in 16th century Malacca. In the times of the glorious Malay kingdoms in the Archipelago, there were many woman warriors or ﬁghters who contributed towards the stability of the kingdoms. A few notable examples were Sultanah Tajul Alam Safiyatuddin Syah (1641-1675) and Cut Nyak Dhien (1856-1908) from Acheh Tribuwana Tunggadevi (1329-1351) from Majapahit, Puteri Janilan (1683-1718) from Minangkabau, Sultanah Nurul Azam (1681-1685) from Sulu, Raja Hijau (1584-1616) from Patani, and Tun Fatimah (1510-1528) from Melaka. This bilingual book, written in English and Malay and based on reliable sources, will elaborate on the history of Tun Fatimah as the famous woman warrior in the Archipelago.
Tun Fatimah was the daughter of Bendahara Seri Maharaja Tun, the 8th Bendahara of Melaka (1500-1510). ln the Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu), Tun Fatimah was depicted as a young lady and a beautiful warrior. The records are as follows: And so it was said, the beauty of Bendahara Seri Tun Mutahir’s daughter, known as Tun Fatimah, who was elegant, without ﬂaws, sweet and witty, like a sea of honey, luminous, like a full moon in bloom. Furthermore, as the Bendahara, her character and choice of garments that she wore further enhanced her appearance. Tun Fatimah was married to Tun Ali, son of Seri Nara Diraja Tun Tahir, Chief Treasurer of Melaka.
According to the book ‘Tun Fatimah’ written by Harun Aminurrashid, Fatimah was not only well known because of her beauty, but also her ingenuity and ﬁghting prowess. She and her other women friends had learnt the art of ﬁghting including ‘pencak silat’ and many others. They were well-known as the brave Melaka woman warriors. According to him, Tun Fatimah and the other women warriors went out to ﬁght against Portuguese soldiers who were making trouble and harassing the women at the market during their attacks on Malacca in 1511.
Even though I am a woman, it is not my place to be in the kitchen, because even in war the women wielded the kris and swords too. Any citizen of Melaka and Kampar who deems themselves Malays, let us band together with His Highness (Sultan Mahmud) to ﬁght (against Portuguese) so that our children are not mocked in the future and anyone who deem themselves Malays let us take revenge on the pain of our families who were defeated, let us ﬁght together against the evil inﬁdels.
– Tun Fatimah