Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lakan Genealogy: Connection of Sulu and Brunei

My passion for genealogy initially began because of my avid interest in royalty watching. Since 1993, I have studied the histories of almost all royal dynasties in the world. Because genealogy is an integral part of royalty and monarchy it did not take me long to also want to trace the genealogy of my own family.

One interesting aspect of royal genealogy in the Philippines is that of the Sulu Sultanate's. As I mentioned in a previous article, the Sultanate of Sulu in the south of the Philippines was closely related to the royal houses of Manila as well as that of Brunei's. Many Muslim families in the Philippines are able to recite their genealogy up to 15th century because of their tarsilas. These tarsilas, or silsilas, are genealogical and historical records which started in the 1300s when Islam was introduced in Mindanao. The word itself means "chain", which exemplifies the purpose of genealogy, which is a "chain" or link of people and events throughout various times in history. 

The earliest relations between the royals of Brunei and Sulu date back to the early 1400s when an unnamed daughter of Paduka Sri Sultan Ahmad, who reigned as sultan of Brunei from 1406 to 1425, married Ratu Mambang Awilis, recorded in Brunei royal genealogies as possibly from Sulu who was later created by the Brunei sultan as Pangiran Kusuma Negara.

This unnamed princess's sister's grandson, Sri Paduka Baginda Sultan Bolkiah Shah Alam ibni al-Marhum Sultan Sulaiman, married two royals from Sulu. His first wife, another unnamed princess, was the daughter of Datu Gamban of Seluang, which is a part of Sulu. Sultan Bolkiah's second wife was Putri Laila Menjanai, the granddaughter of Paduka Maulana Maha Sri Sultan Sharif al-Hashim, Sulu's first Sultan. This union between a Brunei sultan and a Sulu princess cemented the family relations of the two royal houses. And because of this marriage all succeeding sultans of Brunei, including the current, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, are descendants of the first Sultan of Sulu and a distant cousin of the current members of Sulu's royal family.

Years later, a granddaughter of Sultan Bolkiah, Putri Brunei, was married to her 3rd cousin, Sultan Shah Muhammad al-Halim Buddiman of Sulu. In the late 1580s Sultan Bolkiah's grandson, Paduka Sri Sultan Muhammad Hassan ibni al-Marhum Sultan Saif ul-Rijal Nur ul-Alam, followed in his footsteps and took as one of his wives another princess of Sulu, Putri Sulu, who was also his cousin several times over and the daughter of Putri Brunei and Sultan Shah Muhammad of Sulu. Although the marriage of Putri Sulu and Sultan Muhammad Hassan was the last grand union between the two royal houses, the current royal families are still connected by blood because one of the sons of Muhammad Hassan and Putri Sulu later became Sultan of Sulu and his descendants today are the Kirams, the reigning family of the Sulu sultanate.

The Sulu and Brunei connection. Click to enlarge.
If only the tradition of keeping a tarsila wasn't limited to our Muslim brothers and sisters in the south, Philippine genealogy would have been more complete today.

Eid Mubarak to all our Muslim brothers and sisters!

The family tree above came from the Brunei genealogies as well as the Sulu Sultanate website.

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