The wily Malay mousedeer – Asian and African studies blog of the British Library

Many cultures celebrate an animal who, while not the largest or strongest, outwits all around him. In Europe this is Reynard the fox; in the Malay world of Southeast Asia it is Sang Kancil the mousedeer (pelanduk). Malay folklore is full of accounts of how the mousedeer gets the better of the other animals by his intellect and trickery. But in addition to oral tales and childens’ stories there is also a written epic in Malay, the Hikayat Pelanduk Jenaka or ‘Tale of the Wily Mousedeer’, probably dating from the 15th or 16th century, which is a highly sophisticated literary composition.   (Read more…)

kancil

Sumatran mousedeer. Drawing by a Chinese artist in Bengkulu, between 1784 and 1808, reproduced in William Marsden, A history of Sumatra, 3rd edition (London, 1811). British Library, NHD 1/8. Source: The wily Malay mousedeer – Asian and African studies blog

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