Saturday, April 23, 2011

Aboo Sittee Lane

Aboo Sittee Lane, Mamak Pushi & Bangsawan

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Aboo Sittee Lane located at the side road between Macalister Road and Burma Road.
I do not know who is Aboo Sittee, but it sound like an Indian Muslim name, or may be Jawi Peranakan. Abu means Father or 'Father of ...'. For example, 'Abu Ahmed' means Father of Ahmed. In Arab countries most people are called Abu X, (where X is the name of the first son or daughter,) by people who know them, instead of their official name. Abu is an Arabic term meaning "father." It is used as a "kunya," an honorific that incorporates the bearer's firstborn child's name into the bearer's own. For instance, if the bearer's firstborn son is called Hakim, the bearer might take the name "Abu Hakim." أبو كريم "Abu Karim" for "father of Karim"
Sittee is Arabic word for grandmother, Abu sittee is the meaning of father of grandmother? Or the father of the person with name of Sittee? But it seems that Sittee should be a female name, like Siti? But as father of Siti, it become a male name......who is Aboo Sittee?......

Among the Chinese, Aboo Sittee Lane was known as Samseng Hang(三星巷, 三牲巷), or Gangster Alley, because it was where Chinese hooligans used to group there. Literally 三牲巷 mean three animals lane, why three animals? Is is the place for the butchers? ; 三星巷 means three stars lane, this may be the simplified version of 三牲巷. In Chinese it sound like Samseng Hang in Hockkien, Samseng means gangster, hang means lane, the name become gangster lane. Which name is earlier Chinese name? Samseng first or later?. The official name, Abu Sittee Lane has no link with its Chinese name, Samseng Hang by Hockkien Chinese?. There must be many gang members or samseng in the area.....

During the period, a number of Georgetown streets became centres of Muslim gangster activities. Chulia Street, Hutton Lane, Macalister Road, Dato Kramat, Malay Street, Argyll Road, Burma Road, Abu Sittee Lane, Kimberley Street, Queen Street, Campbell Street and Pinang Road all earned notorious reputation for such activities. The area from the junction of Jalan Bahru to Anson Road and up to Kramat Road was Jalan Bahru White Flag territories.(source: Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume 72, 1999, by Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Malaysian Branch). May be the Chinese called it Samseng Hang due to the Muslim gangster in the area....There were two Mohamedan secret societies at Penang; the White Flag Society and its rival the Red Flag. In the Moharram in May 1867, the White Flag Society quarreled with the Red Flag. Full-scale riots broke out in 1867 after a member of the White Flag Society reportedly flung a rambutan skin at one of his rivals. Fighting escalated, knives replaced fruit peel, and hundreds were killed. It was called The Penang Riots in 1867, it was not a racial riots,as there were cooperation between different races group within both opposing parties. Ghee Hin and the White Flag(白旗會)of Masjid Pintal Tali; and Tua Pek Kong(or Kien Tek Society(督公,大伯公), which were mainly Hokkien) with Red Flag of Acheen Street area. Tua Pek Kong was the ally of Hai San. The riot was actually violence conflict or war between two commercially interest parties. The war last for 10 days, all activities in George Town was stopped during the period between 3-8-1867 to 14-8-1867.Penang R

The Malay however called it Lorong Pushi, because this place is the residential place of Mama Pushi, the father of Bangsawan.The name "Bangsawan", which means "nobility" is believed to have been given by Tunku Kudin. Then why the official name is not Lorong Pushi or Jalan Pushi? But some source said the name Aboo Sittee is the name of Mamak Pushi, the man who found Malay opera called Bangsawan in Penang. Mama Pushi, also known as Mamak Pushi and Mohamad Pusi (Edrus 1960:50-4). Mama Pushi was a wealthy Parsi from Penang. It is reported in the literature oh Malay theatre that the company he founded was thè first Malay Bangsawan to travel abroad. His troupe, known variously as 'Wayang Mama Pushi', 'Empress Victoria', 'Jawi Peranakan Theatrical Company', and 'Pushi Indera Bangsawan of Penang',

During an age where there was still no television, street operas and wandering theaters are a popular form of entertainment in early Penang, and even Malaya and Indonesia. It drew a following not only among the Malays, but also the Chinese population.

The Bangsawan opera traces its roots among the Indian Muslims. Indeed Abu Siti was also known by the nickname Mamak Pushi. His Bangsawan troupe, the Kumpulan Pusi Indera-Bangsawan, was formed in the 1890's and staged a touring concert throughout Malaya and Indonesia.

The 'trans-ethnic' theatre came to Indonesia from India through Malaysia (Penang). It was called Wayang Parsi by the Malays. For some reasons the troupe returned to India, and its manager sold the properties, costumes etc. to a Malay enterpreneur, Mohammad Pushi. Mohammad Pushi changed the name of the troupe into 'Bangsawan' (1885). The 'Bangsawan' was a professorial theatre and used Malay language in its performances. The repertoire consisted of local melodramas of kings, queens, princes, princesses and demons, tales from India or the Middle East. It is evident that the theatre was meant for entertainment. And as such it was well received by Malay-speaking and town-dwelling audience in Singapore and Sumatera (Indonesia). When it visited Java (Jakarta, then Batavia) it was not well received and failed financially. It was once again dissolved and sold to a Turk named Jaafar. Jaafar renamed the troupe 'Stamboel' (for Istamboel, the Turkish name for Constantinople). It was successful and another 'Stamboel' theatre was established in Surabaya (1891). The leader of this troupe was August Mahieu (of French-Indonesian parents) was born in Surabaya in 1860. He named his theatre Komedi Stamboel. To avoid the kind of failure suffered by the Bangsawan Theatre, he added to the repertoire the popular local (Indonesian) stories, such as Nyai Dasima, Si Conat, Oey Tambaksia, and stories from Shakespeare in adapted forms. It was assumed that he also used a Malay-dialect more acceptable to the Javanese, rather than the High or Court-Malay used in the Bangsawan Theatre. As a theatre it relied on glamourous costumes and gorgeous set, as for the acting it almost resembled the modern musicals of Broadway. Emotions were expressed through songs, and dances were important parts of the theatre. Though it used Malay language and was well received by many ethnic groups, it could not be classified as the national theatre, because it did not express the awareness and aspirations towards nationhood. The goal of the trans-ethnic theatre was financial, the method was entertainment. But from the point of view of the birth, growth and development of the Indonesian theatre, both the ethnic and trans-ethnic theatres are very important. They prepared the way for it.

Masjid Tarik Air

Masjid Tarik Air is a small mosque along Burmah Road, George Town, just next to the entrance to Aboo Sittee Lane, off Burma Road. It dates to 1880, to a very different era when pipe water is not readily available in Penang.

In the old days, a battalion of water carriers would convey fresh water collected from the Waterfall (now the Botanical Gardens Waterfall) and carry it all the way to town. Bullock carts and oxen were used to transport the water from the Waterfall, but sometime coolies were carrying water pails on yokes. That is why Burmah Road is known in Hokkien as Gû-chhia-chuí(牛車水), which means bullock cart water. It was later called Chia Chooi Lor(車水路),which means the road of cart water, the word bull(牛)was deleted. May be at that time, no more bullock cart was used to carry water as aquaduct had been constructed. To cut short the street name to Chia chooi(車水), instead of Gu-chia-chui(牛車水), bull(牛) was then missing. The Malay called it Tarek Ayer(which means drawing water), and later Jalan Kereta Ayer, which means "water cart road". The water carriers and water carts were drawing water from the waterfall at Waterfall garden, later aquaduct was constructed from Waterfall to Leith Street, which ran along Burmah Rd.

Masjid Tarik Air was a resting place or stop for the coolies, many of whom were Indian Muslims. It was also the site where they perform their daily prayers before continuing on their journey to the town.

Coconut Stall

Coconut stalls at Aboo Sittee Lane is now a tourist attraction. It is a natural way of quenching your thirst, much better than drinking unhealthy soft drink, while you go walking in the city.

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