After my Dari Pusat Tasek performance in Lumut, Perak, I went to meet Sara Frederica Santa Maria in the Kampung Portuguese Settlement, Melaka. We are planning to work together as a part of my Kaza Nunteng Porta performance series which links the Settlement with Lisbon, Portugal. We are planning to create an engagement on the street and perhaps on stage in Lisbon, bringin the Kristang language, music, dance and food home to Belem, the harbour district from which the Portuguese mariners set sail on their adventures of discovery and conquest.
‘Kaza Nunteng Porta’ is Kristang (Melaka Portuguese) for ‘House Without a Door’. It is the title of the 9th series of Koboi Project which addresses notions imperialism, globalization, migration, miscegenation and tourism as a part of the wider Koboi Narrative. The project is ongoing and thus far impromptu photo-performances have been held at the Alfonso De Albuquerque Monument and the Discoveries Monument in Belem, in 2018 and 2019.
Did you know that the Portuguese still occupy Malacca! The Girls from Sara Frederica Santa Maria’s Troupe de Santa Maria hold the open air stage after their their sound check at Encore Melaka (5-7July 2019).
Did you know that the Portuguese still occupy Malacca! The Boys from Sara Frederica Santa Maria’s Troupe de Santa Maria hold the open air stage after their their sound check at Encore Melaka (5-7July 2019).
A terrific discovery for the Koboi Project – a photograph from the 3rd October, 1902 inauguration of the monument to Afonso de Albuquerque, the second governor of Portuguese India, in the D. Fernando Square, Belem. (renamed for Afonso de Albuquerque following the republican revolution of 1910) This square is located in front of 18th-century Belém Royal Palace. The delight of this image of the preparations for the arrival of King D. Carlos and the Royal Family for the ceremony is that it is shot from the same point of view as the images of the Kaza Nunteng Porta series highlighting the ‘The fall of Malacca’ relief. The other 3 three reliefs represent the ‘The Delivery of the keys of Goa,’ ‘The Reception of the Ambassador of the King of Narcinga’ and ‘The defeat of the army of the king of Hormuz.’
This painting is a part of a set by Andre Reinoso (and his collaborators) which is displayed in the sacristy of the Church of Sao Roque in Lisbon. It portrays the historical event (in the Portuguese record) of the invasion of Malacca by Achenese pirates in 1547. Saint Francis Xavier, who was there at the time, is shown praying for Portuguese troops to repulse the invasion. The scene involves a multitude of Achenese fighters (pirates or otherwise!) holding their flags and trying to attack the Portuguese citadel! It is noted in the descriptive panel for this set of paintings that it was commissioned according to a clear iconographic programme designed by the Jesuits of Portugal in order to promote the canonization of the Saint. The paintings were installed in 1619 and and st Francis Xavier was canonized in 1622. This image is titled. ‘St. Francis Xavier tries to halt the invasion of Achenese pirates in Malacca.’ It is the Malacca Malacca evoked by Fausto (after Fernao Mendes Pinto) in his song A Guerra e a Guerra
‘Kaza Nunteng Porta’, significa ‘Casa Sem Porta´ em Kristang (língua Portuguesa Malaca). É o título da nona série do Projeto Koboi. Nesta série, o Koboi aborda as conexões culturais, históricas e sociais entre Lisboa e Malaca, enquanto tenta colocar esta relação no contexto dos movimentos de diáspora e globalização. As fotografias desta série foram tiradas em Belém, Lisboa e Ujong Pasir, Malaca. Belém é o porto de qual os portugueses partiram nas suas aventuras marítimas pioneiras, enquanto Ujong Pasir é o local do Assentamento Português em Malaca, o último vestígio de uma das tais aventuras.
Kaza Nunteng Porta’, means ‘House Without a Door’ in Kristang (Malacca Portuguese language). It is the title of the 9th series in the Koboi Project. In this series the Koboi addresses the cultural, historical, social and connections between Lisbon and Malacca, while attempting to set this relationship within the context of diasporic movements and globalization. The photographs in this series were shot in Belem, Lisbon and in Ujong Pasir, Malacca. Belem is the port from which the Portuguese set sail on their pioneering maritime adventures and Ujong Pasir is the site of the Portuguese Settlement in Malacca – all that remains of the legacy of one of those adventures.
So what is the significance of Malaca (Portuguese), or Malacca (English) or, indeed, Melaka (Bahasa Melayu)? Founded around the 1400 by Raja Parameswara, later known as Raja Iskandar Shah, the Melaka Sultanate rose to the height of its power towards the end of the 15th Century. At this time, the Melaka suzerainty extended over most of the Malay Peninsula, the Riau Islands and parts of the Eastern coast of Sumatra. The port of Melaka, strategically located, as it is, at the mid-point of the Straits of Melaka, became one of the most important trading ports in the world. Melaka’s place in the geo-political paradigm of the day was exemplified in the oft-cited line by Portuguese explorer and apothecary Tomé Pires, “Whoever is lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice” – Venice being Europe’s centre of global trade.
While the Portuguese attained this prize in 1511, they killed the golden goose, so to speak! Other trading centers like Acheh, Banten, Bandjarmasin and Brunei arose in the Malay Archipelago and displaced the now Portuguese-controlled Melaka which was unenterprising and decidedly antagonistic to Muslim traders. Melaka never regained its place as the port of choice in the Straits of Melaka during the Colonial era. The British chose to develop Penang and Singapore and given Singapore’s astronomical ascendancy in the post-colonial era (Singapore was according to 2017 statistics the 2nd busiest port in the world), as well as Malaysia’s own development of Ports in Kelang, Johor, Tanjung Pelepas, Kuantan, Penang, Bintulu and Kemaman; Melaka has had to accept its status as a glorious historical relic of the past.