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Building Background.

The Istana Jahar was a royal residence in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia. Istana Jahar was
built in 1855 by Sultan Muhammad II of Kelantan for his grandson Long Kundur. The palace
has a pentagon-shaped porte-cochère with the first floor balcony from which members of the
royal family could watch ceremonies held in front of the palace. Currently, the palace houses
the Museum of Royal Traditions and Customs of Kelantan.
Historically, the purpose of Jahar Palace by Sultan Muhammad II is to be awarded to
the name of Long Kundur cucundanya Treasurer. Following the death of Sultan Muhammad II
in 1886, Kelantan throne replaced by Long Sulong who ruled with the title of Sultan Ahmad. At
the time of his reign Jahar Palace continued construction until its completion.
In 1889, after three years on the throne, Sultan Ahmad died and was succeeded by Long
Kundur Treasurer the title of Sultan Muhammad III. Sultan Muhammad III made as places are
Istana Jahar him, apart from the Central Palace.
In the reign of Sultan Mahmud IV, he had made the Palace of the Great Hall as his place
of residence. Istana Jahar but still well used. Palace does not have a name until the year 1911
after Sultan Mahmud IV returned from a visit to Singapore and repair of this palace. This palace
was named Jahar Palace, take in conjunction with the name of a flower adorn the pages of Jahar
Palace. The castle was then given to his son Tengku Ismail Seri Tengku Indra called the Crown.
After the death of Sultan Muhammad IV in 1920, replacing his son Tengku Ismail
throne title of Sultan of Kelantan. Sultan Ismail did not reside at the Palace Station instead of
Jahar Palace sits the palace of late-given by his father.
Sultans of Kelantan and as Sultan Ibrahim (1944-1960) and Sultan Yahya Petra (1961-1979)
no longer reside at the Palace Jahar but has its own castle.
Currently, Istana Jahar is now used as the Kelantan Royal Museum. This museum
displays the history of the Kelantan sultanate from the early days through to the reign of Sultan
now. Exhibit space available in the Museum building is divided into several parts, such as
armaments, costume, and other matters related to the sultanate. Although the museum has been
made but the original design of this building have been preserved. Its unique architecture with
beautiful carvings have graced the palace of the building was turned into a museum.
History of the building
According to the Kelantan Museums Corporation, the renovation of the palace was
started at the end of the reign of Sultan Muhammad II (1837-1886) and completed in 1887
during the reign of Sultan Ahmad (1886-1889). The palace was built as a wedding gift for
Sultan Ahmad’s prince, Long Kundur, who later succeeded him as Sultan Muhammad III
(1889-1890) (Saleh 1987; Nurul Hamiruddin, 2011). The palace was named as Istana Raja
Bendahara after the official title of the crown prince ‘Raja Bendahara’. During the reign of
Sultan Muhammad III, the palace was used as an administrative center for the state of
Kelantan. Nevertheless, Sultan Muhammad III was on the throne for only one and a half
years. Long Mansur, a brother of the late Sultan Muhammad III, was enthroned as the next
Sultan. During the reign of Long Mansur, he used another palace as his official palace known
as the Istana Balai Besar (the Central Palace).
Historically (Since 1844) Istana Balai Besar was the main administrative centre of the
state. It works as place to hold the coronations, installations, investitures and many other
ceremonies. This also accommodates the office of the Sultan. Istana Raja Bendahara became
a palace for Long Senik, a prince of the late Sultan Muhammad III. In 1911, Long Senik
became a Sultan of Kelantan also known as Sultan Muhammad IV. Sultan Muhammad IV
had ascended the throne after the sudden death of Sultan Muhammad III. He has made the
Istana Balai Besar as his residence and Istana Jahar still in use for other purposes. The palace
was named Istana Jahar after Sultan Muhammad IV’s visit of Singapore in 1911. The name
Istana Jahar was given to that palace when a Jahar tree was planted inside the compound of
Istana Raja Bendahara, under the order of Sultan Muhammad IV. Since then the palace was
famously known as the Istana Jahar. Later, the palace was given to his son Tengku Ismail
using the title Tengku Seri Indera Mahkota. After the death of Sultan Muhammad IV in 1920,
Tengku Ismail replaced him with the title of Sultan Ismail and stayed at Istana Jahar,
endowed by his late father. Later, Sultans of Kelantan which then as Sultan Ibrahim (1944-
1960) and Sultan Yahya Petra (1961-1979) no longer resided at the Istana Jahar (Rashid,
From the time of its completion, Istana Jahar has gone through several renovation and
adaptive reuse processes. There was a time when the palace was left abandoned since the
succeeded Sultans had their own palace of residence. The original Istana Jahar was
reconstruct in 1965 after so many years of abandonment. During the time of Sultan Yahya
Petra, the Istana Jahar was refurbished and reconstructed to its current form. After a few
series of renovation and refurbishment works, Sultan Ismail Petra has lend the Istana Jahar to
the Kelantan Museums Corporation for restoration and adaptive re-used as the Kelantan State
Museum, which was later converted to Kelantan Royal Tradition and Customs Museum.
The current condition of Istana Jahar, Kota Bharu as the Kelantan Royal Customs Museum.

The picture of Istana Jahar during it was left abandoned before the restoration process to become
Kelantan State Museum in 1982
The Architecture
Istana Jahar has a distinct architecture compared to the local as it doesn’t resembles Rumah Tiang
12 or Rumah Bujang which is the local architecture house of Kelantan. It is belief that this building is
the combination of local architecture and the influence from the Dutch architecture. The influence
from western can be seen through the shape of anjung or foyer. Istana Jahar is two storey building
and has elongated rectangular shape. The floor area of each storey is same and the storey is
connected by two spinning stairs which is heavily decorated made from cast iron. The ground floor
bilik peraduan of Istana Jahar is divided into three main spaces which is ruang surung, ruang serambi
and ruang tengah. Meanwhile, the first floor has a few spaces which are bilik beristirehat or bilik
peraduan, bilik pakaian, transition area and anjung istana.
Each spaces is important as it show how the space work during the royal. The ruang surung is
located near to the main entrance. This space is used by the royal to greet their guests that come to
the palace. Nowadays, this space is used to exhibit the various kind of textiles. This space is used to
explain the textile that is used by the royalties and the origin. Ruang Serambi is located at the both
left and right sides of ruang surung. This space is used by the royal guards that stay in the palace as
their living home. Nowadays, this area is used to exhibit the kelantanese royal’s customs and
traditions. The right serambi is used as bilik pertunangan to demonstrate the royal ceremonies
happen while the left serambi is used as bilik peraduan where the royal rest after the ceremonies.
Ruang tengah or is known as Balai Tarik is used for formal ceremonies such as marriage and culture
perfomances. Balai Tarik is seperated from ruang surung by a decorated wall with janda berhias
motif. Moving up to the first floor, there is bilik istirehat on the top of ruang tengah which is used by
the royal as their bedroom. The left and right side of king bedroom is used by the prince and
princess. The next is bilik pakaian which is located at both left and right side between ruang anjung
and bilik istirehat. This space is used to store all the royal garments. There is a transitional space
between ruang anjung and bilik beristirehat which has double volume downwards. The shape of
double volume is oval shaped and is enclosed by decorated cast iron balustrade. This space function
as a communication space between lower and upper floor. The most interesting space in istana jahar
is anjung istana where this space is used by the king to meet and give speech to the people. This
space has half hexagonal shape which is influence by the western style of architecture.
Istana jahar has varies type of ornamentations which has a siamese influence for the motif. These
motif can be seen at the roof, the wall panel, column and balustrade. The ekor itik, sisik naga, papan
cantik has the motif of siamese while the wall panel is janda berhias motif. This show istana jahar
architecture is the combination of the east and western style, which the western style is potrayed at
the shape of anjung itself.
Social/ cultural/political influences surrounding the era of building design.

The social status can be study through the architecture of the building itself. In this case,
Istana jahar has ornamentations of janda berhias wall panel which only the kelantanese
royalties building has this ornamentation. Besides, during the previous time, the richer that is,
the more ornamentation will be put at their house or building. This proof that Sultan
Muhammad II is a rich royalties as he has the most beautiful janda berhias wall panel on
Istana Jahar.
Besides, the Istana Jahar is symmetrical while the malay traditional house is asymmetrical in
design or planning. This show that the symmetrical planning is use for special function and
show formalities.
All the architecture elements were thoroughly knitted including facades, interiors, furniture,
antiques and patterns were typically from Malay traditional architectural style with the
combination of some elements from the European country. Such influences were evident only
in the properties of royalty and the elites. A few factors that might contribute to architectural
changes in the society considering the facts that Kelantan was under a few rulers before it
merge under the union of Malaya. Some of the factors including:
i. The Siamese Emperor
ii. The presence of British colonization.
iii. The Local indigenous architecture
iv. The westernization of the royalty of Kelantan and Siam, such as the Sultan
Muhammad IV and King Rama the 5th, the former emperor of Siam.
All the above mentioned factors have contributed in shaping the architecture of Kelantan. It
reflect the society’s way of life, their belief, and philosophy (Ezrin, 1997). These altogether,
form important components in the uniqueness of a culture. Hence, it has always been the
main source of references in social and cultural studies in architecture.
Besides, the ornamentation of ekor itik and sisik naga is highly influenced by the Siamese
motifs, thus making that Kelantan has political relationship with Siamese during that reign.
The adaptation of ornamentation from Siamese motifs into malay motifs such as the animal
motifs is changes into the floral motif showed that the adaptation is align with the Islamic
values and morals.
Moreover, the anjung istana of Istana Jahar is an open air veranda where the royal can meet
and give soeech to the people showed that the relationship between the king and his people
are good. The spatial relationship of Istana Jahar also show the culture of malay people where
the spatial of istana Jahar is same as the spatial of malay traditional house. This show that
malay architecture are the main influence for this building.
Istana Jahar is built during the reign of Sultan Muhammad II and Long Kundur inherited this
palace as his residence due to marriage with Tengku Embong, royalties of Raja Patani and
becoming raja bendahara.
Istana Jahar has eastern and western influences for its architecture. It is belive that the
western influences the anjung shape. The eastern influences can be seen through the Siamese
motifs of ornamentations. Besides, the spatial relationship is the spatial of malay traditional
house which is adapted to fulfill certain functions.
The combination of Malay and European influence architecture can be seen with the
installation of concrete columns in Istana Jahar. Furthermore, the semi octagonal porch and
the metal cylindrical staircases inside the Istana Jahar strengthen the argument about this
combination in architecture. Furthermore, due to the other external factor mainly from the
colonization, their impact in changing the perception about architecture in Malaysia has
influenced in social, politics, as well as architecture. This phenomenon can be seen from the
many aspects including architecture and culture. These distinctive architectural styles have
significant cultural and heritage values, many of which are being conserved by the relevant
authorities until today.
Kelantan-Pattani architecture was fundamentally similar to Kelantan’s architecture as it was
once ruled together under the ‘Great Pattani’ (Pattani Besar), besides having similar
geographical features and the people were normally blood related and families. This southern
part of Thailand’s architecture shows the unique Malay Architectural features which have
significant influence in building the royal palaces in Kelantan. It was stated in history where
the King of Siam had visited Kelantan in 1905 during the reign of Sultan Muhammad IV,
then, some of the features in Royal palaces was renovated and changed to look almost similar
in architecture and it’s characteristic. The most distinctive features that are both Kelantan and
Siamese were sharing is the use of Singgora tiles as the roofing material

Design Philosophy
Kelantan is one of the country's rich wood carvings on mosques, endowments, palaces,
houses and so on. Kelantan wood carving art is found to be much in common with South
Thailand especially from Pattani.
At leisure, the Kelantanese Malays used time with their own home appliances such as joke,
rehal, Quran, coconut gauge and so on. In the meantime it was their interest to decorate the
tools by carving a simple pattern at the beginning. The equipment used also consists of
ordinary weapons such as knives, machetes, axes and so on.
On the walls of the former Palace of the Sultan Muhammad IV there is a beautiful writing of
khat thuluth, carved verses of the Quran including verses from the sura of Yaasin. When a
person becomes a member of the Palace carpenter, his tenancy is required at any time by the
King and the princes of the State with the minimum requirement to accommodate his family.
The caretaker houses are placed around the Palace or the magnificent houses so that the
sculptor can easily be picked up when needed.
Apart from that, Malay timber carpenters along with locals have established a wakaf where
service can be observed on the porch or waqf roofs. In accordance with the Kelantan
community known for its Islamic nature with a pattern known today as "Khat Writing"
The cultural parameter may have significant impact where the local craftsmen which involve
in the construction of the palace injects the Malay architectural input in designing the
ornamentation and other significant Malay architectural features in Istana Jahar. some of the
feature includes the uses of singgora tiles, Janda Berhias wall panel, installation of ‘Ekor itik’
and ‘Sirip Naga’as roofing features. These are among the features which the cultural elements
from Kelantanese and Siamese culture in arts and architecture

Ekor Itik’and ‘Sirip Naga’ as part of the roofing features in Istana Jahar

Singgora Tiles used as the main roofing material for Istana Jahar

Theory and concept transformation into physical outlook of the building from the
earliest stage to the completion.
From the study based on the textual description by various sources, the Istana Jahar
has gone through at least five major changes as describe below:
i. 1887-1889- The construction of Istana Jahar (Istana Raja Bendahara) started
during the reign of Sultan Muhammad II, initially was a single story timber
ii. 1900- 1905- Istana Jahar has been renovated into a double story timber
building- Sultan Muhammad IV
iii. 1905-1920- The additional portion of Istana Jahar was constructed with double
story masonry structure, with semi octagonal porch during the reign of Sultan
Muhammad IV after the visit of Siamese emperor in 1905.
iv. 1965 –Another series of renovation was done and it was eventually converted
into the offices and Kelantan State Museum.
v. 1990- Another set of renovation to facilitate the use of Istana Jahar as Royal
Tradition and Custom Museums.
All the the things and tragedies that happen before have significant changes which
related to the changes of political power, for instance, the timeline shows that all the changes
happen were occurred during the reign of different Sultan or rulers. This might be some of
the reason for changes to fulfill the architectural taste of the ruling Sultan. This is to show
how the political power may influence the architecture of the palace.

1. Physical forms of istana jahar

Aerial view of istana jahar

The semi octagonal form of the anjung add the aesthetic form of this building

Front elevation of istana jahar

View towards the anjung of istana jahar

The anjung of this building is used as entrance and the sultan used the upper level of anjung to
greet or meet the peoples
2. Architecture features details

Ekor Itik and Sirip Naga or Sisik Naga

"Ekor Itik" is one of the hallmarks of the present Kelantan royalty. The art is also shared
with the state of Patani. "Ekor Itik" is a public call from Kelantan and Patani to the various designs of
this house while "Sulur Daun" is a special name. This is because it looks like the shape of a duck tail
but actually it is a clove-shaped carving that serves royal dessert food. The carvings are located at
the end of the corner of the house where the end of the Meru, Limas or Perak / Belanda pieces are
roofed. In addition, the Kelantan Malays also call it "som" referring to this extend from the top to
the end of the duck tail. The duck tail also has an extra decoration where it is known as "sisik naga or
sirip naga." The motif used is also from the puncture pattern or tree leaf shape, In Kelantan it follows
the form of ulam-ulaman that serves royal food. This pattern when arranged in a som and home
saver it will look like a dragon's fins. The materials used to make som are usually from cement, baked
clay and wood like cengal which are the most durable and long-lasting woods.

Symbolism of Ekor Itik and Sirip naga or Sisik Naga

Ekor Itik and Sirip naga/Sisik Naga, it is used as a symbol for the royalty, but it is also used in royalty
and palace magnificent. The symbolism of the som is like the melee of which he symbolizes the
nature of God that emits the nature of Jamal and Jalal as well as the symbol of the heroine and the
head and hands of the human limb.

History of Ekor Itik and Sirip naga or Sisik Naga

Ekor Itik are also part of the old part of the art that was inherited by Kelantan Malays in the
architecture of the house or the mosque. This part has existed since ancient times of Kelantan as
same as the pemeleh and tebar layar. The appearance of the early som is not like the appearance of
ekor itik nowadays, it's a lot different and complicated. It was originally a figurine of the "Ular Naga"
and "Makara". According to Nakula, these two parts have long existed in the era of the Jugular 3000-
2800 before Brahma and Brahma 1800-1700 before the age. At the beginning of Islam, this art still
exists and applies but its only change has been changed and renewed. As well as the melt, it has
undergone changes according to the requirements of Islamic Shari'ah where this part is replaced
with simple motif.

Types of Som existed and used during Old Kelantan period

Som of Ular Naga

This features existed during Jawan period, around 3000 – 2800 BC. It is influences by the ancient
civilization of Malay Archipelago. “Ular Naga melilit alam” symbolize the “kudrat Allah meliputi
seluruh makhluk” which is means for Hakikat Muhammadiyah. It is use as ornamentation of
buildings with the special meanings. In Malay Archipelago (old Kelantan period) it is used to show
social status

Som of Makara

This features is influenced by the Brahma that came to the Malay worlds between 1800 – 1700 BC. It
is a Sanskrita term which is used for ornamentation with dolphin motif/ elephant’s trunk motif
symbolize Ganesya or Semar. During the early Islam stage at Kelantan, this motif is transform
symbolize Nur Muhammad. Symbolism and form of this motif only last awhile during pre-Islamic
period. A new som is introduced during the period of Chermin

Som of Ekor Itik

This features come to exist after Islam during Kelantan-patani (Chermin period) and it replace the
som of Ular Naga and Makara. This ornamentation is simple and it is called as ekor itik by the local.
Beside ekor itik, the som of Sulur Bayur is used as ornamentation at the end of roof. It symbolize the
social status for the elite and aristocracy of Kelantan and Patani.

types of ekor itik existed nowadays,

showing the hierarchy of social status of
people in Kelantan. Istana Jahar’s ekor
itik is the upper left which show the
highest status based on complexity.
Ekor itik, sirip naga and papan cantik is used as the ornamentation for the roof of istana jahar is
influenced by the thailand architecture
Dinding Janda Ria and Janda Hias is a type of wall that is widely used in royalty, nobility and people.
According to Nakula (1980: 67-72) it is a wall bound for certain parcels between parcels. These
convex or embossed panel panels according to Nakula have certain meanings. There are two types
of widow wall:

Dinding Janda Hias

Dinding Janda Ria

The difference between these two wall panels is the carving on each panels. Dinding Janda Ria has
more carving than the Dinding Janda Hias. The arrangement of wall panel is influenced or inspired
from the arrangement of woven bamboo.

Colour influence the appearance of wall panels

The traditional houses of Kelantan and Patani are not use the colors of wood, dull and frail. In the
past it used many bright colors on wooden panels and engraved sculptures. The use of this color
makes the house more lively, cheerful and elegant and looks luxurious.

Symbolism of Dinding Janda Hias and Janda Ria

As same as the meaning of the stair door /
doorway, Nakula states that the wall is
also the final boundary between the house
and the outside world, it is as a leather
that encloses the house. Just like pemeleh
“symbolize the house as lamented Lam
Alif which means the denial of obeisance
and the divination of divinity. So on the
stomach / body of the house also used the
symbolism of the same but in the other
styles of Alif-Ba which in essence is the
substance of God incarnate in two traits
"Jalal-Jamal" in the context of the name
"qayyum" (building).
Carving "Alif and Ba" or Lingga is so named "Janda Berhias", and this carved wall is named "Janda
Berhias Wall". Similar to the use of the word of widow on the wall originally referred to "the woman
who has been divorced from the husband", it is portrayed to the wall. This wall is likened to a
woman who was formerly dependent on a husband or a fellow being and now has separated from
her husband and returned to the very nature of self-esteem that she is the substance of God who
develops herself. It is not too exaggerated to say that this feminine symbolism is the impression of
the provocative mood of women in Kelantan which proved at that time and is now extending private
business in a lifetime effort either after divorce or losing her husband. Returning to Nakula's
explanation, the letter "Alif" symbolizes "The substance of God that develops in the nature of Jalal"
and "Ba" symbolizes "the nature of Jamal, both of which are in substance". So, now there is a
"denial" that is a denial of obedience and "acting" which is the divine supremacy.

The return to the original or to the essence of this is what is called "decoration". The decorations
that must be worn by every human being in life, there is no more worthy self-adornment in this life
other than being emblazoned with God. Decorative in the form of costumes of expensive clothes or
in the form of jewelry from gold, silver, diamonds and diamonds are immortal earthly ornaments.
The decor is a maarifat with the only God that remains and leads to a very good position in the
eternal universe. This is the purpose of the message brought by the term "decorated wallet".

Janda berhias wall panel is used to show the repetition and rhythm at the frontage
Papan Cantik or Ande-Ande

It is a carved plaque located on the horizon of the roof. It aims to close the ends of the rafters. Halim
Nasir (1986: 139) named it "Cucuran Atap" if it was not carved and named "Papan Cantik" if it was
carved. Zulkifli Hanafi (2000: 5) states that in Kedah it was named as "Papan Pator" and "Kening" in
Penang and "Papan tumpu kasau" in Melaka. The terms of "Papan meleh" is also used but according
to him it is slightly different in terms of construction with papan pator.

In Kelantan, the term of "Papan Meleh" is also being used, but the usage of the same word, "meleh"
for different parts of the house, causes the confusion to recognize the variety of Kelantan homes. As
we know or notice before this "pemeleh" also refers to the cover of the roof at tebar layar on the
roof of rumah bujang. In addition, "meles" are also used at the top of the doorway / door of the
three stairwells which refer to the same thing as referring to the ornamental crown of the mountain.
Therefore, Nakula (1985: 88) uses another term "Ande-ande" from the word "Andam-Andam" which
means the same meaning ornament or decorated but another word or special name that only really
refers to one the part of which is the end of the endless beaded decoration on the rafters under the
transverse roof (the water area falls from the slope of the roof when it rains). The Kelantan and
Patani constituents use this special term in that part. All other terms are used to make no mistake as
they are based on who the homeowner is learning and to what extent the knowledge is understood

Types of Ande-Ande

Ande-Ande Jenis Kepingan papan bersusun Ande-Ande jenis papan sekeping

Ande-Ande used at Istana Jahar is

ande-ande jenis papan sekeping
3. Structural details


Construction technique
Abdullah b. Mohamed (Nakula), "Falsafah dan Permikiran Orang-orang Melayu,
Hubungannya dengan Islam dan Kesenian", Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia dan
Sukan, Kuala Lumpur, 1980.