The island of Langkawi in Kedah, Malaysia is proud of its breathtaking natural sites, interesting mixture of cultures, and engaging myths and legends. Launched as a tropical paradise destination in 1987, it is now the leading vacation and tourism spot in Malaysia. Its popularity earned it the official name “Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah” in 2008, since the island is truly mystical. To pay homage to the island’s many legends, the Legend Garden was constructed in Kuah in 1996 to showcase the island’s myths and legends that are culturally and historically important to the islanders.
Based on an idea by former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the RM-4-million worth Legend Garden was constructed on a sprawling 50-acre land of reclaimed area about 400 meters from the jetty port of Kuah Town, which is the busiest area in Langkawi. Also referred to as Lagenda Langkawi Dalam Taman or Langkawi Lagenda Park, the beautifully landscaped Garden has four lakes, a lagoon and beach. There are 17 colorful sculptures all over the open-air theme park, which include heroic giants, scary ogres, mythical birds, and beautiful princesses, each depicting a Langkawi folk story. Also, each of the sculptures has a signboard in English explaining the legend it represents.
Three of the most important Langkawi legends are Mahsuri’s Curse, Broken Pots and Seeping Gravy, and the Giant Eagle and a Stone.
Mahsuri’s Curse is about Mahsuri Pandak Maya, a beautiful wife who was falsely accused of adultery. As her brave husband, Wan Darus, left to fight in war, Mahsuri developed a special friendship with a young musician named Deraman. Soon, people in the village including Mahsuri’s in-laws believed that the two were more than just friends. The rumors grew uncontrollably until finally the beautiful wife was called to be executed. Following traditional Islamic punishment for adultery, Mahsuri was tied to a tree and stabbed to death. White blood flowed from her as proof of her innocence. Just before she died, she uttered a curse that sent the island into seven generations of bad luck.
Today, the locals believe that the curse has just been lifted since Langkawi is now enjoying international prominence and popularity, specifically in its tourism industry.
Another legend concerns the island’s picturesque mountains and landforms. According to the legend of Broken Pots and Seeping Gravy, two families of giants got together at the wedding of their children, Mat Raya’s son and Mat Cincang’s daughter. Sadly, however, the two families fought during the wedding feast, because apparently the new groom was caught flirting with another woman. They threw giant pots and pans, including a large pot of gravy, at each. The gravy spilt and flowed to the ground, which later turned into the present-day Kuah, Langkawi’s capital. “Kuah” in Malay means gravy. The broken pots turned into the Raya and Cincang mountains and other landforms.
Finally, the legend of the Giant Eagle gave rise to the name “Langkawi”. Ancient fishermen were said to have seen a giant eagle (“helang” or simply “lang”) and in its claws was a stone (“kawi”). Based on this sighting, they decided to name the island Langkawi.
The Malay people love their legends, especially those from Langkawi. The Langkawi Legend Garden is open daily from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM with an admission fee of RM 5 for adults and RM 2,50 for children.