Keramat Radin Mas

Singapore Infopedia


Keramat Radin Mas is the shrine of Radin Mas Ayu, a Javanese princess who shielded her father from being killed, only to be killed herself.1 According to the legend, Radin Mas was a beautiful and filial daughter loved by her father but hated by her stepmother. Radin Mas was brought to Singapore by her father as an infant and lived in a village at Telok Blangah. Her father, a skilful warrior prince, married into the royal family in Singapore.2 It is unclear how much of the legend is true.3 Radin Mas’s tomb lies at the foot of Mount Faber, behind Mount Faber Lodge Condominium, and still receives visitors.4

The tomb was originally a brick structure with an attap roof, according to a photograph taken in 1880.5 The bricks were white-washed or stuccoed, and wooden slats acted as windows. In the late 1960s, a hut was built around the original brick tomb and was later covered by the roots of banyan trees.6 The hut became run down, and the surrounding compound was littered with rubbish and overgrown with bushes, shrubbery and weeds. In 1999, Zainal Atan, also known as Pak Daeng, decided to spruce up the tomb to give Radin Mas the recognition she deserved. With permission from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS), Pak Daeng cleaned up the place and repaired the hut with his own funds. Garnering help from friends, he levelled the ground around the tomb, carrying sand and cement up the hill.7

The trees were removed around 2005 as they were thought to have been diseased, and any falling branches would have been a danger to visitors.8 There used to be a spring close to the foot of Mount Faber, and its water was believed to have healing properties. When the spring became too popular and visitors seeking healing began disturbing local residents, the police had the water piped underground and covered the area in cement.9

Dissatisfied with his initial efforts, Pak Daeng collected contributions from the community totalling $15,000 and hired a contractor. Works started in August 2002. The hut was torn down and a new one was built. A low fence was erected along the perimeters of the tomb. The surrounding compound was laid with ceramic tiles, and a water tank was installed to store rainwater. A flight of steps was constructed to increase access to the shrine. Both the hut and stairs were painted yellow to symbolise both royalty and holiness. A place to perform prayers was also provided. Pak Daeng went to the shrine every day to clean it and ensure that visitors refrained from practices that were inappropriate or un-Islamic. He hoped that the authorities could verify the history behind the tomb and recognise it as part of Singapore’s heritage and as a tourist destination.10

The legend
Radin Mas Ayu is the daughter of Pangeran Adipati Agung, the brother of a sultan in the kingdom of Java. An intelligent and courageous warrior, he was popular among the people.11 He fell in love with the lead dancer of a dance troupe that had been invited to perform at the palace.12 As he could not marry a commoner, he wedded her in secret.13 Their happy union bore them a beautiful little girl whom they named Radin Mas Ayu, meaning “golden princess”. Before long, the king found out and was extremely furious and plotted to punish the dancer.14 An opportunity arose when his kingdom was threatened by hostile invaders. The king sent Pangeran to quell the threat. The dancer saw it as a chance of reconciliation between her husband and his brother, the king, if he returned victorious. While Pangeran was away, however, the king had his men burn their house down. Pangeran’s wife perished, but their daughter was rescued by a loyal servant.15 When Pangeran returned from a victorious battle and found out what had happened, he severed ties with his brother and the palace. He left the kingdom together with Radin Mas and the loyal servant.16

The trio set sail and landed on the island of Singapore and settled down in a village at Telok Blangah. Pangeran was silent about his royal lineage and lived as other villagers did. The island was frequently harassed by sea pirates, and one day, Pangeran led a group of villagers to defeat them. News of Pangeran’s valour reached the sultan of Singapore, who invited the former to the palace.17 It happened that an envoy from Java was also at the palace to meet the Sultan and was surprised to see Pangeran. He informed the sultan of Pangeran’s identity. The sultan was delighted to know that Pangeran was a prince and arranged for his princess to be wedded to him. Pangeran agreed to the marriage, and a son was born to the couple.18 He was named Tengku Chik.19 Meanwhile Radin Mas had grown into a beautiful woman, and her stepmother was jealous of her beauty and close relationship with her father. One day, little Tengku Chik accidentally cut his foot on a piece of broken plate dropped by Radin Mas.20 Her stepmother accused her of deliberately harming Tengku Chik,21 but Pangeran refused to believe it was done on purpose. To get even with Radin Mas, her stepmother together with her stepmother’s nephew, Tengku Bagus, plotted against Pangeran and Radin Mas. Her stepmother knew that Tengku Bagus was in love with Radin Mas and wished to marry her. With Radin Mas married, she would no longer have to compete with her for Pangeran’s attention.22

Tengku Bagus got Pangeran intoxicated on drugged wine and held him prisoner in an unused deep well. The next day, Tengku Bagus proposed to Radin Mas, threatening to kill Pangeran if she refused to marry him.23 During the solemnisation ceremony however, Radin Mas was asked if she had her father’s permission to marry. Fearful for her father’s life, she lied, saying that he had died while visiting Java. At this instant, Tengku Chik blurted out that he had seen their father alive in the unused well. The plot was revealed, and Pangeran was rescued. Afraid of Pangeran’s revenge, Tengku Bagus drew his kris and lunged at him. Radin Mas sprang forward to shield her beloved father and the kris plunged into her heart, killing her. Her stepmother stole away during the commotion, but just as she was slipping away, lightning struck and killed her.24

Radin Mas’s legacy
Radin Mas was buried at the foot of Mount Faber, and her shrine still receives visitors.25 In 1959, a film dramatising her life and death was produced by Cathay-Keris Films. It featured some of the biggest stars at the time, such as Siput Sarawak, Nordin Ahmad and Latifah Omar.26

Kampong Radin Mas, named after Radin Mas Ayu, is located on the slopes of Mount Faber. From the late 1960s, Kampong Radin Mas was cleared to make way for a modern housing estate, and its villagers were relocated to flats or otherwise compensated.27 Radin Mas Primary School used to occupy an Istana (palace) building in the area before it moved to another location in 1984.28 There used to be a Radin Mas Mosque, also known as the Masjid Radin Mas, at the foot of Mount Faber, but it closed in 2001 and was replaced by a new mosque, Masjid Al-Amin, which is located nearby.29

Marsita Omar

1. “Where a Noble Princess Gave Her Life to Save Prince,” Straits Times, 27 February 1987, 16; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 31 May 1984, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends: Singapore (Singapore: VJ Times, 2002), 99 (Call no. JRSING 398.2095957 PUG-[FOL]); Audrey Tan and Rachel Au-Yong, “Radin Mas: Legacy of a Princess,” Straits Times, 6 September 2013, 17; “Sekelumit Sejarah,” Berita Harian, 19 January 2003, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Stacey Tay, “Courageous Girl Plays a Golden Princess,” Straits Times, 24 March 1989, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Mardiana Abu Bakar, “Golden Princess and Her Tomb,” Straits Times, 16 August 1990, 2; Nazri Hadi Saparin, “Pak Daeng Penjaga Makam Radin Mas” [Pak Daeng guards the tomb of Radin Mas], Berita Harian, 19 January 2003, 11 (From NewspaperSG); Tan and Au-Yong, “Legacy of a Princess.”
5. William Gibson, Complete Catalog of Keramat in Singapore,, published in 2022, 152.
6. Gibson, Complete Catalog of Keramat in Singapore, 165, 181, 183, 190.
7. Jackie Sam, “Telok Blangah,” Singapore Monitor, 25 November 1984, 5; Wan Hussin Zoohri, “Radin Mas – Kampung Mantan Empat AP,” Berita Harian, 7 September 2011, 11 (From NewspaperSG); Ibrahim Tahir, ed., A Village Remembered: Kampong Radin Mas, 1800s–1973 (Singapore: OPUS Editorial Pte. Ltd., 2013), 54. (Call no. RSING 959.57 VIL-[HIS])
8. Saparin, “Pak Daeng Penjaga Makam Radin Mas.” 
9. Gibson, Complete Catalog of Keramat in Singapore, 169.
10. Saparin, “Pak Daeng Penjaga Makam Radin Mas”; Tahir, Kampong Radin Mas, 55.  
11. Olive Lee, Radin Mas: Folktale from Singapore (Singapore: Spectrum Pub in association with Toppan, 1980), 2 (Call no. RSING 398.2095957 LEE-[LC]); Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 89; “Sekelumit Sejarah”; Yaakub Rashid, Radin MasStraits Times, 10 March 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Lee, Folktale from Singapore, 3; Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 89; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 17 March 1983, 4; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 24 March 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 89–90; Rashid, “Radin Mas”; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 31 March 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 90; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 21 April 1983, 4; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 7 April 1983, 4; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 14 April 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 90–91; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 5 May 1983, 4; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 12 May 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 91–92; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 2 June 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
17. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 92–94; Rashid, “Radin Mas”; Yaakub Rashid. “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 9 June 1983, 4; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 23 June 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 94–97; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 28 July 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Catherine G.S. Lim, Legendary Tales of Singapore (Singapore: Asiapac Books, 2001), 109. (Call no. RSING 398.2095957 LEG)
20. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 96–97; Haron A. R., “Raja Lekuk,” Straits Times, 18 August 1983, 4; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 29 September 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
21. Lim, Legendary Tales of Singapore, 109.
22. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 98; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 20 October 1983, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
23. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 98.
24. Pugalenthi, Myths and Legends, 99–100; Yaakub Rashid, “Radin Mas,” Straits Times, 31 May 1984, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
25. Saparin, “Pak Daeng Penjaga Makam Radin Mas”; Tan and Au-Yong, “Legacy of a Princess.”
26. “Kg. Folk See ‘Raden Mas’,” Straits Times, 23 August 1959, 11; Ong Sor Fern, “Return to the Golden Era,” Straits Times, 11 September 2003, 12 (From NewspaperSG); Lim Kay Tong, Cathay: 55 Years of Cinema (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1991), 209. (Call no. RSING 791.43095957 LIM)
27. Tahir, Kampong Radin Mas, 29, 46–47.
28. “School History,” Radin Mas Primary School, accessed 4 January 2024. (From NLB’s Web Archive Singapore)
29. Nadzri Eunos, “Bakti Masjid Radin Mas Terus Di Hidupkan” [Bakti Radin Mas Mosque kept alive], Berita Harian, 3 July 2001, 5. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as of May 2023 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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