Za'ba in his book, Ilmu Mengarang Melayu, stated that, “The word pantun (poem or poetry) initially meant ‘such as’ or ‘like’.” Some argued that the word originates from the Minangkabau word panuntun which means ‘mentor/advisor’ according to the oral literature of proverbs and popular sayings of the community.
To date, the pantun is often used at a courting or wedding ceremony or as the opening or closing of a speech at official functions. Generally, there are two main types of pantun, namely, pantun berkait (linked poem) and pantun tidak berkait (non-linked poem).
The number of lines in a verse forms a stanza. The five main forms of pantun are the two-(couplet), four- (quatrain), six-, eight- and twelve-line pantun. The two-line pantun and the four-line pantun are the most popular forms.
Each pantun comprises the foreshadower and the meaning proper. The foreshadower makes up the first half of the number of lines in a verse. The second half of the verse is the meaning proper.
Among the other features of a pantun is that the foreshadower depicts the close relationship between nature and environment and the speaker, as shown in the following two-line pantun:
|Sebab pulut santan terasa,|
Sebab mulut badan binasa.
A good four-line pantun will rhyme ab, ab and a two-line pantun will rhyme a, a. Apart from the foreshadower, meaning and rhyme, the pantun is also bound by the number of syllables. In the Malay pantun, each line contains only eight to twelve syllables.
In its neat and compact form, the pantun has become an important means to entertain, advise, test one’s wit, express feelings, and be diplomatic. The pantun also serves to convey hidden intent or thought by means of allusion.
CONTENTS OF THE MALAY PANTUN
The foreshadower is the first half of every verse of the pantun. It provides rhyme to the second part, that is, the meaning proper. The first line must relate to the next line of the foreshadower in every verse of the pantun.
The meaning proper is contained in the second half of every verse of the pantun. It carries the explicit and implicit messages to be delivered (theme).
A pantun usually contains three or four words per line. A good pantun has the same number of words in every line.
Every word consists of three or four syllables. Every line should contain eight to twelve syllables. A good pantun has the same number of syllables in every line.
Rhyme or sound
Rhyme is the correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words at the ends of the lines in a pantun. In a good rhyme, every verse of the pantun has the same sounds. The first and second lines of the foreshadower must rhyme with the first and second lines of the meaning proper respectively. The best rhyming sounds in a pantun are the a, b, a, b and a, a, a, a sounds.
The following is an example of a good pantun. Each line contains four words and 9 syllables:
Ba/ik/ ber/galas/ ba/ik/ ti/dak/,
Bu/li/-bu/li/ ber/ta/li/ be/nang/,
Ba/ik/ ber/ba/tas/ ba/ik/ ti/dak/,
A/sal/ bu/di/ sa/ma/ di/ke/nang/.
FEATURES OF A GOOD PANTUN
A good pantun is the four-line pantun with the following features:
Contains 4 lines;
Contains 4-5 words in each line;
Contains 8-12 syllables in each line;
There is a link between the foreshadower (first and second lines) and meaning proper (third and fourth lines);
The lines have the a, b, a, b rhyming sound;
Refined language; contains metaphors and allusion as well as extensive use of natural elements;
Loaded with life’s lessons, moral values and philosophies;
Loaded with traditional features – the use of verses, comprising the foreshadower and meaning proper; contains the values of the community which reflect the community's perspective in expressing and using them.
TYPE OF PANTUN
4-line pantun (the most popular)
FUNCTIONS OF PANTUN
To impart advice on socialisation and education
Insinuation or blame
To express feelings of love and longing
To express appreciation/thanks
To challenge the wit
To entertain or indulge in humour
USAGE OF THE PANTUN?
Engagement and marriage ceremonies
In the text and speech of the master of ceremonies/announcer at official functions
- Children’s songs
- Traditional songs
- Dikir barat and others: