In the old days, in the state of Kedah, ‘Tandu di Raja’ was used by the Sultan and other members of the royal family as a form of transport. This palanquin consists of a covered box with chair and two poles on either side. It is beautifully decorated with wood carvings, showing the skill of Kedah craftsmen at that time. A team of palanquin bearers will carry it on their shoulders as they parade through the town and also travel from village to village. It was popular during the reign of Sultan Madzafar Shah II of the Kedah Sultanate, about 500 years ago.
Now, it is mainly used during royal ceremonies, such as to carry gifts called “hantaran” during royal engagements and weddings. These are usually smaller in size. The main palanquin will be to carry the Sultan himself, during his coronation and even for royal weddings. This will required a much bigger and grander palanquin, carried by at least 10 strong men, depending on the distance of the journey. It may be even up to 50 specially trained bearers.
A replica of this old form of “wheel-less” carriage has been built to 90% accuracy, so that we can appreciate this grand mode of transport.