During the 18th and 19th century, the Iranun were well known as the “conqueror” of the sea. They became the nightmares for the European and Chinese sailors, who traveled on the waters of Borneo and Southeast Asia.The hegemony and the domination of the Iranun, on the waters around Borneo and Southeast Asia during the 18th and 19th century, had caused lots of difficulty to sailors and merchants in the Malay Archipelago and China. According to James F. Warren (2000), the practice of piracy in Southeast Asian in the 19th century, was to a very large extent a continuation of a phenomena which was widespread, from the ancient beginnings of sea traffic in the straits and along the coasts of the area. There were, several strong and organized communities on the northern coasts of Borneo. The actions of the Iranun who often attacked merchant ships West and made the crew of a trading commodity, that is, made slaves. The settlement Iranun in Tempasuk, Pandassan on the west coast of North Borneo and Tontoli and Tobungku in Sulawesi also Reteh Sumatera. The Iranun chief appeared in Tempasuk, Raja Ismail and Raja Tebuk led the riders crossed the South China Sea and successfully assaulted the Dutch garrison from Tanjung Pinang Riau in may 1878. The Iranun Tempasuk uses lanong and Jongga war boats complete with cannon and chain weapons. Since 1830, an Iranun Lord who called Sultan Sa Tabuk (Sultan Sa Tebuk) led the settlements of Tempasuk and Pandasan. The Western colonialists’ concern with the Sultan Sa Tebuk’s armament power. In the 1844, Captain Edward Belcher who came to spy on the Tempasuk defense force to find the presence of Iranun raja in Tempasuk. According to them they had complete control of the Tempasuk area. Captain Edward Blacher’s report to Stampord Raffles, Tempasuk was defended by the Iranun raja with 100 various cannons (lela) and rantaka. In 1846 James Brooke protecd by warship Agincourt during an interview Sultan Sa Tebuk. Warning the Iranun raja were quite aware that, in defiance of the arrangement entered 1845, the people had continued to carry on their attacked merchant ships West also attacked of the EIC garrison in Ambong.
When North Borneo administered by the British North Borneo Chartered Company (BNBC) in 1881, traditional construction joangga and lanong who construction by the Iranun datus is no longer practiced by the community Iranun of Tempasuk. In addition, efforts to eliminate the manufacture and acculturation Lanong and joangga by Fishery Ordinance No. 10 of 1914 (State of North Borneo, 1959) which requires that all boats are registered and licensed. When BNBC formally occupied North Borneo in 1881 and gained independence in 1963, the tradition culture 1 of making lanong never existed among the Iranun of Tempasuk. Although Lanong war boat has been lost over time but remains cannon and rentaka symbol of supremacy Iranun known as Sultan Sa Tebuk Cannon’s can still be traced today in the cemetery of Kota Matampai village in Kota Belud, North Borneo. According to Datu Keri Datu Subah, there are two cannons at the cemetery of Peladuk village but now only one. Interviews with Datu Raslin Datu Gayung said, British fleet expedition in 1846 and 1869 in the mouth of the river of Tempasuk and Pandasan that have been submerged in the seabed as much lanongs owned Iranun datus was destroyed.
War boats Lanong generally equipped with cannon weighing 1500kg. The cannon could be fired compact 15kg to 19kg. Metal bullets can penetrate wood as thick as one meter from a distance of 90m (300 feet) and can destroy the masts of ships. In 1810s and 1820s, strength and range firing artillery shells have been enhanced using explosive powder (gun powder/bubuk mesiu) created by chemists in China in the 9th century made of a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and nitrate. In there early 14th century, a powerful explosive powder content was found to contain a mixture of potassium nitrate, sulfur and carbon. Explosive powder which has its most powerful explosions contains 74% potassium nitrate, 11% sulfur, 15% carbon.
The Iranun raiders were also using cannon smaller and portable cannons, known as “rantaka ekor lotong” and “Meriam Jala Rambang”. The Spaniards had held a cannons of this type as, portable cannons or swivel gun. Rentaka made using copper or iron, measuring between 50cm until one meter long. If measuring more than one meter, will be known as lela or cannon.
As described previously, the research and writing on the Iranun only focused on culture, the arts, language, history of piracy and slavery alone. In other words the study and writing on the architectural heritage of the cannons found in Tempasuk, Kota Belud not given attention by historians. Based on the historical community in Kota Belud Iranun clearly shows that the cannon was once a symbol of the supremacy of the Iranun in Kota Belud, since the Sulu Sultanate (18th century). Based on the historical use of the cannon has allowed people Iranun over the sea in Southeast Asia and is feared by sailors and traders so-called West “Lord of The Eastren Sea”. Based on this study it can be concluded that the Sultan Sa Tebuk Cannon’s is an artifact of considerable value not only in terms of his age has already reached hundreds of years but keep the Iranun own past history. Therefore, it is time the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Heritage, Sabah Cultural Board and Sabah Muzeum to maintain and uphold the original cannon from being lost over time.
Jamaluddin Moksan, obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in history from University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) .