(Adapted from a writing by Michael Chick)
Prior to " Tanah Melayu " being a British Tag in the 19th century, the
peninsular was formerly known as Malacca in the 15th century. The
newly-renamed book "Sejarah Melayu" (previously known as "Asal-Usul
Raja-Raja") mentions every other place from India to China , including
the tiny-speck-of-dirt called Temasik but not Tanah Melayu. Tanah Melayu never merntioned in Sejarah Melayu probably because that was not it's name. Tanah Melayu was the name only after the British came and colonized the Peninsula in the 19th century.
"Malaya " in Tagalog means "Peaceful" - any Filipino maid can confirm this. "Malai " means "Hill" in Tamil; as in "mini-Himalaya" to describe the
Titiwangsa Range since the 2nd century by the Gujerati Traders who helped the local Malays set up their formidable Hindu Empire at Lembah Bujang.
Therefore it was only in the 19th Century that the peninsula became known as "Tanah Melayu". In the 15th Century, the Peninsular was known by no other name than “The Malacca Peninsula”.
Long before the rebel-Palembang prince Parameswara ran over here after a failed assassination attempt to kill his own father for the throne, the Peninsular was known as " Barr Kra " in the 10th Century. Before that, the Peninsular was known as the " Golden
Chersonese " since the 2nd Century.
"Golden Chersonese is the ancient name to refer to the Malay Peninsula
by Claudius Ptolemy or Claudius Ptolemaeus (Greek: ; c. 90 - c.. 168).
Known in English as Ptolemy, he was a Greek-speaking geographer,
astronomer, and astrologer. During Roman times, the Malay Peninsula
developed an international reputation as a source of gold; hence the
name was given. By the way, "Barr" simply means "Land" in the Persian Language. And
Barr Kra above, means " Land of Kra " (as in reference to the Isthmus
of Kra ).
The oldest known Arab Maps called the Peninsular "Barr Chin"; which translates to "Tanah China ", or " Land of Chinese " where Chin refers to CHINA ! Why did the Arabs call this Peninsular " Tanah China " instead of " Tanah Melayu "? By the way, Chin is spelt "Xin" by the Portuguese, but always pronounced as Chin. The oldest known Arab Maps called the Peninsular "Barr Chin"; which translates to "Tanah China ", or " Land of Chinese ".