Unknown language: Bolkiah


Senior Member
UK English
Does anybody know the meaning of the name of the Bruneian dynasty: Bolkiah?

The full name of the current king is written: Hassanal Bolkiah in English texts, which corresponds of course to 7assan al bulqiyah. I have never seen this name spelt in Jawi (the Arabic alphabet used for Malay languages).

All I have seen so far in Jawi is Bolkiah alone:

Now, this dynastic name is obviously an abuu > bu- compound: abuu al qiyah > bulqiyah.

My problem: what could qiyah mean?

There is no qyh root in my dictionaries and I suspect the final H stands for a tied T without dots to indicate it is pronounced /a/.

Do you think qiyah could be a deformation by apheresis of wqy > waaqiya(t)
  • Abu Bishr

    Senior Member
    Afrikaans, South Africa
    Hi Guys

    My guess is that the original name is بلفقيه (Balfaqih) with the faa dropped in the later versions. The name "Balfaqih" is a popular family name in Hadramout-Yemen, and it is known that many Yemenites travelled to the Malaysian Archipelago. In fact, if you make a search for حسن بلفقيه بروناي on "Google" you will find interesting results such as the (حسن بلفقيه سلطان بروناي) . The origin of آل بلفقيه (family of Balfaqih) comes from the children of Muhammad al-Faqih (the Jurist), son of Abdullah, son of Muhammad, son of Ahmad (Habbat al-Misk), son of Abdullah, son of Muhammad, son of Ali, son of Muhammad.

    This kind of lineage is the hallmark of a lineage that traces back the the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him). In fact, you will almost always find that the names in such a lineage keep very close to the names of the Prophet and those of his family.

    Therefore, I'm not surprised that the current king's name is Hassan which is also the name of one of the Prophet's grandsons.

    Also, in Indonesia many families that migrated from Yemen to Indonesia still maintain their family names such as "al-Attas", "al-Haddad", and so on, all of which trace their lineages to the Prophet.

    So I'm almost sure that it is بلفقيه (Balfaqih).

    If this is not the case, then I have no idea where this family name comes from.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    This is extremely interesting, Abu Bishr.
    I was aware many Yemenis sailed to South-East Asia and probably farther.
    The problem is that the name you suggest, بلفقيه (Balfaqih) , is only possible if one admits that
    1) the faa2 was dropped - which is rare, isn't it?
    2) that the vocalic template /a-a-i/ was completely forgotten and replaced by another one /u-i-a/ , which would be very strange for a family name.

    The rest of your explanations is convincing enough.
    Thanks a lot for all these data.


    Arabic (Egypt).
    Although Abu Bishr's suggestion is logically built, it doesn't sound very probable to me, as Qcumber said: it would mean too many changes from the Arabic word to this current one.

    Could this word be of Jawi origin ?
    I hope others can chime in... :)