The legend of Mahsuri is probably the most famous legend of Langkawi, and the Mahsuri’s tomb and museum brings this lore to life. The fable narrates the story of Mahsuri, a beautiful young girl who lived on the island of Langkawi about 200 years ago. She married a warrior named Wan Derus who left to fight in a war shortly after their wedding. While he was away, a travelling poet named Deramang arrived in Langkawi. Mesmerised by his poetry and singing, Mahsuri’s parents asked the poet to train her, and also allowed him to stay at their home. Wan Mahora, the wife of a high-ranking official did not approve of this and she accused Mahsuri of adultery with Deramang. It is said that Wan Mahora did this because of her jealousy towards Mahsuri’s beauty and youth. Wan Mahora’s husband believed the accusations of his wife and sentenced Mahsuri to death by stabbing. On her death bed, she cursed Langkawi with seven generations of misfortune.
The popularity of this legend is in part due to its likeness with the actual history of Langkawi. Soon after her death in the 18th century, Langkawi was occupied by the Siamese army. In order to discourage the Siamese, the residents of Langkawi burnt their rice fields and poisoned their wells to remove their main source of income therefor becoming less of an attractive bounty, unfortunately their efforts were in vain. Langkawi gained prosperity as a tourist attraction only in the late 20th century, after the passing of seven generations since the curse.
Besides the tomb, the museum has a music room where Malaysian women play live traditional music. The complex also has a diorama exhibit that is said to contain the weapons used to execute the maiden. Also known as Makam Mahsuri, the tomb is located 10 kilometres from the Kuah town on the Jalan Makam Mahsuri (Rd 120). It is accessible by a short 20 minute taxi ride.