A journey to search my soul

This is a blog of my personal collections. The purpose of this blog is to educate myself and public in regards to antiquities especially related to religion and calligraphy. I welcome everyone to input their feedback in this blog which they think would be helpful. I do not watermark the photos in this blog so everyone is free to use them as long as they are not used for illegal and unethical reasons. I appreciate if you could notify me if you plan to use any of the photos here. Enjoy browsing!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ancient Manuscript Review 77: Antique Indian Quran (18-19th Century)

This is a handwritten Quran from Indian region. Texts are written in Naskh script within double red-line & blue-line frame. The first & last 2 pages are beautifully gold gilded & illuminated. Covers are not original. Very thich manuscript with 533 follios. It's undated but from the design & illumination I would safely estimate it was written between 18th-19th century.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Quran
Content : A complete Quran
Dim : 10.5" x 6.5" x 2.5"
Date : 18th-19th CE
Copyist : Ananymous
Origin : India
Calligraphy : Naskh
Design : 11 lines written text per page
Purchased Price :USD

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ancient Coin Review 51 : Antique Sailendra Gold Coin (7-10 Century)

This is a gold coin from Sailendra Kingdom of Java (7-10 Century).Obverse incused with 2 sesame seeds. Reverse in ancient nagari MA for Masa. This coin was attributed to Sailendra Kingdom but has been widely circulated between 8-13 century in Java.

This is info about the dynasty from Wiki :

"Sailendra (Sanskrit:शैलेन्द्र Lord of the Mountain) or officially Sailendravamça (Sanskrit: Sailendra dynasty) is the name of an influential Indonesian dynasty that emerged in 8th century Java.
The Sailendras were active promoters of Mahayana Buddhism and covered the Kedu Plain of Central Java with Buddhist monuments, including the world famous Borobudur.[1]
The Sailendras are considered to be a thalassocracy and ruled the maritime Southeast Asia, however they also relied on agriculture pursuits through intensive rice cultivation on the Kedu Plain of Central Java. The dynasty appeared to be the ruling family of both Medang Kingdom of Central Java for some period and Srivijaya in Sumatra."

Obv: Incused 2 sesame seeds
Rev: MA ( Masa)
Weight : 0.60 gm
Dim : 6mm
Rarity :
Denom : 1/4 Masa ( 1/2 Atak)
Material : Gold
Reference : The History and Coinage of South East Asia by M.Mitchiner

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Introducing you my new toy - CEELITE LEC Panel!!! This is a cool stuff. It is similar to a light box except in a thin portable panel.
I was first introduced to this gadget during my Islamic Codicology course in Cambdrige University recently. This panel is placed beneath a manuscript paper and the light will project out through enabling us to identify type of paper whether it is oriental vs western, analyzing laid line vs chain line as well as finding out if there is any watermark or other mark which couldn't be seen under normal lighting.
I ordered this item from Ceelite distributor company based in USA. I have now 3 different size of panels - A3, A4 & strip. These panels will enable me to work with different size of manuscripts which are in my possession. I am happy with this product.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ancient Manuscript Review 76 : Antique North African Manuscript ( 1283 AH)

This is a handwritten manuscript from North Africa. The title of this manuscript is " Kitab Al Tafkar Wal Iktibar" . When I bought this manuscript from the seller, he told me that he purchased it from Iran. However I doubted it as the script is more Maghribi in style and some motifs in the manuscript are very african in nature. This is a complete manuscript without missing page. Original covers brownish leather with a flap. There is colophon stating the date of completion in 1283 AH ( 1866 CE)  strangely in numeral. 

Manuscript Specs Item : Antique North African Manuscript
Manuscript Content : Kitab Al Tafkar Wal Iktibar..."
Dim : 120mm x 120mm x 30mm
Date : 1283 AH ( 1866 CE) 
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : North Africa
Calligraphy : Maghribi
Design : Written in Maghribi scripts in red & black
Purchased Price :US

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ancient Artifact Review 13 : Antique Akkadian Clay Tablet ( 2350-2150 BC)

This is a genuine ancient clay tablet with old Akkadian inscription from 2350-2150BC. I purchased this item from a reputed seller of an auction about 10 years ago.
Besides Egypt, Mesopotamia also adopted cuneiform writing in their literary system.
The item is still in good condition with visible inscriptions. I have lost the document in regards to the content of this inscription, however I still remember that it was regarding the prayer for constructing a building or so.
Both sides are full of incused inscription in old akkadian language.
Dimension is 50mm x 50mmx25mm

Below is an excerpt I quoted from Wikipedia in regards to this clay tablet tradition :

"In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets (Akkadian ṭuppu(m) 𒁾[1]) were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age.
Cuneiform characters were imprinted on a wet clay tablet with a stylus often made of reed (reed pen). Once written upon, many tablets were dried in the sun or air, remaining fragile. Later, these unfired clay tablets could be soaked in water and recycled into new clean tablets. Other tablets, once written, were grilled in a kennal or fired in kilns (or inadvertently, when buildings were burnt down by accident or during conflict) making them hard and durable. Collections of these clay documents made up the very first archives. They were at the root of first libraries. Tens of thousands of written tablets, including many fragments, have been found in the Middle East.[2][3]
In the Minoan/Mycenaean civilizations, writing has not been observed for any use other than accounting. Tablets serving as labels, with the impression of the side of a wicker basket on the back, and tablets showing yearly summaries, suggest a sophisticated accounting system. In this cultural region the tablets were never fired deliberately, as the clay was recycled on an annual basis. However, some of the tablets were "fired" as a result of uncontrolled fires in the buildings where they were stored. The rest are still tablets of unfired clay, and extremely fragile; some modern scholars are investigating the possibility of firing them now, as an aid to preservation."

Ancient Manuscript Review 75 : Antique Javanese Manuscript ( 1266 AH)

This is a handwritten manuscript originated from Indonesia. The title of this manuscript is Qishasul Ambiyaa ( The story of the prophets) and written in Javanese language. The frontispieces design are typical of Javanese. The cover is made of thin brownish leather and is glued on a hard board. This is a complete manuscript without any missing page. The writing material used is Daluang which is a typical Indonesian traditional paper. There is a colophone stating the manuscript was written in 1266 AH ( 1849 CE) in Betawi ( old name for Jakarta). No copyist name mentioned.

Manuscript Specs Item : Antique Javanese Manuscript
Manuscript Content : Qisasul Ambiyaa ( The story of the prophets)
Dim : 270mm x 220mm x50mm
Date : 1266 AH ( 1849 CE)
Copyist : anonymous
Origin :  Betawi ( Jakarta)
Calligraphy : Malay
Design : Written in Malay scripts in red & black in Javanese
Purchased Price :US

Ancient Manuscript Review 74 : Antique Morrocon Khutbah Manuscript ( 19th century)


This is a handwritten  manuscript from Morroco. It contains 2 set of sermons for Eid AlFitr & Eid AlAdha.  The covers are recent. Some colorful illuminations especially on the opening page of the sermons. This manuscript is probably from 19th century. 

Manuscript Specs Item : Antique Morrocon Manuscript
Manuscript Content : Eids Khutbah
Dim : 240mm x 180mm x 0.5mm
Date : 18-19th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Morocco
Calligraphy : Maghribi
Design : Written in Maghribi scripts in red & black
Purchased Price :US

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ancient Artifact Review 12 : Antique Persian Lacquer Panel (19th century)

This is a priceless antique Persian lacquer panel decorated with a hunting scene. I cant be sure if this panel originally used to be a book cover or a part of a writing cabinet.  
The lacquered panel depicting a hunting scene with two princes on horses. One is wearing a red tunic, with highlights in gold, and is lancing a leopard. The other is wearing a blue tunic, also highlighted in gold, and is holding a falcon on his gloved hand.There is also a hare/rabbit and what appears to be a fox.
The trees and even the flowers are intricately and beautifully painted. All of this is enclosed within a fantastic border that is typically Persian in style.
This type of painting was often found on Persian miniatures in the 1600s and 1700s. The detail on the faces, the clothing and the intricate detail on the borders are typical of the earlier miniatures.
In the nineteenth century (that is the 1800-1899 period), there was a revival for this type of painting/scenery. This lacquered panel is a genuine nineteenth century work of art in the earlier style.
Dimension : 280mm x 200mm

Ancient Manuscript Review 73 : Antique Malay/Javanese Quran ( 19th century)

This is a handwritten Quran manuscript originated from South East Asia. The frontispieces, centrepieces & finishpieces design are typical of Javanese. The cover is made of thin brownish leather and is glued on a hard board. This is a complete Quran without any missing page. The illuminations were poorly executed and probably a later addition. I acquired this manuscript from a friend in Indonesia last year.

Manuscript Specs Item : Antique Malay Javanese Quran
Manuscript Content : Quran
Dim : 14" x 9.5" x 3"
Date : 18-19th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Java island South East Asia
Calligraphy : Malay ?
Design : Written in Malay scripts in red & black
Purchased Price :US

Ancient Manuscript Review 72 : Antique Bali Lontar Manuscript ( 19th century)

This is a very interesting type of manuscript. The origin of this manuscript is Bali island, Indonesia. The script is called abugida, a derivation of old kawi script was written on  "lontar" leaf.
Lontar leaf derives from the palmyra species of palm, Borassus flabellifer, which is common in Indonesia. In Balinese, the palmyra palm is named "tal" ( deriving from "tala", the sanskrit name for the talipot palm), and this is reflected in the term "lontar", which is an inversion of the word "rontal" meaning "leaf" (ron) of the "tal tree" (tal).
Both sides of lontar leaf provide a writing surface. An iron stylus called a pangutik is used to inscribe the writings on the leaf surface.
I dont have any information about the content of this lontar manuscript but I believe its about the beliefs and ritual laws of Balinese.
Each leaf is 16" in length and 1" in width. There are total of 37 leaves and sandwiched by  2 flat boards called " cakepan". These cakepans are made of bamboo.
( Reference : Illuminations The Writing Traditions of Indonesia)

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Bali Lontar Manuscript
Content : Balinese Ritual
Dim : 16" x  1" x 1.5"
Date : 18-19th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Bali island
Calligraphy : Abugida
Design : Written in Abugida scripts in  black in Balinese language
Purchased Price :US

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ancient Manuscript Review 71 : Antique Malay Mawlid Manuscript ( 19th century)

This is a handwritten manuscript about the prophet Mawlid originated from South East Asia. Its believed to have been written in 19th century.
I acquired this manuscript from a friend in Indonesia quite a while ago.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Mawlid Manuscript
Content : Mawlid
Dim :  8.5" x7" x 1/4"
Date : 19th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : South East Asia
Calligraphy : Malay ?
Design : Written in Malay scripts in red & black in Arabic
Purchased Price :US

Ancient Manuscript Review 70 : Antique Malay Arabic Grammar Manuscript (18-19th century)

This is a written manuscript about Arabic grammar originated from South East Asia. Its believed to have been written in 18-19th century. Few pages of these manuscripts were heavily burrowed due to ages. Material used is Daluang paper.
Dluang (or Daluang) paper is a traditional paper made in the Indonesian region. It is a strong and very fibrous type of paper.  It  manufactured from the bark of the indigenous saeh tree.  The paper is somewhat coarse and displays natural defects (holes, thin spots and irregular edging).  When new, this paper is a light cream-colored brown.  In the the humid climate of the region, it darkens as it ages and will rot.
I acquired this manuscript from a friend in Indonesia quite a while ago.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Malay Manuscript
Content : Arabic Grammar
Dim :  11.5"  x  8" x 1"
Date : 18-19th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : South East Asia
Calligraphy : Malay ?
Design : Written in Malay scripts in red & black with Arabic with some translation in Javanese
Purchased Price :US

Ancient Artifact Review 11 : Malacca "Swatow" shipwrecked plate ( 16-17th century)

This is a museum piece of shipwrecked plate retrieved from the Strait of Malacca ( off coast Malaysia). Typical Swatow wares are coarsely potted with crackled glaze. Swatow word is believed a Dutch mistranslations of word Shantou which is a place in Guandong province of China.
However recent findings by Chinese scholars led to believe that Swatow wares were produced in Zhangzhou China where was very famous in making and exporting wares to Europe, Japan & South East Asia between 16-17th century.
The unique thing about this plate is the motif executed in calligraphic stroke to resemble the word "ALLAH" in Arabic. This motif is believed intentionally designed for export to Malacca and other Malay Islamic kingdoms in south east asia.
The plate is 10" in diameter and 3" height.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ancient Coin Review 50 : Sultan Rijaludin Shah ( Kedah Sultanate 1625 - 1651 CE)

This is a gold coin from Sultan Rijaludin Shah era. He reigned Kedah from 1625 - 1651 CE.

Kedah is located in the northwestern part of Peninsular of Malaysia. The name of Kedah originated from the Sanskrit word Kadaram. It is also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Aman ( Abode of Peace).  The sultanate was the earliest one on the Malay Peninsular as well as one of the oldest Sultanate in the world.

The kingdom began in 630CE as a Hindu Kingdom which the first king was Maharaja Derbar Raja who originally a defeated Persian king of Gemeron ( Bandar Abbas) who fled to Kedah. The people of Kedah found him to be a very smart & tactical man, so they entrusted him to lead them as the king of Kedah.
This kingdom is a Hindu kingdom however I couldnt find in any history book in regards to the faith of Maharaja Derbar Raja. In 630 CE, Gemeron is part of Sassanian Kingdom which Zoroastrian is the main religion.
Towards the end of 11th century, the 9th Kedah Hindu king, Dubar Raja II renounced Hinduism and conerted to Islam. He adpoted an Islamic name, Sultan Muzafar Shah and continued ruling Kedah from 1136 to 1179 CE. This sultanate continues to rule till today.
This mean the present Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Halim Muzaffar Shah has a direct link back to not just the first Kedah Sultan, Sultan Muzaffar Shah (1136CE) but also to the first Hindu Sultan , Maharaja Derbar Raja ( 630CE). Try to imagine someone with unbroken family lineage since 630CE till now. Unbelievable!!

As for this coin is concerned, the history of this coin is not yet published. When Saran Singh wrote his Coin Encyclopedia, this type of coin wasn't discovered yet. In his book, he only mentioned the coin during the time of Sultan Rijal was made of tin (pg254). Similar remark can be found in Bank Negara Malaysia coin catalog , Kedah & Perlis Currency Heritage ( pg 36). Until recently this coin emerged and was recognized as the product of Sultan Rijal Dewa Shah of 1625 CE.

Obv: Sultan Rijal
Rev: Shah Dewa
Weight : 0.63 gm
Dim : 10mm
Rarity : RRRR
Denom : Kupang
Material : Gold
Reference : Unpublished