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, July 31, 2016

Ancient Artifact Review 93 : Antique Somalia Prayer Mat / Sijjada (200+ years old)

This is another very rare acquisition of a leather prayer mat from Somalia. Hundred years of  age and been passed down though generations. This prayer mat is made of leather and had been sewn together from pieces.

The use of this skin prayer mat is very popular among the Sufis and religious people especially in Somalia and Etiopia. In a book, Islam in Etiopia written by J. Spencer Trimingham. he mentioned about the activity of Tariqa or Sufi movements in Somalia and Etiopia especially in 18th & 19th Century. During the initiation ritual between the leader of the Tariqa movement ( Khalifa) and the novice, one of the items that will be given to the new member is a Sijjada which is a piece of skin prayer mat which he carries about on his shoulder.
Above is a 19th Century picture of Somali Muslims praying. Take note the leather prayer mat used by the leader or Imam of this prayer.

Major H.G.C.S. Wayne RE described about this prayer mat in his book " Seventeen Trips through Somaliland on a visit to Abyssinia"
" The prayer-carpet generally comes from Ogaden and is a small piece of very thick tanned leather. On this the Somali makes his regular prostrations at dawn and sunset, and during the day, as becomes a devout Mussulman; when not put to this use, it is hung over the shoulder to afford protection from the chafing of the spears" pg 11
Note that Ogaden is located in Northern Somaliand and occupied by religious sheikhs.

In the book : The Mad Mullah of Somaliland by Douglas Jardine, there is a mention of  an outcast tribe in Somalia especially  Midgan that making a leather prayer by cutting it in the shape of the mosque of Mecca.
From FAO website, there are a few goat species in Somalia whom skins are made into prayer mat. Haraghe Highland is the small size goat that has main color of plain non spotted white and some with black and brown. The prayer mat is called Sijaja.
Another species of goat is short-eared Somali ( Denghier) which has a medium size and widely used to make sleeping mats and prayer mats. The color of the coat is mainly white 76 % with some brown, black and grey.
The third specie is Long-eared Somali ( Galla/Melebo) which is bigger than short-eared Somali. The coat color is almost completely white with tiny colors in brown, black and grey. The skin is widely used as a sitting mat and prayer mat. They are called Harek or Okedi in Somalian landguage.
In a writing to CNN, The author,  Dr Cawo Abdi recollected her memory of sitting on her father’s prayer mat made from goat skin somewhere in central Somalia whom they belonged to Nomadic hamlets. Her father was a Quranic teacher that teach children from hamlet to hamlet.

There is a similar mat displayed in British museum . It was acquired in 1935. Below is the link
Somali Prayer Mat In British Museum

In a video clip from Somali Museum Minnesota, the founder was shown referring to similar mats as prayer mats aged more than hundred years ( at 7:42).
Somali Museum Minnesota

My other Somalia Prayer Mats are in below link
Somali Prayer Mat #1
Somali Prayer Mat #2
Somali Prayer Mat #3

Artifact Specification

Dim : 124cm x 65cm
Date :  18th  CE
Material : Goat Skin
Origin : Somalia

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