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!!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 154 : Antique Ottoman Ferman Pre 1870CE Sultan Abdul Hamid II

This is a Government document in the Ottoman era called a Ferman. Written in Turkish some in black and some in gold. A Sultan Tugra is written in Gold. The Tughra definitely belongs to Sultan Abdul Hamid II ( 1842-1918CE)

I dont have much information of this kind of manuscript and its writing tradition. I need to do more research on this manuscript and will update this entry later.
Similar Ferman sold in Christie's auction for £1,250 last April 2015 in Auction 10428 Lot 349
Christie's Ferman

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Ottoman Ferman
Content :  Unknown
Dim : 550mm x 250mm
Date : Pre 1870CE
Copyist : anonymous
Origin :  Turkey
Calligraphy :
Design :
Market Price :  £1,250
Purchased Price :US 

Ancient Artifact Review 36 : Antique Somali Leather Prayer Mat ( 15th Century CE)

This is a very rare acquisition of a leather prayer mat from Somalia. I was told it is from 15th Century CE 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.

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 at 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 landuage. 
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 a hundred years ( at 7:42).
Somali Museum Minnesota

Artifact Specification

Dim : 124cm x 65cm
Date :  15th  CE
Material : Skin
Origin : Somalia

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 35 : Antique Indo-Persian Islamic Talismanic Iron Nails (19th Century)

These are 4 iron nails inscribed with Quranic verses from Indian/Persian region. These square-sided nails are made of iron with one end is sharp whereas the other end is blunt.
It is typical for houses especially in Northern India and border to Persia, these nails were driven normally at the corners of the building with the purpose of providing  protection from evil spirits.
In an auction of Sotheby's London in its 'Arts of the Islamic World', October 13, 2004, similar nails were estimated of  £6,000-£8,000.

Dim : 140mm x 10mm
Date : 19th Century CE
Material : Iron
Origin :  Indo Persian

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 153 : Antique Malay Quran Manuscript 18th Century

This is a beautifully written Quran manuscript originated from South East Asia. This is a complete Quran without any missing pages. This manuscript is written in Malay-Naskh calligraphy in black ink on Dutch beige paper 15 lines to a page. Brown leather binding beautifully embossed in a floral design.Some pages are loose, water stained and torn with fraying edges.All headings are written in red with every “ ayaah” or verses are separated by small red circle.  
The borders of the pages are ruled with red ( inset) and black ( outset).About 200+ leaves ( 400+ pages). This Quran is undated but we estimated it from 18th century based from the watermark on most of the pages. The watermark bears the words Concordia Res Parvae Crescunt ( Through concord little things grow) and a crowned lion, a typical theme used by VOC Dutch ( 1603-1800CE) during occupation in Indonesia. I acquired this manuscript from a friend in Indonesia in 2014.

Manuscript Specs
Item : Antique Malay Quran
Manuscript Content : Quran
Dim : 33 cm x 21 cm x 3 cm
Date : 18th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : South East Asia
Calligraphy : Malay - Naskh
Design : Written in Malay-Naskh scripts in red & black
Purchased Price :US

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 152 : Antique Arabic Legal Document 1306AH ( 1888CE)

This is I believe a legal document written in Arabic. There is an embossed seal on top page and a dated inked seal just on the top of the first line. The date written in Arabic 1306 AH which is equivalent to 1888CE . I couldnt decipher the content which is written in Riqaah script in black. I dont remember the origin of this document probably Egypt.
I dont have much information of this kind of manuscript and its writing tradition. I need to do more research on this manuscript and will update this entry later.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Legal Document
Content :  Unknown
Dim : 660mm x 305mm
Date : 1306 AH ( 1888CE)
Copyist : anonymous
Origin :  Probably Egypt
Calligraphy : Riqaah
Design :
Purchased Price :US

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 151 : Antique Print Map of Holy Kaaba 1879CE illustrated by Ali Bey

This is a print map dated 1879 of an Islam Holy Kaaba.

This illustration was made by Ali Bey who lived from 1766 - 1818 CE.
No one really know who he is. American Encyclopedia identified him as Domenech Badia i Leblich born in Barcelona Spain and used the name Ali Bey Al Abbasi in order to be a spy and infiltrate Muslim community and Muslim sacred places.
Proficient in Arabic language and travelled a lot to Muslim countries including Saudia Arabia.

Below what I found from Wiki :

Ali Bey al-Abbasi (علي باي العباسي), was the false name/pseudonym that Domènech Badia i Leblich (Barcelona; Spain, 1766 – Syria 1818), a Catalan explorer and spy in the early 19th century, used for several years in his travels to North Africa and the Middle East. Notably, he witnessed the Saudi conquest of Mecca in 1807.

After receiving a liberal education, Badia devoted particular attention to the Arabic language, which he studied in Valencia and London, and made a  special study of the manners and customs of Arabian lands. Under the name of Ali Bey al-Abbasi, pretending to be a descendant of the Abbasid Caliphs of the West, and in Muslim dress, he spent two years (1803-5) in Morocco on terms of high favor with the emperor. He then went to Mecca, at that time in the possession of the Wahabites, ostensibly to perform the hajj. On his way there, he stopped in Tripoli, Cyprus, and Egypt. On his way back, he stopped in Jerusalem and prominent places in Syria, and reached Constantinople in the autumn of 1807.
In Constantinople, Badia was for the first time suspected of not being a real Muslim. He fled, and returning home in 1809 entered the public service in Spain under King Joseph Bonaparte, on whose expulsion he was forced to leave the country. He published his account of his travels at Paris in 1814 under the title Voyages d'Ali Bei en Afrique et en Asie pendant les années 1803 à 1807 (“Travels of Ali Bey in Africa and Asia during the years 1803 to 1807”).Badia wrote descriptions of the places he traveled to, which included modern Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine, then considered part of Syria.
There was much mystery about Ali Bey when the account of his travels was published under this name. Bankes, writing in 1830, roundly asserted that he was a Jew, and many later writers have thought that he was a genuine Muslim of Moroccan origin, but of Spanish education. Actually he alleged to be a Muslim in order to enter places forbidden to non-Muslims, including the Cave of Machpelah at Hebron and Mecca.
In 1816, a version of his account in the English language was published: Travels of Ali Bey : in Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, between the years 1803 and 1807.
In 1818, he set out on a second journey, under the assumed name of Ali Othman, and, it is said, accredited as a political agent by the French government. he was murdered by British agents in Damascus. When he died in Syria in 1818 he was denied a Muslim burial because a cross was found in his vest.This, as suggested by some scholars, is conclusive proof that Ali Bey’s claims of Islam were a pretense maintained in order to travel to Mecca and Medina.. In modern times scholars have demonstrated that he was a Catalan born in Barcelona; and actually he was very involved in the complex Spanish politic events in the 1808-1810 period of the Peninsular War.
A street in Barcelona (career Ali Bei) is named after him.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Print
Content : Print Map of Holy Kaaba
Dim :  115mm  x  90mm
Date : 1879 CE
Copyist : Ali Bey
Origin :
Purchased Price :US

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 150 : Antique Malay Maulid Manuscript 18th Century

This is a malay manuscript on praises and prayers for Prophet Muhammad (SAW) written in Arabic with translation in Javanese. Acquired from Indonesian contact in 2014. Undated but it is estimated from 18th Century due to its written on oriental paper.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Malay Manuscript
Content : Maulid of Prophet
Dim :  215mm  x  170mm
Date : 18-19th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Indonesia
Calligraphy : Malay
Design : Written in Malay scripts in red & black in Arabic & Javanese language
Purchased Price :US

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 149 : Antique Hebrew Jewish Law / Arba'ah Turim Manuscript 18th Century

This is a part of Jewish Law ( Hallacha) or Arba'ah Turim written in Hebrew. . Undated but estimated from 18th Century. Two of four laws are covered in this manuscript Orach Chayim & Yoreh De'ah

Below info I got from Wiki:

Arba'ah Turim (Hebrew: אַרְבַּעָה טוּרִים‎), often called simply the Tur, is an important Halakhic code, composed by Yaakov ben Asher (Cologne, 1270 – Toledo, Spain c. 1340)
It consists of four divisions ("Turim"); 
The four Turim are as follows:
Yoreh De'ah is a section that treats all aspects of Jewish law not pertinent to the Hebrew calendar, finance, torts, marriage, divorce, or sexual conduct.

Orach Chayim (אורח חיים) "manner of life" is a section that treats all aspects of Jewish law primarily pertinent to the Hebrew calendar (be it the daily, weekly, monthly, or annual calendar).
Orach Chayim deals with, but is not limited to:
Jacob ben Asher, also known as Ba'al ha-Turim as well as Rabbi Yaakov ben Raash (Rabbeinu Asher), was probably born in the Holy Roman Empire at Cologne about 1269 and probably died at Toledo, then in the Kingdom of Castile, about 1343.
Jacob was an influential Medieval rabbinic authority. He is often referred to as the Baal ha-Turim' ("Master of the Rows"), after his main work in halakha (Jewish law), the Arba'ah Turim ("Four Rows"). The work was divided into 4 sections, each called a "tur," alluding to the rows of jewels on the High Priest's breastplate. He was the third son of the Rabbi Asher ben Jehiel (known as the "Rosh"), a Rabbi of the Holy Roman Empire who moved to Castile. Besides his father, who was his principal teacher, Jacob quotes very often in the Turim his elder brother Jehiel; once his brother Judah (see Tur Orach Chaim, § 417), and once his uncle Rabbi Chaim (ib. § 49). According to many, Jacob moved to Castile with his father and was not born there.
Some say Jacob succeeded his father as the rabbi of the Jewish community of Toledo (Zacuto), while others say his brother Judah ben Asher did. His brothers were also rabbis of different communities in Iberia. He lived in abject poverty most of his life, and according to The Sephardic Community of Chios, is said to have fallen ill and died with his 10 companions on the island of Chios, in Greece, whilst travelling.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Hebrew Arba'ah Turim manuscript
Content : Orach Chayim & Yoreh De'ah
 Dim :  160mm  x  115mm
 Date : 18th Century
Copyist : ??
Origin : ??
Calligraphy : Ibrani / Hebrew
Design :
 Purchased Price :US