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!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 164 : Antique Turkish Bible 1885 CE

This is an antique Turkish Bible printed in Istanbul in 1885CE. Covers made of hard boards wrapped with black cloth. This book has the size of 260mm x200mm x 60mm. This 1885 version is larger than 1886 version due to an extensive set of cross-references.
This bible was printed in Ottoman Turkish and in Arabic character indicating the Ottoman Turkish language was a Lingua Franca at that time.

This is the information from the first page :

1885-1886 –
Kitab-ı Mukaddes, yani Ahd-i Atik ve Ahd-i Cedid:
‘An asl muharrer bulunduggu İbrani ve Keldani ve Yunani lisanlarından bi’t-tercüme... ve İngiliz ve Amerikan Bibel şirketleri masârifiyle
(The Holy Book, or the Old Covenant and New Covenant: A translation from
the original texts in the Hebrew, Chaldean (Aramaic) and Greek languages... with
funds of the British and American Bible Societies).

Ma'ârif umumiye nezaret-i celîlesiniŋ 14 Muharrem el-Harâm 1301 ve 3 Teşrîn-i Sânî 1299 tarîhli ve 752 nûmarûli ruhsatnâmesiyle
(with certificate of permission no. 752 of the High Ministry of Public Information dated the 14th day of Muharrem, 1301 A.H. and the 3rd day of Teşrin II, 1299 A.H.)
İstanbulda Boyacıyan Agop Matbaasında tab olunmuştur.
1885 version: 1,422 pages with footnotes.
1886 version: 1,023 pages without footnotes.


Title Page : Kitabu Muqadas
Content    : Complete Bible
Date         : 1885 CE
Copyist    :
Patron      :
Origin      :  Istanbul
Place acquired :Istanbul
Illuminations :  Nil
Calligraphy : Arabic Script
Number of lines :22 lines per page in 2 columns
Inks          : Main text in black
Punctuation: Nil
Frame       :   Black thin frame
History of Manuscript : Purchased from Grand Bazar Istanbul
Number of folios : 1422 ff
Support of writing : light yellowish European paper
Gatherings : N/A
Catchwords : Nil
Dimensions : 260mm x200mm x 60mm.
Binding   : Black cloth wrapped on hard board
Estimated Market Price :
Purchased Price : USD
Remarks :

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 45 : Antique Malay Silver Pillow Ends / Plates / Tampok Bantal ( 19th Century)

These are a pair of antique decorated silver plates which are sewn onto both ends of a bolster ( bantal peluk). These are typical Malaysia origin.
In Malay weddings, the bridal bed is decorated including pillows and bolsters. For a royal wedding, gold plates are used instead.
These silver plates are Malay origin. This is due to the fact that there are engravings of star and crescent symbolizing Islam among the floral & foliate motives. Malay plates normally do not have any animal engravings due to the Islamic tradition. Compare these plates with Peranakan plates in below link
Peranakan Tampok Bantal

These plates purchased from Jonker Street Malacca. I was informed these plates originally belong to an elderly man but was sold to the shop by the heirs after his demise.

Specification :
Description : Malay bolster plates / Tampok Bantal
OD : 4 inches
Material : Silver

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 76 : Antique Silver Dirham Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz of Ummayad Caliphate( 717-720 CE)

This is my another coin from Umar Abdul Aziz.
Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (Arabic: عمر بن عبد العزيز‎) was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 717 to 720. He was also a cousin of the former caliph, being the son of Abd al-Malik's younger brother, Abd al-Aziz. He was also a great-grandson of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad, Umar bin Al-Khattab.
Umar Abdul Aziz was famously known as a just & religious ruler.
My another coin can be seen in below link
Umar Abdul Aziz Dirham

The calligraphy used in all the legends on both sides of this dirham is Kufi.

Coin Specs

Item : Dirham of Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz

Obverse Field:
لا اله الا الله وحده لا شرك له

There is no deity except (the one) God alone. He has no equal
Obverse Margin:
بسم الله ضرب هذا الدرهم بدمشق سنة مئة
In the name of God. This Dirham was struck in Damascus in the year one hundred

Reverse Field:
الله احد الله الصمد لم يلد و لم يولد و لم يكن له كفوا احد
God is One God. The eternal and indivisible, who has not begotten, and has not been begotten and never is there His equal
Reverse Margin:
محمد رسول الله ارسله بالهدى و دين الحق ليظهره على الدين كله ولو كره المشركون

Muhammad is the messenger of God. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions even if the polytheists abhor it.

Date : 100 AH (720 CE)
Dim :25 mm
Weight : 2.60gm
Denom : Dirham
Metal : AR
Mint : Dimasq
Rarity : R
Purchased Price : USD

Read on the excerpt from "The Hundred Great Muslims" about Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz:

Hazrat Umar Bin Abdul Aziz, the celebrated Umayyad Caliph whose empire stretched from the shores of the Atlantic to the highlands of Pamir, was sitting in his private chamber examining a pile of State documents. The dim light of the room was adding to the serenity and sombreness of the place and the Caliph could scarcely feel the arrival of his wife, Fatima, till she addressed him, "Sire! Will you spare a few moments for me? I want to discuss a private matter with you." "Of course", replied the pious Caliph, raising his head from the papers, "But, please put off this State lamp and light your own, as I do not want to burn the State oil for private talk."

The obedient wife, who was the daughter of Abdul Malik, the mighty Umayyad Caliph and the sister of two successive Umayyad Caliphs, Waleed and Sulaiman, complied accordingly.
The short rule of Hazrat Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was like an oasis in a vast desert -- a benevolent rain which had fallen on an arid soil. It was the brightest period in the 91-year Caliphate of the Umayyads, which, though short lived, had transformed the outlook of the State and had released such powerful democratic forces that after his death the attempts for the restoration of autocracy under Hishaam failed miserably and ultimately culminated in the fall of the Umayyads at the hands of the Abbasids.
Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz, surnamed "Al-Khalifat-us-Saleh" (The pious Caliph) was the son of Abdul Aziz, the Governor of Egypt, and his mother, Umm-i-Aasim was the grand daughter of the Caliph Umar. He was born in 63 A.H. (682 A.D.) in Halwan, a village of Egypt, but he received his education in Medina from his mother's uncle, the celebrated Abdullah Ibni Umar. Medina, which in those days was the highest seat of learning in the world of Islam, was greatly instrumental in moulding his life to a pattern quite distinct from those of other Umayyad Caliphs. He remained there till his father's death in 704 A.D., when he was summoned by his uncle Caliph Abdul Malik and was married to his daughter Fatima. He was appointed Governor of Medina in 706 A.D. by Caliph Waleed. Unlike other autocratic governors, immediately on arrival in Medina, he formed an advisory council of ten eminent jurists and notables of the holy city and carried on the administration with their consultation. He empowered them to keep a watchful eye over his subordinates. This step had a salutary effect on the residents of Medina, who hailed his beneficent Administration. He successfully strove to erase the signs of ravages committed in the holy cities of Islam under Yazid and Abdul Malik. During his two-year stay as the Governor of Medina, he repaired and enlarged the Mosque of the Prophet (sws) as well as beautified the holy cities with public structures; constructed hundreds of new aqueducts and improved the suburban roads leading to Medina. "Moderate, yet firm", says Ameer Ali, "anxious to promote the welfare of the people whom he governed, Umar's rule proved beneficent to all classes." His patriotic rule was for the good of his subjects.
His just administration attracted from Iraq a large number of refugees who were groaning under the oppression of Hajjaj Bin Yusuf. But, according to Tabari, this migration highly enraged the tyrant who prevailed upon Waleed to transfer him from Medina which he left amidst `universal mourning'.
The Umayyad Caliph Sulaiman Bin Abdul Malik who had great respect for Umar Bin Abdul Aziz nominated him as his successor. On his death, the mantle of Caliphate fell upon Umar Bin Abdul Aziz who reluctantly accepted it. Giving up all pomp and pageantry, the pious Caliph returned the royal charger, refused the police guard and deposited the entire equipment meant for the person of the Caliph in the Bait-ul-Maal. Like a commoner he preferred to stay in a small tent and left the royal palace for thefamily of Sulaiman. He ordered that the horses of the royal stables be auctioned and the proceeds be deposited in the Treasury. One of his family members asked him why he looked downhearted. The Caliph replied instantly, "Is it not a thing to worry about? I have been entrusted with the welfare of such a vast empire and I would be failing in my duty if I did not rush to the help of a needy person." Thereafter, he ascended the pulpit and delivered a masterly oration saying, "Brothers! I have been burdened with the responsibilities of the Caliphate against my will. You are at liberty to elect anyone whom you like." But the audience cried out with one voice that he was the fittest person for the high office. Thereupon the pious Caliph advised his people to be pious and virtuous. He allowed them to break their oath of allegiance to him, if he wavered from the path of God.
His short rule was noted for great democratic and healthy activities. He waged a defensive war against the Turks who had ravaged Azerbaijan and massacred thousands of innocent Muslims. The forces of the Caliph under the command of Ibni Hatim Ibni Ali Naan Al Balili repulsed the invaders with heavy losses. The Caliph permitted his forces to wage war against the notorious Kharijis. but under conditions that women, children and prisoners would be spared, the defeated enemy would not be pursued, and all the spoils of war would be returned to their dependents. He replaced corrupt and tyrannical Umayyad administrators with capable and just persons.
His first act after assuming office was the restoration to their rightful owners the properties confiscated by the Umayyads. He was hardly free from the burial ceremonies of Caliph Sulaiman and wanted to take a short respite when his son asked him if he would like to take rest before dealing with cases pertaining to confiscated properties. He replied, "Yes, I would deal with these after taking rest." "Are you sure, that you would live up to that time?" asked the son. The father kissed his dear son and thanked God that he had given him such a virtuous son. He immediately sat up to deal with this urgent matter and first of all returned all his movable and immovable properties to the public treasury. He deposited even a ring presented to him by Waleed. His faithful slave, Mazahim was deeply moved at this uncommon sight and asked, "Sir, what have you left for your children?"
"God", was the reply.
He restored the possession of the garden of Fadak to the descendants of the Prophet (sws) which had been appropriated by Marwan during the Caliphate of Usman. He bade his wife Fatima to return the jewelry she had received from her father Caliph Abdul Malik. The faithful wife cheerfully complied with his bidding and deposited all of it in the Bait-ul-Maal. After her husband's death, her brother Yazid who succeeded him as Caliph offered to return it to her. "I returned these valuables during my husband's lifetime; why should I take them back after his death", she told him.
The restoration of Fadak provoked mixed reaction from the people. The fanatical Kharijis who had become hostile to the Caliphate soon softened towards Umar Bin Abdul Aziz, proclaiming that it was not possible for them to oppose a Caliph who was not a man but an angel.
The house of Umayyads accustomed to luxuries at the expense of the common man, revolted against this just but revolutionary step taken by the Caliph and bitterly protested against the disposal of their age-long properties.
One day, the Caliph invited some prominent members of the House of Umayyads to dinner, but advised his cook to delay the preparation of food. As the guests were groaning with hunger, the Caliph shouted to his cook to hurry up. At the same time he asked his men to bring some parched gram which he himself as well as his guests ate to their fill. A few minutes later the cook brought the food which the guests refused to take saying that they had satisfied their appetite. Thereupon the pious Caliph spoke out, "Brothers! when you can satisfy your appetite with so simple a diet, then why do you play with fire and usurp the properties and rights of other." These words deeply moved the notables of the House of Umayyads who burst into tears.
In general, he laid great stress on compensating the victims of illegal extortion in any form. His administration of impartial justice went against the interests of the Umayyads who were accustomed to all sorts of licences and could hardly tolerate any check on their unbounded freedom. They plotted against the life of this virtuous member of their clan. A slave of the Caliph was bribed to administer the deadly poison. The Caliph having felt the effect of the poison sent for the slave and asked him why he had poisoned him. The slave replied that he was given one thousand dinars for the purpose. The Caliph deposited the amount in the public Treasury and freeing the slave asked him to leave the place immediately, lest anyone might kill him. Thus died in 719 A.D. at the young age of 36 at the place called Dair Siman (The convent of Siman) near Hams, one of the noblest souls that ever lived in this world. His martyrdom plunged the Islamic world into gloom. It was a day of national mourning: the populace of the small town came out to pay their last homage to the departed leader. He was buried in Dair Siman on a piece of land he had purchased from a Christian.
Muhammad Bin Mobad who happened to be in the Durbar of the Roman Emperor at that time reports that he found the Emperor in drooping spirits. On enquiry he replied, "A virtuous person has passed away. This is Umar Bin Abdul Aziz. After Christ if anyone could put a dead person to life it was he; I am hardly surprised to see an ascetic who renounced the world and give himself to the prayers of Allah. But I am certainly surprised at a person who had all the pleasures of the world at his feet and yet he shut his eyes against them and passed a life of piety and renunciation."
He reportedly left behind only 17 dinars with a will that out of this amount the rent of the house in which he died and the price of the land in which he was buried would be paid.
"Unaffected piety", says Ameer Ali, "a keen sense of justice, unswerving righteousness, moderation, and an almost primitive simplicity of life, formed the brief features in his character. The responsibility of the office with which he was entrusted filled him with anxiety and caused many a heart searching. Once he was found by his wife weeping after his prayers; she asked if anything had happened to cause him grief; he replied: "O! Fatima ! I have been made the ruler over the Muslims and I was thinking of the poor that are starving, and the sick that are destitute, and the naked that are in distress, and the oppressed that are stricken, and the stranger that is in prison, and the venerable elder, and him that hath a large family and small means, and the like of them in countries of the earth and the distant provinces, and I felt that my Lord would ask an account of them at my hands on the Day of Resurrection, and I feared that no defence would avail me, and I wept."
His honesty and integrity have few parallels in the history of mankind. According to "Tabaqat Ibni Sa`ad", he never performed his private work in the light of a lamp which burned the State oil. On every Friday, Farat Bin Muslama brought state papers for his perusal and orders. One Friday, the Caliph brought a small pice of State paper in his private use. Muslama who was aware of the exceptional honesty of the Caliph thought that he had done it out of sheer forgetfulness. The next Friday when he brought back home the State papers, he found in them exactly the same size of paper which was used by the Caliph.
Out of the funds of Bait-ul-Maal, a guest house was founded for the poor. Once his servant burned the firewood of the guest house to heat water for his ablution. He forthwith got the same quantity of firewood deposited there. On another occasion, he refused to use the water heated from the State charcoal. A number of palatial buildings had been constructed in Khanasra out of the funds of the Bait-ul-Mawhich were occasionally used by other Caliphs when they visited that place, but Umar Bin Abdul Aziz never used them and always preferred to camp in the open.
According to the author of "Tabaqat Ibni Sa`d, "he got his articles of luxury and decoration auctioned for 23 thousand dinars and spent the amount for charitable purposes."
His diet used to be very coarse. He never built a house of his own and followed in the footsteps of the Prophet (sws). Allama Suyuti in his well known historical work "Taarikh ul Kulafaa" (History of the Caliphs) states that he spent only two dirhams a day when he was the Caliph. Before his election as Caliph, his private properties yielded an income of 50 thousand dinars annually but immediately after the election, he returned all his properties to the public coffers and his private income was reduced to 200 dinars per annum.
In spite of the fact that Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was a loving father, he never provided his children with luxuries and comforts. His daughter Amina was his favourite child. Once he sent for her, but she could not come as she was not properly dressed. Her aunt came to know of it and purchased necessary garments for his children. He never accepted any presents from anyone. Once a person presented a basket full of apples. The Caliph appreciated the apples but refused to accept them. The Caliph replied immediately, "No doubt, those were presents for the Prophet, but for me this will be bribery."
Ibni ul Jawi, his biographer, writes that "Umar wore clothes with so many patches and mingled with his subjects on such free terms that when a stranger came to petition him he would find it difficult to recognize the Caliph. When many of his agents wrote that his fiscal reforms in favour of new converts would deplete the Treasury, he replied, "Glad would I be, by Allah, to see every body become Muslim so that thou and I would have to till the soil with our own hands to earn a living." According to Fakhri, "Umar discontinued the practice established in the name of Muaawiyah of cursing Ali from the pulpit in Friday prayers."
He was very kind-hearted. Once he was moved to tears on hearing a tale of woe related by a villager and helped him from his private purse. He was kind to animals even and several stories concerning this are found in the early historical records.
He had complete faith in God and never cared for his life. Unguarded, he roamed about in streets listening to the complaints of the common man and assisting him as much as he could.
He introduced a number of reforms; administrative, fiscal and educational. A reformer appears on the world when the administrative, political and ethical machinery is rusted and requires overhauling. This unsurpassable reformer of the Umayyad regime was born in an environment which was very gloomy and necessitated a change. His promising son, Abdul Malik a youth of 17 advised his father to be more ruthless in introducing his beneficial reforms, but the wise father replied, "My beloved son, what thou tellest me to do can be achieved only by sword, but there is no good in a reform which requires the use of the sword, But there is no good in a reform which requires the use of sword."
Under his instructions, As Samh, his Viceroy in Spain, took a census of the diverse nationalities, races and creeds, inhabiting that country. A survey of the entire peninsula including those of her cities, rivers, seas and mountains was made. The nature of her soil, varieties of products and agricultural as well as mineral sources were also carefully surveyed and noted in records. A number of bridges in southern Spain were constructed and repaired. A spacious Friday Mosque was built at Saragossa in northern Spain.
The Buit-ul-Maal (Public Treasury) which was one innovation of Islam and had proved a blessing for poor Muslims during the regime of pious Caliphs, was freely used for private purposes by the Umayyad Caliphs, Umar Bin Abdul Aziz stopped this unholy practice and never drew a pie from the Bait-ul-Maal. He separated the accounts for Khums, Sadqa and Fai and had separate sections for each. He immediately stopped the practice of richly regarding the authors of panegyrics of the royal family from the Bait-ul-Maal.
One of the most important measures was his reform of taxation. He made adequate arrangement for easy realization of taxes and administered it on a sound footing. He wrote a memorable note on kharaaj to Abdul Hamid Ibni Abdur Rahman which has been copied by Qazi Abu Yusuf: "Examine the land and levy the kharaaj accordingly. Do not burden a barren land with a fertile one and vice versa. Do not charge the revenue of barren land." His generous reforms and leniency led the people depositing their taxes willingly. It is a strange paradox that in spite of all oppressive measures adopted by the notorious Hajjaj Bin Yusuf for the realization of taxes in Iraq, it was less than half of the amount realized during the benevolent regime of Umar Bin Abdul Aziz.
He paid special attention to the prison reforms. He instructed Abu Bakr Bin Hazm to make weekly inspection of jails. The jail wardens were warned not to maltreat the prisoners. Every prisoner was given a monthly stipend and proper seasonal clothing. He advised the jail authorities to inculcate love for virtue and hatred for vice among the prisoners. Education of the prisoners led to their reformation.
The public welfare institutions and works received much stimulus. All over his vast empire thousands of public wells and inns were constructed. Charitable dispensaries were also opened. Even travelling expenses were arranged by the government for the needy travellers. A large number of inns were constructed on the road leading from Khorasan to Samarkand.
Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was a capable administrator well versed in his duties towards this world and the Hereafter. He was extremely hardworking and when people urged him to take rest, he never heeded them. He had set before himself Caliph Umar's administration as a model to be copied. According to the well-known Imam Sufian Thauri, there are five pious Caliphs namely Abu Bakr, Umar Farooq, Uthman, Ali and Umar Bin Abdul Aziz. The outstanding feature of his Caliphate was that he revived Islam's democratic spirit which had been suppressed after the accession of Yazid. In a letter addressed to the Prefect of Kufa, he exhorted his governors to abolish all unjust ordinances. He wrote, "Thou must know, that the maintenance of religion is due to the practice of justice and benevolence; do not think lightly of any sin; do not try to depopulate what is populous; do not try to exact from the subjects anything beyond their capacity; take from them what they can give; do everything to improve population and prosperity; govern mildly and without harshness; do not accept presents on festive occasions; do not take the price of the sacred Book (distributed among the people); impose no tax on travellers, or on the marriages, or on the milk of camels; and do not insist on the poll tax from anyone who was become a covert to Islam".
The pious Caliph disbanded 600 bodyguards, meant for guarding the person of the Caliph. He received lesser salary than this subordinates. He attracted around him a galaxy of talented men who counselled him on State matters.
That Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was very kind and just towards non-Muslims has been acknowledged by the "Encyclopaedia of Islam". As a devout Muslim, he was not only graciously tolerant to the members of other creeds but also solicitous towards them. Christians, Jews and Fire-worshippers were allowed to retain their churches, synagogues and temples. In Damascus, Al-Waleed had taken down the `basilika' of John the Baptist, and incorporated the site in the mosque of Ummayads. When Umar became Caliph, the Christians complained to him that the church had been taken from them, whereupon he ordered the Governor to return to the Christians what belonged to them. While he endeavoured to protect his Muslim subjects from being abused, he was also anxious that his Christian subjects should not be crushed by oppressive taxation. In Aila and in Cyprus the incretribute settled by treaty was reduced by him to the original amount.
Once a Muslim murdered a non-Muslim of Hira. The Caliph, when apprised of the event, ordered the Governor to do justice in the case. The Muslim was surrendered to the relations of the murdered person who killed him. A Christian, filed a suit against Hishaam Bin Abdul Malik who later on succeeded as Caliph. The just Caliph ordered both the plaintiff and the defendant to stand side by side in the court. This annoyed Hishaam who abused the Christian. Thereupon the Caliph rebuked him and threatened him with dire consequences.
Umar bin Abdul Aziz laid great emphasis on the ethical aspects of education in order to turn the hearts of people towards charity, forbearance and benevolence. He relentlessly discouraged and punished laxity of morals.
All these beneficial measures added to the stability of the State and the prosperity of the people who lived in peace and tranquility. During his short reign of two years, people had grown so prosperous and contented that one could hardly find a person who would accept alms. The only discontented people were the members of the House of Umayyads who had been accustomed to a life of vice and luxury and could hardly change their heart.
Umar Bin Abdul Aziz did not lay much stress on military glory. He paid greater attention to internal administration, economic development and consolidation of his State. The siege of Constantinople was raised. In Spain, the Muslim armies crossed the Pyrennes and penetrated as far as Toulouse in central France.
His short reign was like a merciful rain which brought universal blessings. One of its special features was that almost all Berbers in Northern Africa as well as the nobility of Sind embraced Islam of their own accord.
Umar Bin Abdul Aziz was a unique ruler from every point of view. The high standard of administration set by him could only be rivalled by the first four Caliphs of Islam. "The reign of Umar II," writes Ameer Ali "forms the most attractive period of the Umayyads domination." The historians dwell with satisfaction on the work and aspirations of a ruler who made the welfare of his people the sole object of his ambition. His short but glorious reign has no match thence after.

Ancient Coin Review 75 : Antique Islamic Fals of Al Walid Bin Talid the Governor of Mosul Ummayad Caliphate ( 731-739 C.E)

This is a bronze fals from the time of Mosul Governor Al Walid Bin Talid from Ummayad Caliphate from 731-739 C.E. It was minted in Mosul. The Ummayad Caliph during his time is Hisham ibn Abdul Malik.

Obv :  Within two intersecting squares forming an octofoil, لا إله إلا الله وحده (There is no God but Allah alone)
Rev: Within square, محمد رسول الله (Muhammad is the apostle of Allah); in margin, بسم الله مما أمر به الأمير الوليد بن تليد بالموصل (In the name of God, which was ordered by the amir al-Walid bin Talid of al-Mawsil)

Weight : 1.22 gm
Dim : 22mm
Date : ( 731-739 C.E)
Rarity : R
Denom : 1 fals        
Material : Bronze
Reference :  al-Mawsil Mint (Album-193; Walker-938; Nützel 2042-2045; SICA-2, 1273; Rotter-6d
 Purchase Price : RM

Ancient Coin Review 74 : Antique early pre Ummayad Nummis / Fals / Coin 661-697 C.E

This is a bronze coin from Byzantine territory which has been used during the time of Islamic expansion of Ummayah from AH41-77 ( 661-697C.E). This is the follis of Byzantine Emperor Constans II with his image on the obverese standing and holding a staff with Chi-Ro  on top of his right hand and a globus crucigar in his left hand. There is a small scribble on the right which could be Ummayad countermark.
On the reverse side is a big letter M which indicate a denomination of 40 Nummis or follis. This type of follis was widely circulated prior to the the minting of Islamic coin.
This follis was minted most likely in Syria especially Homs.

Obv :  Constans II standing holds a staff with Chi-Rho on top in his right hand and a globus crucigar in his left hand.
Rev: Large 'M' signifies a 40 nummis or Follis
Weight :3.1 gm
Dim : 27mm
Date : 41-77 AH ( 661-697 CE)
Rarity : R
Denom : 40 Nummis = Follis          
Material : Bronze
Reference : Early Islamic Coins - Totten
 Purchase Price : RM

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 163 : Antique Arabic Calligraphy / Khat ( 1309 AH = 1891 CE)

This is an Arabic Calligraphy panel written on a colored paper. Dated 1309 AH ( 1891 CE) originated from Turkey.

Manuscript Specs

Item : An Arabic Calligraphy
Content : Quranic verse
Dim : 250 x 120 mm
Date : 1309 AH
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Istanbul
Calligraphy: Thuluth
Design : Orange laid paper
Purchased Price :USD

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 73 : Bendahara Sewa Raja Tun Ali Quarter Tampang 1264 AH ( Sultanate Pahang)

This is a another rare tampang coin from Bendahara Sewa Raja Tun Ali . He reigned Pahang from 1806 - 1857 CE
This coin was struck in 1264 AH ( 1847 CE) and is the earliest date recorded for this value

Similar Tampang can be found in below link
Pahang Tampang
Quarter Tampang Pahang

Obv : Floral Design
Rev: Saraf fi Pg sanat 1264
Weight : 52 gm
Dim : 44 x 45 x 18mm
Date : 1264 AH ( 1847 CE)
Rarity : RRR
Denom : 1/4 tampang = 1/100 Dollar           
Material : Tin
Reference : SS6  pg 138 ( The Encyclopedia of the Coins)
Purchase Price : RM

Ancient Artifact Review 44 : Antique Ceremonial / Calligraphic Batik / Kain Arab / Ikat Kepala ( late 19th Century- early 20th Century)

 This is a very rare "Batik Bertulis" / " Kain Arab" or Calligraphic Batik. It is a square batik cloth made of cotton dyed in blue with Arabic inscriptions. The calligraphy almost illegible most likely painted by illiterate makers or served talismanic purposes.
However I assume the writing on the background is similar to some other kain which I have seen in the catalog. The inscriptions are :

الله يرزقها وهوا السمع العليم ما يفتح الله للنا من رحمة فلا مما لها وما يمسك فلا بعده وهو العزيز الحكيم

So the scribbles could be imitating this inscriptions.

Interesting to note this cloth has 4 Ottoman tughras around a central flower like pattern. Michael Rogers, a curator for Khalili Collection identified the tughras as the signs of the Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II ( 1876-1918) only in the reversed side.
This piece was used predominantly as men's head cloth or "ikat kepala". Another usage might be as ceremonial hanging or wrapper for a Quran.
In a similar Calligraphic batik depicted in The Message & The Monsoon Catalog, page 113, this batik were most often worn by Muslim Southeast Asian men as head cloths and possibly as ceremonial uses. The Quranic verses and prayers on the cloth are believed to have properties that would protect the wearer from sickness or injury.

This particular batik was acquired from Penang however not necessarily was produced there. Most likely it was brought in from Java island.

There is a very similar batik  from National Museum Malaysia dyed in blue which was made in Cerebon ( West Java) circa 1900s. According to Mohd Taib Osman in his book Islamic Civilization in the Malay World, after the establishment of Islamic rule in Cerebon from 16th Century onward, the testimony of faith has been expressed into batik making. Batik in the form of long shawl, head cloth and ceremonial hangings were decorated with Quranic inscriptions.

In the book of Crescent Moon : Islamic Art & Civilization in Southeast Asia, the history of the production of this cloth is discussed in lengthy by Robyn Maxwell. Though the production of  textile with Islamic calligraphy started prior to 19th century, the calligraphy design on batik produced in Java between late 19th to early 20th century was at peak due to the accessibility of commercially woven cotton cloth.

Ceremonial or Calligraphic batik is very rare to find. In an auction at Christie's, 3 similar batiks were sold at USD3358 under sale number 5682 dating them from late 19th century to early 20th century. Below is the link

Batik at auction

Below is the Tughra of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. I tried to match it with the Tughras on the cloth, though they have some resemblances they do not quite match confirming Michael Rogers remark i.e in reversed form.

The diplomatic relationship between Indonesia ( Aceh particularly) and Ottoman Empire started since 16th Century with the first Acehnese envoy sent by Sultan Alaudin Riayat Syah (1539–1571CE) confirming vassal status to Ottoman and requesting military support from Sultan Suleiman The Magnificient against the threatening Portugese. The last request for military support was beseeched in 1897 CE by Sultan Muhammad Daud Syah ( the 35th and the last Aceh Sultan) to Sultan Abdul Hamid II against the Dutch. Hence as a vassal state, we can expect so much Ottoman influences in Acehnese culture. This explains the Tughra in this batik bersurat.

There is also similar cloth displayed in Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia which dated to late 19th Century-early 20th Century.

See my other similar cloth on :
Red Calligraphy Batek

Dim : 100mm x 900mm
Date : late 19th - early 20th Century
Material :hand drawn batik
Origin :  Malay Archipelago
Price : RM pr

Ref :
The Message & The Monsoon Catalog, page 113
Islamic Civilization in the Malay World, Mohd Taib Osman, pg 316
Ottoman-Aceh Relations according to the Turkish Source, Ismail Hakki Goksoy
Crescent Moon : Islamic Art & Civilization in Southeast Asia, pg 214

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 43 : Antique Islamic Malay or Indian Talismanic Bowl ( 19th Century)

This is a brass bowl serve as a talismanic purpose. Purchased from Jonker street Malacca though the origin is suspected Indian. Floral motives on the outer bowl whereas the inner side is etched with Quranic verses particularly surah Al Ikhlas. This bowl could be from 19th or 20th Century. I welcome any comment from viewer in regards to the origin of this bowl.

Dim : 100mm Diameter x 80mm height
Date : 19th Century
Material : brass
Origin : Indian / Malay
Price : RM sr

Ancient Manuscript Review 162 : Antique Quran Giant Leaf in Thuluth Script ( circa 17th CE)

This is a leaf I bought from Istanbul bazaar. I purchased it due to its big size (43cm x 30cm) and the style of calligraphy i.e The Thuluth. We dont see many Quran written in this script and size except prior 18th century. This leaf I estimated written from 17th to 18th century CE. Look my other Quran leaf which was written in Muhaqqaq and notice the difference of calligraphy style.
Muhaqqaq Leaf


Title Page :
Content    : Surah  from Al Quran
Date         :17-18th century
Copyist    : Anonymous
Patron      : n/a
Origin      :Turkey
Place acquired : Istanbul
Illuminations : Nil
Calligraphy : Main text in Thuluth script.
Number of lines :13 lines per page
Inks          : Black & red
Punctuation: verses separated with red waw symbol
Frame       : no frame
History of Manuscript : Acquired from a friend who has a manuscript bazaar in Istanbul. He has a few folios from the same Quran. But I only bought a folio from him.
Number of folios : 1 f
Support of writing : Yellowish western paper
Gatherings : N/A
Catchwords :Nil
Dimensions : 43.0 cm x  30.0 cm
Binding   : Nil
Estimated Market Price :
Purchased Price : USD
Remarks : Compare the calligraphy with my other Muhaqqaq Quran as below link..