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, September 28, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 166 : Antique Kufic Quran Near East on Vellum - 9th CE

This is a single folio of Quran written in Kufic on vellum. I purchased this vellum from USA. This Kufic style is defined by Prof Deroche as B-II i.e " Early Abbasid Scripts". In reference to " Islamic Codicology", this script is datable to 9th Century CE. Refer to pg 151 of Alain George's book " The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy" for the explanation.
This leaf probably from Near East was trimmed and laid down on a later sheet of paper with gold and colored margin rules. The writing on one side is visible whereas the other side its almost wiped out probably due to the framing.
From Bonhams's website, similar leaves were sold on Auction 21723, Lot 2 for  £3,750 (AED 26,794) . I believe this leaf came from the same Mushaf. See the link :
Title Page : Nil
Content    : Quranic Verses
Date         : 9th CE
Copyist    : Anonymous
Patron      : Nil
Origin      : Near East
Place acquired : USA
Illuminations : Nil
Calligraphy :Kufic ( Early Abbasid )
Number of lines :15 lines per page
Inks          : Main text in black
Punctuation: Diacritical marks in black & re. Gold verse marker.
Frame       :  Nil
History of Manuscript : Bought from USA
Number of folios : 1 f
Support of writing : light brownish vellum
Gatherings : N/A
Catchwords :Nil
Dimensions : leaf 120 x 178 mm.; visible sheet 140 x 200 mm.
Binding   : Nil
Estimated Market Price : £3,750 (AED 26,794)
Purchased Price : USD
Remarks : 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 83 : Antique Gold Coin Sultan Alaudin Riayat Shah - Johor Sultanate (1527-1564 CE)

This is my another gold coin from Sultan Alaudin Riayat Shah era. He was the son of the last Malacca Sultan, Sultan Mahmud Shah who fled from Malacca after the invasion of Portugese. He became the first ruler of Johor Empire in 1527CE.he set up his capital at Johor Lama situated on the Johor river. He promoted foreign trade and was able to attract a fair amount of commerce. However Johor was captured by Acheh in 1564CE and became its vassal state until the collapse of the Acheh Empire in 1641CE.
 Looking at the Arabic calligraphy used, its quite tricky as the calligraphy is compressed to fit on the coin face. However it has the resemblance to Thuluth & Sini. Or probably this is how Malay calligraphy was derived. I noticed also similar calligraphy was used on the tombstone ( pic edited from artmelayu.bs) of the same Sultan in Johor except all vertical alphabets were elongated to fill the column.

As for this coin, there are some errors in the words used.
Notice the Sultan is written ثلطان  instead of سلطان
There is also a missing ي in the word Al mu'minin and missing ين in Aladdin
My other coin is in below link
Antique Mas Johor

Octagonal gold coin ( Mas) under the rule of Johor Sultan Alaudin Riayat Shah 1 ( 1527-1564AD). This coin is heavily covered with patina. I prefer to keep it this way rather than cleaning it away.

Similar coin was sold for SGD3000 ( USD2200) in Lot 189 in the Collectibles Auction Asia (CAA) Auction 5/2015 held on 18 April 2015 at Landmark Village Hotel, Singapore.

Obv: Sultan Alaudin سلطان علاالدين
Rev: Khalifatul Mukmin خليفة الموْمنين

weight : 2.10gm
Dim : 16mm
Rarity : RRRR ( ref SS1)
Market Price : USD2200

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 52 : Antique Malay Ceremonial / Calligraphic Batik / Kain Arab / Ikat Kepala / Batek Bersurek ( late 19th- 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 dark maroon/light brown 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 :
Blue 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

Monday, September 14, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 82 : Antique Palembang Coin 1198 AH ( Sultan Muhammad Baharuddin)

This is a copper pitis from Palembang Sultanate.
This pitis was struck during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Baharuddin (1778-1803CE)
 ِِAbove is the inscription extracted from the coin
 هذا فلوس في ملك فلمبغ سنه ٨ ٩ ١ ١
Hadha Falus Fi Malik Palembang sanah 1198.
This is the money of King of Palembang year 1198
Reverse is blank.
1198 AH is equivalent to  1783 CE.
It seems that this calligraphy is Thuluth in style.

The Palembang Sultanate emerged after the collapse of Majapahit Empire in 1550 CE. It was started by the son of the last ruler of Majapahit who converted to Islam and changed his name from Ario Dillah to Ario Abdillah.

Obv: Hadha Falus Fi Malik Palembang 1198
Rev: Blank
Weight : 1.99 gm
Dim : 22mm
Date : 1198 AH
Rarity :
Denom : Pitis
Material : Copper
Reference :TBA

Ancient Artifact Review 51 : Antique Balik Pulau Malay Carved Wooden Doors ( 1911 CE)

This another pair of beautifully carved wooden doors. I purchased this door from a friend in Kuala Lumpur. This door was from a mansion in Balik Pulau. On one panel, there was an Arabic inscription of year 1331 H which is equivalent to 1911 CE. However my friend didnt purchase the panel since it was none of his interest at that time and even before selling these doors last July.
This door is beautifully carved in floral motives. 

This set of door has a dimension  of 76 x 16.5 inches. Check the other door on
Malay Door

Specification :

Item : A pair of antique wooden door
Dim : 76 x 16.5 inches
Material : Wood
Design : Floral Motives in multicolors
Origin : Balik Pulau

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 50 : Antique Omani Sword 19th Century

This is an old Omani sword from 19th Century. Purchased from Abu Dhabi antique shop. Blade is made of iron whereas the handle and scabbard are covered with leather.

Dim : 930mm
Date : 19th Century CE
Material : Iron blade with leather handle and scabbard.
Origin : Oman

Ancient Artifact Review 49 : Antique Ottoman Embroidered Calligraphy Kese / Pouch from Edirne ( 19th Century)

This is an old Ottoman era Kese or pouch beautifully embroidered in gold originally from Edirne. Edirne is used to be the capital city of Ottoman Empire.
The top segment ( the opening) embroidered in Arabic calligraphy as well as on the both bevels at the bottom. There is an indecipherable tughra at the middle of the pouch surrounded by floral motives.
This kese is used to keep tobacco. I believe what I have here is only one part of the kese. The back side should be the same design as the front one and I suspected it was removed and replaced with a black cloth. I could be wrong and welcome any opinions.
Let's us examine the inscriptions on this pouch.
The inscriptions on the neck of the pouch seems to be in reverse. Once I extracted the script in reverse, then it makes more sense.I could figure out some individual Arabic alphabets but not the whole phrase.

 As for the second inscription on the side belly of the pouch, 2 phrases but the other one is in reverse. After skewing the script, below is the result. Though I couldn't decipher the phrase, I believe it is written in Ottoman Turkish due to an existence of 1 Arabic alphabet ك  but with a dot above it that should give a sound "g".

Whereas the center of the pouch is embroidered with an indecipherable tughra.It was embroidered upside down. Below is the Tughra image after I flipped it over. Could it be Tughra of Sultan Abdul Hamid II? Below is the official Sultan Tughra for comparison.

I believe a Thuluth script was used for all the inscriptions due to smooth and round shape of the alphabets.

Dim : 250mm x 200mm
Date : 19th Century CE
Material : Textile embroided in gold.
Origin :Edirne, Turkey

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 81 : Rare gold kupang of Sultan Ahmad Malik AzZahir ( Pasai Sultanate 1346-1383 CE)

Indonesia, Pasai Sultanate situated north of Sumatera island. type gold Mas of Sultan Ahmad Malik Az Zahir reigned from 1346-1383AD. This is a rare coin with a gold piece stuck on the reverse side of the coin.
Obv: AsSultan Al Adil
Rev: Ahmad Malik AzZahir

Pasai, also known as Samudera and Samudera-Pasai sometimes called Samudera Darussalam was a Muslim harbour kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra from the 13th to the 15th centuries CE. It was believed the word Samudera derived from Samudra meaning ocean in Sanskrit. According to Hikayat Raja-raja Pasai, it was said Merah Silu saw an ant as big as a cat, he caught it and ate it and he named the place Samandara. King Merah Silu later converted to Islam, known as Malik ul Salih, he was the sultan in year 1267 CE.

Weight, g: 0.69gm
Size, mm: 10mm
Date: 1346-1383AD
Denomination: Kupang

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 80 : Antique Kelantan Pitis / Keping Coin (1770-1882 CE)

This is a tin coin from Kelantan Sultanate ( 1770-1882 CE).
Kelantan is a state of Malaysia located in the northeastern of Peninsular of Malaysia. The name of Kelantan originated from the Malay word Kilatan which means shiny/glittery. It is also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Naim ( Abode of Blessed).

The Sultanate of Kelantan was founded since the 15th century by Sultan Iskandar Shah and later ruled by his son Sultan Mansur Shah till 1526 CE. The reign continues till today and the present Kelantan Sultan is Sultan Muhammad V

Coin Spec
Obverse : Khalifatul Mukminin
Reverse : Al Julus Kelantan
Weight : 4.22 gm
Dim : 28mm
Rarity :  ( ref SS5 pg 217)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 48 : Rare Huge Antique Islamic Silver Inlaid Brass Qalamdan Pen Box Inkwell

This is an old Persian Brass case ( Qalamdan) which measures  320mm long 40mm in thickness. It is beautifully inlaid with silver in arabic inscriptions..
It is a rare findings and I saw it was sold in Ebay for about USD1000.

Dim : 320mm x 40mm
Date : 19th Century CE ( Persia)
Material : Brass with silver inlaid
Origin : Persia

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 165 : Antique Armenian Turkish Poetry Manuscript ( 19th Century)

This is a manuscript handwritten in modern Armenian script. To be honest I dont have any clue what the content is. I acquired this manuscript together with my other Syriac Manuscripts from Diyarbakir.
I believe this is not a manuscript on Christianity. The way it was written as if it was a poetry manuscript. One of the visitors here has written to me confirming that this manuscript contains poems written in Armenian script but in Turkish language.There are few pages with some hand drawings of a guy in a uniform probably military attire. I welcome any comment on this manuscript.

Manuscript Specs

Item : A handwritten Armenian Manuscript
Content : Poetry in Turkish language
Dim : 180 x 100 mm
Date : undated but estimated 19th Century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Diyerbakir
Calligraphy: Armenian
Design : Note paper
Purchased Price :USD

Ancient Artifact Review 47 : Antique Malay Gold Plated Pillow Ends / Plates / Tampok Bantal ( 19th Century)


These plates supposedly come in pair which are sewn onto both ends of a bolster ( bantal peluk). However I only acquired one plate.
In Malay weddings, the bridal bed is decorated including pillows and bolsters. For a royal wedding, gold plates are used instead.
This plate is gold plated and typical 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.
Similar Malay plates can be seen in this link :
Malay Plates

 Compare this plate with Peranakan plates in below link
Peranakan Tampok Bantal

This plate was purchased from Jonker Street Malacca. However I noticed there is a punch mark in the middle of the crescent which I couldnt decipher.

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

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 79 : Antique Ayyubid Fals of Al Adel Abu Bakr I (1196 - 1218 CE)

This is a bronze fals from the time of  Al Adel Abu Bakr I of Ayyubid Caliphate 592-615AH  ( 1196-1218 CE). From Zeno.ru, It is perfect match with item #97408. Harran Mint.The inscriptions were not so clear. I couldn't find any reference on this. Let me know if you have any idea.
Obv :  TBA
Rev: Abu Bakr, Al Malik Al Adil, Saifuddin, Ibnu Ayyub

Compare this fals with other fals from Umayyad and Abbasid periods :
Umayyad Fals
Abbasid Fals

This is what I found from Wiki about this Emir,

Al-Adil I (Arabic: العادل‎, in full al-Malik al-Adil Sayf ad-Din Abu-Bakr Ahmed ibn Najm ad-Din Ayyub, Arabic: الملك العادل سيف الدين أبو بكر بن أيوب‎,‎ "Ahmed, son of Najm ad-Din Ayyub, father of Bakr, the King, the Just, Sword of the Faith"; 1145–1218) was an Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt and Syria of Kurdish descent. From his laqab or honorific title Sayf ad-Din ("Sword of Faith"), he was known to the Frankish Crusaders as Saphadin, a name by which he is still called in the Western world. A gifted and effective administrator and organizer,[1] Al-Adil provided crucial military and civilian support for the great campaigns of his brother Saladin (an early example of a great minister of war). He was also a capable general and strategist in his own right, and the foundation and persistence of the Ayyubid state was as much his achievement as it was Saladin's.
Al-Adil was a son of Najm ad-Din Ayyub, and a younger brother of Salah ad-Din Ayyubi. He was born in June 1145, possibly in Damascus. He first achieved distinction as an officer in Nur ad-Din Zengi's army during his uncle Shirkuh's third and final campaign in Egypt (1168–1169); following Nur ad-Din's death in 1174, Al-Adil governed Egypt on behalf of his brother Saladin and mobilized that country's vast resources in support of his brother's campaigns in Syria and his war against the Crusaders (1175–1183). He was governor of Aleppo (1183–1186) but returned to administer Egypt during the Third Crusade (1186–1192); as governor of Saladin's northern provinces (1192–1193), he suppressed the revolt of 'Izz Al-Din of Mosul following Saladin's death (March 1193). On Saladin's death he was governor of Damascus.

Weight : 2.61 gm
Dim : 20mm
Date : undated ( 1196-1218C.E)
Rarity : R
Denom : Fals     
Material : Bronze
Reference : Zeno.Ru , Balog 358-360
Purchase Price : RM

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 78 : Antique Islamic Abbasid Falus Coin during Revolutionary Period - Abdallah & Salih Bin Ali ( 132-133 AH)

This is a bronze fals from the revolutionary period of  Abbasid in 132-133AH. The inscriptions were not so clear. According to Lowick's the coin struck by Abdallah and Salih bin ALi. The legends are :

Obv :   لا إله إلا الله وحده (There is no God but Allah alone)
Rev:  صرب إل محمد صلى الله (Strike of the family of Mohammad);

Abdallah was a member of the Abbasid family, and uncle to the first two Abbasid caliphs, al-Saffah (reigned 749–754) and al-Mansur (r. 754–775).[1]
By early 749, the anti-Umayyad uprising that had begun under Abu Muslim in Khurasan had prevailed in the eastern lands of the Caliphate, and the Khurasani armies swept west across Persia to the borders of Iraq. In October 749, al-Saffah was proclaimed Caliph at Kufa, and quickly gained the acceptance of Abu Muslim and the Kufans, thereby forestalling an Alid bid for control of the Revolution. To cement Abbasid control, al-Saffah now appointed members of his own family to command the armies: his brother, the future al-Mansur, was sent to lead the Siege of Wasit, while Abdallah was sent to confront the Umayyad caliph Marwan II in the Jazira.[2]
Thus Abdallah held the supreme command in the decisive Battle of the Zab, where the Abbasid forces defeated the last Umayyad Caliph, Marwan II (r. 744–750), and led the pursuit of the latter, first to Syria, where he captured the Umayyad capital, Damascus, and then to Palestine, forcing Marwan to flee to Egypt. His brother Salih followed Marwan to Egypt, where the Umayyad ruler was captured and executed.[1][3]

( Ref : Wikipedia

Compare with Umayyad fals at
Umayyad Fals

Weight : 1.80 gm
Dim : 16mm
Date : undated ( 132-133 AH)
Rarity : R
Denom : 1 fals        
Material : Bronze
Reference : 
Purchase Price : RM

Ancient Coin Review 77 : Antique Islamic Umayyad Falus Coin (41-132 AH)

This is a bronze fals from the time of  Ummayad Caliphate ( 41-132 AH).The inscriptions were not so clear. However based on similar falus from a reference book, the legends are :

Obv :   لا إله إلا الله وحده (There is no God but Allah alone)
Rev:  محمد رسول الله (Muhammad is the apostle of Allah);

Check my other Umayyad fals at
Umayyad Al Walid Fals

Weight : 1.34 gm
Dim : 13mm
Date : undated ( 698-750 C.E)
Rarity : R
Denom : 1 fals        
Material : Bronze
Reference : 
Purchase Price : RM

Friday, September 4, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 46 : 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.

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

My other Somalia Prayer Mat is at below link
Somali Prayer Mat #1
Somali Prayer Mat #2
Artifact Specification

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