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 94 : Antique Quranic Writing Block / Tablet ( Libya 19th Century)

This is a writing block made of wood typically used in Islamic school in Libya. Measuring at
37x20x2cm undated probably used in 19th-20th century
The use of tablet especially wood is very popular in Africa to help students learning Quran. Quranic verses are written on the tablet and read all over again in order to memorize. Once the memorization complete, the verses are erased and replaced with next memorization task.

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

Ancient Manuscript Review 197 : Antique Torah Judaism Book / Tohra Tom I ( 1893 CE)

This is a lithographed Judaism book, Thora Tom. I. Printed in Hebrew language. I bought this book in Istanbul.This Torah was used by Jewish community in Turkey. Covers made of leather wrapped around hard boards. This book is pocket size of 170mm x110mm.This book is dated 1893 CE and was printed in Vienna.
See my similar book in below link
Mini Thora Tom II
Thora Tom II


Title Page : Thora Tom. I
Content    :  Old Testament
Date         : 1893 CE
Copyist    :
Patron      :
Origin      : Vienna
Place acquired :Vienna
Illuminations : Nil
Calligraphy : Hebrew script
Number of lines :26 lines per page
Inks          : Main text in black
Punctuation: Nil
Frame       :  Nil
History of Manuscript : Purchased from antique store in Istanbul
Number of folios : 200 ff
Support of writing : light yellowish European paper
Gatherings : N/A
Catchwords : nil
Dimensions : 170cm x 110 cm
Binding   : Embossed leather cover
Estimated Market Price :
Purchased Price : USD
Remarks :

Ancient Artifact Review 92 : Antique Ottoman Slab 20th Century

I purchased this stone slab from Antique shop in Istanbul. I don't know what it is. It could be an antique or could be a replica. But definitely is it written in Ottoman language.

Dim : 280mm x 150mm
Date : 20th Century CE
Material : Stone
Origin : Turkey

Ancient Artifact Review 91 : Antique Kiswa Kaaba ( Kaaba Cloth) from Turkey 1980

This is a small piece of Kiswa Kaaba produced in 1980 from Turkey. From the design, it matches on the Kaaba Cloth as indicated in yellow boxes below.

Cloth Spec :

Item : Black Kiswa Kaaba
Dim : 290mm x 250mm
Date : 1980
Material :Black Cloth
Origin :  Turkey
Price :

Ancient Artifact Review 90 : Antique Aramaic Christianity Incantation Bowl ( 1-6 Century CE)

I purchased the incantation bowl pieces from EBAY few years ago. The reason I purchased this piece because there are Aramaic inscriptions on them since I am very much fascinated with Semitic languages. This language is the language spoken by Prophet Jesus pbuh during his era.
This piece most likely from 1-6 Century CE.
This is a fragment the Incantation bowl with readable Aramaic in many lines. Dimension approx. 94mm x 45mm

Ancient Artifact Review 89 : Antique Malay Muslim Kukor Kelapa ( Coconut Grater) 19th Century

 This is a very interesting coconut grater called kukor kelapa from Malaysia. It was used predominantly by the Muslim Malays in Malaysia to grate coconut flesh. The body of this Kukor was made of wood and beautifully carved in floral motives. Motifs of foliage and floral were used as Islam prohibits using animal motifs.
This kukor is probably from 19th Century.

Compare this kukor with a simple foldable kukor below :
Foldable Kukor

Specification :

Item : A Coconut Grater ( Kukor Kelapa)
Dim : 500mm x 150mm
Material : Wood
Design : Floral Motives
Origin : Malaysia

Ancient Artifact Review 88 : Antique Albania Coffee Grinder (19th Century)

This is an old coffee hand grinder from Albania. The body is made of brass and in a good condition. The handle is stored inside upper compartment.
Bought from Istanbul and estimated from 19th Century.

Check below my other coffee grinder
Ottoman Coffee Grinder

Dim : 11inches in length
Date : 19th Century CE
Material : Brass
Origin : Albania

Ancient Coin Review 111 : Johor Sultanate Katun / Cash ( 18th Century)

This is a tin coin from Johore Sultanate era. This type of coin is called cash or katun. It is undated but probably from the 18th Century based on the classification made by Major Fred Pridmore. In Saran Singh's this is classified as Group C- Hexagonal-class IV.

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.
Obverse :  هذا المصروف
                  This is petty money
Reverse : دار الجوهره
                  City of Johor

Johor is located in the southern tip of Peninsular of Malaysia as well as the most southern point of the Asian Continent. The name of Johor originated from the Arabic word Jawhar which means jewel. It is also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Takzim ( Abode of Dignity). The Sultanate of Johor was founded by Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah II , the son of exiled last Sultan of Malacca ( Sultan Mahmud Shah) in 1528 CE. Johor was part of Malaccan Sultanate prior to Malacca occupation by Portuguese in 1511 CE.
See my other Katun below :
Round Johor Katun 

Coin Spec

Obverse :  هذا المصروف
                  This is petty money
Reverse : دار الجوهره
                  City of Johor

Weight : 1.43 gm
Dim : 21mm
Rarity : R
Ref : SS30
Ref : Saran's pg 123

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Antique Artifact Review 87 : Antique Mauryan Dynasty Clay Seal 2000 years old

This is an interesting finding.  It is a clay object which I found and bought along with my Indian punch-marked coins. This clay object could be a coin or could be a seal. However based on the Indradhvaja symbol, it seems in the reversed hence hinting this is a seal.

Below is the symbols listed by Theobald in his 1901 monograph. These symbols are noted mostly from punch-marked coinage in India datable to 10th century BCE

The symbol in the Reverse is called Indradhvaja or Indra's Flagstaff which is an image of a very large tree trunk or pole as explained by Rosalind Lefeber Valmiki in her book The Ramayana of Valmiki.
However I still couldn't find out the character on the obverse.
From my research, I found this character is similar to Kharosti script ( 3rd century BCE) below. It is resemblance to character JHA but with added stroke. Anyone has any idea?

Check below blogspot that display some of similar ancient clay seals and tablets from Indus Valley
Writing in Indus Valley

Item : Clay Seal
Dim : 10mm x 9cm
Weight : 0.6gm
Date : 2000 years old
Material : Clay
Origin :India

Ancient Manuscript Review 196 : Antique Ottoman Era document / Letter ( 18th Century)

This is a document written in old Turkish. The document was originally folded and sealed. I couldn't figure out what type of document this is. It could be a legal document or a personal ones.  The letter is written in Riqaah script in black.
I don't 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. I welcome any feedback on this letter.

My other similar document is in below link
Ottoman Letter 01
Ottoman Letter 02
Ottoman Letter 03
Ottoman Letter 04
Ottoman Letter 05

Manuscript Specs

Item : Ottoman document
Content :  Unknown
Dim : 220mm x 160mm
Date :
Copyist : indechiperable
Origin :  Turkey
Calligraphy : Riqaah
Design :
Purchased Price :US

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Antique Artifact Review 86 : Antique Mughal Betel Nut Cutter / Kacip ( 19th Century)

The item listed here is called "kacip" or a betel nut cutter. Made of bronze and has some forms of peacocks. It is from Mughal area and estimated from 19th Century. Origin from India
Compare this cutter with the one from Malaysia as below :

Malay Betel Nut Cutter

See below the housing of the betel nut , Tepak Sireh
Malay Tepak Sireh
Mughal Tepak Sireh

Dim : 150mm x 80cm
Date : 19th Century CE
Material : Bronze
Origin : India

Ancient Artifact Review 85 : Antique Qing Dynasty Blue & White Plate with Arabic Motifs ( 17-18th Century)

This is a museum piece of a small plate from Qing Dynasty. Blue and white plate produced in China and exported to South East Asia.
The plate is decorated with floral and foliage in blue surrounded by squiggles that strongly resemble Arabic writing. In the centre is a full round chrysanthemum with 3 half ones around the it. Whereas 3 full chrysanthemum alternating in between Arabic-calligraphy-looking squiggles on the outer rim. This motif is believed intentionally designed for export to Malacca and other Malay Islamic kingdoms in south east asia in 17th-18th Century.
The plate is 100mm diameter.

Check below my other plate
Swatow Plate

 In Wikipedia. Blue and White Porcelain is described :

"Blue and white wares" (Chinese: 青花; pinyin: qīng-huā; literally: "Blue flowers") designate white pottery and porcelain decorated under the glaze with a blue pigment, generally cobalt oxide. The decoration is commonly applied by hand, by stencilling or by transfer-printing, though other methods of application have also been used.

Antique Artifact Review 84 : Antique Malay Betel Nut Cutter / Kacip ( 19th Century)

In the past, chewing Areca palm nut wrapped in betel leaf  was widespread in South East Asia.
Nowadays this habit is gradually forgotten by especially younger generation.
However to Malays, Betel took on a ritual meaning to a traditional marriage. The item listed here is called "kacip" or a betel nut cutter. Made of bronze and has a shape of a Turkey. Estimated from 19th Century. Origin from Malaysia.
See below the housing of the betel nut , Tepak Sireh
Malay Tepak Sireh

Dim : 120mm x 50cm
Date : 19th Century CE
Material : Bronze
Origin :Malaysia

Ancient Manuscript Review 195 : Antique Quran Arabic Islamic Papyrus from Egypt ( 8th Century)

This is a papyrus fragment written in Qurra ( Naskh) script in black ink. I couldn't decipher the content of this fragment. It is written in Arabic language and it could be Quranic or just Arabic document.Origin from Egypt and purchased from USA with COA. It is claimed from 8th Century CE based on the paleography and the medium
I don't 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. I welcome any feedback on this fragment.

See my other Arabic papyrus below
Arabic Papyrus

Manuscript Specs

Item : Islamic Papyus Manuscript
Content :  Islamic / Quranic
Dim : 100mm x 95mm
Date : 8th century CE
Copyist :  N/A
Origin :  Egypt
Calligraphy : Qurra / Naskh
Design :
Purchased Price :US

Ancient Coin Review 110 : Sultanah Inayat Shah Zakiat Ad Din Shah ( Aceh Sultanate 1678-1688 CE)

This is a gold coin from Sultanah Inayat Shah Zakiat Ad Din Shah era. She is the third female to be throned in Aceh Sultanate and daughter of Sultan Muhammad Shah. She reigned Aceh from 1678 - 1688 CE.
In 1683 CE , she had the "honor" of receiving a delegation and gifts from the Sharif of Mecca which originally intended for Great Moghul Aurangzeb who refused the delegation.
Aurangzeb coin can be seen in below link :
Aurangzeb Coin

While I couldn't find any reference as why the Mughal Emperor refused the delegation, I found interesting impact of the delegation visit to Aceh from the book, Islam in Modern Asia written by I.K. Khan.l

Th original intent of this delegation was to visit Moghul Sultan Aurangzeb however he refused to entertain them.( If anyone knows the reason of this refusal please share with us!)
The delegation then stopped in Aceh and was well received by the Sultanah Zakiat Din and the people of Aceh. Letters and gifts were presented to the Sultanah. The delegation was asked to stay few days in Aceh while the Sultanah has ordered the preparation of gifts for them. One of the gifts prepared was a gold statue made from gold from the palace and the Bayt Al Rahman Mosque which were destroyed by fire during the reign of Sultanah Naqittat Din.
These gifts were brought back to Mecca and some of them were distributed to the poor population in the Haramayn.
This visit was a controversial one as the ruler of the Aceh was a woman whereas the Islamic law prohibit a woman to be a ruler. This visit has boosted the prestige of the Sultanah. While the Haramayn ulama were silent in this matter during Sultanah Zakiataddin reign, the people Aceh have also stop disputing the status of a woman ruler.
The silence was broken during the reign of Sultanah Kamalat Ad Din when the Chief Mufti of Mecca has issued a fatwa declaring the Islamic Kingdom cannot be ruled by a woman ruler. As a result, the Sultanah was deposed from the throne and replace with a male Sultan, Badr Alam.

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.

Obverse : فادك سر سلطانه عناية شاه    
                Paduka Sri Sultanah Inayah Shah
Reverse : زكية الدين بردولة شاه
                Zakiat Ad Din Berdaulat Shah

Aceh is a state located at the northern end of Sumatra island ( Indonesia). It is also known by its Arabic honorific Darus Salam ( Abode of Peace) from 1511-1959 CE.
Aceh's origins are unquestionably Cham, as the Champa king Syah Pau Kubah sent his son Syah Pau Ling to rule over Aceh when the capital Vijaya in 1471 AD, was sacked by the Vietnamese Le Dynasty.
The Sultanate of Aceh was founded in 1511 CE after the fall of Pasai Sultanate by Sultan Ali Mughayat Shah. It’s presumed that he is the same person as Syah Pau Ling who converted to Islam.
The Sultanate lasted till 1903 when the last Aceh Sultan Muhammad III Daud Shah Johan Berdaulat surrendered to Dutch occupation.

See my other coin below :
Sultanah Inayat
Sultanah Inayat

Obv:  فادك سر سلطانه عناية شاه    
          Paduka Sri Sultanah Inayah Shah

Rev: زكية الدين بردولة شاه
          Zakiat Ad Din Berdaulat Shah
Weight : 0.59 gm
Dim : 14mm
Date : 1678 - 1688 CE
Rarity :
Denom : Mas
Material : Gold
Reference : A 19a type 4 pg 179 ( Jaarboek Voor Munt-en Penningkunde)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ancient Artifact Review 83 : Antique Borneo Brunei Sarawak Brass Kettle ( 17-18th century)

The brass kettle is among the most popular medium of exchange in the hinterland of Sarawak, Malaysia. The kettle is considered as standards for value and stores of wealth and akin to money in most longhouses. It was also used as marriage gifts and land or property trade.
This kettle is made of brass and decorated with animal shapes. There is a dragon shape across the body of the kettle indicating the influence of chinese culture or trading activity in the region.
This is a very rare kettle because of it size. Normally typical decorated kettle is about 25-30cm in height. However this kettle is the giant one standing at 45 cm with weight around 11kg!!
I purchased this kettle from my good old friend in KL this year for a very reasonable price. Thanks ST.
A similar kettle but of smaller size can be seen Malaysia National Museum Catalog page 5. as well as in Malaysian Numismatic Heritage page 26.
I have seen a similar kettle in EBAY selling for USD3000 !!
See my other kettle from Borneo with Arabic numerals :

Brunei Islamic Brass Kettle

Weight : TBA gm
Dim : 45cm x 44cm x 32 cm
Rarity :  RRR
Material : Brass
Weight : 11kg
Reference : The Currency Legacy : A Guide to Bank Negara Malaysia's Collection

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ancient Artifact Review 82 : Antique Copper Anklets of Malay / Peranakan of Malaysia ( 19th Century)

These are a few antique anklets of various sizes made of copper. They were worn by Malay / Peranakan girls/ladies in Malaysia prior to 20th Century.

Specification :

Item :  Antique copper anklets
Dim : TBA
Material : Brass
Design :
Origin : Malaysia

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ancient Artifact Review 81 : Antique Papan Gendeng of Malay Traditional House Kuala Kangsar ( 19th Century)

This is a piece of carved wood called Papan Gendeng used as part of a Malaysian traditional house. It was placed normally above a window or a door. Apart from beautifying the house, it also serves as a ventilation.
This Gendeng is beautifully carved in foliage motif and from 19th Century.

It has a dimension  of 600 x 200 mm.

Check below links of Malay products which use foliage motif
 Malay Door
Malay Kukor

Specification :

Item : A wooden Gendeng
Dim : 600 x 200 mm.
Material : Wood
Design : Foliage motif
Origin : Kuala Kangsar

Ancient Artifact Review 80 : Antique Egyptian Islamic Manuscript Carrying Case / bag ( 18th Century)

This is an old leather bag used to carry an Islamic manuscript. Dimension of 220mm x 140mm . It comes with closing flaps at the top and green pattern paper attached on both sides.
The title of the manuscript was written on the flap
الجزء الثاني من حاشية بن عابدين

Item Spec :

Item : Leather Carrying Case
Description : A leather bag for Islamic manuscript
Dim : 290mm x 200mm
Date : 18th century CE
Origin : Egypt
Purchased Price :US

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ancient Manuscript Review 194 : Antique Print Map of Jerusalem 1880CE illustrated by W.M. Thomson

This is a print map dated 1880 of the city Jerusalem

This illustration was made by W.M Thomson.
Legends are written in English.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Print
Content : Print Map of Jerusalem
Dim :  115mm  x  90mm
Date : 1880 CE
Copyist : W.M. Thomson
Origin :
Purchased Price :US