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, December 18, 2017

Ancient Artifact Review 102 : Antique Brass 3 faces Stamp dated 1311 AH ( 1893 CE)


This is an interesting Ottoman era 3 faces stamp dated 1311 AH ( 1893 CE)
There is a clear date written in Arabic on 1 face. The second one looks like انشاءالله
But I couldn't figure out the third word.

Dim : 50mm x 20mm
Date : 1311 AH ( 1893 CE)
Material : Brass
Origin : Turkey
Price : 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Ancient Manuscript Review 203 : Antique Bible / Christianity written in Classical Greek on Papyrus from Egypt ( 2th-3th Century CE )

This is a papyrus fragment written in Classical Greek  language in black ink. Origin from Egypt and purchased from Antique Store in USA in 2016. I discovered this fragment among with my other Arabic papyrus fragments. Comparing this fragment with some papyrus from DUKE Library, they have similar fragments . This is the link, Greek Papyrus. which dating the fragment from 2nd-3rd Century CE.
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.

Manuscript Specs

Item :Classical Greek Papyus Manuscript
Content :  Bible / Christianity
Dim : 120mm x 75mm
Date : 2-7th3 century CE
Copyist :  N/A
Origin :  Egypt
Calligraphy : Classical Greek
Design :
Purchased Price :US

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ancient Artifact Review 101 : Antique Qing Era Islamic Talismanic Taweez Porcelain Plate ( 18th Century)

This is a museum piece of a small plate from Qing Dynasty. It is made in China for Persian market.
The plate is decorated with red foliage around the centre alternating with Arabic calligraphy squibbles. In the centre there is a square box consists of 16 cells filled with Arabic numerals. This square is also known as a magic square or Waqf or "Buduh".
This plate most likely produced for talismanic purpose or Taweez. I do not know exactly what the magic square in this plate represent for but it can be for any reasons such as finding love, opening gate of blessing, curing diseases, etc.
This BUDUH tradition is believed in existence prior to Islam most likely originated from China. From a Chinese literature dated circa 650BCE,  there was a record of identifying 3x3 grid pattern from a turtle shell hence formulating the mystical means to control the water from the river.
This magic square were known to Islamic scholars as early as 7th century due to the contact with the East. Throughout the time, the magic square has evolved and developed to serve for numerous mystical purposes.The magic square started from grid of 4x4, 6x6 & 7x7 and by 19th Century, 100x100 grid is created.

The arabic numerals in the cells look so ambiquous. The look like number ٥  (5) and ١ ١ (11).  The sum on any row or colum will give the same amount which is 32.

The Arabic squibbles around the plate were barely readable however I could see few places with the word الله  ( The God Allah), and few phrases I can almost red it as  لا اله الا الله  ( There is no God except Allah).
Comparing with similar plate displayed in the Islamic Museum Malaysia, those Arabic phrases on the outer rings are verses from Surah II ( The Cow) verse 255-257 followed by testimony of faith and prayers.
There are also 4 distinct Arabic phrases around the magic square. I have to compare it with some plates from the internet to figure out what they are.

لا السيف الا الزالفقر    There is no sword except Zulfikar
لا الفتاح الا علي    There is no conqueror except Ali

When the name of Ali is mentioned, it became clear that this talisman plate is used by the Shiite, either for export to Iran or for Chinese Muslims.

It is important to note that the use of Talisman ( Taweez) is a mystical science or occult and against the teaching of Islam and the mainstream Islamic scholars.

The plate is 100mm diameter.

Check below my other plate
Qing Blue & White Plate
Blue & White Plate
Swatow Plate

Reference :

Mightier than the Sword, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, page 196

Ancient Manuscript Review 202 : Antique Torah Judaism Book ( 1846 CE)

 This is a lithographed Judaism book,  in Hebrew language. I couldn't figure out what is the title of this book. I bought this book in Istanbul.This Torah was used by Jewish community in Turkey. Covers made of hard board with the spine is made of leather. This book is pocket size of 120mm x100mm.This book is undated but prsumably from 19th century. If anyone has any idea about this book please share with us.



Title Page : Unknown
Content    :  Old Testament
Date         : 19th CE
Copyist    :
Patron      :
Origin      : Unknown
Place acquired :Istanbul
Illuminations : Nil
Calligraphy : Hebrew script
Number of lines :191 lines per page
Inks          : Main text in black
Punctuation: Nil
Frame       :  Nil
History of Manuscript : Purchased from antique store in Istanbul
Number of folios : 216 ff
Support of writing : light yellowish European paper
Gatherings : N/A
Catchwords : nil
Dimensions : 120cm x 100 cm
Binding   : hard board
Estimated Market Price :
Purchased Price : USD
Remarks :

Antique Coin Review 117 : Pohon Katun ( Hexagonal Tin Cash tree) - 16th Century of Johor Sultanate

This is a complete “tree” of coins from Johore Empire Era ( 16th-19th Century).

 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.

This is a rare piece as I haven’t seen such a thing in Malaysian museums yet ( probably I haven’t explored enough).
Let me provide some insights of this “tree”. During the era of Johor Sultanate, tin coins or “Katuns” as they were known, were minted in a variety of shapes and sizes for use in the local markets. Some of these circular, others hexagonal or octagonal. A few of them carried full inscriptions indicating that they were intended for Johor, but the majority were inscribed only with the title such as “ Malik Al Adil” ( The Just King).

This tree was moulded by pouring molten tin though an opening in a mould which runs along a central channel into the side branches and finally into the coin moulds where the katun were cast. After the metal had cooled and hardened, the katuns were broken off and the excess metal of the central stem and brances was re smelted for further use.
Comparing this coins’ tree with my other katuns, I could match this katun with type C katun, hexagonal and class V as outlined in Saran Singh’s The Encyclopaedia of The Coins of Malaysia Singapore & Brunei, page 124 ( SS32). The obverse has a large central dot surrounded by circle ( or rather it looks flowery) whereas the reverse of this katun is blank.  It has hexagonal shape with plain edge and typical weight of 1.09 gm each. Diameter range from 16-17mm. Made of tin and RRRR if with the tree.
The other katun tree from the same empire has an S shape as if a kris whereas this one is straight like a tree. Check my other coin tree at
Johor Katun Tree Dots
Johor Katun Tree Kriss

This piece is absolutely a priceless relic.

Coin Spec

Description : Pohon katun with 17 katuns attached type C hexagonal with dot in middle surrounded with flowery shape
Weight : TBA
Rarity : RRRR
Ref : Saran's SS32 Pg 124
Weight : 1.43 gm
Dim : 21mm
Rarity : R
Ref : SS30
Ref : Saran's pg 123

Workshops for Interventive & Preventive Conservation of Paper, Textiles & Metal ( Zakynthos Island, Greece)

I attended an intensive workshop last Summer. It was Workshop for Interventive & Preventive Conservation of Textiles, Paper & Metal held in a beautiful island, Zakynthos in Greece from 21 May - 3 June 2017. This workshop was hosted by the Technological Educational Institute of the Ionian Islands ( TEI) under The Balkan Heritage Field School ( Bulgaria).
This is one of the best workshops I ever attended. The lab is fully equipped with all tools you need in conserving and preserving ancient textiles, paper & metal.
The lectures were very useful yet I wish we could have cover more in paper conservation which I have most of my interest in. Nonetheless the hands in with the preservation technique in lab is world class.

The first week, the lecture and workshop were on paper conservation. The lecture and guidance were given by Dr Nikolas Sarris from National Library of Greece. I am blessed to attend his lecture because he is well know for his conservation works especially in Codex Sinaiticus & Ethiopic manuscripts.
The second week, the lecture & workshop were on textile conservation. It was lectured by Dr Christos Karydis who is a Conservator of works of art, Lecturer at the TEI of Ionian Islands & University of the Aegean   
The third week, the lecture & workshop were on metal conservation. The lecture & guidance were given by Dr Adamantia Panagopoulou who is a Conservator of Antiquities MSc – PhD researcher in archaeological materials in 'NCRS Demokritos' National Research Institute & Lieden University in the Netherlands.

I have gained a lot of knowledge & practical guidance during this course.
Apart from the amazing course, the venue for this workshop which is Zakynthos Island is a very beautiful indeed. I am mesmerized with the beauty of the island. I am glad that I made it for this course otherwise I would have not seen this beautiful island.
Thanks to Dr Angela Pencheva (Balkan Heritage Foundation & Field School Program Manager) and Dr Christos Karydis (Conservator, TEI of Ionian Islands) for coordinating this amazing workshop.