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, November 25, 2019

Ancient Coin Review 120 : Rare Cockerel Perched on 10 Rings Currency of Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Abidin Muazzam Shah ( Kedah Sultanate 1710 - 1773 CE)

This is a very rare Cockerel-shaped tin coin of Kedah Sultanate. 
This coin is in the shape of a fighting cockerel perched on a number of rings attached to its base. In this specimen, 10 rings are attached to its base.
See picture below to understand how the cockerel money looks like.

According to The Encyclopedia of the Coins of Malaysia Singapore & Brunei, the cockerel itself worths 5 cents of the Spanish Dollar with each ring  carries 1 cent in value. The rings were broken off for a small purchase of a few cents.
This type of currency was first regulated during the time of Sultan Muhammad Jiwa Zainal Abidin Muazzam Shah reigning Kedah from 1710CE to 1773 CE. They were still in circulation till mid 19th Century.
Kedah is located in the northwestern part of Peninsular of Malaysia. The name of Kedah originated from the Sanskrit word Kadaram. It is also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Aman ( Abode of Peace).  The sultanate was the earliest one on the Malay Peninsular as well as one of the oldest Sultanate in the world.

The kingdom began in 630CE as a Hindu Kingdom which the first king was Maharaja Derbar Raja who originally a defeated Persian king of Gemeron ( Bandar Abbas) who fled to Kedah. The people of Kedah found him to be a very smart & tactical man, so they entrusted him to lead them as the king of Kedah. 
This kingdom is a Hindu kingdom however I couldnt find in any history book in regards to the faith of Maharaja Derbar Raja. In 630 CE, Gemeron is part of Sassanian Kingdom which Zoroastrian is the main religion.
Towards the end of 11th century, the 9th Kedah Hindu king, Dubar Raja II renounced Hinduism and conerted to Islam. He adpoted an Islamic name, Sultan Muzafar Shah and continued ruling Kedah from 1136 to 1179 CE. This sultanate continues to rule till today.
This mean the present Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Halim Muzaffar Shah has a direct link back to not just the first Kedah Sultan, Sultan Muzaffar Shah (1136CE) but also to the first Hindu Sultan , Maharaja Derbar Raja ( 630CE). Try to imagine someone with unbroken family lineage since 630CE till now. Unbelievable!!

Weight :TBA gm
Dim : 15cm x 4cm
Rarity : RRR
Denom : 10 cincin = 10 cents, cockerel = 5 cents
Material : Tin
Reference : Saran's SS20 , pg 260

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Ancient Artifact Review 105 : Antique Gold Embroidery Persian Wall Hanger with Kufi Calligraphy ( 19th Century)

This is a very large and long embroided wall hanger originated from Iran. Arabic prayer emroided in Kufi script across the panel. I will update further on the content of this calligraphy later.

Item : Embroided Kufi Wall Hanger
Date : 1900 CE 
Dim : 600mm x 1300mm
Design : Arabic Prayer or excerpts from Al Quran embroided in Kufi script

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ancient Manuscript Review 205 : Antique Malay jawi Handwritten Manuscript ( 18th Century)

This is a large manuscript without cover written in Malay language in Jawi. Acquired from Sarawak Borneo.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Malay Islamic Jurisprudence
Manuscript Content : Islamic Jurisprudence
DIM : 35cm x 20cm
Date : 18th Century CE
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : South East Asia
Calligraphy : Malay -Naskh
Design : Written in Malay-Naskh scripts in black and red
Purchased Price : USD

Antique Coin Review 119 : 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 ( SS32A). The obverse has a large central dot surrounded by dots ( total 7 dots) 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. Some of them look round in shape. 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 Flower
Johor Katun Tree Kris

This piece is absolutely a priceless relic.

Coin Spec
Description Pohon katun with 15 katuns attached type C, hexagonal with 7 dots, SS32A
Weight : TBA
Rarity : RRRR
Ref : Saran's SS32A Pg 124

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ancient Artifact Review 104 : Antique Jewish Hebrew tiles from Mellah Jewish Quarter Fes Morocco ( 19th Century)

This is a rare ceramic tile from the Mellah ( Jewish Quarter) of Fes Morocco from 19th Century. The tile is decorated with floral and vegetal motives with some Hebrew alphabets in the middle row.
The inscription looks like  ברך  (Kaph , Resh , Beth ) pronounced as Barak means blessing.
Originally the word "barak"  used in Genesis 24:11 means " to kneel". However a derived word means "to show respect" or "to bless" is used in Genesis 12:2.

It is very common for Jewish who are settling in Mellah Fes to decorate their houses with tiles inscribed with blessings or word of wisdoms.
In a book, Pottery from Morocco 19th-20th c entury, by Rachel Hasson, "Fes was the most important centre for clay vessels in Morocco.... large quantities of tiles were produced in Fes and were used as an architectural decoration. Most items were decorated with paint and then glazed"

From an auction of similar tile which can be seen at the link below, 6 pieces of tiles were sold for USD4,841
Kedem Auction

Artifact Specs :

Item : Ceramic Tile
Content : Vegetal motives with Hebrew word Kaph, Resh, Beth ( Barak) glazed in turquoise
Dim : 10cm x 10cm x 2cm
Date : 19th Century CE
Purchased Price :
Reference : Pottery from Morocco 19th-20th Century, p.4

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Seventh International Society for Arabic Papyrology (ISAP) Conference - Berlin ( 20-23 March 2018)

In March 2018, I attended 4 days conference on Arabic Papyrology. It was held in Berlin in various museums & institutions.
It was an amazing conference with so many experts presenting their research especially on Arabic papyrus. In addition to that, we have the opportunity to access first hand papyrus collection in Berlin Papyrus Collection & the Manuscript Collection of the Berlin Staatsbibiotek.

Below are the conference program :


Venue: Bodemuseum, Gobelinsaal, Am Kupfergraben, 10117 Berlin
  • Matt Malczycki (Auburn University/ISAP), Andreas Kaplony (LMU Munich/ISAP): Opening
  • Julien Chapuis (Bodemuseum): Welcome
  • Friederike Seyfried (Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung): Welcome

  • Tomasz Barański (University of Warsaw): The Arabization of Lower-Rank Officials in Early Islamic Egypt: A Reconsideration of Two Bilingual Tax Receipts from the Heracleopolites/Ihnās
  • Jelle Bruning (Leiden University): Organizing the War Fleet in Early-Islamic Egypt
  • Lajos Berkes (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): Greek as an Administrative Language in the 8th-century Caliphate

15:00 - 17:00 Session 3: Workshop on Arabic Documents (Papyrus Collection), Workshop on Arabic Manuscripts (Staatsbibliothek), Visit of Bodemuseum, Visit of Neues Museum


Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, Holzlaube, Fabeckstraße 23-25, 14195 Berlin
9:00 – 12:00 Session 4: Omayyad Imperial Documents II (Chair: Andreas Kaplony)

  • Beatrice Gruendler, Konrad Hirschler, Johannes Niehoff-Panagiotidis, Tonio Sebastian Richter (Freie Universität Berlin): Welcome
  • Nils Purwins (Freie Universität Berlin): The Noble Ones of Ērānšahr: About wuzurgān, āzādāz, dahīgān, šahrīgān
  • Said Reza Huseini (Leiden University): Thinking in Arabic, Writing in Sogdian: Diplomatic Relations Between the Arabs and the Local Rulers in Transoxiana in the Early Eighth Century
  • Esther Garel (IFAO Cairo): People of Edfu: Some Considerations on Onomastics and Prosopography in the Papyri from the Early Arab Period
  • Vincent Walter (Leipzig University): "For you know about my life and the prison I am in": The Late Coptic Paitos Dossier
  • Petra Sijpesteijn (Leiden University): "After God, I turn to you." Religious Expressions in Arabic Papyrus Letters

12:00 - 13:00 Session 5: Hands-On Discussion of Documents, Archives and Collections (Poster Session)

  • Ahmed Nabil Maghraby (Sadat City University): Fragment of a Lost Hadith Collection of al-Muʾtamar ibn Sulaymān al-Taymī Preserved on Paper
  • Alon Dar (Leiden University): Power or Persuasion: Qurra b. Sharīk's Letters
  • Ahmed Kamal Mamdouh (Cairo University): Two Unpublished Personal Letters from al-Ashmūnain
  • Tamer Mokhtar Mohamed (Helwan University): Four Arabic Inscriptions on Wooden Panels
  • Lahcen Daaïf (Université Lumière Lyon 2): The Archive of a Christian Wealthy Family from Ṭuṭūn
  • Andreas Kaplony, Daniel Potthast, Johannes Thomann, Sebastian Metz, Angélique Kleiner, Rocio Daga Portillo, Leonora Sonego, Michail Hradek (LMU Munich): The Arabic Papyrology Database
15:00-18:00 Session 6: Literary Documents (Chair: Beatrice Gruendler)

  • Mathieu Tillier (Université Paris IV-Sorbonne) / Naïm Vanthieghem (CNRS Paris): A Quranic Manuscript on Papyrus From the End of the 7th Century and the Beginning of the 8th Century in the Hamburg Staatsbibliothek
  • Ursula Bsees (University of Vienna/University of Cambridge): Some from the Zabur, some from the Prophet: Religious Advice Collected as Seen in P.Vind.inv. A.P. 1854a+b
  • Hazem Hussein Abbas Ali (Beni-Suef University): Reconstructing Dhū r-Rumma's Poem Through an Unpublished Document from the P.Cair.Arab. Collection
  • Edmund Hayes (Leiden University): The Epistolary Imam: Comparing the Correspondence of the Shii Imam with Documentary Letters
  • Samer Ben Brahim / Mahmoud Kozae / Rima Redwan (Freie Universität Berlin): Digital Approaches to a Mutable Textual Tradition: Kalīla wa-Dimna in Manuscripts from the 13th to 19th Centuries
  • Yousry Elseadawy (Freie Universität Berlin): Scribes and Manuscripts: The Scribes of Arabic Manuscripts: A Historical and Codicological Approach
  • Fred Donner (University of Chicago): The Earliest Extant Arabic Letter? Several Puzzles in Search of a Solution


Venue: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Grimm-Zentrum, Auditorium, Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 1-3, 10117 Berlin
9:00 – 12:00 Session 7: Economic Documents (Chair: Lajos Berkes)

  • Lajos Berkes (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): Welcome
  • Cecilia Palombo (Princeton University): Power, Exaction, and Paternalism in the Enforcement of Taxation: The Egyptian Monastic Context, 2nd‒3rd Centuries
  • Janneke de Jong (Leiden University): Who Did What in Eighth-Century Aphrodito? Some Observations on Tax Documents and Prosopography
  • Saied el-Maghawry Mohamed (Sadat City University): Wheat Through Arabic Papyri in the World Wide Collections: Rare Unpublished Texts
  • Matt Malczycki (Auburn University): Livestock Sales and Social History
  • Mohamed N. Abdelrahman Gad (King Faisal University): An Unpublished Arabic Document from Mamluk Jerusalem: Ḥaram Šarīf no. 646
  • Rocio Daga Portillo (LMU Munich): Writing in Arabic After the Christian Conquest: Toledo Documents Comparing Islamic and Christian Arabic Documents

15:00-18:00 Session 8: Scribal Culture (Chair: Konrad Hirschler)

  • Abdullah al-Hatlani (Leiden University): What’s in a Name? Names, Kunyas, and Nisbas in Islamic-Era Inscriptions from Arabia
  • Eline Scheerlinck (Leiden University): "We will not require anything of you, except for...": Permits, Protection and Problem Solving in Early Islamic Egypt
  • Eugenio Garosi (LMU Munich/University of Basel): An Early Islamic Validity Cause: P.Ness. 56 Revisited
  • Maher A. Eissa (Fayoum University): More Late Coptic Texts from the National Archive of Egypt
  • Daisy Livingston (SOAS London): Late-Mamlūk Archival Practices on Ice: The View from Sultan al-Ghawrī's Waqf Archive
  • Tarek M. Muhammad / Noha A. Salem (Ain Shams University, Cairo), Tārīkh Mulūk al-Qusṭanṭīniyya (The History of the Kings of Constantinople): An Attempt to Know its Author and Sources


Venue: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Einsteinsaal, Jägerstrasse 22/23, 10117 Berlin

9:00-12:00 Session 9: Sciences and Wrap-Up (Chair: Michael Marx)

  • Michael Marx (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy): Welcome
  • Gideon Bohak (Tel Aviv University): Arabic Manuals of Twitch Divination from the Cairo Genizah and from Qusayr
  • Johannes Thomann (University of Zurich): Scientific Texts-Books and their Application in Practice: Interdependencies of Literary and Documentary Evidence of Scientific Activities
  • Wrap-up
  • ISAP General Meeting

This conference really enriched with some knowledge of Arabic papyrus. In addition to that I get to enlarge my network with experts in Papyrology. I was blessed to have met some prominent figures during this conference. To name fews :
Dr. Petra Sijpesteijn
Dr. Andreas Kaplony
Dr. Fred Donner
Dr. Beatrice Gruendler