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
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.
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
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). 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 شاخص الا علي There is no man except Ali
When the name of Ali is mentioned, it became clear that this talisman plate is used by the Shiite.
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
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.
Content : Old Testament
Date : 19th CE
Origin : Unknown
Place acquired :Istanbul
Illuminations : Nil
Calligraphy : Hebrew script
Number of lines :191 lines per page
Inks : Main text in black
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 : USDRemarks :
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.
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).
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 further dots or circle 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
This piece is absolutely a priceless relic.
Workshops for Interventive & Preventive Conservation of Paper, Textiles & Metal ( Zakynthos Island, Greece)
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 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.
Monday, June 12, 2017
This is a large brass container used to measure rice. It is called Gantang in Malay language. It measures at 17cm x 18 cm with weight about 3.10kg.
This Gantang originated from the Sultanate of Brunei dated 1322 AH ( 1899 CE). There is an inscription written in Jawi in Malay language,
" Inilah gantang perintah Brunei Al Malik Al Adil tarikh fi sanah 1322" translated, " This is the gantang officially ordered by Brunei The Just Ruler in year 1322 AH)
Similar gantang was mentioned in the book " The message and the Monsoon : Islamic Art of Southeast Asia" on page 205. The Gantang was dated 1239 AH( 1823 CE). Other references about the gantang are in michaelbackmanltd.com page under items 3281 & 1304.
References:Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, The Message and the Monsoon: Islamic Art of Southeast Asia, IAMM Publications, 2005.
Singh, B., Malay Brassware, National Museum of Singapore, 1985.
http://www.michaelbackmanltd.com items 3281 & 1304
Dim : 170mm x 180mm
Date : 1322 AH ( 1899 CE)
Material : Cast Brass
Origin : Brunei
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Antique Coin Review 116 : The first dated Islamic coin from Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan era, 20 reign year of Yazgird III Sassanian / 31 AH ( 652 CE )
This is the first dated coin assigned to the Muslim. This coin was struck during the reign of Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan ( one of prominent companions of Prophet Muhammad pbuh) on Yazdgird III silver drachm. The date on this coin shows regnal year 20 which is the date of Yazgird III death and equivalent to 31AH ( 652 CE). All legends on both sides of this coin were inscribed in Pahlawi except the Arabic verse on the lower right margin on the obverse, بسم الله
Thing to note on this coin, the Muslim kept the Sasanian ruler name and title with the exception of adding the word Bismillah on the margin. The usage of sasanian dirhams continued till the reign of Ummayad. However during the rule of Muawiya. the Sasanian ruler names were removed and replaced with the name of Governors in Pahlawi script.
Yazdegerd III, (died 651, Merv, Sāsānian Empire) the last king of the Sāsānian dynasty (reigned 632–651), the son of Shahryār and a grandson of Khosrow II. During Caliph Umar reign, he invited Yazdgird III into Islam however he refused. When Sasanian Empire fell, Yazdgird III fled to the east and was murdered by a robber in 651CE.
This is info on Uthman Ibn Affan I get from Aisha Stacey article:
Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) was the third of Prophet Muhammad’s successors. He was known as the leader of the faithful and ruled for approximately 12 years. The first six years were times of relative tranquillity and peace, however the last years of his reign were marred by internal conflict, and pockets of rebels trying to cause havoc throughout the Caliphate.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) praised his forbearing character and said “After Lot, Uthman is the first man who, with his wife, has given up the comfort of his home for the sake of Allah”. After some time Uthman and Ruqiayah (may Allah be pleased with them) returned to Mecca to be with the struggling Muslims and their beloved father and Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) knew the Quran by heart and had intimate knowledge of the context and circumstances relating to each verse. The Quran had been gathered during the time of Abu Bakr and was in the safekeeping of Prophet Muhammad’s wife Hafsah.
Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) took possession of the originals and ordered some of the most trusted companions to make careful copies. He then ordered all other unofficial copies to be burned or otherwise destroyed. Five official copies were sent to the greatest cities of the Muslim Caliphate. Original copies exist to this day in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.
The final six years of Uthman’s reign were marked by rebellion. Some of the governors that had been appointed during the reign of Uthman were heavy handed and to some extent unjust. In this way, the seeds of dissension spread and many of the people began to love the luxuries of life that Uthman had warned against. Conspiracies arose and it was difficult for Uthman to discern friend from foe. He was reluctant to shed the blood of any Muslim however rebellious they may be. Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) preferred to persuade with kindness and generosity for he always remembered the words of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him): “Once the sword is unsheathed among my followers, it will not be sheathed until the Last Day.”
The rebels called for Uthman to step down and indeed many of the companions advised him to do so. Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), now an old man of more than 80 years, heard the words of his beloved prophet ringing in his ears and refused to stand down from his position. “Perhaps Allah will clothe you with a shirt, Uthman and if the people want you to take it off, do not take it off for them.”
Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) remained true to his covenant but after a long siege, the rebels broke into his house and murdered him. As the assassin’s sword struck, Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) was reciting the following verse.
“So if they believe in the same as you believe in, then they have been [rightly] guided; but if they turn away, they are only in dissension, and Allah will be sufficient for you against them. And He is the Hearing, the Knowing.”(Quran 2:137)
Check and compare my other Arab-Sasanian coin below :
Caliph Muawiya Abu Sufyan Coin
Item : Dirham of Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan ( struck on Yazdgird Coin)
Obv :A crowned bust imitating Yazdgird III the Sasanian king
All legends are written in Pahlavi except the Arabic written بسم الله lower right on margin
The word on the left is ' pct-afzud= may his splendor increase
The words on the right is yzdkrt = Yazdgird
Rev :Fire altar; two attendants holding swords, facing. Star to left, crescent to right. Four crescents
containing stars outside triple border. Mint name to right . Date to left. Legends in Pahlavi
The word on the left is wyst’= 20
The word on the right is SK = Sakastan
Date : (20 Yazdgird Era), i.e., 31 AH / 652 CE.
Dim : 33 mm
Weight : 4.10gm
Denom : Dirham
Metal : AR
Mint : Sakastan
Rarity : R
Purchased Price : USD
Monday, August 8, 2016
Ancient Manuscript Review 201 : Antique Quran Arabic Islamic Papyrus in Pseudo Hijazi-Kufi script from Egypt ( 8th Century)
This is a very interesting papyrus fragment. The fragment is only 70mm x 50mm and the writing is almost unreadable except the word الله . This could be a letter fragment or part of Quran verses.
I purchased this fragment from USA with Certificate of Authenticity that its from 8th Century CE.
The tricky part is to date this fragment. Since to test this fragment with Carbon Dating is very expensive, the other way to determine its age is with paleography.
As we know that papyrus has been in use in Egypt since few thousand years prior to the coming of Islam. When the Arab took control of Egypt in the 7th Century CE, the usage of papyrus as a medium of writing continued until the 10th Century CE , then the paper started becoming the main source.
Hence we can estimate this fragment dated between 7th - 10th Century CE.
Now lets look at the calligraphy. From the first instance it seemed to me that the script belonged to same family with Hijazi-Kufi script due to its angular shape and less cursive shape.
Geoffrey Khan in his writing on The Development of Early Arabic Document Script characterized the script written on Egyptian papyri from 3rd century AH onward shows a significant increase in the cursive tendencies whereas the earlier papyri is written in more angular shape and utilized a variety of archaic letter forms that resemble Hijazi script from early literary manuscripts.
Browsing through an Arabic Papyrus handbook, I tried to match the calligraphy with some dated papyrus to estimate tentatively the time it was written. I found a strikingly similarity in calligraphy execution between this fragment with papyrus Papyrus E17861 which according to Historian Fred Donner was written sometime in 7th Century CE.
Below are the letters comparison made with Papyrus E17861. Note the letter ك at the beginning and at the end of the word, the letter ع , the letter ر and lastly the word الله .
Further explanation of these archaic letters are covered by Geoffrey Khan in his paper mentioned earlier above.
This fragment doesn't give too many clues due to it small size, however based on this paleography study, I could safely assume that this fragment is written in most likely in pesudo Hijazi / transitory Hijazi if not Hijazi and from 7th -8th Century CE.
I welcome any feedback on this fragment.
See my other Arabic papyrus below
Item : Islamic Papyus Fragment
Content : Islamic / Quranic
Dim : 70mm x 50mm
Date : 8th century CE
Copyist : N/A
Origin : Egypt
Calligraphy : Pseudo Hijazi
Purchased Price :US
Saturday, August 6, 2016
This is a priceless antique English plate decorated with Malay / Jawi motif & pantun (poems). This plate was manufactured by Williams Adams & Sons company sometime between 1819 CE to 1864 CE. This company was established in the early nineteenth century and great supplier of wares to India & the Far East. The trademark can be seen at the bottom of this plate, written W. Adams And Son under a medallion inside which is inscribed the name of the motif viz MALAY.
"The plate was printed using the process of transfer-printing, which was first used in England around 1750. The design is engraved on a metal plate, then impressed on a thin piece of paper, and transferred to the surface of the pottery or porcelain."
The pantun inscribed on the rims written :
" Yang membuat namanya Adam,
wakilnya Tolson di Betawi,
Syair dan pantun banyaklah ragam,
Janganlah tuan kikir membeli"
Anderson Tolson is probably a retailing firm in Batavia.
The pantun inscribed 4 lines in the centre written :
Pinggan ramping dadanya bidang
Susunya seperti telur kepudang
Sangatlah suka patik memandang
Seperti puteri di gunung Ledang
There is an interesting research & article written by Henri Chambert-Loir from Almanac Indonesia & The Malay World in regards to the this type of plate. It was quite extensive research and dug further to its origin and its design. The handwriting print on this plate belongs to Khatib Muharis. Even though his name is not printed on this plate, there are others with the same handwriting bearing his name. Diameter of this plate is 27cm
See below link to see what else Dr Henri said about this plate writing tradition :
Dr Henri talk on pinggan pantun
Similar plate was seen in Muzium Warisan Melayu UPM, check below link about this plate :
Pinggan Pantun in Muzium Warisan Melayu
See below my other Malay Plate
Eating the text : English plates decorated with Malay poems, by Henri Chambert-Loir ( published in Indonesia & The Malay World 1994)
Crescent Moon : Islamic Art & Civilisation South East Asia, pg 78
Ancient Artifact Review 98 : Antique Andalus Muslim Spain Quranic Inscribed lead Amulet / Talisman ( 11th - 12th Century)
I couldnt decipher entire inscriptions. I could only read some text and guessing the rest. I hope anyone who has sharp eyes can help me with this inscription.
The reverse of this amulet, tentatively I could read :
بسم ألله الرحمن الرحيم شَهِدَ أللَهُ أنّه
لا إله إلّا هو و الملا
ئكة و أُوْلُوا العلم
قآئِما بالقسط لا إله
إلّا هو العزيز
Say, "He is Allah , [who is] One,
Allah , the Eternal Refuge.
He neither begets nor is born,
Nor is there to Him any equivalent."
Allah witnesses that there is no deity except Him, and [so do] the angels and those of knowledge - [that He is] maintaining [creation] in justice. There is no deity except Him, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
Item : Tasliman / Amulet
Content : Quranic verses
Dim : 30mm x 25mm
Date : 11th - 12th Century CE
Material : Lead
Origin : Andalusia, Spain
This Quran is dated Rabiul Thani 1271 AH ( Dec 1854 CE ) and copied by Hassan Bin Sayed.
Check my other Somalia Qurans on below links :
Somali Quran in a Box
Somali Quran (small)
Somali Quran (small)
Somali Quran ( big)
Item : A Somalian complete Quran in 7 books with a palm leaf box
Content : Quran written in Naskh ( or Sudani) with vowel & diacritical signs.The world " Allah" in red. 11 lines per page
Dim : 6.5" x 4.5" x 1" ( 7 books in total)
Date : 1271 AH ( 1854 CE)
Copyist : Hassan Bin Sayed
Origin : Somalia
Calligraphy : twisted Naskh or Sudani
Design : leather.
Purchased Price :USD
The coin was minted in 574 CE during the time of Khusru I ( known as Khusro Anushiruwan by the Persian). He ruled Persia from 531 – 579 CE.
This coin was struck in 574 CE. Take note that the Muslim Prophet Mohammad pbuh was born in 570 CE.
Khusro I bust facing right , wearing a crown/hat with 2 stars on his head. There are 2 pahlavi scripts to the left and right of the king's portrait within the borders.
On the right there is a word, HWSRWD = Khusro (Name of the ruler)
On the left there is a word, PZWT means “ May his splendour increase”
There are 2 attendants flanking a flaming altar with a crescent and a star on their heads. This scene was a symbolic for the Zoroastrianism.
On the right there is a word, FL = Furati Mishan ( a mint city in Southern Iraq)
On the left there is a word ,èḥlèḥl= 44 ( Regnal year)
This is what I found in Wiki about this Emperor :
He was the successor of his father Kavadh I (488–531). Khosrow I was the twenty-second Sasanian Emperor of Persia, and one of its most celebrated emperors.
He laid the foundations of many cities and opulent palaces, and oversaw the repair of trade roads as well as the building of numerous bridges and dams. His reign is furthermore marked by the numerous wars fought against the Sassanid's neighboring arch rivals, the Roman-Byzantine Empire, as part of the already centuries-long lasting Roman-Persian Wars. The most important wars under his reign were the Lazic War which was fought over Colchis (western Georgia-Abkhazia) and the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 572–591. During Khosrow's ambitious reign, art and science flourished in Persia and the Sasanian Empire reached its peak of glory and prosperity. His rule was preceded by his father's and succeeded by Hormizd IV. Khosrow Anushiruwan is one of the most popular emperors in Iranian culture and literature and, outside of Iran, his name became, like that of Caesar in the history of Rome, a designation of the Sasanian kings.
He also introduced a rational system of taxation, based upon a survey of landed possessions, which his father had begun, and tried in every way to increase the welfare and the revenues of his empire. His army was in discipline decidedly superior to the Byzantines, and apparently was well paid. He was also interested in literature and philosophical discussions. Under his reign chess was introduced from India, and the famous book of Kalilah and Dimnah was translated. He thus became renowned as a wise king.
Check my other Sassanian coin below :
Date ......... 574 CE
Ruler........... Khursu I
Mint Mark................ FL
Province.............. Furati Mishan
Regnal year.............. 44
Approx. diameter............. 30 mm
Approx. weight in grams............... 3.75 grams
Friday, August 5, 2016
Obverse : السلطان العادل
AsSultan Al Adil
Reverse : علي ابن منور شاه
Ali Ibnu Munawir Shah
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.
Obv: As Sultan Al Adil
Rev: Ali Ibn Munawar Shah
Weight : 0.62 gm
Dim : 13mm
Date : 1586 - 1589 CE
Denom : Mas
Material : Gold
Reference : A 12 (2) pg 169 ( Jaarboek Voor Munt-en Penningkunde)
Ancient Artifact Review 97 : Antique Qing Dynasty Blue & White Plate with Arabic Motifs ( 17-18th Century)
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.
Some of the Arabic squiggles are so obvious the rendition of the word الله
According to Crescent Moon Book, page 236, the practice of decorating blue and white porcelain with Islamic inscriptions started from the reign of Emperor Zhengde ( 1506-21) who was sympathetic to Islam ( or could have been a Muslim himself). Over the time, the quality of calligraphy almost illegible suggesting the artists' lack of Arabic calligraphy knowledge. By 19th Century, this calligraphy decoration in late provincial Min Yao ware ( Kitchen Qing) degraded into squibbles.
The plate is 100mm diameter.
Check below my other plate
Blue & White 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.
Ref : Crescent Moon : Islamic Art & Civilisation in Southeast Asia, pg 236