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, November 30, 2014

Ancient Manuscript Review 143 : Antique Ottoman Prayer Manuscript ( 19th Century)

This is an Ottoman prayer manuscript, undated but estimated from 19th Century. The manuscripts contains selected verses from Quran, the 99 names of Allah and some talismans. Written in Naskh script and every page gold gilded. Leather covers with gold embossed on the rims.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Ottoman Prayer manuscript
Content : Selected Quranic verses, prayers & Talismans
 Dim :  150mm  x  100mm
 Date : 19th Century
Copyist : Unknown
Origin : Turkey
Calligraphy : Naskh
Design : Written in Naskh scripts in black & verse marker in gold. Border is gold gilded
Purchased Price :US

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Antique Artifact Review 31 : Antique Javanese Betel Nut Container / Tepak Sirih ( 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 betel nut container or tepak sirih would be exchanged between the bride & groom family as mutual acceptance of the marriage.
This brass tepak sirih in review is from Java Island Indonesia.

Dim : 30mm x 20cm
Date : 19th Century CE
Material : Brass
Origin : Java island, Indonesia

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ancient Manuscript Review 142 : Antique Ottoman Qur'an Fragments 24k Gold Illuminated ( 1101 AH = 1690 CE)

These are some folios of handwritten Quran which I can saved from Istanbul Bazaar almost 10 years ago. Unfortunately it is not a complete Quran. It was signed and dated to 1101 AH by Hafiz Ibrahim Al Diyarbakir. The borders and headings are gold gilded with 24K gold.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Ottoman Quran Fragments
Content : Quran
 Dim :  140mm  x  100mm ( folio)
Date : 1101 AH ( 1690 CE)
Copyist : Hafiz Ibrahim Al Diyarbakir
Origin : Turkey
Calligraphy : Naskh
Design : Written in Naskh scripts in black & diacritical marks in red. 24K gold gilded
Purchased Price :US

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ancient Coin Review 66 : Antique Biblical Widow's Mite / Lepton of Alexander Jannaues King of Judaea ( 103-76 BCE)

This is a bronze mite / lepton minted during the time of Alexander Jannaues, King of Judaea 103-76 BC.
According to Hendin description, this mite is identified as type 1150c, minted in Jerusalem 95-76 BC.

"Because the lepton (plural: lepta) and prutah (plural: prutot) were the lowest denomination coins that circulated in Jerusalem during Christ's lifetime, they are believed to be the coins referred to in the Biblical story of the poor widow. The lepta of Alexander Jannaeus are the most common and lowest cost possible "widow's mite" type. Although these coins were minted long before Christ's lifetime, they were still in circulation in the first century A.D. The actual size of a prutah is less than 1/2 inch in diameter. A lepton is usually about the same diameter as a pencil eraser. Since the lepton is the very smallest denomination, it is more likely the true "widow's mite." Lepta were often carelessly and crudely struck, usually off center and on small flans. Because they circulated for a long period, they are most often very worn and legends are usually illegible." ( edited ref Numiswiki)

This coin is particularly mentioned in the bible :

Mark 12:41-44New International Version (NIV)

The Widow’s Offering

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Coin Specs

Item : A Mite / A Lepta
Obv : Star of eight rays and central pellet surrounded by diadem
Rev : Greek legendΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝ∆ΡΟΥ (of King Alexander), upside down anchor, dot border outside of legend.
Date :95-76 BC
Dim :12mm
Weight : 1.20gm
Denom : Lepton
Metal : AE
Rarity :
 Purchased Price : USD

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Antique Artifact Review 30 : Antique Belouch Prayer Rug ( 1731 CE)

This is an old rug belonged to Belouchi tribe dated 1731 CE. Belouchi tribe settles in the Northeastern Iran. This rug was acquired few years ago.

Item : Beloushi Prayer Rug
Date : 1731 CE
Dim : 1350mm x 780mm
Design : 3 Mihrabs design. Balushi wool with natural dye

Ancient Manuscript Review 141 : Antique Malay Manuscript ( 19th Century)

This is a manuscript on Arabic grammar written in an old Malay language. Acquired from Central Market in Malaysia in 2014. Some pages are burned due to the acid from the ink.

Undated but it is estimated from 18th Century based on the watermark on the paper showing a partial ProPatria.This paper was produced in Dublin Ireland circa 1760 CE. Hence it is safe to assume based on this watermark the age of this manuscript. The British Army might have brought the paper supply to Malaysia during the colonization era.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Malay Manuscript
Content : Arabic Grammar
Dim :  200mm  x  170mm x 10mm
Date : 18th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Malaysia
Calligraphy : Malay
Design : Written in Malay scripts in red & black with Arabic with some translation in Malay
Purchased Price :US

Ancient Artifact Review 29 : Antique Ottoman Calligraphers' Scissors (19th Century)

This pair of scissors is a part of calligrapher kits. The scribes normally have 2 type of scissors; the first one is called a calligrapher scissors and the second one is called book binder scissors.
The one in this review is the first one which is the calligrapher scissors.
This scissors is used to cut thin paper. It has long and thin blades so that it can cut a thin paper with a single move. When their blades are closed and on each other, they look as if to have a single blade.
The scissors in review is made of steel and ornamented in gold.The inlays have floral & foliate motives on both side of the scissors. Handles are made of brass.

Artifact Specs

Item : Antique  Ottoman Calligrapher Scissors
Description : A pair of steel scissors with floral & foliate gold inlaid and brass handles
Dim : 260mm
Date : 18-19th century
Origin : Turkey
Purchased Price :US

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ancient Artifact Review 28 : Malay Chinese Peranakan Silver Pillow Ends / Plates / Tampok Bantal ( 19th Century)

These are decorated silver plates which are sewn onto both ends of a bolster ( bantal peluk). These are typical Malaysia or Singapore origin.
In Malay and Peranakan Chinese weddings, the bridal bed is decorated including pillows and bolsters. For a royal wedding, gold plates are used instead.
These silver plates are Peranakan Chinese origin. This is due to the fact that there are engravings of birds among the floral & foliate motives. Malay plates normally do not have any animal engravings due to the Islamic tradition.

Specification :
Description : Peranakan Chinese bolster plates / Tampok Bantal
OD : 4 inches
Material : Silver

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ancient Coin Review 65 : Al Nasir Yusuf Salah Al Din II ( The last Ayyubid Caliph, 1237-1260 CE)

This is a Dirham from the reign of Ayyubid Caliph Al Nasir Yusuf Salahdin II, the great grandson of Saladin the great and the last Ayyubid ruler.

He became the ruler of Aleppo ( Ayyubid) when he was only 7 years old in 1236 CE.
When Baghdad was sacked by the Mongols in 1258CE, the news has terrified An Nasir Yusuf. Some of An Nasir's advisors recommended surrendering to Mongols as the best solution. Ayyubid allies, Baibars & Mamluks were angry with the recommendation and attempted to assasinate An Nasir but he managed to escape. The ruler position was filled by AnNasir's uncle, Turanshah who refused to surrender to the Mongols. In 1259 after a siege of 7 days, the Mongols invaded Aleppo and massacred its population for 5 days.
An Nasir who was in Egypt was kidnapped and sent to the Mongols and executed in 1260 CE.

Coin Specs

Item : Dirham of Caliph Al Nasir Yusuf Salah Al Din II
Obv : Al Imam Al Mu'tasir Khalifatul Mukminin
Rev : AlMalik AlNasr Yusuf Abdul Malik Muhammad
Weight : 2.85gm
Diam : 22mm
Denom : Dirham
Metal : AR
Year : Unknown
Mint : Aleppo
Rarity :
Purchased Price : USD

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ancient Manuscript Review 140 : Antique Purim Blessings Scroll ( 19th Century)

I purchased this scroll from a contact a while ago in 2014. It was written in hebrew on leather. I couldn't identify the content of this scroll. It is measured at 12cm x 13cm with blank on the recto.

However one of visitors of this website has identified this scroll contains blessings & prayers before reading the Megillah ( Ester Scroll). This recitation is done on the evening & morning of the Purim holiday. According to him there are 3 blessings are to be recited before the reading and one blessing after. Thanks Isadore.

Searching from the web, here's what I found about this blessings.

"Purim is celebrated with a public reading—usually in the synagogue—of the Book of Esther (Megillah Esther), which tells the story of the holiday. Under the rule of King Ahashverosh, Haman, the king's prime minister, plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. His plan is foiled by Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of Persia from destruction. The reading of the megillah typically is a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise-making when Haman's name is read aloud.
Purim is an unusual holiday in many respects. First, Esther is the only biblical book in which God is not mentioned. Second, Purim, like Hanukkah, traditionally is viewed as a minor festival, but elevated to a major holiday as a result of the Jewish historical experience. Over the centuries, Haman became the embodiment of every anti-Semite in every land where Jews were oppressed. The significance of Purim lies not so much in how it began, but in what it has become: a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival against all odds." ( ref : Purim: Reform Judaism Web)

Blessings before Megillah reading

Before the reading of the Megillah on Purim, both at night and again in the morning, the reader of the Megillah recites the following three blessings and at the end of each blessing the congregation then responds by answering "Amen" after each of the blessings.[36] At the morning reading of the Megillah the congregation should have in mind that the third blessing applies to the other observances of the day as well as to the reading of the Megillah:[36]
Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us regarding the reading of the Megillah.
In Hebrew: ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על מקרא מגלה
Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.
In Hebrew: ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם שעשה נסים לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה
Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season.
In Hebrew: ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה

Blessing and recitations after Megillah reading

After the Megillah reading, each member of the congregation who has heard the reading recites the following blessing.[36] This blessing is not recited unless a minyan was present for the Megillah reading:[36]
Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the Universe, (the God) Who takes up our grievance, judges our claim, avenges our wrong; Who brings just retribution upon all enemies of our soul and exacts vengeance for us from our foes. Blessed are You Hashem, Who exacts vengeance for His people Israel from all their foes, the God Who brings salvation.
In Hebrew:
ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם האל הרב את ריבנו והדן את דיננו והנוקם את נקמתינו והמשלם גמול לכל איבי נפשנו והנפרע לנו מצרינו ברוך אתה יהוה הנפרע לעמו ישראל מכל צריהם האל המושיע
After the nighttime Megillah reading the following two paragraphs are recited:[36]
The first one is an acrostic poem that starts with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, starting with "Who balked (...אשר הניא) the counsel of the nations and annulled the counsel of the cunning. When a wicked man stood up against us (...בקום עלינו), a wantonly evil branch of Amalek's offspring..." and ending with "The rose of Jacob (ששנת יעקב) was cheerful and glad, when they jointly saw Mordechai robed in royal blue. You have been their eternal salvation (תשועתם היית לנצח), and their hope throughout generations."
The second is recited at night, but after the morning Megillah reading only this is recited:
The rose of Jacob was cheerful and glad, when they jointly saw Mordechai robed in royal blue. You have been their eternal salvation, and their hope throughout generations.
At night and in the morning:
To make known that all who hope in You will not be shamed (להודיע שכל קויך לא יבשו); nor ever be humiliated, those taking refuge in You. Accursed be Haman who sought to destroy me, blessed be Mordechai the Yehudi. Accursed be Zeresh the wife of my terrorizer, blessed be Esther who sacrificed for me - and Charvonah, too, be remembered for good (וגם חרבונה זכור לטוב) [for suggesting to the King that Haman be hanged on the gallows (Esther 7:9).]
In Hebrew:
שושנת יעקב צהלה ושמחה בראותם יחד תכלת מרדכי. תשועתם היית לנצח ותקותם בכל דור ודור. להודיע שכל קויך לא יבשו ולא יכלמו לנצח כל החוסים בך. ארור המן אשר בקש לאבדי ברוך מרדכי היהודי. ארורה זרש אשת מפחידי ברוכה אסתר בעדי וגם חרבונה זכור לטוב

 ( Ref: Wikipedia)


"In the Book of Esther, we read that Purim is a time for "feasting and merrymaking," as well as for "sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor" (Esther 9:22). In addition to reading the Megillah, celebrants dress in costumes, have festive parties, perform "Purim-spiels," silly theatrical adaptations of the story of the Megillah, send baskets of food (mishloach manot) to friends, and give gifts to the poor (matanot l'evyonim).

Hamantaschen are three-cornered pastries filled with poppy seeds (mohn in Yiddish), fruit preserves, chocolate, or other ingredients that are traditionally eaten on Purim.  In Israel during the weeks leading up to Purim, the aroma of freshly baked hamantaschen can be smelled on every block." ( ref : Purim: Reform Judaism web)

When I see this Hamantaschen. automatically it reminds me of similar Arabic pastries I have eaten in Turkey and Lebanon. In Lebanon similar pastry is called Fatayer mainly filled with spinach and I have seen in Turkey filled with meat & cheese.

Ancient Artifact Review 27 : Antique Afghanistan Writing Case & Ink well (19th Century)

This is an old Qalam case which measures  26cm long with an inkwell at one end. It is made of brass and plain. It was purchased from Abu Dhabi and the seller claimed it was acquired from Afghanistan. I have a doubt about this claim. I tried to search around anything similar to this but couldn't find any. Nonetheless I discovered from some image googling, that the ink pot per se from this case is quite similar to an Indian ink pot. The round lid with a small round knob on it looks typical Indian design.
I would reckon that this writing case came from India.

It looks different than my other pen case below
Ottoman Divit
Giant Ottoman Divit
Qajar Qalamdan

Dim : 26cm
Date : 19th Century
Material : Brass
Origin : Afghanistan / India

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ancient Manuscript Review 139 : Antique Muhaqqaq Large Quran Leaf ( 16th Century)

This is a Quran leaf which I acquired from Book Bazaar in Istanbul recently. It is written in Muhaqqaq script and the leaf is quite large, 13 x 10 inches.
It's a bit tricky to determine the age of this folio.
Muhaqqaq script first emerged in the 10th century. Though there are some evidences that muhaqqaq is used to write Quran during the time of IIkhanid Era ( 1256-1353 CE), it was popularized and widely written especially for the Al Quran during the time of Mamluk Sultanate ( 1250-1517 CE). After that it was displaced gradually by Thuluth & Naskh script especially during the Ottoman Sultanate.
Judging from the type of Muhaqqaq in this folio, this khat is typical Yaqut Al Mu'tasimi style. Yaqut died in 1298 CE. Hence we are sure that this folio must be not earlier than 13th Century.
This folio layout is pretty plain, without any decoration or gold gilded. The verse makers are also plain with just 3inverted  "comma" in red ink. Comparing with IIkhanid & Mamluk's typical lavish & richly illuminated Quran, this folio couldn't be from these sultanate periods. Hence this folio could not be earlier than 15th Century.
According to Adam Gacek ( Author of Arabic Manuscripts), the Muhaqqaq was almost discontinued in Ottoman Turkey after 16th Century in favor of Naskh script. In addition to that, from 17th century onward, it is not quite common to write such large Quran especially in Muhaqqaq script during the Ottoman era and most of the Quran was produced in medium size.
Based on these information, this folio ( of the Quran) must have been written during the transition time, i.e from 16th to 17th Century.


Title Page :
Content    : Surah  from Al Quran
Date         :16th-17th century
Copyist    : Anonymous
Patron      : n/a
Origin      :Turkey
Place acquired : Istanbul
Illuminations : Nil
Calligraphy : Main text in Muhaqqaq script.
Number of lines :13 lines per page
Inks          : Black
Punctuation: 3 red dots.
Frame       : nil
History of Manuscript : Acquired from a friend who has a manuscript bazaar in Istanbul. Claimed to be Mamluk's
Number of folios : 1 f
Support of writing : creamy polished paper
Gatherings : N/A
Catchwords :Nil
Dimensions : 32.0 cm x  24.5 cm
Binding   : Nil
Estimated Market Price :
Purchased Price : USD
Remarks : Compare the calligraphy with my other Muhaqqaq Quran as below link.