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!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review 13 :The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy ( Alain George)

Book Info :

Title : The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy
Author : Alain George
Publisher : N/A Lebanon
Printer : Saudi Arabian Printing Company Ltd.
Pages : 236 pages
ISBN : 978-0-86356-673-8


This is one of the best reference books on the history of Arabic calligraphy. Dr Alain George has successfully presented the genesis of the Arabic calligraphy in a very organized, concise and clear way. Early Arabic scripts prior to Islam from various mediums were analyzed and Dr Alain george has created a smooth connection from that era to our present matured Arabic calligraphy.
I appreciate Dr George effort in putting so many illustrations in his book as it definitely helps me to visualize and understand the subject better.
This is a very well researched book and I recommend this book to everyone who is interested in the developement of Arabic calligraphy.

Ancient Artifact Review 39 : Antique Persian Papier Mache Qalamdan ( 20th Century)

This is an old Persian Paper Mache Pen case ( Qalamdan) which measures 10-3/4" long 7-1/2" in circumference. It is beautifully lacquered in a floral motif  and aroyal lady figure with beautiful bright colors.
This is a typical Persian Qalamdan with rounded ends and sliding trays, painted in polychrome and gilt,  covers and sides with bulbuls perched amidst wild roses and apple blossoms, inside drawers colored in black

Dim : 10.75in x 7.5in x 2 in
Date : 20th Century CE ( Iran)
Material : papier-maché
Origin : Iran

Ancient Coin Review 71 : An antique prutah from Jewish Great Revolt ( 67-68 CE)

This is a rare and important prutah of the 1st Jewish War against Rome in the year 2 ( 67-68 CE). The year two representing the reign year of Procurator of Judea, Marcus Antonius Julianus. Nero was the Roman Emperor during this Revolt.
This is a bronze mite/Lepton often referred as the "Masada coin" because a large number of them were found atop the desert fortress overlooking the Dead sea.

Obverse : Amphora with broad rim and two handles and Hebrew inscription "year 2"
Reverse : vine leaf on a branch and Hebrew inscription "Freedom of Zion"

From Wiki

First Jewish Revolt coinage was issued by the Jews after the Zealots captured Jerusalem and the Jewish temple from the Romans in 66 AD at the beginning of the First Jewish Revolt. The Jewish leaders of the revolt minted their own coins to emphasize their newly obtained independence from Rome.
During the second (67–68 AD) and third (69–70 AD) years of the revolt bronze prutah coins were issued, depicting an amphora, and with the date and the Hebrew inscription (חרות ציון Herut Zion)"The Freedom of Zion"

The lepton (plural: lepta) and prutah (plural: prutot) were the lowest denomination coins that circulated in Jerusalem during Roman.  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)

Causes of the War of 66-70

In 66, the Roman emperor Nero needed money, and ordered his representative in Judaea, Gessius Florus, to confiscate it from the Temple treasure. The governor was not amused when some Jewish jokers passed the hat round for "that poor procurator Florus" (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War, 2.295). He demanded their punishment, but when his policemen could not find the mockers, he had some passersby arrested and crucified. Of course this was tactless and brutal, but it it would not have led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple if there had not been one or two deeper causes. The obvious reason why this incident led to war, was the religious tension between the Jewish populace and the Roman government. However, the Roman governors and the Temple authorities had found practical solutions to deal with these problems.
The real reason for the war was the impoverishment of the Jewish peasantry. Sixty years of Roman taxation had meant only one thing: the Jews had to pay money, which was spent in Italy and on the border. Judaea had become substantially poorer and many peasants had been forced first to mortgage and then to sell their land. Besides, in Jerusalem many people had become unemployed when he renovation of the temple was finished in 63. The peasants and artsians had a reason to fight, and they were willing to do so.
There may have been a portent that gave them hope. There was a prophecy in the book of Numbers (24.17) that 'a star shall come forth out of Jacob, a scepter shall rise out of Israel', which was commonly taken to be a prediction of the Messiah. At the end of 64, there had been a comet (Tacitus, Annals, 15.47), which must have made a discontent populace even more discontent.
For some time, the Temple authorities had been able to check the peasant's anger. But in the third quarter of the first century, most people considered the high priesthood corrupt. The war of 66-70 was not only a war between the Romans and Jews, it was also a class struggle.

Item : A Mite / A Lepton
Obv : Amphora with broad rim and two handles and Hebrew inscription "year 2"
Rev : vine leaf on a branch and Hebrew inscription "Freedom of Zion"
Date :Year 2 ( 67-68 CE)
Dim :170mm
Weight : 2.56gm
Denom : Lepton
Metal : AE
Rarity : R
 Purchased Price : USD
Reference :

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 158 : Antique Malay Handwritten Quran ( 19th Century)

This is a beautifully written Quran manuscript originated from South East Asia. Every Juz first page is decorated with Surah Al Kahf full decorated in the middle. Few pages from the beginning and the ending of this Quran missing. Unfortunately this Quran is in a bad shape with most of the pages damp and covered with fungus. I have a plan to treat this Quran when I have some spare time.  This manuscript is written in Malay-Naskh calligraphy in black ink on Dutch beige paper 15 lines to a page. .All headings are written in red with every “ ayaah” or verses are separated by small red circle.  
The borders of the pages are ruled  double black line. About 200+ leaves ( 400+ pages). This Quran is undated but we estimated it from 18th century.  I acquired this manuscript from a friend in Indonesia in 2014.

Manuscript Specs
Item : Antique Malay Quran
Manuscript Content : Quran
Dim : 33 cm x 21 cm x 3 cm
Date : 18th century
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : South East Asia
Calligraphy : Malay - Naskh
Design : Written in Malay-Naskh scripts in red & black
Purchased Price :US

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ancient Manuscript Review 157 : Antique Bible Christianity Prayers Book ( 1798 CE)

This is a lithographed bible/Christian Prayers book.Written beautifully in German. I bought this book in Vienna recently.Covers made of leather wrapped around hard boards. This prayer book is pocket size of 180mm x70mm.This book is dated 1798 CE. I dont understand the language hence its very difficult for me to make out what the title is. When I purchase this item, I was told that it was a prayer book and written in German.


Title Page :
Content    : Christianity Prayers
Date         : 1798 CE
Copyist    :
Patron      :
Origin      : Vienna
Place acquired :Vienna
Illuminations : Some drawings
Calligraphy : Roman Script
Number of lines :25 lines per page
Inks          : Main text in black
Punctuation: Nil
Frame       :  Nil
History of Manuscript : Purchased from antique store in Vienna
Number of folios : 144 ff
Support of writing : light yellowish European paper
Gatherings : N/A
Catchwords : on the verso right bottom page
Dimensions : 18cm x 7 cm
Binding   : Leather wrapped on hard board
Estimated Market Price :
Purchased Price : USD
Remarks :

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 38 : Antique Ottoman Weighing Scale ( 1276 AH = 1859 CE)

This is a metal weighing scale from Ottoman era used to measure jewelry or coin. Made of bronze and various signatures inscribed on the weighing cup or saucer
Both saucers are inscribed with date in Islam Hijra 1276 which is equivalent to 1859 CE.

Dim : 13in x 9in
Date : 1276 AH ( 1859 CE)
Material : Bronze
Origin : Turkey

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 70 : Possible Sultan Zainal Abidin Bin Mansur Shah of Terengganu Sultanate Coin? (1793-1808 CE)

This is an undated pitis coin which I believed from Sultanate Terengganu from late 18th Century or early 19th Century. I could decipher the writing on the obverse about 80% however the reverse is totally indecipherable. The obverse is I am not mistaken written in Arabic, " Sultan Zainal Abidin Mansur Syah"
Searching from some Coin Catalogs & history books, I couldnt find any coin similar to the one in question. But the name of the Sultan existed in Sultan Terengganu Lineage which is Sultan Zainal Abidin Shah II ( 1793-1808CE) and his father is Sultan Mansur Shah I. Hence could it be that the name of the Sultan of this coin referring to him as Sultan Zainal Abidin (bin) Mansur Shah? I open this theory to any comments.

Terengganu was an important trading centre in the 13th Century. Later it became a vassal state of the Majapahit Empire of Java. By the end of the 14th Century, a Muslim community is known to have flourished in Terengganu. Subsequently, it became a tributary state of the Malacca Empire in the 15th Century.After the fall of Malacca Empire, Terengganu was claimed by the Johor Empire as part of the territories inherited from the former Malacca Empire.In the 17th Century, Johor ruler's brother was proclaimed as the first ruler of Terengganu. ( from Saran Singh's)

Obv: Sultan Za..nal... .... Mansur Shah ( Sultan Zainal Abidin Bin Mansur Shah?)
Rev: indecipherible
Weight : 0.56gm
Dim : 02mm
Rarity : Unique
Denom : Pitis
Material : Tin
Reference : RRR

Ancient Manuscript Review 156 : Antique Ottoman Talismanic Booklet ( 1130 AH / 1717 C.E)

This is a small manuscript on various Talismanic written in an old Turkish & Arabic languages. Acquired from Istanbul Bazaar in Turkey. No colophone however there is a page narrated an event and dated 1130 AH which is equivalent to 1717 C.E, hence the writing of this manuscript must have been earlier.

Manuscript Specs

Item : Antique Ottoman Manuscript
Content : Islamic prayer, Talisman & selected Quranic verses
Dim :  140mm  x  95mm
Date :1130 AH ( 1717CE)
Copyist : anonymous
Origin : Turkey
Calligraphy : Naskh , Ruqah & Thuluth
Design : Some pages beautifully decorated with Talismanic Circle
Purchased Price :US

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 69 : 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 D-Octogonal-class IIX.
The coin in question here is more round or probably the octagonal edges all were worn out leaving it almost round shape. However I suspected this coin is round when it was made based on the dots which rim the coin in circle instead of in octagon

 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.

Coin Spec
Obv: Khalifah Sultan Shah
Rev: Blank
Weight : 1.25 gm
Dim : 17mm
Rarity : Very Rare ( if it is deemed to have a round shape)
Ref : SS38

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 68 : Sultanate Terengganu (18th Century C.E)

This is an undated pitis coin from Sultanate Terengganu from late 18th Century or early 19th Century

Terengganu was an important trading centre in the 13th Century. Later it became a vassal state of the Majapahit Empire of Java. By the end of the 14th Century, a Muslim community is known to have flourished in Terengganu. Subsequently, it became a tributary state of the Malacca Empire in the 15th Century.After the fall of Malacca Empire, Terengganu was claimed by the Johor Empire as part of the territories inherited from the former Malacca Empire.In the 17th Century, Johor ruler's brother was proclaimed as the first ruler of Terengganu. ( from Saran Singh's)

Obv: Kali Malik Al Adil ( The reign of the Just Ruler)
Rev: Blank
Weight : 4.16gm
Dim : 21mm
Rarity : Common
Denom : Pitis
Material : Tin
Reference : SS33

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 37 : Antique Metal Stylus for writing on palm leaf ( 19-20th C.E)

This is a metal stylus originating from India.I acquired this stylus from Chennai in 2015.
Stylus is a sharp pointed at one end and blunt on the other. Stylus is used to incise a writing on a palm leaf. The incision is later filled with carbon powder from lamp flame so that the writing is readable.
See below my palm leaf manuscripts which were written using stylus :
Bali Lontar 01
Bali Lontar 02
Bali Lontar 03
Quran Lontar

Artifact Spec:

Dim : 225mm
Date : 19-20th Century CE
Material : Steel
Origin :  South India

Hepzibah Institute of Heritage Conservation

I attended a training workshop at Hepzibah Institute in Chennai from 2-7 March 2015. Though it was a training on the conversation of paintings, I learned some tips on conserving manuscripts as well. The course was conducted by Dr. V. Jeyaraj who himself is the director of the Institute. He is a big name in India as well as overseas in relation to Indian paintings and arts.
The workshop was very dynamic and full of hands on exercises on real antique paintings of every medium such as canvas, paper, leather, rock, palm leaf, etc. A lot of restoring techniques were tought and I were such fortunate to be in this class.
I could relate what I learnt from the codicology course which I took in 2012 in Cambridge University with this conservation workshop.
I get to know some of the chemicals used to restore manuscripts and paintings and had the opportunity to handle them for restoring.
We went to few places of interest such as museums, chemical laboratory, Institute of arts, historical buildings and gallery.My course mates who were from different career and academic backgrounds were so friendly and it took me no time to feel as if we were a family.
At the end of the course I submitted a dissertation with title, " The Care and Maintenance of Manuscripts & Paintings on Palm Leaf in India". Once I received the grade, Insyallah I will post it in this blog.
Even though the workshop doesn't make me an expert, but at least I know some basics in dealing and restoring my manuscripts.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Ancient Coin Review 67 : Kelantan Sultanate ( 1770-1882 C.E)

This is a tin coin from Kelantan Sultanate ( 1770-1882 CE).
Kelantan is a state of Malaysia located in the northeastern of Peninsular of Malaysia. The name of Kelantan originated from the Malay word Kilatan which means shiny/glittery. It is also known by its Arabic honorific, Darul Naim ( Abode of Blessed).

The Sultanate of Kelantan was founded since the 15th century by Sultan Iskandar Shah and later ruled by his son Sultan Mansur Shah till 1526 CE. The reign continues till today and the present Kelantan Sultan is Sultan Muhammad V

Coin Spec

Obverse : Khalifatul Mukminin
Reverse : Similar to obverse
Weight : 3.22 gm
Dim : 26mm
Rarity : RR ( ref SS2 pg 216)