Monthly Archives: May 2011

Observations – The Sword of the Prophet Muhammad and the Staff of Prophet Moses Exhibition part.2 ; The Manuscript Gallery

I had two day off from work since yesterday, and now I have the time to spend posting something on this blog. As promised (although a week late than said) I am posting more pictures from my trip to the The Sword of the Prophet Muhammad and the Staff of Prophet Moses Exhibition I visited a few months ago here in Brunei.

Beside the relics and weaponry displayed in the main gallery that I pointed out in the last posting, there were also galleries featuring private collections of the Sultan of Brunei himself. One gallery features Islamic Prayer Beads, another displays walking canes and sticks and the other – as I am featuring in this post – a collection of various manuscript, collected from the Middle East and the South East Asian region.

An Illuminated Qur’an in the Darul Ifta Manuscript gallery

There are two parts of this gallery- one features various hand-written Al-Qur’an mostly illuminated in golds and silvers and delicately coloured in blues, red and greens. Many were hundred years old and obtaining them, in my opinion was not an easy task and certainly the collection of a nobility (or in this case, a royalty) In this part of the gallery also features the manuscripts in different forms and sizes ; there were ones that were so small that you need a magnifying glass to read the writing which, must made people think how does the writer manage to write such a small book with such a complicated script, with a beautiful illumination nonetheless!.

One of the small Qur’an, readable only by a magnifying glass

The other part of the gallery features a different kind of manuscript – scholarly texts. Most of them are well, uninspiring since the main reason the books are written are for references and study, but then some are well decorated and illuminated. Like how we would do on modern day textbooks, some of the manuscripts are scribbled with notes, some features drawings and figures done by students and scholars who used the books before. Most of the books touched the subject of Fiqh, or Islamic Jurisprudence, although there might be some other subjects probably on other Islamic studies that misses my attention (since my parents who were with me to the exhibit were rather uninterested and went by the collection like wind)


One manuscript on display in the Manuscript Gallery displaying the decorated leather cover

The texts were mostly of Middle Eastern, Persian and South East Asian particularly Indonesian origin. All of them, of course hand written and many were bound in leather – the sort you would expect from highly prized scholarly texts. The manuscripts range from a few hundred years old to a few dating back to the early 12th or late 11th century. Some, as noted before are illuminated however mostly are unadorned except for the cover and perhaps the first few pages of each manuscript.

A collection of Scholarly Texts on display in the Manuscript Gallery

For the next Observations post I will feature another collection that were specially flown from Indonesia and Turkey, featuring Ottoman artefacts and a huge drum from Indonesia.

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Just a quick note…

The continuation of the Exhibit post will be resumed after this, I got quite a number of things to share you, my readers, if only my camera would cooperate. There are a few pictures I wanted to share, particularly pics of Islamic manuscripts and armoury. So hopefully I could get it done by tomorrow or next week. Also, I have obtained a book about the exhibits so you can get a clearer view of the artifacts shown.

In another separate topic, my recent vacation met me with a shop that sells fabrics with geometric designs. Although I did not buy anything from the shop (IDR1,000,000 for a…tablecloth?) I did manage to get a few pictures of the designs – which I will publish in another separate post. It is very interesting, providing that that place have quite a low number of Muslim residents, though it is famed for its art and culture.

Which brings us to another topic…

I am thinking of opening an online shop featuring Islamic art, inspired by the shop I visited that I mention before. I have the materials, and all I need now is the budget. But then, what use of a budget if you don’t know what you are producing and selling? I think I need you, my reader’s opinion…If I am to open a shop, what would you like me to sell?  I am thinking of small, house decor items such as cushion covers and accessories such as bags etc…also selling the fabric itself. What do you think? Please leave comments with your ideas and I will be very happy to hear from you! Also, thinking of giving one of you readers a token of appreciation for whomever idea I took so leave your emails as well 🙂

Also, a special mention to a reader in Indonesia by the name of Yudi Harijono…Looking forward to your work, and good luck! 😀

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Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #41 – Persian Miniatures Featuring Islamic Art and Architecture

I have been a very, very, VERY lazy blogger these few months…for no reason at all. I just feel depressed and moody that I thought I cannot produce a wise and informative post. For your information I just returned from a two week vacation to a certain place that didn’t made me refreshed at all but gave me a huge headache and probably leaving a generous scar on my psychological and spiritual health for the rest of my life BUT now I manage to collect some energy and out of my eat-work-sleep routine to bring you the first post of the month of May and also the first Imagining Islamic Aesthetics posting for quite some time. So, without further ado…

For this Imagining Islamic Aesthetics post, I would like to show you one of most celebrated, as well as frowned upon by Orthodox Muslims, form of Islamic Art – Miniatures. Persian miniatures, to be exact. However, This post will concentrate on works that feature Islamic art and Architecture ; Just like viewing an Islamic monument or structure, but in 2D!

Depictions of Islamic architecture in miniatures are surprisingly well done and detailed. You can see many typical Islamic art and architecture depicted in the miniatures such as domes, cupolas, arches, geometric designs and even Mashrabias and Muqarnas. Below are a few examples of Persian Miniatures that feature both indoor and outdoor Islamic art and architecture. (Photos are courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons)

Baysunghur’s Shahnameh, 1430

Note the elegant colour of gold used by the painter. This artwork displays immaculate attention to details especially to the dome and the arches. The dome  features an Arabesque design, and probably shows the decoration inside the dome.

Complex palace scene, 1539-43, Mir Sayyid Ali

This miniature features a scene in a palace and also many features of Islamic art and architecure – you can find domes, minaret, pavilions and archways.

Farhad meets Shirin. Persian (text) Miniature from poem “Khosrow and Shirin” of Nizami Ganjavi

This miniature shows an indoor scene. Note the windows on the upper part of the artwork with women peeking out of it – they feature Mashrabia-style decoration.

Bath-house scene by Behzād

A simpler miniature of a bath house scene. Along with the detailed work put on the architectural features of the scene (note the geometric designs on the floor, walls and window), a fine attention were also given on depicting the figures – even they were drawn in a very flat style, the figures were depicted somehow very lively ; you can see people getting a massage, washing themselves, changing clothes before entering the bathroom even a figure is seen hanging clothes (or presumably, towels)

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