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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