starsinsymmetry.com in temporary offline

Untitled

Crap.

I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but I do not have the means to pay for the $98 to reactivate the domain starsinsymmetry.com. So if you put that address to your browser, you will met with something like the above pic.

Not even the ads are paying for the domain…I am pretty much displaying ad on the blog practically for free

However, you can still come to starsinsymmetry.wordpress.com if you still wish to read my articles

Sorry for the inconvenience caused

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellany

Observation – Kota Kinabalu City Mosque Part 2

As a continuation from a post that I had written on the end of last April, we will discover more about this delightful city mosque. This time we are going to get inside the mosque and discover the Islamic art and architecture featured.

Approaching the mosque from the main entrance to the east, through five tall arches, we enter the courtyard of the mosque, where you can go to administrative offices of the mosque. Also, this is where artists displaying and selling their Islamic artwork. conveniently, there is an ATM installed just outside of the entrance of the courtyard on the left. We (me and my family) were rather shocked and confused to find this machine to actually be on the site of a mosque, as if it has turned into a mini shopping mall of some sort, especially considering the bazaar building outside next to the parking lots. It is almost like the mosque authorities are actually monetizing a religious place. This instance, of course, never happened in our country. In our confusion, we did not take any pictures in this area. However, I found a picture from Wikipedia, showing the tall arches as well as the ATM itself, partially hidden by a car and a pillar just left to the entrance.

17082013639

Past the tiled, open courtyard bathed in blue due to the translucent roofing above, we step into the carpeted outer prayer hall, bathed in natural light, muted by yet another translucent roofing, designed with a large eight pointed star motif. The whole roof is supported by steel beams, that also holds drop down. Fans hung low from the ceiling, whirring slowly above our heads, though it provides little comfort from the harsh afternoon heat permeating the mosque.  The prayer hall is surrounded by the Mashrabia windows, with the repeating patterns of eight pointed stars that can be seen from outside the mosque.

17082013641

The outer prayer hall is covered with carpeting that featured ten pointed stars, surrounded with five pointed stars. The carpet is in beige, grey and green. The mosque is already thirteen years old so perhaps the carpet looks dull and worn. This carpeting covered all the outer prayer hall right to the edges.

17082013643

Inside the main prayer hall it was another different style. The floors are covered with tile instead of the carpeting used on the outer prayer hall. The colour scheme of the hall is white and gold, with hints of soft, pastel blues, greens, creams and earthy colours. As the exterior of the mosque have influences from the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah in Saudi Arabia, so does the interior.  The main, obvious influences taken from the Prophet’s Mosque is the two panels on the either side of the Mihrab. The panels’ design are actually based on the doors of the Prophet’s Mosque. Also, the Mihrab itself is based on the Mihrab of the Mosque in Madinah.

17082013646

Above the Mihrab there was a triptych of stained glass windows featuring the same eight-pointed star patterns. With soft light shining through, it elegantly illuminates the rather dark areas below the main dome.

17082013644

The main dome, which is beautifully decorated in blue on the outside, is also decorated ornately. The design, which features a geometric star design that blooms all over the dome, recalls of a blooming sunflower. The design recalls of the dome of Lotfallah mosque in Isfahan, Iran albeit less decorated. The all over design features calming colours of sky blue, mint green and cream accentuated with gold that reflects the scheme of the main prayer hall.

should you have the chance to visit Kota Kinabalu, don’t forget to pay a visit to this Islamic architectural jewel set to a breathtaking backdrop of the mountains and the sea.

Leave a comment

Filed under Observations

Ramadhan Kareem

Its already into the third day of Ramadhan and fasting but I hope it is not too late to say Ramadhan Kareem, Allahu Akram to my each and every Muslim readers.

ramadan2014b

The banner above features a stained glass dome that can be seen in Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah of Brunei.  Have a happy and blessed Ramadhan, full of joy and happiness

1 Comment

Filed under Miscellany

Some changes to the blog

I forgot to mention that I had changed some of the visual look of the blog. It is still green, the theme colour for this year for this blog, but I made some new background image, and I also changed the heading image to a nice green Zellige tile detail. I have also reflected this change to the blog’s somewhat neglected Facebook page.

frntpg

Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Study – Islamic Art in the Malay World

I was having problems logging in to my account on WordPress. And when I was able to, I could not post anything on the blog, let alone to write. I had suspicions it was the internet provider’s fault and after failed help sessions with the local ISP, I gave up and brought the matter in my own hands. finally, with some help of a few programs i can now comfortably write and publish articles to the blog.

I had mentioned a few times about the Islamic art in the Malay Peninsula, but I failed to elaborate any further on the subject. You can read a short photo heavy article here. This is primarily because the art in the Malay Peninsula is more affiliated with the Malay culture. Malay art was not often considered to be Islamic. Also, Malay art tends to be more influenced from the Chinese or Hindu-Buddhist culture, and set it apart from the rest of what is traditionally regarded as Islamic Art.

In fact, Malay art is very much influenced by the Middle Eastern traditional Islamic Art, especially after the arrival of Islam to the Peninsula.  The traditions and cultural aspects of the Malay art that were over time abandoned in favour of the Islamic teaching. In time, Malay art amalgamated with Islam that in turn creates a significantly unique art style that is different from other Islamic art styles and yet, given to its roots, can be considered as a part of the Islamic Art.

History –

Before Islam, Hinduism and Buddism had taken root in the social and cultural aspects of the Malay Peninsula. Records of Hindu kingdoms in Java and Sumatra had been written by Indian scholars in 200AD (1) while Buddhism came into the region from Central Asia and China in the first Millennium BC and flourished around the 12th century. (2). Both of these religions bring its tradition and culture into the Malay Archipelago and took roots there as powerful empires. The proof of the strong presence of Hinduism and Buddhism can be found many temples dedicated to Buddha and/or the Hindu deities throughout the region, both intact and ruined. Also, many cultural practices and traditions are still being carried out today by the Malay community which has their roots in these religions

During as early as the 9th Century, a few hundred years after the founding of Islam in Mecca by Prophet Muhammad, there were reports of Arab traders selling their goods in the Malay archipelago. in fact, trading relations can be assumed to already taken place, based on a hadith of the Prophet –

Um ‘Atiyya said, “One of the daughters of the Prophet died and he came out and said, ‘Wash her three or five times or more, if you think it necessary, with water and Sidr, and last of all put camphor (or some camphor) and when you finish, inform me.’ ” Um Atiyya added, “When we finished we informed him and he gave us his waist-sheet and said, ‘Shroud her in it.’ ” And Um ‘Atiyya (in another narration) added, “The Prophet said, ‘Wash her three, five or seven times or more, if you think it necessary.’ ” Hafsa said that Um ‘Atiyya had also said, “We entwined her hair into three braids.” (3)

Camphor is a kind of pleasant smelling substance obtained from evergreen trees primarily found in South East Asia particularly in Borneo and Sumatra. It is very unlikely that the prophet to know of this substance and enjoins his followers to annoint the dead with Camphor, unless he knows of it and its perfumed odour.

It is also noted that Arab traders had been going to South east Asian ports long before their conversion to Islam, strengthening the fact that Islam may have spread in the peninsula as soon as after the prophet Muhammad propagated the religion.

The change from Hindu-Buddhism to Islam

The exact time when Islam was introduced into the region is still a debatable subject among scholars. Some agree that the presence of Islam exists somewhere around the 14th century, or even as early as the 10th century (4). However, the conversion of King Phra Ong Mahawangsa, the last Hindu king of Kedah to Islam and renaming himself Sultan Mudzafar Shah I marks the beginning of mass conversion of the Malays in the peninsula. The exposure of the people to Muslim traders from the Middle east and Central Asia, as well as the conversion of their kings to the Islamic faith, led them to abandon their past beliefs to embrace the new faith.

However, while Islam is their religion, the abandoned faiths leave a lasting impact and still influenced their daily lives – culturally and socially. This can be seen in the ceremonies they held, the music they play that still have notes influenced by their former faith and the artistic work they do. While the influences remain, these over time and in turn get influenced by the culture Islam brings, thus the two traditions – the old of animistic, Hindu and Buddhist and the new of Islamic culture – are amalgamated and creates what is uniquely Malay and yet Islamic.

The influence of Islam in Malay art

The existing artistry of the Malays such as textiles and clothing, metalwork and jewellery as well as architecture became assimilated with the Islamic motifs the new religion brought to the archipelago. The design remains the same, but the existing motifs were sometimes replaced but more often complimented with new, Islamic ones.

Islamic Motifs Used in the art of the Malay World

Batik headcover with stylized Islamic calligraphy design. Courtesy of http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/241.2008/

Among the motifs employed with the existing designs in the Malay craftwork includes Islamic calligraphy, Geometric designs, Islimi (stylized vegetal or floral motifs) and motif design taken from Islamic lore, such as the Buraq, the ride on which the Prophet Muhammad rode on his way to Jerusalem from Mecca in his Night Journey of Isra’.

Application of Islamic designs and Motifs

Floral and Vegetal design were not unheard of in the art of the Malay world before the rise of Islam in the peninsula as motifs based on nature such as Pucuk Rebung (Bamboo shoot) and Ayer Muleh (a type of stylized flower, but some said it mimics the swirling of waves) were already known. The coming of Islam and thus the art and culture that comes with it, means that the already existing designs were improvised and given a much more adhered look

Geometry design, a hallmark of the Islamic art, is also featured in the Malay art. This is most apparent in the production of textiles such as the woven cloth Kain Tenunan or the Batik textile. A pattern is to be repeated usually in four or six folds. The pattern itself is sometimes a star design, commonly an Octogram or a Hexagram. However, a repeating pattern based on flowers are not uncommon.

Kain Jongsarat, a traditional woven cloth from Brunei. taken from http://busy-dragonfly.blogspot.com/

In fashion, the traditional outifts of the Malay were modified to conform to the modesty rules of Islam. According to the teachings of Islam, both men and women are required to cover parts of their body as modesty as well as for praying. The men are required to cover from the navel to the knees, and women are to cover all but their faces and hands. These areas are called the Aurat. In addition, it is recommended for a Muslim man to wear some sort of headcover during prayers and entering mosques.With this in mind, the Malays adjust accordingly. In the old days, the Malay men wore simple plain buttoned top with trousers, along with a Kain Samping or Sinjang to be wrapped around the waist, covering the aforementioned areas.  They also wear the headcovering called Dastar made of simple square cloth, often using batik but sometimes the elaborate tenunan were used for formal occasions. More recently, Malay men wore a type of hat made out of velvet called Songkok or Peci, believed to originate from the Fez.

Women in Baju Kurung with scarves for headress, 1950s

The women, on the other hand, wears the Baju Kurung or Baju Kebaya for daily life. Baju Kurung is a type of outfit covering most of a woman’s body in two separate pieces consisting of a blouse and a bottom that sometimes uses a batik sarong. Baju Kurung literally means constrained dress. A Baju Kebaya  is basically similar to the Baju Kurung but made to fit the body of the wearer instead of loosely fitting. Ironically, it is believed the word Kebaya comes from the Arabic word Abaya, a loose fitting garment for women. For a head veil, sometimes a sarong is used. A scarf is more commonly worn.

Balustrade and roof adornment of a Malay House. Courtesy of http://adiatsauri.blogspot.com/2010/09/semangat-kayu.html

In architecture, Islamic architectural features such as Masyrabias are incorporated into traditional Malay buildings. The art of the pierced screens are not uncommon to the Malays before the arrival of Islam, but the motifs employed became increasingly Islamic with vegetal motifs used. Malay wood carving that conforms to Islamic standard of not using images of humans and animals adorn many Malay traditional buildings, usually underneath roofs and as railings and window covers.

 

 

References –

Leave a comment

Filed under Study

Projects – DIY Geometric Design Batik Print

I Just got back from a little short 10 days vacation around Indonesia and Malaysia. I haven’t had any real vacation in the past two years as most of the time I am busy with my job and part-time study. I just simply needed the time off because I am pretty much burning myself with stress.

This particular article is an indirect inspiration from my vacation. Malaysia and Indonesia are quite popular with their Batik, a form of traditional fabric printing by using hot wax using an apparatus called a Canting, drawing designs on the fabric and dipping said fabric into dyes, producing magnificent works of art often worn by the local men and women. I did not visit any Batik making workshops when I visited these countries, neither did I went to a factory making these kind of fabric, not even stepping into a shop selling them!

But when I got back home. the day after, I went to the local mall and I found plain white scarves on sale. Suddenly an inspiration came up – what if I make my own custom scarf using the batik making way?

Of course, i do not have access to the full-fledged traditional batik printing materials and equipments, but like a true (or even a half-hearted) DIYer, I try to find a simpler alternative to the ancient method. Sure enough, when I researched the internet, I got plenty of suggestions using simple materials and equipments that probably most of us already in possession.

The materials and equipments needed include –

1

  1. Fabric – I did not actually buy the scarves on sale at the store, but as I was just experimenting, I am using a worn cotton tee-shirt. You can use any fabric you like, but it is best to choose natural fabric as opposed to man-made material because this method will not work well on these kind of fabric.
  2. Template or draw your own design – You can use a template like I did ( This was the left over material from my last project, the backing of a vinyl sticker sheet) or you can simply design yourself. Note though it wont have clean sharp lines, but using a template would help slightly to achieve cleaner lines.
  3. Paint – you can use any kind of paint but I think fabric paint would be best. I am using poster paint that was diluted with a little bit of water.
  4. Pencil – If you want to make a design without a temple, a pencil is useful to draw your desired design on the fabric.
  5. While Glue (PVA glue) – This is simply your typical primary school glue. It dries clear and washable. Use this to make your design on the fabric.
  6. Scissors – This is not essential as I am using this only to cut a piece of fabric from the tattered tee-shirt.
  7. Brush – Of course, you need a brush or two for this project. I am using this wide brush for colouring the fabric, but you might need a smaller fine tipped brush for your glue. I did not a different brush as the glue has an applicator inside.

2

First, you ‘paint’ your design on the fabric using the white glue. Again, you can do this with a template, or simply brush the design onto the fabric directly. I am using a template so the design looked sharper. When you finished designing, let the glue dry. This wont take long. Be careful not to let the fabric stick to anything or itself as it would mess up the design. 3  Once the glue is dried, you can start painting the fabric. You can use many kind of paint – watercolour, acrylic, poster, fabric paint – depending on the strength of colour you desire. I am using a heavily diluted poster paint in Sky Blue as this is the only paint I have in hand. I just had to dilute the paint as it was dried and needed quite a bit of water to loosen them. However, if you have a fresh poster paint that is still malleable and in liquid form, you can simple use it with just a few drops of water.  When you are finished, let the whole thing dry again, preferably overnight so the colour can set it. When it is dry and you are satisfied with it, you can then rinse the fabric to remove the glue and reveal the design. Iron the fabric with the glue side on a tissue or parchment paper so the excess glue can be transferred on the paper. 20140509_223958The finished product. As you can see, the colour on this experiment is not as vibrant as I wanted, but it is merely because I was using heavily diluted poster paint and I did not wait overnight for the color to set in. But in a way the experiment is a success, and I am eager to use this method to make scarves in my own design.

This is a great DIY project to do on any fabric you wanted your own touch of creativity.

Leave a comment

Filed under Projects

Observation – Kota Kinabalu City Mosque Part 1

Some of you might remember the post regarding the time when I went to Kota Kinabalu with my family for my  Semester Exam. When i finished the exam, we had a few days to tour the city I last visited several years before.

When i visited the city around the mid 2000s, we only went around the city centre; we have no idea about the surroundings except for the immediate areas we stayed in . Nowadays, plenty had changed, and for one, beautiful change is the mosque that was built to commemorate the proclaimation of Kota Kinabalu into a city.

19082013650

The Kota Kinabalu City Mosque is the second main mosque in Kota Kinabalu after the Sabah State Mosque, in the city centre. It was officially opened to the public  on 2 February 2000 to mark the commemoration of Kota Kinabalu as a city status. Back then, we obviously did not know the mosque exists, since it was situated a little farther into the city’s suburbs, almost approaching Mount Kinabalu.

17082013636

The mosque general profile should be familiar to any Muslims – the building is based on the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina of Saudi Arabia. The mosque is surrounded by a vast lagoon, reminding me of our own Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Brunei.

17082013633

The mosque grounds are covered with verdant gardens of tropical trees and palms. In front of the mosque, just outside the main entrance stood a building which holds a kind of bazaar that sells Muslim wear, food and drinks and the like. Apparently the mosque is a tourist attraction – there were literally busloads of tourists coming at the carparks, but did not enter the mosque itself. The bazaar served as retail theraphy to these travellers.

The pathways leading to the mosque winds through the lagoon. At first we thought that the entrance was under the main dome, turns out it was just a pathway to the mosque grounds. The only entrance that was open that particular time was the main gate in front of the bazaars. We had to detour around the mosque, taking in the scenery meanwhile.

There were plenty of Islamic visual art to be seen here. The minarets is of the octagonal type, with three tiers ending with an azure dome. At first glance, one might mistaken the underneaths of the tiers of the minarets to be Muqarnas, however on close inspection, it was nothing but painted on to resemble the hanging stalactites of Islamic architecture, aided visually with addition of square blocks.17082013638.

Very much of niches, arches, doorways and windows were decorated with Mashrabias of concrete, utilizing the eight pointed star on a grid of squares. However, the whole composition looks disjointed, as the pattern replaces octagonal shapes with eight pointed star, which makes the lines a little thicker around it.

On the next installment of this articles, we will look into this impressive mosque interior

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Observations