Maharaja Gurnur Jenral Benggala

British ‘Islamic’ style seals from the Malay world – Asian and African studies blog – The British Library

The presence of an inscription in Arabic script is such a defining characteristic of seals used by Muslims that it tends to mask the fact that similar ‘Islamic’-style seals were also used by myriad other groups, including Christians in Ethiopia and Syria, Samaritans in Palestine, Hindu subjects of the Mughal emperor, European scholars of Arabic and Persian, and British officials of the East India Company. Examples from the British Library were featured in a recent blog post on Some British ‘Islamic’ style seals in Persian manuscripts from India by Ursula Sims-Williams, and in an earlier post on Performing Authority: the ‘Islamic’ seals of British colonial officers in the Persian Gulf by Daniel Lowe. In this post I have gathered together a small number of British ‘Islamic’-style seals from Southeast Asia, with inscriptions in Malay in Jawi (Arabic) script. (Read more..)

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2017/03/british-islamic-style-seals-from-the-malay-world.html

Record of the sale of a female Batak slave

Record of the sale of a female Batak slave named Dima by Nakhoda Licu of Pane to Mr. Peter Clark for $53, witnessed by Syaikh Muhammad and Mualim Kandu and written by Hakim Abdul Taif, 1 Jumadilakhir 1220 (27 August 1805), and signed and sealed the next day by the [acting] Governor W.E. Phillips, with the same seal as used in 1791. British Library, IOR: R/9/22/37, f. 175 http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2017/03/british-islamic-style-seals-from-the-malay-world.html

Source: British ‘Islamic’ style seals from the Malay world – Asian and African studies blog

Batak manuscripts from Sumatra in the British Library – Asian and African studies blog

“The Batak peoples of north Sumatra are associated with a distinctive writing culture, with manuscripts written on a range of organic materials, primarily tree bark, bamboo and bone.  Most characteristic are the bark books known as pustaha, written on strips of bark of the alim (Aquilaria malaccensis) tree, which is folded concertina-fashion, and sometime furnished with wooden covers, which can be beautifully decorated.” (Read more.)

Source: Batak manuscripts in the British Library – Asian and African studies blog

Parrot

The Malay Tale of the Wise Parrot – The British Library

“The Hikayat Bayan Budiman, ‘Tale of the Wise Parrot’, is an old work of Malay literature, probably composed in the 15th century or earlier. It is based on a Persian original, the Tuti-nama, and is the earliest example in Malay of a framed narrative: a literary work comprising a compilation of individual stories. And like the…” (read more)

Source: The British Library’s Asian and African studies blog: The Malay Tale of the Wise Parrot

The ‘Archive of Yogyakarta’ digitised by the British Library

“The ‘Archive of Yogyakarta’ refers to a collection of some four hundred manuscript documents in Javanese dating from 1772 to 1813, originating from the court of Yogyakarta. A highly important source for the political, economic, social, administrative and legal history of central Java in the late eighteeth…” (Read more)

Source: The Archive of Yogyakarta digitised, Asian and African studies blog, British Library

Source: The Archive of Yogyakarta digitised, Asian and African studies blog, British Library

Letter of Sultan Zayn al-‘Abidin to Afonso de Albuquerque, 1516

Love and affection from Sultan Zayn al-‘Abidin, ruler carrying out the commands of Almighty God, to the Governor-General at the fortress of the King of Portugal who binds all countries in his kingdom,

Whereas,

When we saw the letter from you which Giovanni brought we were filled with joy and with happiness at the depth of good relations between us. And when the Portuguese envoy arrived from Kollam or Malacca we welcomed him warmly and provided him with everything that arrives in our country. Be assured our love for you has not wavered from the beginning until now.

After this, there arrived here one Manuel Falcão. He is a most evil person.

First when a ship arrived at Samudera from Pariaman with many people from Samudera on board he took thirty gold dirhams. And he sold the crew and the rest were murdered.

Second on the arrival of a ship from Bengal he took two hundred and twenty dirhams and one servant woman. Also a cargo ship from Bengal which should have come to Samudera he commandeered to Malacca along with a great deal of cargo belonging to people from Samudera which was on board the ship.

Third he took cargo from another ship and more people were murdered.

Fourth he demanded from us one hundred and twenty dirhams by force and twenty items of cargo.

Fifth he kidnapped fifty male and female servants from among the servants of the people of Samudera and shipped them to Malacca.

Sixth he demanded from us fifty bails of pepper by force.

After this Gaspar Machado also arrived here. He too is a very evil person.

The first thing he did was on the arrival of a cargo ship at Samudera from Diu he took from them two hundred dirhams by force.

Second when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Cambay which was owned by the King of Cambay captained by ‘Ali Khan he took from them one hundred dirhams.

Third when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Pulicut which is Nati carrying cargo owned by people from Samudera, he took one hundred dirhams from them by force and violence.

Fourth when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Nawur that is Nati he took one hundred and twenty dirhams,

Fifth when a ship arrived at Samudera from Barus containing a cargo belonging to the Sultan of Bengal he took one hundred quintal of tin and 4000 incenses and he sold the whole crew on this ship.

Sixth many are the people of Samudera whose wealth he has taken by force and violence, and many are the judges and officials who have been enraged by him because of this behavior.

For these reasons we lay before you our situation because we sincerely believe that this has not been ordered by the King of Portugal or by you. The King does not even know about the behavior of Manuel Falcão and Gaspar Machado because we are firmly convinced that the King and you as Governor-General do not want to damage your own port as our port is your port and so we seek your protection.


This imaginative translation is based on the translations of A.C.S. Peacock (2016): “Three Arabic letters from North Sumatra of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”, Indonesia and the Malay World, DOI: 10.1080/13639811.2016.1153219 [http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639811.2016.1153219 Accessed 16 April 2016.] and Taqiyuddin Muhammad, “Naskah Surat Sultan Zainal ‘Abidin (Wafat 923 H/1518 M)” [http://misykah.com/naskah-surat-sultan-zainal-abidin-wafat-923-h1518-m-2/ Accessed 3 October 2016.]

On the manuscript, according to Peacock (2016):

“The letter from Sultan Zayn al-‘Abidin IV of Samudera-Pasai, 1516–17. Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo, Lisbon. Colecção de cartas, Núcleo Antigo 891, mç. 1, n.° 59. Previous publications: Arabic text and Portuguese translation with significant differences from that presented here in dos Santos (1790: 127–30); trans- lation only reprinted with additional notes in Alves (1999:228–30); Arabic text with a number of differences from that presented here and Indonesian translation in Muhammad (2013). Taqiyuddin Muhammad’s text is based on a poor quality image of the letter which accounts for most of the variations between his text and mine. It has not therefore usually been thought useful to record his variant readings. Help has also been provided by the Portuguese translation probably made in Malacca in 1516–17, presented in full in Appendix 1c. Although the translation is often imprecise, omitting crucial elements of the Arabic and sometimes supplementing it with additional information, it has the advantage that the translator was himself aware of the events referred to; it can therefore help clarify the frequently obscure Arabic text.”

British Library Digitised Manuscript Home

British Library Digitised Manuscript Home

Use the website to view digitised copies of manuscripts and archives in the British Library’s collections, with descriptions of their contents.

Some highlights include the Harley Golden Gospels, Beowulf, the Silos Apocalypse, Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook, the Petit Livre d’Amour and the Golf Book.

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