© All images, National Library of Malaysia
Asia House will be welcoming Dr. Farouk Yahya to talk about his book ‘Magic and Divination in Malay Illustrated Manuscripts’. A fascinating study of the texts and images in illustrated Malay manuscripts on magic and divination from the 18th – early 20th centuries, the book draws from a wide variety of private and public collections in Malaysia, the UK and Indonesia. Containing some unique examples of Malay painting, these manuscripts provide direct evidence for the intercultural connections between the Malay region, other parts of Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. They offer a glimpse into dynamic syncretic traditions in Malay painting from that time. In these manuscripts, pre-Islamic iconography appear alongside images and techniques derived from the wider Islamic world, demonstrating a rich tradition that has been able to assimilate material from a wide variety of sources while at the same time retaining its own unique identity.
This richly illustrated volume offers these critical images and texts in one well-researched collection for the first time, and is an important and original contribution to the fields of Southeast Asian history, Malay cultural history and Islamic art. The manuscripts he consults contain a vast collection of imagery, ranging from tables and charts used for divination, to illustrations and talismanic designs employed for protection, healing and sorcery. Many of these appear in the book alongside extensive discussions which offer the modern reader a complex and nuanced insight into the history of the region through these cultural symbols.
With its original and novel examination of manuscripts dating back to the 18th century, the book is essential reading for students and scholars of Malay history and Islamic art as well as for people generally interested in Islamic arts and Southeast Asian culture and history. In the talk, Dr. Yahya will discuss some of the magical and divinatory techniques and images that are found within these manuscripts, and place them within a wider Asian artistic and cultural context. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.
Dr. Farouk Yahya (PhD, SOAS University of London, 2013) is Leverhulme Research Assistant in Islamic Art and Culture at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford. He is the author of Magic and Divination in Malay Illustrated Manuscripts (Leiden: Brill, 2016) and editor of The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections (Penang: Areca Books, 2017).
Tickets: General: £10, Concessions:£8, Arts members: £5
By Farouk Yahya