A journey to search my soul

This is a blog of my personal collections. The purpose of this blog is to educate myself and public in regards to antiquities especially related to religion and calligraphy. I welcome everyone to input their feedback in this blog which they think would be helpful. I do not watermark the photos in this blog so everyone is free to use them as long as they are not used for illegal and unethical reasons. I appreciate if you could notify me if you plan to use any of the photos here. Enjoy browsing!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ancient Artifact Review 44 : Antique Ceremonial / Calligraphic Batik / Kain Arab / Ikat Kepala ( late 19th Century- early 20th Century)

 This is a very rare "Batik Bertulis" / " Kain Arab" or Calligraphic Batik. It is a square batik cloth made of cotton dyed in blue with Arabic inscriptions. The calligraphy almost illegible most likely painted by illiterate makers or served talismanic purposes.
However I assume the writing on the background is similar to some other kain which I have seen in the catalog. The inscriptions are :

الله يرزقها وهوا السمع العليم ما يفتح الله للنا من رحمة فلا مما لها وما يمسك فلا بعده وهو العزيز الحكيم

So the scribbles could be imitating this inscriptions.

Interesting to note this cloth has 4 Ottoman tughras around a central flower like pattern. Michael Rogers, a curator for Khalili Collection identified the tughras as the signs of the Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II ( 1876-1918) only in the reversed side.
This piece was used predominantly as men's head cloth or "ikat kepala". Another usage might be as ceremonial hanging or wrapper for a Quran. It was found in Terengganu however not necessarily was produced there. Most likely it was brought in from Java island. I acquired this from a friend in Kuala Lumpur.
Ceremonial or Calligraphic batik is very rare to find. In an auction at Christie's, 3 similar batiks were sold at USD3358 under sale number 5682. Below is the link
Batik at auction

Below is the Tughra of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. I tried to match it with the Tughras on the cloth, though they have some resemblances they do not quite match confirming Michael Rogers remark i.e in reversed form.

See my other similar cloth on :
Red Calligraphy Batek

Dim : 100mm x 900mm
Date : 19th Century
Material :hand drawn batik
Origin :  Malay Archipelago
Price : RM pr


  1. Assalamu'alaikum

    This batik calligraphy is called 'kain besurek' which was normally worn during the funeral ceremony in the west sumatra part of Indonesia, but could be made in Lampung province of Indonesia or Cirebon,of western Java. To the best of my knowledge, your batik may be originated from the first quarter of 20th century instead of 19th cent AD.



  2. Please also see mine here




  3. Dear Faisal Reza. Thank you for your comment. You might be correct in this regards however dating this "kain" can be tricky. Though this kain has some resemblances to yours but it's not necessarily come from the same production house or the same era. People in the past tend to copy the design especially the tughra and the calligraphy. This kain was bought from a renowned Southeast Asian art historian and also a major collector of Southeast Asia textile. He has been contributing his advises, lectures and samples to museums and exhibitions in the region. Judging from the condition of the cloth, he is dating this kain from late 19th Century to early 20th Century. I am using his estimate in cataloging this specimen. Thank you so much for your inputs.