Asian Civilisations Museum: West Asia Gallery

So you have travelled back 2,500 years in Southeast Asia?

Cool! Now, let’s enter West Asia, which consists of lands west of South Asia to borders of Europe. It’s also the home to three of the world’s great religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

asian civilisations museum west asia

 

Right here at the Asian Civilisations Museum, the West Asia galleries will concentrate on Islam, and its role in shaping Southeast Asia. The two galleries of West Asia will explore the three themes: Islam as a way of life, Islamic Art. and Seeking knowledge.

Come follow us as we show you some of the rare Islamic exhibits that might interest, or even enlighten you!

To a follower of Islam, the Qur’an is of utmost importance It’s the Islamic sacred book, believed to be the word of God as dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel and written down in Arabic.

asian civilisations museum west asia quran

 

In the gallery, this Qur’an is written in fine naskh script surrounded by gold clouds. As you can see, It is beautifully illuminated with the end of each verse marked with a gold roundel, and surah (chapter) headings in white thulth script. This is probably a rare gem, as it is dated all the way back to 25 March 1711.

Below you see the manuscript which contain texts that are recited or sung during the celebrations to commemorate the Prophet’s birthday (mauled, which falls on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’-ul Awwal).

asian civilisations museum west asia

 

Now you may wonder what is this green coloured object doing here at Asian Civilisations Museum?

asian civilisations museum west asia

 

Aha, it’s not just a normal object – it’s the Mihrab-shaped tile which can be found in mosques, homes and also funerary monuments. It helps to indicate the qiblah (direction of prayer). The Mihrab tile you see above dated back to the 13th century, probably in Kashan, Iran.

The other West Asian gallery showcases more about Islam.

asian civilisations museum west asia

 

Entering Gallery 5A, you’ll be greeted by this beautifully crafted wooden door.

asian civilisations museum west asia

 

If you take a closer look, it is carved with Qur’anic verses and scrolling floral motifs along the sides. Muslim home owners, though they might not read Arabic, they would hang panels featuring Qur’anic verses, as it is believed to provide protection.

Have you ever wondered how Muslim couples pledged their love for each other in the past? Yes, they had a marriage contract!

asian civilisations museum west asia

 

This marriage contract above also document the dowry that the husband-to-be has to pay to the bride, and that forms the bride’s property which the new husband has no legal right of.

Now, before you continue, guess what this tool below is used for, without scrolling down to see the answer.

asian civilisations museum west asia circumcision instrument

 

Any idea?

Got it?

It’s a circumcision instrument!

In the Islam tradition, circumcision is an important rite of passage for muslim males. This tool you see here is to hold the foreskin during circumcision. This practice is shared with Judaism too.

A wonderful discovery of West Asia and Islam at the Asian Civilisations Museum, isn’t it? There’s more, there’s more!

Check out the next gallery:

or other galleries:

 

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