Malay Magic and Divination
The long awaited talk on Malay Magic and Divination by Dr Farouk Yahya from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), of the University of London and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University finally took place this afternoon (16 July 2017) at the Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur. The hall was packed, and I recognised several friends from the writing community: Sharifah A. Osman, Ninot Aziz, RJ Es RJ Ibrahim, SquareMean Burhan, Lokman Hakim, Heidi Shamsudin and Amir Mohammad (publisher and film producer.)
Dr Farouk's talk was based on his research for his PhD. He studied over 100s illustrated manuscripts from this region (all written by men for sure because most women were probably illiterate at that time.) Many of these manuscripts are found in the SOAS Library, the Ashmolean Museum and also thankfully, the National Library of Malaysia.
I can't help feeling a tad disappointed though. No rituals, no jampi (spells and incantations), no love potions (although there was a mention of a hate potion) and no descriptions of djins/demons.
However we did learn a rather unpleasant curse and the ancient Indian & Malay divination method of choosing an auspicious house based on measurements of the width of the house and the land area, the right colours for the house (?) and the best time to see the king etc And there were some interesting information about Nagas. Dr Farouk showed a slide of a stone with inscriptions on it dating from the Sri Vijayan period with seven nagas surrounding it.