The Message & the Monsoon

5 July 2005 – 5 October 2005

“The Message” is the Word of Allah: “the Monsoon” is what brought the Word to Southeast Asia. Over the past 6000 years, Islam has transformed the Malay world. The Message & The Monsoon reveals the majesty of Islam’s most easterly frontier.

Southeast Asia was part of the most important trade route the world has ever seen until the 20th century. As a result, there has been an astonishing accumulation of wealth and art. From Aceh in the west to Mindanao in the east, there has been a steady exchange of commerce and culture. Most of all there is the influence of Islam.

For the first time, a comprehensive selection of Islamic artefacts from the Malay world has been brought together to bring alive the history and culture of region that has received very little exposure. The Message & The Monsoon examines the evolution of a unique cultural identity, concentrating on those artefacts that embody the Muslim character of the region.

The brightest facet in this jewel are the Qur’ans of Southeast Asia. The collection at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is exceptional, filled with the richness of nature and a unique approach to colour and composition. Textiles also show the magnificence of the Malay achievement. From the homespun simplicity of batik to the regal splendour of songket, these cloths transcend the mundane function of clothing. In every category, from weapons to woodwork, there is an unmatched vigour that characterises the Islamic art of the region and makes it worthy of the fullest exploration.

*Publication for the exhibition is available at the Museum Shop, please click here for more information.