Aceh has long been recognized as a major historical center of Islamicate culture in Southeast Asia, and its rich surviving source base of manuscripts, gravestones, and other standing monuments have attracted the attention of some of the leading scholars in the field for more than a century. This study presents the inscriptions on a pair of stone grave markers at Bireuen that have recently been systematically documented by the Maritime Asia Heritage Survey (MAHS).
The reading of these texts presented here opens up a new vista onto the cultural dynamics of an early period of the history of Islam in Southeast Asia. In particular it attests to a local engagement with Persian literary tradition and the presence of the Sufi doctrine of the ‘Unity of Being’ in Southeast Asia during the mid-fifteenth century.
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From the Author
This article presents a reading of the Persian and Arabic epigraphy on a pair of gravestones at Bireuen in Aceh, Indonesia. These artefacts have recently been digitized by the Maritime Asia Heritage Survey (MAHS), and the 3D visualizations produced by the MAHS allow for a clearer deciphering and interpretation of its inscribed texts that open up a new vista onto the cultural dynamics of an early period of the history of Islam in Southeast Asia.
Understanding the content and contexts of early Persian inscriptions from Sumatra both contributes to our understanding of the complexities of Islamization in the region, and opens up new questions for exploration about the range and depth of cultural engagements on the eastern frontiers of an expanding Persianate world in the 15th century.
R. Michael Feener Kyoto University Activity Database on Education and Research
|Title||A 15th-Century Persian Inscription from Bireuen, Aceh: An Early ‘Flash’ of Sufism before Fanṣūrī in Southeast Asia|
|Authors||Majid Daneshgar, Gregorius Dwi Kuswanta, Masykur Syafruddin, and R. Michael Feener|
|Book||Majid Daneshgar and Evan Nurtawab (Eds.) Malay-Indonesian Islamic Studies. Leiden: Brill, 2022, pp. 86-105.|
Maritime Asia Heritage Survey (MAHS)