Islamic seals were the name cards of their day. In early Islamic societies a seal presented the image a person wished to project to the world, yet often conveyed much more than was written or perhaps intended. A seal inscribed simply with the name of the owner and a pious phrase might also reveal when and where that person lived, their social status and aspirations, and their religious beliefs. While the calligraphy and design of a seal reflected the artistic spirit of its time and place, it could also be shaped by personal taste, whether cutting-edge or conservative.
The exhibition is divided into four major sections. The first section uncovers the beginning of seal culture in Islam, as recommended by the Qur’an and prophetic Hadith. This is followed by a study of the significance of inscriptions and decorations. In the third section, considerable attention will be given to the different functions of seals, reflecting on how and where they were used. The exhibition is concluded with a special emphasis on the seal culture of Southeast Asia, particularly its courtly connotation, as well as the history, aesthetic and symbolism of Malay seals.
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