Malaysian connections past and future

The first International Heritage Project pop-up exhibition of the semester took place this  week to support the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Glasgow and the University of Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), Malaysia. This new connection seeks to promote collaboration in the fields of Science and Engineering.

The event was attended by the Deputy President (Academic and Technology) and the  Dean, Institute of Research and Postgraduate Studies, from UniKL and the head of college and international lead from our College of Science and Engineering. The signing was held in the historic Melville Room (formerly Senate Room) in the Gilbert Scott building which includes a 1740s chimneypiece originally made for the Fore Hall in the Old College on the High Street.

Archives and library special collections on display

The party was particularly interested in al-Hikayat Muhammad (Life of Muhammad), dating from 1214 A.H. (1799–1800 C.E.) (University of Glasgow Special Collections: MS Farmer 567), a manuscript  written in the Malay Arabic script Jawi. The manuscript is described as a compilation of three originally independent stories: Hikayat Nur Muhammed (the story of the life of the prophet Muhammad); Hikayat Hasan dan Husayn (the stories of these two sons of Ali); and Hikayat Muhammad Hanafiah (the story of the conflict between Ali’s third son, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, and Yazid I, third Caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate).

Part of the Farmer Collection, the manuscript was donated to the University of Glasgow by musicologist (PhD 1926) and University music librarian 1951–65, Henry George Farmer (1882–1965).

An eighteenth-century edition of a natural history of plants with supplement dedicated to ‘a few of the trees and plants of  Malacca’ from the fantastic Arnott Collection also captured the Malaysian delegates’ interest. The supplement to Denis Dodart’s Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire naturelle des plantes … Avec les descriptions de quelques arbres et de quelques plantes de Malaque (Dissertation serving as a natural history of plants …, 1758 (University of Glasgow Special Collections Sp Coll q 663) was compiled by French Jesuit monk, Claude de Bèze (d. 1695) during his imprisonment by the Dutch in Malacca in the late 1680s.  Bèze was one of a group of 14 Jesuits who had travelled as Royal Mathematicians in France’s second embassy to Siam (Thailand) in 1687.[i]

A colourful label attached to textiles distributed by merchants Adamson, Gilfillan & Co. Ltd of Penang, Malaysia, and Singapore (University of Glasgow Archive Services: UGD013/7/4 label 2889) delighted one of our visitors who had spent his formative years in Penang. This and several hundred similar labels in the Archives collection identified bales of cloth treated by Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, firm United Turkey Red Ltd which specialised in Turkey-red dyeing and exported globally, in particular to south and south-east Asia.

The International Heritage Project is keen to support on-campus events with pop-up displays. Please contact Project support officer Nicky Imrie for further information.

[i] Additional sources: Agustin Vallina, Searching the Heavens and the Earth: The History of Jesuit Observatories, Dordrecht, Netherlands & Norwell, MA, USA: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003, pp. 54–7; Frasie Hertroijs, VU University Amsterdam, ‘Meeting the Dutch: cooperation and conflict between Jesuits and Dutch merchants in Asia, 1680’, paper presented at the conference of ENIUGH, London, 14–17 April 2011 [both accessed online, 28 October 2013].

Categories: Archive Services, Library, Special Collections

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