Archaeology and Art History of Southeast Asia Programme

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About the webinar series

This webinar series offers comprehensive introductory lectures in Archaeology and Art History of Southeast Asia with a focus on the pre-Modern to the Modern periods. Covering topics from major Southeast Asian land and maritime civilisations over the last 1000 years, these lectures will highlight the rich cultural heritage of ancient Southeast Asian societies. The archaeology component will cover the great civilisations and kingdoms such as Angkor, Dai Viet, Ayutthaya, Majapahit, and Malacca. It will provide a broad overview of the rise and dissolution of the major ancient powers in Southeast Asia and explain the interconnectedness of the region.

The art and architecture history component will address the material culture and technical knowledge of Southeast Asian societies. It will emphasise the specificities of ceramics, stone sculpture, textile and textile representation, bronze art, manuscript illuminations, as well as stone and wooden architecture productions and appreciation in the region. It will cover their circulation through trade and religious networks from the second millennium AD to the early 20th century with an emphasis on the Hindu and Buddhist civilisations, as well as the making of Islamicate material culture from the 13-15th centuries onwards.

This webinar series is designed for undergraduates engaged in Southeast Asia art history and archaeology curriculum as well as junior college or polytechnic students with interests in heritage and history. The series is also appropriate for educators and members of the public.

This webinar series is supported by Temasek Foundation.

Webinar recordings

To view video recordings of selected webinars from this series on ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute’s YouTube channel, click here.

Webinar 1

An Introduction to the AAHP Webinar Series: Archaeology and Art History in Southeast Asia

Tuesday, 6 July 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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How well do you know your neighbours? In this introductory lecture, we set the stage by giving an overview to the archaeology and art history in Southeast Asia, from ancient times to the recent past. Southeast Asia is characterised by its remarkable diversity – in both continental and archipelagic landscapes, cultures and languages. We start by examining why and how this region has become a hotbed of human migration over the past 50,000 years, giving rise to the major cultural traditions that we know today. We then turn our focus sharply into the 1,000 years – the time of the great empires – and how they interacted with each other over time. We will move to the pre-colonial period and look at how historical evidence has helped us understand several Southeast Asian cultures over time. Finally, we will analyse the impact of colonialism and Islam across this region and identify where the legacy remains today. We will browse through the main artistic and architectural inventions of the different polities presented, and see how the exogenous philosophies and influences shaped the art and material culture of Southeast Asia, introducing the rich and varied topics addressed in this Webinar Series.


Dr Hélène Njoto
AAHP Coordinator; Representative of Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), Jakarta
Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan
AAHP Coordinator; SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA)

Dr Hélène Njoto is a French-Indonesian art and architecture historian, currently the representative of Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) in Jakarta. She has a PhD in Art History from EHESS (Paris) and an MA from Sorbonne. Her dissertation, which addressed early modern Javanese architecture, won two publication grants from the musée du Quai Branly and from the Institut des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres (Flora Blanchon Prize) in 2020. She directed the 2018 Art History and Archaeology International Field School in Trawas, East Java, an ongoing research collaboration between Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi Nasional (ARKENAS) and ISEAS. In her new collaboration between EFEO and ARKENAS, she focuses on Javanese art and architecture (material culture) history from the early Islamic period onwards (15th to 18th c.) in Java. She is the editor of ISEAS’ Temasek Working Paper Series and is a member of Archipel and Berkala Arkeologi editorial teams.

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is from Singapore, and is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA) in Bangkok. At SPAFA, he oversees the centre’s programmes related to Southeast Asian Archaeology. He graduated with a PhD in archaeology from the Australian National University and a MA in archaeology from Universiti Sains Malaysia, specialising in rock art. He is the editor of the SPAFA Journal and runs the Southeast Asian Archaeology resource page.

Webinar 2

Angkor (c. 9th-15th century): People, Monument, City, and Statecraft

Wednesday, 21 July 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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This talk (re)introduces the Angkor civilisation from its formation in the 9th century to its political collapse in the 15th century based on recent archaeological research. Angkor was one of the largest empires to ever rule a large portion of Mainland Southeast Asia. Much is known about its cult of “god-king”, political successions, great monuments, and religions. This talk will focus on the city of Angkor, urban infrastructure (monuments, water management structures, roads, etc.) and its associated social aspects, the people who lived there, and most importantly, the relationship with its provincial centers.


Dr Heng Piphal
Postdoctoral fellow/graduate faculty scholar
Center for Southeast Asian Studies and Department of Anthropology,
Northern Illinois University.

Dr Heng Piphal is a postdoctoral fellow/graduate faculty scholar at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and Department of Anthropology, Northern Illinois University. He received his PhD degree in Anthropology from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (where he is currently an affiliate graduate faculty). Heng’s archaeological research interests include religious change, urbanism, settlement patterns, landscape, political economy, sociopolitical organisational shift, and heritage studies. He is also interested in the intersection between heritage management, collaborative/public archaeology, knowledge production, and urban development. His current project explores the transformation of urban and rural settlements in response to the demographic and political changes that took place with the adoption of Theravada Buddhism in Angkor (14th-18th century Cambodia).

Webinar 3

Introduction to Southeast Asian Relief Sculpture & Dress and Textile Representation in Southeast Asia

Wednesday, 4 August 2021
3.00 pm – 4.30 pm (Singapore time)

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Introduction to Southeast Asian Relief Sculpture

What is relief sculpture and where may we find them? Using examples from our rich Southeast Asian past up until the arrival of Islam, this lecture presents an overview of the characteristics that distinguish reliefs from other types of art, and the role that the natural and built environments play in the production and appreciation of reliefs. Techniques of relief-making will also be identified, and, while most artistic output can be described as decorative, different types of reliefs serve different purposes. But more than just ornamental or functional, reliefs can also be extremely informative. Some of the ways historians and archaeologists employ the study of reliefs to gain new knowledge will be explored, especially useful with cultures that have oral traditions or whose writings were not made on permanent remains. The lecture will discuss various methods of tracing origins and the circulation of ideas, determining the chronology of undated sites and objects, and even inferring certain unspoken social practices and attitudes, in order to reveal aspects of the past which have been lost to time.

Dress and Textile Representation in Southeast Asia

Organic materials such as textile and wood are vulnerable and do not survive well in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia. Are some evidence available from the early historical period? Despite the dearth of actual textiles remain, imprints of textiles can be found on sculptures and temple reliefs; many of them can be linked to materials preserved outside Southeast Asia. This lecture will provide an overview of the ancient maritime trade routes that were responsible for the circulation of these textiles. It will explore some visual evidence on sculptures that provide clues to the style of dress and patterns popular in different periods, and conversely, dress and patterns that can be used to date sculptures that may have lost their original context. Finally, this lecture will discuss the role of textiles in Southeast Asia as political currency, how they establish cultural identity, and the evolution of textile technique as local responses to prestigious trade textiles.


Dr Natalie S.Y. Ong
Independent researcher, Singapore
Dr Sandra Sardjono
Founder and President, Tracing Patterns Foundation, Berkeley, USA

Dr Natalie S.Y. Ong recently completed her PhD in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore examining the narrative bas-reliefs on the UNESCO monuments of Borobudur and Prambanan in Central Java. She previously completed her MA in Indic Cultures at the Université Paris III Sorbonne-Nouvelle, and since 2008 has worked extensively on many cultural projects in Singapore, including the creation in 2010 of the E-Museum of Southeast Asian Ceramics for the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society where she was also Secretary until 2013; the publication and exhibition Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery; curatorial work with the NUS Museum and Baba House; and as researcher for the Preservation of Monuments Board, National Heritage Board.

Dr Sandra Sardjono is Founder and President of the Tracing Patterns Foundation, a nonprofit organisation that promotes textile study and indigenous scholarships. Her main research interest is the transmission of textile patterns and weaving technologies in Southeast Asia. She earned her doctorate in art history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2017 with a thesis Tracing Patterns of Textiles in Ancient Java (8th-15th century). In 2012-2015, she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. She has worked as Assistant Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and as Textile Conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York.

Webinar 4

Archaeological Evidence of Bagan and Arakan in Early 2nd Millennium AD

Wednesday, 18 August 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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Bagan and Mrauk U were the most glorious cities of Myanmar and now the most attractive archaeological sites of the western part of Southeast Asia in 2nd millennium AD. Bagan is located in the heart of Myanmar. It has become the most popular archaeological site for tourism and pilgrimage in Myanmar with over 3,000 ancient Buddhist monuments built from the 11th to 13th centuries AD. Most monuments in Bagan are Buddhist temples and most of them are decorated with mural paintings inside and stucco carving outside. Earlier Buddhist iconography in Bagan is heavily influenced by Pala of Southeast India and it was gradually localised in later periods. Apart from the religious monuments, the rectangular walled city and its citadel also allow us to study medieval urban life. Mrauk U is the westernmost metropolitan city of early modern Southeast Asia, which survived between 15th and late 18th centuries AD before being invaded by Ava of central Burma. Mrauk U was a maritime trade city and used the silver coins which were inscribed with the title of the kings in Arakanese and Persian. It had strong relationships with the Mughals, Portugese and Dutch. It is known among archaeologists for its sophisticated water management system and urban architecture which can be compared with western cities such as Lisbon and Amsterdam. The temples, stupa and city were constructed in stone. This presentation will explore the different types of architectural remains and Buddhist iconography through the age in Bagan and introduce the archaeological evidence of trade, communities, landscape, religious and urban architecture of early modern Mrauk U.


Mr Ye Myat Lwin
Postgraduate student, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Mr Ye Myat Lwin worked in the Department of Archaeology and National Museum in Myanmar for eight years. He was a tutor in the Field School of Archaeology (Pyay) and a Junior Research Officer in the Division of World Heritage Sites and Bagan Archaeological Museum, Myanmar. He received a MA in Archaeology from Yangon University, and currently studying Archaeological Material Science in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Webinar 5

Malay illustrated manuscripts with a focus on images of magic and divination

Thursday, 2 September 2021
2.00 pm – 3.30 pm (Singapore time)

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Manuscripts are handwritten texts (prior to the advent of printing, books and documents had to be written and copied by hand). Malay manuscripts were written in a form of Arabic script known as Jawi. The texts contained in these manuscripts cover a broad range of topics such as religion, literature, legal codes, medicine and correspondence.

Apart from texts, manuscripts may also contain visual and artistic elements such as illustrations, diagrams and decoration. This lecture will look at illustrated Malay manuscripts, with a focus on those relating to the topic of magic and divination. These manuscripts are important for our understanding of Malay art, especially drawing and painting. They also provide us with an insight into life in Malay society in the past.


Dr Farouk Yahya
Research Associate,
Department of History of Art and Archaeology
School of Arts, SOAS University of London

Dr Farouk Yahya is a Research Associate in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts, SOAS University of London. His research interests include the Southeast Asian arts of the book, as well as texts and images relating to magic and divination. He was previously Leverhulme Research Assistant Islamic Art and Culture at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, where he assisted with the exhibition “Power and Protection: Islamic Art and the Supernatural” (2016 – 2017) and curated the display “The Tale of Prince Vessantara” (2018). He is the author of Magic and Divination in Malay Illustrated Manuscripts (2016), editor of The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections (2017), and co-editor of Islamicate Occult Sciences in Theory and Practice (2021).

Webinar 6

Reviewing The Sultanate of Melaka: Archaeology, History and Culture

Wednesday, 15 September 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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The Sultanate of Melaka is a confederation of several Malay states which began as a trading outpost at the estuary of the Melaka river. Parameswara, who founded the Melaka ruling dynasty at the end of the 14th century CE, gradually pacified nearby coastal and riverine settlements such as Muar, Beruas and Klang. This gave Melaka an advantage over the distribution of local resources, especially tin and rainforest products. In the successive decades, the network of ports and polities under Melaka further expanded to Southeast Sumatra and the rest of the Malay Peninsula, giving the main port a monopoly over certain products as well as control over the movement of peoples and goods. By the second half of the 15th century CE, Melaka became a thalassocratic state with written laws, taxation, and foreign diplomatic relations, as well as an established system of rulers, nobles, chieftains and administrators. Long after the fall of Melaka port to the Portuguese, successor states such as Perak, Johor and Pahang still retain the old vestiges in the forms of their jurisprudence, court rituals and social hierarchy. This lecture reviews the archaeological and historical sources on Melaka, based on which its culture, economic and political system will be discussed.


Dr Nasha bin Rodziadi Khaw
Senior Lecturer,
Centre for Global Archaeological Research,
Universiti Sains Malaysia

Dr Nasha bin Rodziadi Khaw is a lecturer in the Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia. His MA thesis, “Historiography of Old Kedah: A Socio-Economic Analysis”, was written in Malay under USM’s Academic Staff Training Scheme Fellowship. He completed his PhD in Archaeology at the University of Peshawar, Pakistan, where he documented and interpreted Sanskrit inscriptions found in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Dr Nasha has published widely, especially on the ancient city-states of the Malay Peninsula. Some of his books include “Hubungan Politik dan Sosiobudaya China-Dunia Melayu Hingga kurun ke-15 Masihi(Political and Socio-Cultural Relation between China and the Malay World until the 15th Century C.E) and “Hubungan Perdagangan Dunia Melayu-China hingga kurun ke-16 Masihi(Trade Relation between China and the Malay World until the 16th Century C.E). Dr Nasha also specialises in epigraphy and palaeography.

Webinar 7

Indianisation and Indigenisation of Southeast Asian Hindu and Buddhist Architecture

Tuesday, 5 October 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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This lecture will address the spread of Hindu and Buddhist religious architecture in Southeast Asia by highlighting two different periods: indianisation and indigenisation. It begins with an introduction to Hindu and Buddhist architecture during the Indianisation period from the 1st to the 7th/9th centuries, and proceeds with Buddhist architecture in Myanmar and Thailand during the indigenisation period from the 19th to the 20th centuries. The former includes the architecture of the Khmer during the pre-Angkor period, of the Cham in My Son, of the Javanese in the Dieng Plateau, of the Pyu in Beikthano and Sriksetra, and of the Mon in Thaton and Nakhon Pathom. The latter focuses on Buddhist architecture of the Mon and Burmese in Moulmein and Mandalay; of so-called Burmese in Chiang Mai and Lampang, Thailand; and of the Siamese (central Thai) in Bangkok. This lecture will show how architectural forms and techniques circulated and were (re)invented in the vast Southeast Asian continental and maritime area, to shape the internationaly known iconic temples of Southeast Asia.


Prof Chotima Chaturawong
Associate Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Silpakorn University, Thailand

Prof Chotima Chaturawong is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. She received a B.Arch and an M.Arch from Silpakorn and Chulalongkorn universities, respectively, and a PhD in History of Art (Southeast Asian Art) from Cornell University. Her PhD focused on the architecture of Burmese Buddhist monasteries in Upper Burma and northern Thailand. She has widely published on architecture and art in Myanmar and Southeast Asia. Some of her more recent publications include Buddha Shrines: An Architectural Comparison of Thailand, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka (in Thai) (2020); “Reliefs of Vishnu Anantasayin: Vaishnavism of the Pyu, Mon, and Burmese.” (2019); “Ayutthaya and Burma,” (2018); and “Mandapas of India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand,” (2017).

Webinar 8

Ayutthaya: Urban Networks and Global Connections

Wednesday, 20 October 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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This lecture introduces the audience to the rise of Ayutthaya, from a small city state to its expansionist heights, decline in the late 18th century, and eventual transition and its roles in shaping contemporary Chao Phaya Delta identity. We will be looking at Ayutthaya’s urban and material culture network, and its spread across the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. The lecture will also introduce how quasi-international cosmopolitanism in different Ayutthaya cities led to diverse material identities, particularly fine arts and cuisine. It will also explore the much overlooked subject of the Tai-speaking diaspora and its relationship with Ayutthaya as it rose to power and eventually declined.


Dr Phacharaphorn Phanomvan
College Lecturer in Medieval History
Oriel College, University of Oxford

Dr Phacha Phanomvan is a medieval economic historian and archaeologist. She specialises in historical landscape development in Western Mainland Southeast Asia, and contemporary community engagement with heritage economies. She is advisor to several heritage landscape development projects in Thailand, and is researching community resilience against art crime as part of a GCRF funded project.

She is currently a lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Oxford.

Webinar 9

Introduction to Ceramics in Southeast Asia & An Introduction to Buddhist and Hindu Bronze Sculpture in Southeast Asia with a Case Study on Javanese Bronzes (6th-15th century)

Monday, 1 November 2021
3.00 pm – 4.30 pm (Singapore time)

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An Introduction to Buddhist and Hindu Bronze Sculpture in Southeast Asia with a Case Study on Javanese Bronzes (6th-15th century)

Bronze – an alloy of copper and tin – has been used since the prehistoric period in Southeast Asia for everyday objects as well as for sacred and ritual art objects. In this lecture, we will introduce the simultaneous development of Buddhist and Hindu bronze sculpture in mainland and maritime Southeast Asia from the 6th century onwards. These bronze statues were both artistic representations of deities and consecrated objects, investing them with the living presence of the divine. We will see that while some small statuettes circulated with pilgrims travelling via the region’s maritime trade routes, the larger statues functioned within temples, commissioned by powerful political elites. We will explore how their religious nature and the context of their use impacted the fabrication techniques employed by craftsmen, and how stylistic exchange developed between Southeast Asian regions, as well as with India and China. Finally, utilising groups of bronzes forming maṇḍalas, we will investigate how bronze sculptures in Central and East Java evolved over a period of time.

Introduction to Ceramics in Southeast Asia

Why are ceramics so ubiquitous in the study of Southeast Asian art history and material culture? The art historian William Willetts identified ceramics (and textiles) as the most “elemental inventions” in this region (Brown 1988). This lecture will introduce innovative moments in the development of the region’s ceramic traditions. Drawing extensively on examples from regional museum collections, we will explore some of the major discoveries from land and marine archaeological sites. We will ask how ceramics functioned as commodities and carriers of cultural significance, and what they tell us about potters and end-users from as early as 4,000 years ago. We will also look at technological and stylistic developments in relation to imported ceramics from China and other regions from the late first millennium CE onwards, and how local kilns subsequently mass-produced and distributed large quantities of ceramics via the region’s maritime trade routes. And finally, the enduring legacy of these rich ceramic traditions will be discussed, as they exist today in ritual practices and the local knowledge of potters, collectors and consumers of ceramics.


Mr Eko Bastiawan
Independent researcher, Malang, Indonesia
Dr Mathilde Mechling
Independent researcher, Singapore
Dr Heidi Tan
Postdoctoral Research Associate, SOAS University of London

Mr Eko Bastiawan is an independent researcher and an Alphawood scholarship alumnus who completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art (2016) and a Master in History of Art and Archaeology (2017) at SOAS. His MA research focused on groups of miniature bronzes from Central and East Java. He is interested in Old Javanese inscription and has been part of the project DHARMA since 2019. He is active in local communities in East Java aiming to preserve and conserve archaeological remains.

Dr Mathilde Mechling received her PhD in 2020 from University Sorbonne Nouvelle and Leiden University. Her thesis focused on Hindu and Buddhist bronze statuary from the Indonesian Archipelago, developing an interdisciplinary methodology combining stylistic and iconographic analyses, archaeometallurgy, archaeology, and religious aspects. Most recently, she published “The Indonesian Bronze-Casting Tradition: Technical Investigations on Thirty-Nine Indonesian Bronze Statues (7th–11th c.) from the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques – Guimet, Paris” (BEFEO 104, 2018) with David Bourgarit (C2RMF), Brice Vincent (EFEO), and Pierre Baptiste (Musée Guimet). She is a member of the scientific committee of the CAST:ING project.

Dr Heidi Tan is a founding curator of the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in Singapore where she worked from 1996 to 2014. She was responsible for developing the Southeast Asian collections, including Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics. She curated permanent galleries and special exhibitions that highlighted major acquisitions including the Hickley Collection of Dehua porcelain, the Belitung Cargo, and Vietnamese ceramics donated by Dr Earl Lu and Joe Grimberg amongst others. She was an Alphawood Foundation scholar at SOAS University of London (2014-18) where she completed her thesis: Meritorious Curating and the Renewal of Pagoda Museums in Myanmar. A Postdoctoral Research Associate, she is currently publishing her doctoral research and occasionally lectures in the Department of the History of Art at SOAS.

Webinar 10

Digging Up Dai Viet’s Glorious Past: An Introduction to Archaeology and Arts of Vietnam

Wednesday, 17 November 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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After regaining independence from China in the 10th century, Đại Việt became a powerful kingdom in Southeast Asia and considered itself a Smaller Dragon in the South. This talk introduces Đại Việt civilisation during its heyday in the Ly, Tran, Hồ, and Lê sơ dynasties (10th-16th centuries) based on recent archaeological advancement. I will introduce the Đại Việt State through the Đại Việt’s Imperial Capitals, the Thăng Long citadel (present-day in Hanoi), the Hồ Citadel (Thanh Hóa province), and the royal architectural system from the Ly, Tran, Ho, and Le dynasties. I will also cover the influence and imprint of Buddhism and Confucianism on Đại Việt society as seen from historical and archaeological documents, and finally the production and exportation of Đại Việt’s ceramics in the 11th-16th centuries.


Mr Do Truong Giang (Alex Giang)
Head of Department of Information and International Cooperation, Institute of Imperial Citadel Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

Mr Do Truong Giang served as general secretary of Southeast Asian Ceramic Society (Singapore) during the 2013-2014 term. He has spoken at numerous academic events in Singapore and overseas conferences in Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, France, and the Netherlands. Giang is currently Head of the Department of Information and International Cooperation, Institute of Imperial Citadel Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. Giang is also part of research projects on the Thang Long Imperial Citadel site in Hanoi and the excavation at Oc Eo site in Southern Vietnam.

Webinar 11

Discovering Islamic Southeast Asia in the Asian Civilisations Museum Collection

Wednesday, 1 December 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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Southeast Asia today is home to around one quarter of the world’s Muslim population. With majorities in Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and significant minorities in Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines, Muslims make up just under half of the region’s population. But Islam’s presence is not just of contemporary significance. The Asian Civilisations Museum’s (ACM) galleries kick off with the finds from the wreck of a 9th century CE Arabian dhow that were recovered off Belitung – proof of Southeast Asia’s early contact with Islam. Ensuing Islamic encounters led to the establishment of the first sultanate in northern Sumatra by the late 13th century CE. Despite its long history, Islamic art has been understudied and underappreciated. From the ‘ethnographic’ material collected during the Raffles Museum period (ACM’s predecessor) to the ACM’s recent acquisitions, we explore a variety of materials – textiles, metalwork, woodcarving and manuscripts – for insights into patterns of cultural exchange as well as influences from within the region and with the wider Islamic world.


Ms Noorashikin Binte Zulkifli
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore

Ms Noorashikin binte Zulkifli joined the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) in 2015 as curator of Islamic art where she developed the current Islamic Art gallery as part of ACM’s revamp and curated the exhibition, ‘Ilm: Science and Imagination in the Islamic World (2016). Noora is currently working on the revamp of the Peranakan Museum, with a special interest in Muslim Peranakan communities such as the Jawi Peranakans. Before this, she was a curator at the Malay Heritage Centre in Kampong Gelam, Singapore’s historic Muslim quarter and port town. She worked on the 2012 revamp of its permanent galleries, and curated several exhibitions including Yang Menulis | They Who Write (2012) and Budi Daya (2015). Her meandering journey, from the contemporary to the historical, has encompassed curatorial and programming positions at NUS Museum and Singapore Art Museum. She holds a MA in Interactive Media and Critical Theory from Goldsmiths College, UK. Noora’s current research interests revolve around Islamic Southeast Asia.

Webinar 12

Journey to The Centre of The World: Introduction to Spice Island Archaeology

Wednesday, 15 December 2021
10.00 am – 11.30 am (Singapore time)

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The Spice Islands, located in Eastern Indonesia, were once a key destination for traders. The prices of spices escalated in the early 13th century in response to demand from the global market, triggering competition between nations to monopolise this commodity. The Spice Islands and spice route cannot be separated from the Nusantara people. The role of the Nusantara people in producing spices and advancing shipbuilding technology shaped the way in which this commodity entered the global market. Conversely, the local presence of international traders shaped the cultural development from which the identity of the Indonesian nation arose. Ultimately, the spice route was more than a maritime trade route, but also a series of cultural, ideological, and even religious exchanges. This presentation will provide an overview of the spice route and how the local community played a role in managing the spices that were in global demand, as well as their socio-cultural and political impact based on archaeological finds.


Mr Shinatria Adhityatama
PhD Candidate, School Of Humanities, Languages And Social Science
Griffith University, Australia

Mr Shinatria Adhityatama graduated from Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia) in 2012 with a BA in Archaeology. He was a maritime archaeologist at the Indonesian National Research Centre for Archaeology (PUSLIT ARKENAS) in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 2013-2021; and is currently a PhD candidate at the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Australia. He has managed large programmes related to maritime archaeology, prehistoric archaeology, and archaeology training in Indonesia and Australia since 2008. Shinatria has published widely in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Quaternary Science Reviews, Journal of Nautical Archaeology (IJNA), Journal of Maritime Archaeology, and Science Advances. He was part of the Indonesian delegation in the Joint Expert Meeting which managed the loss of historic ships in Indonesian waters.

Webinar 13

Introduction to Southeast Asian Forms of Mosque Architecture

Wednesday, 5 January 2022
2.00 pm – 3.30 pm (Singapore time)

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What were the historical forms of the Southeast Asian mosque? How many different types were there and how are they connected to local building conventions, ornamental schemes and material practices that pre-date Islam? This lecture focuses on Southeast Asian types that are distinct from the domed forms introduced during the 19th century by colonial architects. It examines key examples that have survived, as well as those that have long disappeared but are depicted in historical illustrations, and how symbols and meanings from the region’s older cult buildings were re-worked for the new religious context of Islam. It explores the connections to local and regional building customary practices as well as adaptations of earlier Indic conventions. The talk also retraces the trans-cultural connections across different regions that can be seen in some mosque designs, and the debates surrounding the origin and historical developments in mosque form in Southeast Asia. The discussion closes by looking at the last examples of the Southeast Asian mosque in the mid-20th century and their recent revivals.


Dr Imran bin Tajudeen
Senior Lecturer, Department of Malay Studies and Department of Communications and New Media, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore
and Mutawa Visiting Fellow (2020-2021), Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, UK

Dr Imran bin Tajudeen is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Malay Studies and the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore, where he teaches topics on identity and representation through the arts, urban history, and built cultural heritage in Singapore and the Malay World. He researches architectural encounters in Singapore and maritime Southeast Asia across the longue durée, and examines the vernacular city and its heritage tropes. His doctoral dissertation on this topic (NUS, 2009) won the ICAS Book Prize in 2011. He is co-editor of Southeast Asia’s Modern Architecture (2018), and was postdoctoral fellow at MIT’s Aga Khan Program (2009–10) and the IIAS in Leiden (2010–11). He has published on Southeast Asia’s mosques in transregional and vernacular-Indic translations and is currently working on a monograph on this subject. He is also Mutawa Visiting Fellow at OXCIS (Oxford).