via South East Asia Research, 01 Apil 2021: A paper by Annabel Teh Gallop examining Qur’an manuscripts from the Mindanao region.
The study of the writing traditions of the Malay world of maritime South East Asia has been both shaped and distorted by the differing colonial experiences within the region. In particular, a chasmic disconnect can be discerned between the western swathe occupied by the modern nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, long under essentially British and Dutch hegemony, and the southern islands of the present-day Philippines, for centuries located within the sphere of Spanish domination followed by a brief American occupation. This article aims to explore the particular impact of these varying colonial legacies on the collecting histories of Qur’an manuscripts from the Malay world, with special reference to the ‘Moro’ regions of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. To date, twenty-six Qur’an manuscripts from the Philippines have been documented, held in collections worldwide, which on further scrutiny can all be identified as originating from Mindanao. Their artistic and codicological profile is discussed within the broader context of Qur’an manuscripts from other parts of South East Asia, teasing out both commonalities with the rest of the Malay world as well as distinctive regional features.