Islamic Manuscripts from Aceh in the British Library
Gallop, Annabel Teh
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Aceh has long been renowned as a centre of Islamic scholarship, and some of the most famous Malay texts were composed in this area of north Sumatra. However, despite an abundance of philological and literary studies of texts from Aceh, little attention has yet been paid to the materiality of the manuscript culture of the region. A small collection of 18 manuscripts from Aceh now in the British Library has therefore been subjected to detailed codicological scrutiny. These manuscripts, which appear to be representative of the books which circulated in the 18th and 19th century, contain multiple texts in Arabic, Malay and Acehnese, and the full contents of each volume are identified and contextualised with respect to other collections. Particular attention is paid to the original covers or bindings of the manuscripts, and illuminated elements, and some comments are drawn about the broader Acehnese tradition.