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Ilham Gallery – Ilham Conversations: Malay Magic and Divination

July 16, 2017 @ 2:30 pm5:00 pm UTC+8

Ilham Gallery - Ilham Conversations: Malay Magic and Divination

16 July, 2:30pm
Level 5

A talk by SOAS Postdoctoral Research Associate Farouk Yahya on the ancient practices involving ‘Malay Magic and Divination’ in Southeast Asia.

In Southeast Asia, there is a strong belief in the spirit world. There is a need to appease nature spirits, to seek protection against malevolent spirits, and to invoke deities for help. Supernatural powers are surrounded by complex beliefs that find expression in rites designed to contact and control them. Thus, spells, talismans and magical diagrams are used in various aspects of human life such as health, economic activities, and personal matters.

Additionally, divinatory techniques, tables and charts may be consulted to determine a person’s fortune in life. Stemming from centuries of local evolution, and allied to astrological practices of South Asian origin, they can help to identify an auspicious time to travel, or assist with an important life decision such as choosing a wife or husband. Contact with the supernatural world is often undertaken by magicians and shamans. This knowledge is mainly transmitted orally from teacher to student, and also gathered in books and manuscripts.

In his talk, Farouk Yahya will piece together the interesting histories behind these finds and shed light on the ancient practices involving Malay magic and divination.

There will be a Q&A session after the talk, moderated by Founder and Director of Pusaka, Eddin Khoo.

This event is supported by Areca Books.

About the speaker
Dr Farouk Yahya (PhD, SOAS University of London, 2013) is currently Leverhulme Research Assistant in Islamic Art and Culture at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, and Postdoctoral Research Associate at SOAS.

He is the author of Magic and Divination in Malay Illustrated Manuscripts (Leiden: Brill, 2016) and editor of The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections (Areca Books, 2017). Both books will be available for purchase at the event.


July 16, 2017
2:30 pm5:00 pm UTC+8
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Ilham Gallery
No. 8 Jalan Binjai, Off Persiaran KLCC
Kuala Lumpur, 50450 Malaysia

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