Malay (?): unknown text

Atlantia

Member
English - Britain
Dear Colleagues

I have just added a lovely little box to my collection and it has a mysterious inscription on the underside.
It 'appears' to be a classic 'Dutch Tobacco Box' which I would have thought was circa 1780.
But, most unusually, it has two panels on the underside containing inscriptions that look to be in Arabic. One seems to contain a date of '1262' which if my maths is correct, would be 1846 Gregorian?

Can anyone translate the panels on the underside and solve this mystery for me please?
I am extremely grateful for any help.

Thanks
box.jpg
box1a.jpg
box1b.jpg
 
  • truce

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Something that is strange in the script is the number with English digits. The number is expected to be in Arabic digits. The script is not Persian and I do not think it is Arabic either. The text contains letters which are not available in Arabic and Persian like "غ" and "خ" with three dots. The script might be in "Kurdish" or "Pashto" or "Urdu".
     
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    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    I think it is Malay (or possibly another one of the Austronesian languages) in Arabic script. At the end of the second picture it says "bulan shawwal", the (Muslim) month of Shawwal. "Bulan" means month or moon in Malay.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Hi Truce,

    It's got me totally stumped.
    If it wasn't for the inscription I would assume that the rest of the engraving was European.
    But like I said, I'd have thought it 18th century and not mid 19th?
    Unless the calendar isn't Hijri?

    Hi Fdb

    Malay would presumably fit with the Dutch style of the box. Does any of the rest make any sense to you?
     
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    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Hi Fdb
    Thanks, so that at least confirms that 1262 is presumably a Hijri(?) date of 1262.
    Which would be 1846 Gregorian.
    If we are on the right track, then it's after the end of Dutch rule in that area. If only we could read the rest, perhaps it will give up it's secrets.

    Perhaps back to the Arabic board?
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    If we are on the right track, then it's after the end of Dutch rule in that area.
    No. Malay was spoken also in Sumatra and other Dutch possessions. And, as I said, I am not sure that this is Malay and not one of the other languages of Indonesia.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    I've got a lot of metalwork from South east Asia and mostly there are key decorative features that 'place' the item. It's so frustrating that this piece's emulation of European style means that it has none of those indicators.

    Thanks again to the Moderator team for moving the thread.

    Can anyone confirm if the language is one of the Austronesian languages in Arabic script?
    Better yet, can anyone translate into English?

    Thanks
     
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    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Dear All

    Happy holidays to those with a day off work today.

    I'm still getting nowhere with this.
    I even started wondering why the engraver placed two inscriptions in opposite orientations?
    Which made me wonder if we could be seeing a dual inscription in two Arabic character Austronesian languages?
    But I can only see one date.
    Strangely, the final 'line' appears to be a single word which is the same in both inscriptions, from right to left: single vertical stroke followed by left facing semi-circle like a close-bracket, then a long horizontal line with upturned ends with three dots above.
    Why do both inscriptions end with the same word?
    Tobacco box inscription collage.jpg
     

    truce

    Senior Member
    Persian
    The word that you are talking about is " ادث " and it might be the calligrapher or artist's name, alias or pen name of this artwork.
     
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    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Hi Truce

    Thank you for your continued help.
    I did think 'name' when I was looking for a pattern to suggest the inscription is dual-language. It would be unusual for an inscription to be split and both parts signed otherwise IMHO.
    Which would potentially suggest that the preceeding word would indicate that it was 'made by' this person? The equivalent in whatever Austronesian language we are dealing with for something like 'عمل' - 'Amal' (work of) in a standard Arabic inscription?
    But that takes me back to the date being only on one side, which seems to sink the dual-language theory.
    What do you think? I'm missing so much here, perhaps it's really obvious and I just can't see it?
     

    L'irlandais

    Senior Member
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hello,
    I cannot help with the translation, however the following link shows a Dutch tobacco box with inscriptions.
    NumisAntica - Ancient Coins & Antiquities
    The scene- and text refers to the superstition that a dog who is showing up in the morning and howling at you is a bringer of bad luck, even death.

    Size: 16 x 7,5 cm
    Text: (left) Och, och waer of de doot verschuijlt, daer heeft een hont soo naer gehuijlt
    (right) Wel wat sou dat, onnosele sloof, wat gront heeft doch is bijgeloof
    Bottom: A rhyme about using tobacco
    Toebak dat edel kruijt,
    Dat wijn en bier doet smake,
    men rookse met de mont
    men trekse met de kaaken

    A name is slightly visible on the inside of the box, most likely from a previous owner:
    W A M Raat
    By getting a better idea of what sort of things contemporary inscriptions are about, this may help resolve your particular mystery.
     

    Atlantia

    Member
    English - Britain
    Hi L'irlandais

    Unfortunately the subject matter depicted on toabcco boxes is often quite diverse and usually the main panel is engraved with a picture that is described in the text.
    In that respect, the box is unusual with it's non-figural decoration.
    box1.jpg


    I'm not sure what the decoration represents, if anything?

    box1 (2).jpg
     
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