With over 1,200 images, Malaysia: A Pictorial History 1400-2004 tells the story of Malaysia through the eyes of the artists and photographers who witnessed and recorded it. Faded pencil sketches, subtle watercolours, engravings and above all photographs—including the first views produced by 19th century professionals, stunning studio portraits and the remarkable experiments of early amateurs—present the history of a uniquely complex multi-ethnic society that has transformed the land of the Melaka Sultanate into a thriving global nation.
The quest for the new and the fascinating has unearthed stunning images, many reproduced here for the first time, as Well as classics without which no visual history of Malaysia would be complete. What makes the images extraordinary is the unique insight they provide into the every day affairs of ordinary people as well as to major events and personalities. From this wealth of material, Malaysia’s history is brought vividly to life.
Images were sourced over a two-year period from many different sources around the world. They include maps, prints and engravings before the age of photography; rare hand-coloured glass slides; early photographs of picturesque views and evocative portraits captured in the 1860s by early professional studios; official photographs of royal festivities; amateur attempts to record people, places and wildlife; the shots of press photographs chronicling everyday life as well as major events such as World War ll, the Emergency and Independence; and the late 20th century photographers who have documented the country’s journey from a largely agrarian community to an industrialized nation.
The two year search for the vivid and unusual resulted in a number of unexpected discoveries which are reproduced alongside classic images without which no visual history of Malaysia would be complete. Each picture conveys a strong sense of place, and together they tell the story of Malaysias progress through it’s development from that of an ancient trading kingdom to that of a modern independent nation.
While the majority are from Arkib Negara Malaysia and The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad collections, museums in Europe also yielded some unusual and interesting material. Several private collectors, both in Malaysia and abroad, allowed access to rare and precious images that have further enhanced the whole collection.