The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections

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Farouk Yahya
2017, Areca Books
Softcover, 21.0 x 29.7 cm, 120 pages
ISBN 9789675719295


Beautifully illustrated, The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections highlights a variety of material relating to Southeast Asia drawn from the rich collections of SOAS University of London. With a wide chronological span, they are diverse in nature, comprising manuscripts (written on bark, palm leaves and paper), textiles, sculptures, metalwork and paintings, and reflect the variety of religions, cultures and languages to be found across this vast area.

The objects come from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and range in date from circa 1000 BCE to the present day. Most are functional, being made for religious, ceremonial or practical purposes, and particular meanings adhere to their various shapes, gestures and motifs. In contrast to the renowned stone and brick temples of Angkor and Pagan, much of Southeast Asian art is made from perishable materials such as wood, leaves and cloth to which the hot and humid climate of the region is hostile.

With a population of 600 million people inhabiting an area of over four million square kilometres, the culturally and linguistically diverse peoples of Southeast Asia have drawn upon the resources of its many ecological zones to create a wide range of artefacts in a striking variety of styles. Their arts continue to embody local traditions, but have also been enriched by external contacts.

This book is ideal for both the general public and specialists seeking to further explore the arts, languages and cultures of this dynamic and fascinating region.

Editorial review(s)

The use of magic was rooted in Malay society long before the arrival of Islam. Even after Islam entered the Malay cultural and social sphere, existing mystical practices were not eradicated but were instead assimilated into religious practices. In turn, Islamic elements were sporadically incorporated into the Malay spirit world. Magic In The Malay World, Mohd Izzuddin Ramli, Penang Monthly (Jan 2018)

Acquisition of rare manuscripts by colonial administrators and researchers have made it possible for us to appreciate what we have lost and to remind us of our ancient heritage so easily discarded with each new wave of religious ideology, politics science or technology. I congratulate the editor Dr Farouk Yahya and his team and Areca Books for putting together this collection in a book with so much clarity, simplicity and colour. ― Dato’ Dr. Wazir Jahan Karim, author and international scholar in the Social Sciences who has made outstanding contributions to both academic and applied research in the fields of minorities, gender, globalisation, conservation and heritage.

About the editor

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).


Weight 600 g
Dimensions 29.7 × 21 cm


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