Malay Magic and Divination


A fascinating talk by SOAS Postdoctoral Research Associate Farouk Yahya on the ancient practices involving ‘Malay Magic and Divination’ in Southeast Asia, in conjunction with the book launch of ‘The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections’.

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.

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) which will be launched at this talk.

Sat Jul 29, 2017
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM MYT
Add to Calendar
Black Kettle, Penang
Standard FULL
Venue Address
105, Beach St, George Town, 10300 Penang Malaysia