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Lost In KL

Went out to the Islamic Arts Museum near the Lake Gardens. Well, I didn't know it was near the Lake Gardens, until I actually wandered out there. It's a much bigger museum than I suspected. It took me three hours to sift (and sometimes skittle) through two floors of permanent exhibits (and the Special Exhibit room, more on that later), read most of the placards and oggle the fancy terms I managed to learn. I went to the KL Islamic Arts Museum based on memories of the Kuching one, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The KL museum seems to me bigger, with a larger range of exhibits. Of particular interest is the collection of ancient swords and daggers, as well as the jewelry collection. Both these collections seem to have pieces of mostly Iranian or Indian origin.

My favorite jewelry pieces were a ruby-studded gold pendant and a ruby-emerald-pearl and gold decorative piece (for a turban) from India. The former had a swan worked into the obverse side, whereas the latter seemed to be a heavily decorated paisley thing. Also had a grand time looking at Chinese Quranic calligraphy, stylized to look like a boat and entire still life portraits of flower filled vases. Most of the daggers seemed to be ceremonial decorations more than functional weapons. Indeed, it would've been hard to imagine anyone using so many richly decorated pieces as weapons. What did strike me as interesting though were the spiked mace and flail that were used by palace guards; they looked threatening, but were in fact used on duty just to look good.

The Special Gallery had replicas of swords used by the Prophet Muhammad and his friends. Interesting to note that museum placards describe one of his favorite swords as booty obtained from war. Muhammad is easily the most human prophet out there, I think. Apart from the usual embellishments of character and such, enough records of him exist to note such trivialities as the amount of wives he had, what sort of wife he seemed to particularly enjoy, and yes, his swords. Nice to know that the non-violent roots of religion are so lovingly upheld. Is also interesting to note that the religious fervor applied to missionaries of all faiths, and their armies, has caused the unrecorded forced conversions of millions of people over time, and the only people complaining are usually the losers. Am grateful to note no armies of atheists as yet. Would be most traumatizingly unfair if there were such an army. The persecution of apostates cannot end in war; it would only make us as bad as our predecessors.

According to the site describing the Islamic Arts Museum, I missed a Special Gallery with comparisons of 14th-19th century clothing comparisons between Europe and the Islamic World (where would that be, exactly?). Did note the way Ottoman empire cloths and such employed styles that looked somewhat similar to medieval European styles, although I have not the education to point out the whats and whys. Then again, the Ottoman period did have much interaction with Europe, and it is the one time cited as the most glorious for Islam, if also not the most decadent (and must everything Muslims do all rely on comparisons between now and obsolete periods in history?). Why can a Muslim not be considered a Muslim in the eyes of the most conservative amongst Muslims unless they sport Arabic wear, and Arabic beards and speak Arabic? Is that not encouraging people to be Arab rather than more Islamic? And how on earth do these same Muslims claim their share of the Malay political pie, when they seem to do everything in their power to be not even Malay?

Found notation I missed in my copy of The Meaning of the Holy Quran, where it says that the rule of four wives per man did not apply to Muhammad, which finally explains why he had 9 wives. Leading by example, he took in widows and at least one child bride to save...people. Am trying to write this in remote and utterly Libra perspective, but am instead going into cynical evilness. Most perplexing.

Bought too many biscuits today at Central Market. Have pineapple tarts, Mama Carie biscuits, love letters and sesame coated peanuts. Occurred to me on the train that the old Pudu Jail looks somewhat lovely from afar, with its Moorish style. Would've taken pictures, if the train didn't move so fast. It was a museum at one point, unfortunately I never got to visit it before it closed (the area is to be developed). There is, however, an interesting perspective of the jail here, and more normal pictures here. Must mention I went to visit the Islamic Arts Museum with Sasha, who is an amazingly patient person, considering I'm the most terrible person in the world to travel with. I'm fastidiously late to everything, always apologetic, and very obviously a shut-in. Speaking of which, Sasha brought a book this time, and waited the extra two hours it took me to read all the museum placards.

Also occurred to me on the train that I should not judge people by the way they dress, even if they dress like Arabs posing as Muslims, because I don't wear traditinal Malay wear, and therefore have no right to judge people by their dress. It has nothing to do with me if they intend to be more Islamic by their dress, so long they don't hit on me, or openly attempt to convert me or anything.


Nov. 25th, 2002 02:21 am (UTC)
Re: Heh, yeah I did, didn't I? ;)
Do you, perchance, make reference to that fine chap Mr Red Lester(redlester)?