We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Head cloth with stylised Islamic calligraphy design

early 20th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Places where the work was made
    Aceh Indonesia
    Aceh Sumatra Indonesia
    early 20th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    cotton, dyes: batik
    95.0 x 91.0 cm (irreg.)
    Gift of Dr John Yu and Dr George Soutter 2007
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    According to Michael Rogers, Honorary Curator of the Nasser D. Khalili Collection, the head cloth shows four tughras arranged around a central flower-like pattern. A tughra is a device used to authenticate Ottoman state documents and consists of the name of a Sultan, his patronymic, and the formula 'May he ever be victorious'. Rogers identified the tughras on this cloth to be reversed versions of the signs of Abdul Hamid II (1876-1918), the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (This means they would be read clearly from the reverse side of the cloth). That the sultan's tughra appears on a Southeast Asian textile is not altogether surprising as Hamid II is known to have travelled to Indonesia and to have set up an Islamic institution in Aceh.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2007.

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Margaret White, TAASA Review, "Calligraphic batik cloths in Southeast Asia: Meaning behind the words", pg. 22-23, Sydney, Sep 2014, 23 (colour illus.).