The Great Seal of Aceh

Last night, the Society was delighted to host a lecture by Dr Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator for Southeast Asia at the British Library, on “The Great Seal of Aceh”. Before moving into a discussion of manuscript culture and the use of seals in Aceh and Southeast Asia, Annabel provided context by highlighting Aceh’s significance as a centre of economic and cultural transmission in maritime Southeast Asia, particularly in the spread of Islam.

Dr Annabel Gallop delivers her lecture

Annabel examined the construction and symbolism of imperial seals in Aceh. This is particularly important for understanding how seals conferred cultural authority and dynastic legitimacy. Annabel also explored links between Aceh and the wider Islamic world, in particular looking at comparisons and connections with the Ottoman and Mughal Empires; which were reflected in the respective ways that seals were used. Annabel also discussed previous literature and research on seals in Southeast Asia, noting its strengths and weaknesses, and emphasized the importance of examining original materials where possible, instead of over-relying on facsimiles and reproductions.

The stimulating lecture was followed by a lively discussion and a reception. The Society is most grateful to Annabel for choosing to share with us some of the fruits of her very extensive research, and we look forward to the publication of further important work in this area. Until then, you can listen to Annabel’s lecture online here:

Dr Gallop with RAS President Dr Gordon Johnson

The Society has an important collection of manuscripts from Southeast Asia, including significant collections from the Malay world and Indonesia. Last week, we launched a digital library, and are very happy to have been able to share digitized versions of some of the highlights from this collection. You can see these digitized manuscripts here:

Sejarah Melayu, RAS Raffles Malay 18