in an auction sale in London of Islamic manuscripts, while a manuscript of the Serat Yusup, the Muslim story of the
little interest in the international Islamic art market. And it
the writing of this article.
This surge of interest in London was mirrored by a
simi lar flurry of activity on the other side of the world,
due to the collecting activities of two large institutions in
Malaysia. In the early 1980s, the Department for Islamic
Affairs (Bahagian Hal Ehwal Islam, BAHEIS) – now known
as the Department for the Propagation of Islam (Jabatan
Kemajuan Islam Malaysia, JAKIM) – in the Prime Minister’s
Department of Malaysia embarked on an ambitious project
to collect Islamic cultural artefacts including manuscripts.
More than 3,600 manuscripts in Arabic, Malay and other
languages were acquired in a relatively short period, in
cluding over 300 Qur’ans, mainly from South East Asia.
Since 1998 the JAKIM collection has been on loan to the
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM), Kuala Lumpur.
The second important event was the foundation in 1984 of
the Malay Manuscripts Centre (Pusat Manuskrip Melayu)
at the National Library of Malaysia (Perpustakaan Negara
Malaysia, PNM), whose collection now numbers over 4,700
manuscripts primarily in Malay, but including about 40
Qur’ans. Other smaller institutions in South East Asia, as
well as a number of private collectors, also actively began
to acquire Islamic manuscripts in the 1980s and 1990s. In
Indonesia, a major revival of interest can be traced to the
Festival Istiqlal held in Jakarta in 1991, which included
the first major exhibition of Qur’an manuscripts from the