SOAS University of London

Book launch and public talk on Malay Magic and Divination

16 June 2017

Farouk Yahya, SOAS Postdoctoral Research Associate, will be launching his new SAAAP-sponsored publication, The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections, at a talk and launch event in Malaysia next month.

The event, under the theme Malay Magic and Divination, will be held at the Black Kettle Cafe in Georgetown, Penang from 3-5pm on 29 July 2017. Areca Books, publishers of the new book and organisers of the event, note that:

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.

For further information, contact:

The Black Kettle is located at 105 Beach Street in Georgetown, Penang. Please visit the event's Facebook page for further information and the register your interest. You can also visit Areca Books to learn more about how to purchase The Arts of Southeast Asia from the SOAS Collections, or visit the SOAS Bookshop in the Brunei Gallery.