KUALA LUMPUR (April 17): Historian and writer Yusuf Liu’s exhibition on the influence of Chinese Muslims in Islamic civilisations, particularly here in Malaysia, has been well received by both international tourists and locals.
“Islamic civilisation has a broad history with many different cultures,” the Chinese Muslim from China told Malay Mail.
The exhibition has been running since July 28 last year and will run till May 8 this year, he said.
Many told him that they were not aware of the extent to which Chinese Muslims had been present in the region for centuries, and even local non-Muslim Chinese visitors were pleased to see themselves represented, he said.
Displays include old coins and his own artworks such as his wood engravings and calligraphy, the latter two a visual representation of his desire to inspire Malaysians towards the two mediums of art as well as to encourage the production of high-quality local souvenirs.
He picked up the art of wood engraving in Malaysia thanks to the abundance of good wood in the country, he said.
“Malaysia has a lot of good wood, but not many engravers who work by hand,” he said, explaining that many opt to carve wood with lasers as it was easier and less time-consuming.
His calligraphy is done in Jawi, Arabic, Mandarin and Japanese with each work conveying the wisdom of the culture it is written in.
For the calligraphy written in the Jawi script, he utilised peribahasa, or traditional Malay-language proverbs.
Part of the reason he uses Jawi is to encourage people to learn the writing system. He said that it is essential to learn if one wishes to read old Malay documentation or old Malay signboards.
“To learn Malay history, you must learn Jawi,” he said, describing it as a treasure.
“It is very beautiful,” he added.
Meanwhile, his Chinese calligraphy uses words from Chinese poetry such as “God blesses those who work hard”, while an example of his Japanese calligraphy quotes the lyrics of a Japanese traditional song that says, “You deserve what you do”.
His quotes are carefully chosen to encourage the viewer towards good values, he explained.
He also hopes the exhibition will promote his 35 publications, which include analysis of the history of architecture in Malaysia and attempts to foster exchanges between Malay and Chinese cultures.
“The more we learn, the more we improve. The more you know, the more you understand.
“Attitude is very important in this regard,” he said.
*The exhibition History of Chinese Muslims in Melaka and the Art of Khat is currently taking place at Bastion House in Melaka. Opening hours are from 9am to 5pm. — Malay Mail