Letters of Sincerity: The Raffles Collection of Malay Letters (1780-1824)

Monograph 43
Letters of Sincerity: The Raffles Collection of Malay Letters (1780-1824)
A Descriptive Account with Notes and Translation

By Ahmat Adam
440pp. Size: 146x222mm. Hardcover

Letters of Sincerity is a study in the now largely-lost and forgotten traditional Malay art of letter writing. The work is based on the serendipitous discovery of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles' collection of Malay letters in Aviemore in the Scottish highlands, in November 1970. In this book Ahmat Adam provides a transcription from the original Jawi into Rumi script of a series of letters sent to Raffles mostly around 1810 and 1811 by rulers of regional Malay polities. Dr Ahmat also provides an English translation of these letter along with copious supplementary notes, all of which were designed to assist readers to set the letters in the context of the times, and explain the issues which they raise. These features have rendered Dr Ahmat's unique work more accessible to the general reader, a fact that is amply testified by the book which is currently in its second print run.

In the course of this Dr Ahmat additionally provides a detailed guide to the intricacies of Malay-Islamic dating which was in use at that time in the Malay-Indonesian world. His study on this aspect of Malay culture is the first to link Malay dating with Sufism. This unique volume by a longstanding researcher and eminent authority on Malay letters is accompanied by a valuable introduction by the leading Raffles scholar Professor John Bastin of the University of London.

About the Author:

Ahmat Adam was born in Melaka on 24 March 1941 and is one of Malaysia's leading historians and a Council member of the MBRAS. He was the Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Malaya. Dr Ahmat had served as professor of history at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (1993-1995) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (1995-2005). He is the author of The Vernacular Press and The Emergence of Modern Indonesian Consciousness (Ithaca,1995), a groundbreaking examination of the development of the Indonesian press and its subsequent impact on the rise of socioeconomic and poilitical consciousness in modern Indonesia. In acknowledgement of his scholarly attainments, Universiti Malaysia Sabah made Dr Ahmat an Emeritus Professor in 2012.


Foreword by Dr John Bastin
Note on Orthography

  1. PART I Letters from the Malay Peninsula
    I. The Kedah Letters
    II. The Penang Letters
    III. The Perak Letter
    IV. The Pedas and Rembau Letters

  2. PART II Letters from the Johor-Riau-Lingga Kingdom
    V. The Johor and Singapore Letters
    VI. The Riau Letters
    VII. The Lingga Letters

  3. PART III: Letters from Sumatra
    VIII. The Siak Letters
    IX. The Jambi Letter
    X. The Palembang Letters
    XI. The Aceh Letter

  4. PART IV: Letters from Kalimantan
    XII. The Pontianak Letters
    XIII. The Sambas Letter
    XIV. The Banjarmasin Letter

  5. PART V: Letters from Java
    XV. The Banten Letters
    XVI. The Cirebon Letters
    XVII. Haji Mohali's Letter

  6. PART VI: Letters from Bali
    XVIII. The Bali Letters


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