Gold, Silver and Lapis Lazuli:  Royal Letters from Aceh in the  17th Century
 
By  Annabel Teh Gallop, British Library
 
Presented at the First International Conference on Aceh and Indian Ocean Studies, 24 – 27 February 2007
ABSTRACT
Special value can be attached to definitive primary sources in the form of royal
letters issued from the court of Aceh in the 17th century.  Until recently, only one such
letter was known, from Iskandar Muda to King James  I of England dated 1615.  More
recently, two other original letters have surfaced, one from Iskandar Thani of 1639 and
another from Tajul Alam of 1661.  It is indeed fortuitous that the only three surviving
17th-century royal letters from Aceh in fact represent the reigns of the three best-known
rulers of Aceh of that century, and span a period of nearly fifty years.  In this paper, the
letters will be examined critically, with a special scrutiny of their philological,
codicological and diplomatic features, in an attempt to understand better the forces that
gave them shape.  Full Malay texts with English translations of all three letters are given
in the Appendix.

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