From Southeast Asia and China

A crowd of pilgrims from Indonesia on the deck of their chartered ship

A crowd of pilgrims from Indonesia on the deck of their chartered ship
In Jedda harbour, bound for Mecca, 1 January 1976. Hutton Archive/Getty Images

Before the invention of the steamship, pilgrims travelled from India, China and South East Asia on dhows and other sailing ships across the Indian Ocean. These journeys were governed by the monsoon winds and were long and often dangerous. The shift from sail to steamships during the 19th century made the journey quicker and cheaper. It also coincided with the expansion of Dutch colonial rule in Southeast Asia over the Muslim population. These Dutch colonies comprised the territories of present-day Indonesia. The Dutch were concerned that the Hajj provided a conduit for resistance to their rule particularly in Aceh, and they instituted a strict system of permits for pilgrims wanting to go on Hajj. The main embarkation point for these pilgrims was the port of Singapore.

The Sanctuary at Mecca drawn in Aceh (c. 1850 – 1870, Indonesia)

The sanctuary at Mecca drawn in Aceh (About 1850 – 1870, Indonesia)

Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam. Coll. no. A-5992

This plan of the sanctuary at Mecca was probably made as a guide for hajjis or pilgrims. Each location is marked in Malay and Arabic, showing which rite should be performed at each place. The decorative features, shape of the arches and other details show an Indonesian influence. A text on the back states that it was made for Teungku Imam Beutong. It was brought back from Aceh by a Dutch seaman stationed there during the 1870s.

The Diary of the King of Boné (c. 1780)

The Diary of the King of Boné (c. 1780)

British Library, Add. 12354 fols 43b–44a

This is the personal diary of Arumpone (king of Boné) Ahmed al-Salih (ruled 1775 – 1812), written in the Bugis language with occasional words in Arabic. Pilgrims wishing to go on Hajj needed to obtain the permission of both the Arumpone and the Dutch. The Arumpone notes that on 18 May 1780 he gave a prospective pilgrim, La Panuq, a sealed permit, and on 22 May La Panuq departed for Mecca.

Pilgrims from Indonesia (1888)

Pilgrims from Indonesia (1888)

Leiden University Library, Or. 26.404: 120

Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje’s photographs are a remarkable record of Indonesian pilgrims in the late nineteenth century. He took these images in the natural light of the inner courtyard of the Dutch Consulate in Jedda. Hurgronje used the photography sessions to learn about the pilgrims’ religious life in Indonesia.

This is Plate XIX from Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje’s ‘Bilder Atlas-zu Mekka’ published in 1888. Snouck Hurgronje was a Dutch Orientalist scholar and adviser on ‘Native Affairs’ to the Dutch colonial government. He travelled to Jedda in 1884.

This is a proof copy annotated by Hurgronje himself. Top left: pilgrims from Sukapura, Java. Top right: pilgrims from Celebes (Sulawesi). Bottom left: pilgrims from Solok, Sumatra. One pilgrim is holding a Dutch pilgrim pass. Bottom right: the female pilgrim Zubaidah from Java.

Read more about Christiaan Snouck

"Chao Jin Tu Ji", the travelogue of Ma Fuchu (1861, China)

The travelogue of Ma Fuchu (1861, China)

Chao jin tu ji ('Record of the Pilgrimage Journey') by Ma Fuchu (1794-1863)
Fols 8v-9r. China, 1861. Rice paper, ink. 26.3 x 15.2 cm
Image courtesy of Aga Khan Museum, AKM681

Ma Fuchu (d. 1863) was an eminent scholar of Islam and Sino-Muslim philosophy. He wrote some thirty-five books in Arabic and Chinese on subjects ranging from metaphysics to history. He also translated the Qur’an. This simply-drawn illustration is from the account of his journey from China to Mecca in 1841. Starting in Yunnan with a group of Muslim merchants, he travelled first overland, then by riverboat to Rangoon, and then by steamship to Jedda.

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council