Islamization and the formation of a vernacular tradition: Muslim funerary monuments in 15th-century northern Sumatra

This paper presents an overview of a distinctive and previously un-studied tradition of Muslim funerary monuments from 15th-century northern Sumatra, including a description of its formal characteristics as well as discussion of its geographical distribution, periodization, and relation to other traditions of Muslim grave markers around the broader region. These stones present evidence for the emergence of a distinctive type of vernacular Muslim material culture dating to the earliest historical phase of Islamisation in Southeast Asia. This data was collected by, and this presentation emerges out of work on, a broader collaborative research project: The Aceh Geohazards Coastal Heritage Survey, supported by the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University: Patrick Daly (PI), R. Michael Feener, E. McKinnon, Tai Yew Seng, Ardiansyah, Nizamuddin, N. Ismail, En Ci, & K. Sieh.

R. Michael Feener is the Sultan of Oman Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, and Islamic Centre Lecturer in the History Faculty at the University of Oxford. He was formerly Research Leader of the Religion and Globalisation Research Cluster at the Asia Research Institute, and Associate Professor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore. He has also taught at Reed College and the University of California, Riverside, and held visiting professor positions and research fellowships at Harvard, Kyoto University, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the University of Copenhagen, The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (Honolulu), and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, the Netherlands. He has published extensively in the fields of Islamic studies and Southeast Asian history, as well as on post-disaster reconstruction, religion and development, and is currently Project Leader of the Maldives Heritage Survey (