Lot 076

Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah
b. Terengganu, 1907 - d. 1979

Silat, By The Sea, c.1955

signed, numbered and stamped photographer’s estate on verso
gelatin silver print, warm tone satin finish
33 x 48cm, edition 2 of 3

Private collection, Kuala Lumpur

ESTIMATE RM 4,000 – 7,000
At a time when there was no television, even black and white, such spectacle of silat combat drew large crowds among the rural folks, with many treating it like a picnic and family gathering. Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah managed to capture one such friendly fight demonstration from a distance, against the shady casuarina trees of Batu Burok beach in Terengganu. He seemed to be incognito, preferring the anonymity to hone his photography craft rather than to let the rakyat fuss over him providing him a royal seat complete with an ice-cream umbrella for shade. A few foldable chairs are available with some spectators preferring to sit cross-legged on the sand, while others formed an arc at the back. The subject is silat, and this precedes Ismail Mustam’s The Last Duel (1961) and Amron Omar’s copious works of silat pugilistic stances, from the 1980s. This work was featured on Page 74 in the book HRH Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Pioneering Malaysian Photography 1923-1971, written by his grandson Raja Mohd Zainol Ihsan Shah, who is vested with the archive and collection of his works. He remembers his grandfather’s darkroom where film negatives and photographic papers were stored in airtight glass jars and glass cabinets, in controlled temperature.

Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah, the 4th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (September 21, 1965 - September 21, 1970), was installed the 14th Sultan of Terengganu on December 16, 1945. Sultan Ismail, who was an avid photographer since the 1930s, died on September 20, 1979.