frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item is a square piece of brightly-coloured, woven fabric, measuring about 1 m². Based on the geometric motifs and the colours (black, red, yellow and white) the fabric was identified as kain dastar commonly made by the Bajau and Irranun (also known as Iranun or Illanun). Given that a prominent motif of the woven patterns is that of horses, it is likely that it was moven for or by a Bajau person.

The extraction of samples for testing was unexpectedly delayed when it was discovered that the fabric is impervious to metal scalpels used in our laboratory. Vigorous experiments based on the hypotheses of our researchers (some conducted, regrettably, without supervision) also reveal that the fabric is fireproof and acidproof. Kain dastar is commonly utilised for headgear (podong) by the Bajau -- that there was an apparent necessity for one that is near-indestructible begs the question as to the circumstances under which it was created and its actual practical function.

Thus far we have unable to ascertain either the age of the item or the fibre used to produce it. A request for the purchase of synthetic diamond scalpel blades has been forwarded to our financial department.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Item is a fragment of a letter found in a bronze tube. The tube had a pop-off cap, upon which were the only markings that appear worn down. The paper was extremely frail and almost falling apart when we extracted it from the tube. Much of the writing has flaked off the surface of the paper. The script is a form of Jawi

We are unsure what this fragment is - personal letter? Military communication?

Measurements of tube:
Length: 20cm
Circumference: 5cm

Measurements of letter fragment:
Length: 15cm
Width: 10cm

Translation thus far:

Before you [embark] upon this journey [...] the great personage of [...] the greatest foe [...] threat to the empire and [...]

[ze] is ruthless and cunning, and a great strategist for war. [...] directed great battles and won every time, seemingly without effort. If you ever meet [...] you must not engage, and retreat to survive another battle. [Ze] has been known to command huge fleets [...] leave behind ruins [...] to die is a mercy [...]

It is my hope that someday we shall send an [intrepid] warrior forth to challenge [hir] that we may all sleep soundly [...] our coasts would be safer and our [treasure??] would rest easy.

Note: Sorry for the lack of transcription. My translating team has been remiss in that regard.
frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item is a baldric (or sash) made of tanned goatskin, with six small pockets: two of them square and buttoned, four of them rectangular and open-ended pockets. Its small size suggests that the item was made for a young child, to be worn bandolier-like across the chest and possibly secured at the shoulder. For lack of other, more convincing hypotheses as to its function, the item was tentatively identified as a version of a toolbelt.

Length: 158cm (circumference)
Width: 12cm

The item was stored in a box made from the wood of Cryptomeria japonica. The likelihood of the great expense this would incur suggests that the item was made for or commissioned by a person of wealth. The box in turn was wrapped in cotton cloth dyed with Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Samples have been sent for radiocarbon dating -- the lack of wear and tear on the item suggests it was never used.

When the item was removed from its box, a small paper card was discovered. A message in Malay was written on the card in careful, decorative Jawi calligraphy. The translation reads: "For my beloved child."
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
[personal profile] tiaramerchgirl
Item is on a parchment-like material embroidered around the edges with gold thread. The ink does not look especially unusual but its substance is not known.

Parchment seems to be written in the Minangkabau language of Western Sumatera. Translation provides this:

The Mato [head mother] Bunia of Ngarai Sianok
invites you to the wedding of

Grand Daughter Siareen Bunia


Aditja Marsukitjina
Kamakanan [heir] of Mato Darek Merapi

Isnen 2 Jumaada al-THaany 1191 Hijrihi
Anno Dominus 7 Julai 17-77

First star after sunset, when the sky is as blue as sapphire.
Rumah Gadang Buni Sianok, after the Pungent-Flower and the riverbend

Visitors: Follow the scent of the Pungent-Flower and wait by the petals. After each star the Kamakanan of Mato Bunia will allow you entry. Only those with this decree of welcome as marked by Mato Bunia will be allowed into the Rumah Gadang.

Then there was another two lines in a barely-visible and unintelligable script.

The parchment made whistling-like sounds when waved; it is unclear whether it is the property of the parchment or something else.

References to Buni and Bunia may point to the Orang Bunian, or Whistle-Elves, who are normally unseen by human eyes. Marriages between Bunian and humans are not uncommon and have been recorded in historical accounts of Sumatera, but it is rare to obtain a direct artifact.

Could the Pungent-Flower refer to what we now call Rafflesia? Botanists?
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
[personal profile] tiaramerchgirl
Item is a somewhat rumpled and faded flyer, about A5 size. It is predominantly blood red, and the central figure is of a woman's bare back with an intricate henna design. Surrounding and radiating from the woman are spirals and whirls in similar design to the henna.

The paper is curiously glossy for its vintage. The henna-like design seems to be in a different ink than the rest of the paper. It seems like there was selective screenprinting - a stencil for the body, then the background, then the designs drawn over in some sort of luminescent rainbow-shimmering pen.

The flyer was written in Jawi, likely in a Javanese dialect. Initial translation shows that the bottom third of the flyer is for an event - a cabaret? - likely named "Wayang Atycara" and reads:


For the indulgence [satisfaction?] of your shadow

Ronggeng with Lalit Abhinaya
Ketoprak Bangsawan
Dongdang Sayang

Raja-Asi 17, 12 Rabi-Ul Akhiri 1235 Hijrihi

I can't tell if the 3 names are bands, types of performances, or what. They seem to refer to specific folk dances, but the timing is inconsistent - 19th century operas with 15th century Javanese dances? Possibly a revivalist movement?

Some of the names, and the flyer art, infer possible erotic content. Could this be why the address is so scant?

there doesn't seem to be a tag for "artifact: advertising"...
((ye god's i'm such a noob))
nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Single page from folio hardcover book, badly damaged by fungus, cleaned and restored. Final reading and translation comes from NIR and visible light assay, as ink seems to have been eaten by humidity, fungus and sheer neglect. Language is Arabized Malay; based on linguistic clues of language, we can more or less place the date to some point in early 15th Century Hijra; material analysis confirms this.

Transcript )
Footnotes )
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Item is a jar made of clay, sealed with a mix of (fossilized) resin. The outside of the jar has painted grooves, showing the shape of various herbs and leaves. Among them, the picture depicting what appears to be a tongkat ali is encircled with black ink.

In controlled conditions, the resin sealing the jar was removed, and found the tongkat ali pickled in a solution of some sort. We are as yet unable to determine what the solution contains.

Then some silly bugger left the tongkat ali on a plate by itself in the middle of the room and some ants got to it, and the ants died. Oh, a rat, too. The herb seems to contain some potent poison that is lethal when consumed. We cannot find traces of the poison within the liquid solution keeping it preserved, which is a mystery, since any poison within the herb should long have seeped out into the rest of the solution by now.

After removing another sample of the tongkat ali and the water, the jar has been resealed to prevent any mishaps.

jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Item is a scroll made of bamboo woven tightly together. When unrolled, what appears to be the blueprints for a bridge can be seen drawn in black ink. There are scribbles all along the sides, variously in Chinese, Jawi, and Siamese. 

Length: 1m
Width: (unrolled): 3m
Diameter when rolled: 10cm

The bridge's architecture would be straightforward, except for the sides which are built somewhat like a fortress wall.There are arrow-slits all along the length of the bridge. According to the linguists, the various writings appear to be an argument on what the bridge should be made of, with recommendations of marble, granite, and wood being the popular choices. In a corner there is a note that whatever the final decision is, the designer of the bridge must cover it with gold leaf. 
yifu: (Default)
[personal profile] yifu

Item details:
Age: Early to mid-16th century
Length: 23 centimeters
Weight: 290 grams

A kujang is a Sundanese traditional weapon with various other functions. At first this particular one was estimated to be a Kujang Pusaka, a talisman to keep away enemies, sickness, or danger, due to its preserved appearance and lack of visible battle scars. Further examination, however, shows it to be a Kujang Pakarang, the type of kujang used in combat. The kujang was discovered in Bogor, West Java, which in ancient times was Pakuan, the center of the Sunda kingdom; it was kept within a plain rectangular box of woven rattan, fragile with age.

The traditionally curved blade is made of thin steel and fashioned in the "crane" shape, while the "eyes" are covered with silver. The outer edge of the blade is serrated halfway down. A broad gold ring covers the part where the blade connected with the sandalwood hilt, worn smooth with handling. When the end of the hilt is pulled hard enough and at a certain angle, a small compartment will pop out. Tiny packets are found within the compartment, one of them containing what seemed to be the remains of belladonna leaves.

First post + Fixed a factual error.

nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Item is a 5” x 6.5” Qur’an, bound in calfskin leather. Cover is waterproof, with buckles and clasps that suggest that it was meant for travel. A bronze chain is attached to the Qur’an, as if like a bookmark. The end of the chain is severed, as if by force. Binding arrangement is standard RTL.

The pages of the document aren’t made from paper — microscopic analysis indicates some kind of plastic, very similar to modern Durabook polymers. The printing method looks like a form of offset lithography/intaglio printing.

The inks are particularly interesting, as well. The work is, by all indications, full-color, but the inks are all of the same chemical composition — a long-chain carbon polymer that works like a photonic crystal. In short: it reflects like in different ways due to how the molecules of the ink are arranged, not it’s chemical composition. The inks themselves fluoresce under UV light, and we’ve managed to recover some anomalous plant cells. We’re sending some of these off for analysis.

Despite the rather modern (and frankly, despite the great beauty of the the work, both aesthetically and as a work of engineering, rather unnerving features), sample analysis (using radioactive dating) of the cover and paper make the date of manufacture and printing of the work to circa early-to-mid 1500 AD.

Printer’s mark confirms this (nation of origin: Venetian Republic: Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia), with the following date notations in inner cover:

ANNO DOMINI 5 MAIUS 1537 / هجرة ٥٢ ذو القعدة ٣٤٩

jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Item is a little book, filled with what appears to be Chinese poetry.

Length: 15 cm
Width: 8cm
Depth: 2cm

The pages are of a very fine quality, each sheet of paper being quick thick. Perhaps because of this, the pages are not sewn together as such books often are, but instead, uses tight bronze rings as binding. The bronze is heavily tarnished. Results for dating are as yet inconclusive, but the way the book is bound makes it easy to scan and file into the electronic database.

The covers are a thick black material, almost plastic in hardness but cloth-like in texture. Embossed on the cover are three Chinese characters and a rendition of bamboo leaves. The characters are filled with gold, and the leaves filled with green.

Each page within the book contains Chinese characters, ranging from 10 to 50 characters a page, and with some pictures and further, much smaller characters, written in the margins, reminiscent of a child's textbook.

As I cannot read Chinese, I have since forwarded the files to the linguistics department, particularly [personal profile] yiduiqie, who may better confirm what I have speculated.
nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Okay, serious face on. Comments in this post are considered fully-OOC.

This is the policies and guidelines document. It tells you, the potential applicant to the community, most of what you need to know about Steampunk Nusantara. We, the admins, reserve to revise rules and rights as we deem necessary. Please read this document as part of your Orientation Packet.

tl;dr, even if it is completely necessary tl;dr )

Please feel free to comment on this post to provide comments and request for clarification on anything we may not have made clear. We'll update this post if anything new comes up.

jolantru: (steampunk)
[personal profile] jolantru
The two wing bones are found in Storage, almost tucked away in a corner. Ivory-yellow, in surprisingly immaculate condition. Treated with a sort of varnish, to keep items from breaking down. The bones are specifically Quetzalcoatlus northropi.

Length: 10m
Weight: 7-8kg.
Width: 7cm (?)
Origin: unknown (?)

The wingspan of this creature must be massive, enough to support a rider, though my esteemed colleagues would deem this theory ridiculous. I can't imagine how big the creature is. One of those winged contraptions the Wright clan is designing? Or the gliders in the Spring-Autumn period? The possibilities.

PS: How fares the research for the silver broach?
nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Oh god, that’s it for paperwork. I can’t believe I’m actually feeling happy to see dusty old manuscripts again. As long as it’s not in a modern language.

Okay, let’s see: Parchment scroll, in fairly good condition. Tests indicate that it’s at least 40 years old, made of buffalo skin. Ink is a carbon soot-adhesive compound of still indeterminate substance. Ink disposition via micro-droplets, tightly spaced to around 180 drops per inch.

Script is modern Javanese, written in Dentawiyanjana:

Transcript as follows:

letter transcript )

The scroll is unsigned.

jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Item is a figurine with a porcelain surface, and extremely delicate clockwork pieces inside. These pieces, however, are variously made of wood and metal, instead of the expected all metal inside. The woods are cured, well-preserved hardwood (impossible to tell what species), and the metals are variously brass, iron and bronze. It is uncertain why the inventor chose such a diverse range of metals for a single piece.

This item was found in an ivory box, lined with sheepskin, likely to cushion the figurine. On the cover are Chinese characters, and it took a while to translate these - pinyin transliteration is: "Tok Tok Rén"*

Box: Width: 20cm; Length: 30cm; Depth: 10cm
Figurine: Length: 25cm; Width: 10cm; Breadth: 5cm

The figurine appears to have had a face, but the paint has faded. The porcelain also appears to be stained; with what, we're not sure. There is a little notch on the back, presumably for a windup key. As yet, we are unsure of the function of this piece.

* Perhaps this is an onomatopeia, in reference to the kind of sound it makes when active. I would appreciate it if my Chinese colleagues could verify this for me. If there's tok tok meen, then surely there can be tok tok men. Of course, tok tok meen is colloquial Malaysian-Hokkien, isn't it? Are there equivalents in the Chinese provinces? If the former, then perhaps this piece is Malayan in origin. I confess my lack of knowledge of the Middle Kingdom fails me here.
kamigoroshi: (Default)
[personal profile] kamigoroshi
Item Details:
Origin: Possibly Melaka or Johor
Item Age: Early 1800's
Length: 140mm
Width: 45mm
Height: 50mm
Weight: 400g

Resembling a toy mouse, this rare, harmless looking object may have actually been a clever sabotage device used during the early days of the Indo-Malaya rebellion. It is speculated that its purpose was to crawl its way through the machinery and disable exhaust vents for Imperial automatons and/or human controlled clankers.

However, due to its size, and the complexity of the clockwork, it is speculated that the device could only work if manually placed within the confines of a machinery where it would home in on the nearest heat source. If so, that would mean saboteurs would still have to get close to the automatons and clanks in order to deploy the device. While such methods would have been rendered in an open battlefield, it is logical to assume that the device was employed under the guise of sneak and run operations and records of it in action, while rare, have been recovered.

It is unsure whether the device was outfitted with a tiny explosive or it served to block the mechanisms that controlled the steam generator vents. As mentioned, very few records have been found regarding the said device especially after the Qing Empire upgraded their automatons and clanks with sealed steam generators (and later on micro-boiler generators) rendering the Clockwork Mouse obsolete. The fact that sabotaged automatons and clanks were destroyed in the process as well made it even harder to pinpoint just how the device worked.

It is largely assumed that the use of the Clockwork Mouse was a significant mark in the Indo-Malaya rebellion against Imperial Qing Dynasty. It is also assumed that its success, however limited lead to more underground/subversive use of steam/clockwork tech rather than open warfare.

"Even a behemoth of a machine can be so humbled by the simple actions of a tiny mouse"
- Unknown Imperial mechanic
frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item is a ring made of tumbaga, a gold-copper alloy, and discovered placed within another item previously catalogued: a pair of green silk brocade shoes. The item was wrapped in a square of white linen -- unhemmed and uneven, with ragged edges, indicating that it was probably torn from a larger piece of cloth.

The ring is likely to be originally almost perfectly circular, with a diameter of approx. 16mm. Unfortunately, a significant dent in the ring makes it difficult to measure the diameter and circumference accurately. Pitting and substantial heat damage have degraded the outside surface of the ring -- archeologist S.A. determined this was likely from an explosion.

A Chinese character was carved into the inner surface of the ring: 肝 ("liver"). Linguists speculate that the character was used in a specific context, not literally, but thus far the actual meaning of its usage eludes us.
frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item is a pair of women's shoes in green silk brocade, measuring approx. 24.5cm from toe to heel, lined with quilted silk and kapok fibre. The weave of the brocade is typical of Shu brocade, with a simple pattern of small white flowers with eight tapered petals (Jasminum sambac?). The outsoles of the shoes were made from the hide of water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Tests indicate that the item dates back to the late 19th century.

The shoes are in a fairly good condition. The outsoles have been replaced at least once, as indicated by stitching on the lateral side of the shoes. Traces of soot and mineral oils (mainly kerosene) are easily detectable on the soles. The silk brocade shows minimal water and soil stains, which may suggest that the shoes were worn indoors. Threadbare patches and multiple mending in the lining also suggest that the shoes were likely to be part of frequent wear.

Item was found with a ring (wrapped in a square of white linen) placed in the vamp of the right shoe -- to be cross-referenced once an abstract is entered into the system.
jolantru: (steampunk)
[personal profile] jolantru
Object is a jeweled egg, set with polychromatic gems and a frame of gold, ranging from rubies to emeralds. It reminds the observer of a Faberge egg, yet object opens to present an iron filigree bird, vaguely resembling two joined Chinese phoenixes (the feng and the huang).

Weight: 100g.
Diameter: 9cm.
Height: 7cm.
Origin: Imperial China (though I suspect an artistic collaboration with the French artisan houses).

Upon closer examination, there are Chinese pictographs and Malay-Jawi words etched around the rim of the egg. I spot "Bunga Telur" (Malay-Jawi)and "The Iron Phoenix" (Chinese). The rest is gibberish: "1 + 1 = 5". Mathematics oddity, my esteemed colleagues?

I am also aware that the bunga telur is a symbol of fertility, given as tokens during Malay weddings. Why the egg has these words begs further examination.

PS: I need to go back to the pterandon bones and the silver brooch.
yiduiqie: (Default)
[personal profile] yiduiqie
Below is a fragment from a letter that I suspect was written on behalf of the Immortal Dowager CiXi, Regent of the Middle Kingdom, to the Sultan of Johor. The letter has no written date, but carbon dating of the paper (previously undertaken; unsure when this was done) indicates it is approximately one hundred and fifty years old, which corresponds with the Dowager's one and only visit to the Sultanate of Johor. Although Johor was of course of significance to the Middle Kingdom, the Dowager's reliance on her impressive and technologically advanced life-extending throne made it difficult for her to travel, and required any hosting countries to provide the party with significant quantities of fuel for both the Imperial Airship and the throne to return back to the Middle Kingdom.

the text )

There are a number of articles of clothing in the SPS collection; certain other rather unscrupulous foreign organisations have been eager to rifle through it whilst our backs are metaphorically turned, so we should get on to it as soon as possible, to see if this artefact is indeed located within the collection. It would be a magnificent find, and reveal much to us about a) the politics of the Middle Kingdom and the Sultanate of Johor at the time, and b) the Dowager's throne.

*ooc: eh my trad characters are not very good, if someone wants to suggest a more correct alternate please do.


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October 2010

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