Public Perception on Calligraphic Woodcarving Ornamentations of Mosques; a Comparison between East Coast and Southwest of Peninsula Malaysia

Ahmadreza Saberi, Esmawee Hj Endut, Sabarinah Sh. Ahmad, Shervin Motamedi, Shahab Kariminia, Roslan Hashim


Woodcarving ornamentation is considered as, a national heritage and can be found in many Malaysian mosques. Woodcarvings are mostly displayed in three different motifs, namely floral, geometry and calligraphy. The application of floral and geometry motifs is to convey an abstract meaning of Islamic teachings to the viewers. However, the calligraphic decorations directly express the messages of Allah almighty or the sayings of the prophets to the congregations. Muslims are the main users of mosques as these are places for prayers as well as other religious and community activities. Therefore, the assessment of users’ opinion about this type of decoration needs to be investigated. This paper aims to evaluate the perception of two groups of mosque users on the calligraphic woodcarving ornamentations from two regions, namely the East Coast and Southwest of Peninsula Malaysia. As Arabic is not the primary language in Malaysia, it would be interesting to find out how much of the calligraphic ornamentation is recognised and understood by the mosque users. The quantitative approach and questionnaire survey were adopted to fulfil the objectives of the study through convenient sampling where 420 questionnaire surveys were distributed at eight selected mosques. A total of 408 respondents amongst users completed and returned the survey forms. The mosques were chosen based on the abundance and diversity of calligraphy woodcarving elements found in the prayer hall. The Mann-Whitney U-test was conducted to find out the differences between the two groups of respondents. Ability of reading and understanding the Arabic scripts, the aesthetic values, the function, appropriate location and finally the desirability of scripts were assessed and compared between the participants of North East and Southwest of Peninsula Malaysia. The results showed that respondents of two areas in Malaysia had different opinions about this traditional sacred ornamentation in mosques. However, there were also similar ideas regarding to the items of variables between two evaluated groups of the study.


Mosque Ornamentation; Public Perception; Calligraphic Woodcarving; Malaysia

Full Text:



- Agha, A. (2015). Religious Discourse in Tablighi Jama'at: A Challenge to Female Sexuality?. International Journal of Multicultural and Multireligious Understanding, 2(3), 1-16.

- Ahmad, Maheram, & Resad, Izziah Suryani Mat. (2015). Use of Arabic Language in Terengganu in the Early 20th Century. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(29), 49.

- Ahn, You Kyong. (2007). Adaptive reuse of abandoned historic churches: Building type and public perception: TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY.

- Blair, Sheila S. (2006). Islamic calligraphy: Edinburgh University Press Edinburgh.

- Bryman, Alan. (2012). Social research methods: Oxford university press.

- Creswell, John. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches: SAGE Publications, Incorporated.

- Etikan, Serna. (2008). The use of the Kufic script, an element of Islamic ornament in Turkish Rug Art. Social Sci, 3(2), 104-112.

- George, Alain. (2010). The Rise of Islamic Calligraphy. Published by University of Edinburgh: Al Saqi.

- Ghomeshi, Mohammad, & Jusan, Mahmud Mohd. (2013). Investigating Different Aesthetic Preferences Between Architects And Non-Architects In Residential Façade Designs. Indoor and Built Environment, 22(6), 952-964.

- Henderson, Joan C. (2003). Managing tourism and Islam in peninsular Malaysia. Tourism Management, 24(4), 447-456.

- Hillenbrand, Robert. (1999). Islamic art and architecture: Thames and Hudson London.

- Kamarudin, Zumahiran Binti, & Said, Ismail. (2009). Principal Orders in the Composition of Woodcarvings and its Layouts in Kelantan and Terengganu Traditional Houses (Vol. 3, pp. 12-23): UTM journal.

- Kostof, Spiro. (1995). A history of architecture: settings and rituals. New York: Oxford.

- Mazumdar, Shampa, & Mazumdar, Sanjoy. (2004). Religion and place attachment: A study of sacred places. Journal of environmental psychology, 24(3), 385-397.

- Najafi, Mina, & Kamal, Mustafa. (2012). INVESTIGATION OF USERS’ATTACHMENT TO MALAYSIAN MOSQUES. ALAM CIPTA, International Journal of Sustainable Tropical Design Research and Practice, 5(2), 65-76.

- Nasir, Abdul Halim. (1987). Traditional Malay wood carving. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Ministry of Education of Malaysia.

- Osborn, JR. (2009). Narratives of Arabic Script: Calligraphic Design and Modern Spaces. Design and Culture, 1(3), 289-306.

- Raeisian, Gholamreza. (2013a). The Role of Mosques in Urban Development. Journal of Civil Engineering and Urbanism, 3, 20-29.

- Raeisian, Gholamreza. (2013b). The Role of Mosques in Urban Development. Journal of Civil Engineering and Urbanism, 3.

- Saberi, A., Endut, E. H., Ahmad, S. S., Motamedi, S., & Kariminia, S. (2015). Users’ Perceptions of Different Genders about Calligraphic Woodcarving Ornamentations in Malaysian Mosques. Architecture Research, 5(2), 52-60.

- Shahedi, Bahram, Keumala, Nila, & Yaacob, Naziaty Mohd. (2012). Perception of Aesthetic Design Approach: Safavid Architecture. Journal of Design and Built Environment.

- Suleiman, Yasir. (1999). The Arabic Language. Islam & Christian Muslim Relations, 10(1), 102.

- Turgut, Özden Pektaş. (2014). Calligraphic Forms in Contemporary Typographic Design. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 122(0), 40-45.

- Utaberta, Nangkula, Sojak, SDM, Surat, M, Che-Ani, AI, & Tahir, MM. (2012). Typological study of traditional mosque ornamentation in Malaysia: Prospect of traditional ornament in urban mosque. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, 67, 624-631.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 International Journal of Multicultural and Multireligious Understanding

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

International Journal of Multicultural and Multireligious Understanding (IJMMU) ISSN 2364-5369
Copyright © 2014-2018 IJMMU. All rights reserved.