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Das alte Haus auf Hartkopsbever

The old house on the hill

Ilustrated by Ilse Noor

Written by Carola Lepping

Publisher: Friedrich Middelhauve Verlag, 1970


Ilse Noor was born in Wipperfürth, Germany, and lived most of her early childhood in a then 300 year old house in Kleineichen, Hückeswagen with her mother Herta and older sister, Ursel. Her father, Eberhard, died as a soldier in the second world war during the bombing of Cleves on 7 February, 1945.


Ilse Noor has written and illustrated a number of books, both for children and adults. The content is usually based on her experiences or an observation of her surroundings. 





The book describes the house and the town of Hückeswagen through the eyes of Tante (Aunt) Emmchen who is telling her grand niece Nathalie what life is like in the old town over all four seasons.


The book which was illustrated and written before Ilse emigrated to Malaysia, is an ode to the beautiful house that Ilse lived in as a child and the town of Hückeswagen.


It describes how industries like weaving, for which Hückeswagen was famous have disappeared and describes the various wild animals found in the surrounding areas.



The book was translated into English by Ruth Cavin in 1971 after US publisher, Harlin Quist took over a number of books from the German MiddelHauve Verlag, which had originally published the book. 

Cenderawasih: Tujuh mimpi, Tujuh Istana

Cenderawasih, Seven dreams, seven palaces.

Written & illustrated by Ilse Noor

Publisher: Pustaka Cipta, Kuala Lumpur, 1989


Originally written in English by Ilse Noor, the book was translated into the Malay language by Adibah Amin. The book comes with a foreword by Baharuddin Zainal (or Baha Zain as he is more commonly known.


Adibah Amin and Baha Zain are literary figures in Malaysia, their work often studied in high school and universities. Baha Zain says: "Ilse Noor is an artist who was educated in Germany and emigrated to Malaysia where she fell in love with its legends and old buildings, as well as stories of histories past especially those surrounding the old palace of the state of Selangor".



The atmosphere of the old palace got Ilse’s imagination going, resulting in a poetic story which is interspersed with well known Malay pantuns (poems). The poems are testament to the beauty of the Malay language, for example:


Air di kali gilang gemilang

Indah disinar bulan purnama

Gajah mati meninggalkan tulang

Manusia mati meninggalkan nama


The book contains colourful pencil drawings, which depict the story of Sultan Abdul Musa who visits seven palaces in seven dreams.

The Shell Book of Malaysian Heritage

Limited edition of 2500 copies

With a series of 24 etchings produced in 1987 by Ilse Noor

Author: Ilse Noor

Translated into Malay by Adibah Amin

Publisher: Pustaka Cipta, Kuala Lumpur, 1991


In 1986 Ilse was given a commission by Shell Oil to produce 24 etchings for their 1987 annual calendar. Shell wanted to depict the architectural heritage of Malaysia’s various states, both on the peninsular and east Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak).


In order to sketch the various buildings, Ilse was asked to travel to a number of destinations, some in remote corners of Malaysia. One such journey took her deep into the jungle to the dwelling of former head hunters. 


Ilse’s 24 etchings depict Chinese mansions, crumbling Palaces, mosques and wooden structures such as a witch doctor’s (bomoh) house in Perak and a long house in Sabah. The 24 etchings can be seen on the Gallery page on this website. The exposure that some of these buildings received led some state governments and conservationists to take steps to restore them.


In 1989, to commemorate 100 years of Shell Company in Malaysia, the oil conglomerate asked Ilse to write a book on her experiences of her travels to sketch the various buildings. 


The book tells the story behind each etching, some are funny like her experience of a collapsing longhouse in Sarawak (page 14) while others are heart breaking like the old Kadazan couple in Sabah who are left to fend for themselves after their five children failed to return home (page 31).

Copyright reserved. The copying of images both photographic and/or pictorial is prohibited, unless with written permission from the owner. Copyright 2021.

Website designed by Natalie Noor-Drugan, London, UK.  Photography by Halim Rahim Fine Photography, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 



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