New from the Asian and African studies blog at the British Library
Most of my blog posts are about manuscripts from maritime Southeast Asia, but the majority of items in the British Library are printed, including perhaps the most important collection in the world of early Malay printing. The Library also holds printed books in languages such as Javanese, Sundanese, Balinese, Batak and Bugis, dating from the earliest printed examples through to contemporary publications, as well as rare imprints in all languages from Southeast Asia. (Read more: Some new old books on and from the Malay world – Asian and African studies blog)
“This is an annotated transcription and translation of the Syair Tabut (Poem of the Tomb Effigies) of Encik Ali, a Malay-language, Jawi-script syair account of the Muharram commemorations of 1864 at Singapore. The only known part lithograph and part manuscript of this text, on which this edition is based, is held in the library of Leiden University, shelfmark Kl. 191. For a full discussion of this Syair, see the accompanying article by Lunn and Byl (2017).”
The Syair is a riveting account of Muharram commemorations in #Singapore in 1864 – the last year Muharram processions were permitted before the colonial authorities banned them. For an image of Muharram in late colonial Singapore, here's a glimpse: Schlitter, 1858. pic.twitter.com/vt9x5b0xui
.@juliasbyl and I also published a (rather long) analysis of the Syair, looking into the court cases that emerged from the "Muharram riots" that year, the music, and the many rich details in the poem – that article also seems to be open access! https://t.co/PIxcAtY0nb
The Syair itself is a #Jawi-script scroll that lay unexamined in @ubleiden for over 150 years – here's a sense of the beautiful lithographed opening, and the messy, manuscript end: pic.twitter.com/lE33YSeAA1
Anyway, open access, for who knows how long: I hope people will enjoy at least the Syair, and for a sense of some of the most colourful aspects, check out the Muharram Scroll, from c. 1840s Madras Presidency, now in the collections of @acm_sgpic.twitter.com/ua8rfOBkld
And (finally? maybe) it was the wonderful @michaeltalbotuk who directed me to the map collections of the @UkNatArchives – who knew (apart from real historians) that such gems existed? The snippet below was crucial in reconstructing 19thC Singapore geography. pic.twitter.com/YANiWA4vUJ
“The Hikayat Bayan Budiman, ‘Tale of the Wise Parrot’, is an old work of Malay literature, probably composed in the 15th century or earlier. It is based on a Persian original, the Tuti-nama, and is the earliest example in Malay of a framed narrative: a literary work comprising a compilation of individual stories. And like the…” (read more)
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The first page of Hikayat Parang Puting. British Library, MSS Malay D.3, f. 1r