On 20 March 2018 Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, visited the British Library to launch the Javanese Manuscripts from Yogyakarta Digitisation Project. Through the generous support of Mr S P Lohia, over the next twelve months 75 Javanese manuscripts from Yogyakarta now held in the British Library will be digitised, and will be made fully and freely accessible online through the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts website. On completion of the project in March 2019, complete sets of the 30,000 digital images will be presented to the Libraries and Archives Board of Yogyakarta (Badan Perpustakaan dan Arsip Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta) and to the National Library (Perpustakaan Nasional) of Indonesia in Jakarta. The manuscripts will also be accessible through Mr Lohia’s website, SPLRareBooks.
(Read more here.)
By Dick van der Meij, independent scholar – Indonesian Manuscripts from the Islands of Java, Madura, Bali and Lombok discusses aspects of the long and impressive manuscript traditions of these islands, which share many aspects of manuscript production. Many hitherto unaddressed features of palm-leaf manuscripts are discussed here for the first time as well as elements of poetic texts, indications of mistakes, colophons and the calendrical information used in these manuscripts. All features discussed are explained with photographs. The introductory chapters offer insights into these traditions in a wider setting and the way researchers have studied them. This original and pioneering work also points out what topics needs further exploration to understand these manuscript traditions that use a variety of materials, languages, and scripts to a wider public.
Dick van der Meij (Ph.D. Leiden 2002) has published editions and translations of Balinese, Malay, and Javanese texts and articles on Indonesian literature and manuscripts. His latest work is an edition and translation (with N. Lambooij) of the Malay Hikayat Mi’raj Nabi Muḥammad (Brill, 2014).
All interested in the manuscript traditions of Indonesia, Southeast Asia and manuscripts in the world in general, including students, academics, curators and librarians.
Table of contents
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Notes to the Reader
The Present Book
Manuscripts in Arabic
Multiple Languages and Scripts in Manuscripts
The Chapters in the Book
Topics not Discussed in the Book
Manuscripts as Physical Objects
Complete and Incomplete Manuscripts
Intact, Damaged and Repaired Manuscripts
Old and New Manuscripts
Illustrated and Illuminated Manuscripts
Naturalistic Figure Depiction
The Natural World in Javanese Illustrations
Large and Small Manuscripts
Manuscript Quality, Beautiful and Ugly Manuscripts
Numbers of Manuscripts, Popularity of Texts
Fragments of Other Texts in Manuscripts
2 Access to Manuscripts
Public Collections of Indonesian Manuscripts
Microfilms and Digital Manuscripts
Blogs, Portals, Social Media and Digital Search Machines
3 Lontar and Gěbang (Nipah) Manuscripts
The Writing Process
Numbering in Lontar Manuscripts
Text in Lontar
Gĕbang (Nipah) Manuscripts
4 Verse, Verse Meters and Their Indications
Page Lay-Out of Texts in Tĕmbang Macapat
5 Mistakes and Corrections in Manuscripts
Writers’ Own Indications of Mistakes
Levels of Mistakes
Indications of Mistakes and Corrections
Mistakes Indicated and Corrected During Writing or Afterwards
Corrections and Additional Notes and Editions of Texts
6 Dating and Calendars
The Javanese Calendar
Manuscripts Copied with the Original Colophon
Colophons in Javanese Texts from Java
Colophons in Old and Middle Javanese Texts
Colophons Added to Colophons
Personal and General Information in Balinese Colophons
Changes in Colophons Over Time
Colophons in Balinese Manuscripts in Balinese
Colophons in Sasak and Javanese Manuscripts from Lombok
Colophon as Part of the Text or Not?
Excuses for Mistakes and Poor Workmanship
8 Other Information on Dating and Ownership
Manuscript Gifts to Scholars
Ownership Information on Separate Pages Preceding or after the Text
Personal Information on the Fore-Edge of the Book Block
Library and Ownership Stamps
Other Indications of Ownership
Hidden Names of Authors and the Places where They Live
Name Hidden in Illuminations
Appendix 1 Candra Sangkala in Manuscripts
Appendix 2 Alternative Names for Macapat Meters
Appendix 3 Pada Marks in Javanese, Sundanese and Madurese Manuscripts
Appendix 4 Sasmita Salinining Tĕmbang from Java, Lombok, Bali and Sunda
Appendix 5 Sasmita Wiwitaning Tĕmbang in Javanese Texts from Java
Appendix 6 Verse Schemes of the Most Encountered Verse Meters in Bali According to I Gusti Putu Jlantik
Appendix 7 Kakawin Verse MetersAppendix 8 Table to Calibrate the Javanese and Arabic Years to the Gregorian Calendar According to Djidwal 1932
Patani is a culturally Malay-Muslim region located on the northeast coast of the Malay peninsula, in the southern part of Thailand. It has long been renowned as a cradle of Malay art and culture, and especially as a centre for Islamic learning, with close links with the Holy Cities of Arabia. Patani has produced many notable Islamic scholars, the most prominent being Daud bin Abdullah al-Patani (1769-1847), who lived and wrote in Mecca in the first half of the 19th century. scholars, and Wan Ahmad al-Patani (1856-1908), the first Superintendent of the Malay press in Mecca. Patani is one of the great centres of the Malay manuscript tradition, and many manuscripts from Patani are now held in the National Library of Malaysia and the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.
Map of the province of Pattani (Bangkok: Royal Survey Department, 1907). British Library, Maps 60120. (2.)
From the 14th century onwards, throughout Southeast Asia the Malay language was written in an extended version of the Arabic script known as Jawi. However, during the course of the 20th century the use of Jawi declined rapidly, and today in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei the Malay/Indonesian language is normally written in roman script. Perhaps because of Patani’s location within Thailand, and a system of state education not rooted in roman script, competency in Jawi appears to have lasted longer in Patani than perhaps anywhere else in Southeast Asia. This means that uniquely in Patani, Malay manuscripts written in Jawi have been produced until recently, including, for example, some elaborately decorated hand-written copies of the text Sejarah Kerajaan Negeri Patani, ‘History of the Malay Kingdom of Patani’, by Ibrahim Syukri, which was first published in 1958 and contains references to post-war events.
Ingeniously decorated late 20th-century manuscript of Sejarah Kerajaan Negeri Patani, showing the start of the second chapter, Pembanganunan negeri Patani dan raja2, ‘The development of Patani and the descent of its rulers’. PNM MSS 3632, reproduced courtesy of the National Library of Malaysia…
Source: British ‘Islamic’ style seals from the Malay world – Asian and African studies blog
The presence of an inscription in Arabic script is such a defining characteristic of seals used by Muslims that it tends to mask the fact that similar ‘Islamic’-style seals were also used by myriad other groups, including Christians in Ethiopia and Syria, Samaritans in Palestine, Hindu subjects of the Mughal emperor, European scholars of Arabic and Persian, and British officials of the East India Company. Examples from the British Library were featured in a recent blog post on Some British ‘Islamic’ style seals in Persian manuscripts from India by Ursula Sims-Williams, and in an earlier post on Performing Authority: the ‘Islamic’ seals of British colonial officers in the Persian Gulf by Daniel Lowe. In this post I have gathered together a small number of British ‘Islamic’-style seals from Southeast Asia, with inscriptions in Malay in Jawi (Arabic) script. (Read more..)
Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia http://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2017/03/british-islamic-style-seals-from-the-malay-world.html
“The Batak peoples of north Sumatra are associated with a distinctive writing culture, with manuscripts written on a range of organic materials, primarily tree bark, bamboo and bone. Most characteristic are the bark books known as pustaha, written on strips of bark of the alim (Aquilaria malaccensis) tree, which is folded concertina-fashion, and sometime furnished with wooden covers, which can be beautifully decorated.” (Read more.)
“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)
Source: The British Library’s Asian and African studies blog: The Malay Tale of the Wise Parrot
“The ‘Archive of Yogyakarta’ refers to a collection of some four hundred manuscript documents in Javanese dating from 1772 to 1813, originating from the court of Yogyakarta. A highly important source for the political, economic, social, administrative and legal history of central Java in the late eighteeth…” (Read more)
“Among the Malay manuscripts in the British Library which have just been digitised are a number of vocabulary lists and dictionaries in Malay, compiled by visitors to the region as aids to learning the language. The study of Malay in Europe dates back to the …” (read more)
Source: The British Library’s Asia and Africa Blog Early vocabularies of Malay
Love and affection from Sultan Zayn al-‘Abidin, ruler carrying out the commands of Almighty God, to the Governor-General at the fortress of the King of Portugal who binds all countries in his kingdom,
When we saw the letter from you which Giovanni brought we were filled with joy and with happiness at the depth of good relations between us. And when the Portuguese envoy arrived from Kollam or Malacca we welcomed him warmly and provided him with everything that arrives in our country. Be assured our love for you has not wavered from the beginning until now.
After this, there arrived here one Manuel Falcão. He is a most evil person.
First when a ship arrived at Samudera from Pariaman with many people from Samudera on board he took thirty gold dirhams. And he sold the crew and the rest were murdered.
Second on the arrival of a ship from Bengal he took two hundred and twenty dirhams and one servant woman. Also a cargo ship from Bengal which should have come to Samudera he commandeered to Malacca along with a great deal of cargo belonging to people from Samudera which was on board the ship.
Third he took cargo from another ship and more people were murdered.
Fourth he demanded from us one hundred and twenty dirhams by force and twenty items of cargo.
Fifth he kidnapped ﬁfty male and female servants from among the servants of the people of Samudera and shipped them to Malacca.
Sixth he demanded from us ﬁfty bails of pepper by force.
After this Gaspar Machado also arrived here. He too is a very evil person.
The first thing he did was on the arrival of a cargo ship at Samudera from Diu he took from them two hundred dirhams by force.
Second when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Cambay which was owned by the King of Cambay captained by ‘Ali Khan he took from them one hundred dirhams.
Third when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Pulicut which is Nati carrying cargo owned by people from Samudera, he took one hundred dirhams from them by force and violence.
Fourth when a cargo ship arrived at Samudera from Nawur that is Nati he took one hundred and twenty dirhams,
Fifth when a ship arrived at Samudera from Barus containing a cargo belonging to the Sultan of Bengal he took one hundred quintal of tin and 4000 incenses and he sold the whole crew on this ship.
Sixth many are the people of Samudera whose wealth he has taken by force and violence, and many are the judges and officials who have been enraged by him because of this behavior.
For these reasons we lay before you our situation because we sincerely believe that this has not been ordered by the King of Portugal or by you. The King does not even know about the behavior of Manuel Falcão and Gaspar Machado because we are firmly convinced that the King and you as Governor-General do not want to damage your own port as our port is your port and so we seek your protection.
This is an imaginative translation based on the translations of A.C.S. Peacock (2016): “Three Arabic letters from North Sumatra of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries”, Indonesia and the Malay World, DOI: 10.1080/13639811.2016.1153219 [http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639811.2016.1153219 Accessed 16 April 2016.] and Taqiyuddin Muhammad, “Naskah Surat Sultan Zainal ‘Abidin (Wafat 923 H/1518 M)” [http://misykah.com/naskah-surat-sultan-zainal-abidin-wafat-923-h1518-m-2/ Accessed 3 October 2016.]
Peacock (2016) writes on the various manuscripts:
“The letter from Sultan Zayn al-‘Abidin IV of Samudera-Pasai, 1516–17. Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo, Lisbon. Colecção de cartas, Núcleo Antigo 891, mç. 1, n.° 59. Previous publications: Arabic text and Portuguese translation with signiﬁcant differences from that presented here in dos Santos (1790: 127–30); translation only reprinted with additional notes in Alves (1999:228–30); Arabic text with a number of differences from that presented here and Indonesian translation in Muhammad (2013). Taqiyuddin Muhammad’s text is based on a poor quality image of the letter which accounts for most of the variations between his text and mine. It has not therefore usually been thought useful to record his variant readings. Help has also been provided by the Portuguese translation probably made in Malacca in 1516–17, presented in full in Appendix 1c. Although the translation is often imprecise, omitting crucial elements of the Arabic and sometimes supplementing it with additional information, it has the advantage that the translator was himself aware of the events referred to; it can therefore help clarify the frequently obscure Arabic text.”
Use the website to view digitised copies of manuscripts and archives in the British Library’s collections, with descriptions of their contents.
To consult the British Library’s main catalogue of manuscript material visit Search our Catalogue Archives and Manuscripts. Selected images of illuminated manuscripts can be found in our Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.
Relief from the 9th century Hindu temple Prambanan.
Sumatran mousedeer. Drawing by a Chinese artist in Bengkulu, between 1784 and 1808, reproduced in William Marsden, A history of Sumatra, 3rd edition (London, 1811). British Library, NHD 1/8. Source: The wily Malay mousedeer – Asian and African studies blog