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Two early 19th-century Malay documents

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Among the most important source of information on the workings of traditional Malay states are decrees and commands issued at various levels of the administration.  Unfortunately, compared to the thousands of Malay diplomatic and royal epistles found in archives today, very few official Malay documents are known to survive.  It is because of the rarity of such documents that two early 19th-century Malay documents from Cabau, Melaka have recently been published (with full transliterations and English translations), even though these are not known from original manuscripts, but only from transcriptions made by C.O. Blagden in 1894 or shortly thereafter. 

C.O. Blagden, the first lecturer in Malay at SOAS, University of London.  Source: Wikipedia.

Charles Otto Blagden (1864-1949) served in the civil service in the Straits Settlements from 1888 until 1897, when he returned to England.  When the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) was founded at London University in 1916, Blagden was appointed as the first Lecturer in Malay in 1917, and stayed at SOAS until his retirement in 1935.  Held in SOAS Library today are several volumes of manuscript notebooks by Blagden containing copies of Malay texts, and notes on Malay matters.  In one of these volumes (MS 297495, Vol. II, ff. 31v-33r) are copies of two early 19th-century Malay documents, described by Blagden as follows:

Two chops belonging to the Penghulu of Chabau

These two chops were copied at the house of Penghulu Sulong Arin of Chabau, to whose ancestors they had been granted by the Dato’ Temenggong of Muar who at that period claimed and in fact exercised jurisdiction in a part of what is now Malacca Territory.  It will be noticed that the chops make no reference to any duties except that of keeping up the worship of the Mosque.

Today, Cabau is a small village in the state of Melaka, situated on the upper reaches of the Kesang river. In  the early 18th century, the valley between the Kesang and Muar rivers was granted by Sultan Abdul Jalil Syah of Johor (r. 1699-1717) to a Johor noble, whose heirs bore the title of Temenggung Paduka Tuan of Muar.  The two documents from Cabau discussed here date from 1820 and 1821/2, and were issued by the then Temenggungs of Muar to the Pengulu (headman) of Cabau, commanding him to ensure that communal prayers (sembahyang berjemaah) were held regularly (on Fridays and feast days), and stating the fines to be imposed for non-compliance. 

The two documents, written in Malay in Jawi script, have been copied very carefully by Blagden, who noted that he had preserved all anomalies in spelling that he encountered, and who also presented Romanised versions.  The first document is a copy of a sealed commission (cab) issued by Sayid Engku Temenggung Paduka Tuan to the Pengulu of Cabau, dated 3 Jumadilakhir 1235 (18 March 1820), instructing the Pengulu to uphold communal prayers.  The Temenggung warns that transgressors will be regarded as having perpetrated treason against God and the Prophet, while aristocrats (segala raja-raja Islam) are specifically warned that if they do not join in the communal prayers, then religious officials will not hold prayers on their death, or at the nuptials of their kin, or at births or family events.  The second document, which was clearly in poor condition when Blagden saw it, with losses of text, is a sealed commission (surat ecap) issued by Datuk Engku Alna, Temenggung Paduka Tuan of Muar to Datuk Dalim of Cabauh, 1237 (1821/2), with similar contents. 

On the right-hand page, a Jawi copy made by C.O. Blagden of the sealed commission (cab) issued by Sayid Engku Temenggung Paduka Tuan to the Pengulu of Cabau, 3 Jumadilakhir 1235 (18 March 1820), with Blagden’s Romanised transliteration on the left-hand page.  SOAS MS 297495, Vol. II, ff. 31v-32r
Jawi copy made by C.O. Blagden of a document (surat ecap) issued by Datuk Engku Temenggung Paduka Tuan to Datuk Dalim of Cabauh, 1237 (1821/2), with a copy of the seal, and with a Romanised transliteration on the left-hand page.  SOAS MS 297495, Vol. II, ff. 32v-33r

Despite not being original manuscripts, the careful copies made by Blagden of two early 19th-century Malay documents from Cabau are able to yield considerable information on aspects of daily life in the region under the jurisdiction of the Temenggung of Muar.  These documents show that the enforcement of Islamic law was regarded as a core responsibility of the royal Malay courts and their provincial representatives, yet also serve to highlight areas of concern, such as a lax attitude to communal prayers in Muar-Kesang.  The Cabau documents thus play a valuable role in confirming the centrality of the regulating of Islamic practice in traditional Malay governance on the west coast of the peninsula, in a period just before the era of high colonialism.

References:

Annabel Teh Gallop, Two early 19th-century Malay documents from CabauPendeta, 2021, 12 (1): 22-34.

M.C.Ricklefs, P.Voorhoeve and Annabel Teh Gallop, Indonesian manuscripts in Great Britain: a catalogue of manuscripts in Indonesian languages in British public collections. New Edition with Addenda et Corrigenda. Jakarta: Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, Perpustakaan Nasional Republik Indonesia, Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia, 2014. 

R.O. Winstedt, The Temenggongs of Muar.  Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1932, 10.1 (113): 30-31.

By Annabel Teh Gallop (British Library, London). Contact annabel.gallopATbl.uk

Chevening Fellowship “Manuscript Textiles in the Southeast Asian Collections” at the British Library

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Open for applications until 2 November 2021

During the curation process of a major exhibition on Buddhism at the British Library in London (October 2019 – February 2020), an unexpected number of manuscript textiles in the Southeast Asian Collections came to light. These are textiles that are used to wrap around manuscripts to protect them from damage and dust, but also textiles that contain information about manuscripts, bags for the storage and transport of palm leaf manuscripts and textiles attached to scrolled paper books. In most cases, there was no or only minimal documentation and cataloguing data available for these textiles. To improve the catalogue records and to research these rare manuscript textiles, a one-year Chevening Fellowship project will be starting in September 2022.

This Chevening Fellowship is open to candidates from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand who have a degree or work experience in a subject relevant to Southeast Asian textiles and/or Southeast Asian manuscript cultures. The project provides an opportunity to survey, assess and research these under-researched and often fragile Southeast Asian manuscript textiles, in order to provide comprehensive catalogue records and to help plan and inform future conservation work, as well as public engagement in form of a publication or curating a small public display.

More detailed information and direct access to the online application process can be found on the Chevening website.

Palm leaf manuscript, containing the Malalankara (Life of the Buddha), with a hand-woven inscribed binding tape and a wrapper made from imported printed cotton. Burma, 1883. © British Library, Or 16673

Call for Papers now open for National Libraries Now 2021: International Perspectives on Library Curation

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National Libraries Now 2021 Digital Conference

Closing date 19 June 2021

National Libraries Now 2021: International Perspectives on Library Curation

Digital conference 16 – 17 September 2021

National libraries are responsible for collecting and preserving the published output of their countries and international publications of research interest, with library professionals tasked to build and promote these cultural heritage repositories of knowledge and creativity. However, curatorial roles within these institutions face unprecedented change in what is considered national heritage, the digital availability of collections, and an increased focus on social responsibility.

Bringing together professionals from national libraries worldwide, this conference will explore the state of national library curation now, interrogating the complex challenges we face in building and interpreting collections, and the practical approaches that are being taken to address them. What does it mean to work in a national library now? What new possibilities are there for international collaboration? We will be especially interested in addressing…

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API: An Indonesian Journal of the late 1960s–1970s from Albania

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The Library of Southeast Asian Studies at the University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt recently catalogued two Indonesian leftist journals both entitled “API – Api Pemuda Indonesia” (‘Flames of Indonesian Youth’) which were published in Tirana in Albania from the 1960s onwards. Actually, two different editions of API were issued, one in the Indonesian language, the other in English and/or French, both with differing contents and separate volume counting. Both magazines were closely related to the Indonesian Communist Party and its exiles in Albania.

The 30 September Movement in 1965 marked the end for the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and at the same time saw the tragic decline of Soekarno’s power and influence and the rise of Suharto as the president of Indonesia. The alleged coup and the allegation of PKI’s involvement in it became Suharto’s means of strengthening his position as the commander in chief by ordering the disbandment of PKI, which soon was followed by one of the biggest genocides in modern history[i].

Fig. 1 First issue of API (Indonesian edition) available in Frankfurt: Volume 10, Number 5, May 1976 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1398]
Fig. 2 First issue of API (English/French edition) available in Frankfurt: Volume 6, Number 1, 1973 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1106]

Various reports have stated that hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and most of them were PKI members or affiliated with PKI. The fact that its top officials were killed, sentenced or sent to concentration camps all over Indonesia really crippled the PKI, a once enormous power to become pariah in Indonesia for the next few decades even after its disbandment. However, not every member of the PKI would have met the same fate. Some of them were spared from Suharto’s rage, though at the expense of their citizenship. After 1965, there were many Indonesians who were stranded in various countries and unable to return to Indonesia for if they dared, they would have faced great danger and probably death.

One of the Indonesian exile clusters was in Albania (van der Kroef 1973). Little is known about this particular cluster, except some fragmentary notes in the Yearbook of International Communist Affairs and a short online entry in Wikipedia (Indonesian Communist Exiles 2021). However, during the 1970s they were quite active in publishing propaganda materials against Suharto. The Library of Southeast Asian Studies has in its collections 19 regular Indonesian editions and 24 bilingual (English and French) editions of the journal API – Api Pemuda Indonesia which were published by Indonesian exiles living in Tirana. So far no research about Api Pemuda Indonesia seemed to have been conducted. It is not clear whether nobody has written something about it or whether these Indonesian publications simply went unnoticed. Only a handful of libraries in the world listed API in their collections, namely University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt, Cornell University Library, University of Michigan Library, University of Sydney Library, Monash University Library, Leiden University Library, and the Library of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. Besides the regular editions, the Library of Southeast Asian Studies also keeps some special editions which were published to commemorate some special occasions.

Fig. 3 API (Indonesian edition), Volume 10, Number 11, November 1976 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1398]
Perbandingan antara Bulap (Busung lapar) dengan Bulog dan Bulldog (“Comparison between Bulap with Bulog and Bulldog”).
BULAP: Busung lapar (Kwashiorkor/Hungry oedema); BULOG: Badan Urusan Logistik (Indonesian Bureau of Logistics, responsible for food distribution and price control). The figure with “Bulap” represents the many Indonesians who lived in poverty. The figure with “Bulog” looks like Suharto wearing the military uniform, but the US and $ signs mean that the Indonesian government was backed by the US government. The dog probably represents those who supported the Indonesian government. For giving their support to the Indonesian government they could get better resources, here represented by the milk can (susu) with a label symbolising the US flag.

According to journalist Martin Aleida who interviewed Chalik Hamid, an ex-Indonesian student in Tirana[ii], API was started by Anwar Dharma, an ex-correspondent of Harian Rakjat (People’s Daily) in Moscow who was kicked out by the Soviet government due to his critical views towards them (Dharma 1966)[iii]. Anwar Dharma then moved to China and was instructed by the Delegation of the Indonesian Communist Party in Beijing to go to Albania to start there a publication in Indonesian and in English[iv]. After his arrival in Tirana, Anwar Dharma also initiated an Indonesian programme for Radio Tirana.

API has a unique design for its cover: There is a header in red colour with the title of the tabloid written in white, on its right is a hand holding a gun, on its left is also a hand but holding a book. It is interesting that the journal has Marxisme – Leninisme – FMTT written on it. FMTT is believed to be an acronym of Fikiran Mao Tje Tung (The thoughts of Mao Tse Tung). Below the journal title there is an address of the publisher, which is given as “Kutia Postare 1, Tirana, Albania”;the reason why the publishers were using a P.O. Box rather than an actual address is unknown. The title pages have two varieties which can be observed: The first is a title page with table of contents (which is more common, see figures 1 and 2), the second is a front page with an illustration or cartoon (see figure 3) which usually highlighted an important issue that was going to be discussed in the content. When the title page consisted of an illustration, the table of content was moved to the last page of the journal. Both of the Indonesian and English/ French issues held in Frankfurt used the same design for the title page, except one special issue on the death of Mao Tse Tung in English/ French, which was printed in black along with a big portrait of Mao (see figure 4).

Fig. 4 Special issue on the death of Mao Tse Tung, September 1977 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1106]

The table of contents of all available issues in Frankfurt followed more or less the same pattern. It always started with an editorial which often emphasised one topic which was going to be the theme of that particular issue. After this usually follows an official party statement on some topics. The editorial staff was also aware of the importance of good relationships with communist parties in other countries: this explains why in almost every issue there are one or two pages containing congratulatory statements of somebody’s achievements, or sometimes an obituary of a communist dignitary. Furthermore, there are articles about Indonesia whose contents usually criticised Suharto’s administration and compared it with the successes seen in communist countries. Another interesting part of the journal is a section called Komentar Radio Tirana (‘Commentaries of Radio Tirana’) which provided insights about some particular issues which were trending at that time. In March 1967 Radio Tirana started to broadcast in Indonesian twice a day, therefore it seems likely that this section was a highlight of the broadcasting materials of every month. API also had a dedicated humour section called Bukan Kebetulan (‘Not a Coincidence’) which usually contained satire about Indonesia.

Fig. 5 Special issue to commemorate 30 years of communist Albania, [November?] 1974 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1106]. Of all the issues available in Frankfurt this is the only one with colour printing.
Fig. 6 API (Indonesian edition), Volume 10, Number 12, December 1976 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1398]

The political ideology of API which was already stated on the title page Marxisme – Leninisme – FMTT is discussed in every issue of API. There is a section called Belajar Marxisme – Leninisme – Fikiran Mao Tje Tung (‘Learning about Marxism – Leninism – Thoughts of Mao’) which usually contains translated works of Marx, Lenin or Mao and sometimes also an analysis of their works. After that, another reappearing feature of every issue is a section which provided short summaries of current news. There are differences between the Indonesian and the English/ French editions though. The Indonesian edition has Berita Tanah Air and Berita Internasional, which consisted of selected news from Indonesia and the international world while the English/French edition only contains local Indonesian news. These current news reported always about negative matters and incidents that happened in Indonesia or non-communist (i.e. “capitalist”) countries, and positive things that occurred in communist states or news about successes in the communist struggles. The last part of the Indonesian language edition is the Kebudayaan (culture) section, where poems, short stories and sometimes essays were published under authors’ pseudonyms in order to guarantee the safety of their family members in Indonesia[v]. In the English/French edition, this culture section is not included and instead contained one or two supplementary articles in French. Another difference between the Indonesian and English/French editions is the mode of publishing: The Indonesian version is published monthly, but the English/French edition bi-monthly. However, their volume counting is not very consistent as there are also several editions from the Indonesian version which was published bi-monthly.

Fig. 7 Special issue to commemorate the communist uprisings in Indonesia in 1926 [November?] 1976 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1398]

(Article by Prabono Hari Putranto, J.W.Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Library of Southeast Asian Studies. This text is an “offspring” of the author’s ongoing research for a master’s thesis in Southeast Asian Studies at J.W.Goethe-University Frankfurt.)

References:

Aleida, Martin (2017): Tanah Air yang Hilang. Jakarta: Penerbit Buku Kompas.

Dharma, Anwar (1966): Soviet Revisionists’ Shameless Collaboration with Indonesia’s Fascist Military Regime Condemned. Beijing Review No. 42, 14 October 1966, 30–32.

Indonesian Communist Exiles in Albania (2021) (accessed 22 February 2021).

Kroef, Justus M. van der (1973): Indonesia. Yearbook of International Communist Affairs 1973, 469–478.

Melvin, Jess (2018): The Army and the Indonesian Genocide: Mechanics of Mass Murder. New York: Routledge.

Yuliantri, Rhoma Dwi Aria (2007): Harian Rakjat: Di Bawah Pukulan dan Sabetan Palu Arit. Seabad Pers Kebangsaan 1907–2007, 699–702. Jakarta: I:Boekoe.


[i]               For a reasonable account of the events of 30 September 1965 and how Suharto and the military seized the opportunity to take control of the government see Melvin’s argument on the build-up events before the alleged coup in September 30 (Melvin 2018: 3–6).

[ii]              Chalik Hamid was a student in Tirana and one of Anwar Dharma’s first contact persons in Tirana, in fact it was him who taught Dharma to speak Albanian (Aleida 2017: 198).

[iii]             Harian Rakjat was the newspaper of the PKI and was founded in 1951 (Yuliantri 2007: 700).

[iv]             I had the opportunity to interview Chalik Hamid on his role in Albania. Hamid mentioned that it is not entirely correct to say that it was an official command from the PKI as the party was already disbanded. The PKI’s remnants in Beijing at that time, even in the publications of API never called themselves as PKI but as Delegasi CC PKI (‘The Delegation of CC PKI’) (Chalik Hamid, personal communication, 12 February 2021).

[v]              Hamid as the head of the Kebudayaan section mentioned that all of the authors and the members of the editorial staff uses monikers (some of the most frequently used names of contributors are ‘Teguh’ , ‘Kuat’ and ‘Parikesit’) in order to provide cover and to protect the safety of their families back in Indonesia (Chalik Hamid, personal communication, 12 March 2021).


New book on “Returning Southeast Asia’s Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution”

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A new book that is of special interest to curators, archivists and researchers working with Southeast Asian collections has just been published by National University of Singapore Press, in collaboration with the SOAS Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (University of London), with the title “Returning Southeast Asia’s Past: Objects, Museums, and Restitution” (ISBN 978-981-325-124-3). Edited by Louise Tythacott (Woon Tai Jee Professor of Asian Art, Northumbria University) and Panggah Ardiyansyah (SOAS, University of London), the book contains contributions from Gabrielle Abbe, Jos van Beurden, Socheat Chea, John Clarke, Charlotte Galloway, Chanraksmey Muong, Duyen Nguyen, Phacharaphorn Phanomvan, Melody Rod-ari, Wieske Octaviani Sapardan.

The publisher’s announcement of the new book highlights that “The last 150 years has seen extensive looting and illicit trafficking of Southeast Asia’s cultural heritage. Art objects from the region were distributed to museums and private collections around the world. But in the 21st century, power relations are shifting, a new awareness is growing, and new questions are emerging about the representation and ownership of Southeast Asian cultural material located in the West.

This book is a timely consideration of object restitution and related issues across Southeast Asia, bringing together different viewpoints including from museum professionals and scholars in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – as well as Europe, North America and Australia. The objects themselves are at the centre of most narratives – from Khmer art to the Mandalay regalia (repatriated in 1964), Ban Chiang archaeological material and the paintings of Raden Saleh. Legal, cultural, political and diplomatic issues involved in the restitution process are considered in many of the chapters; others look at the ways object restitution is integral to evolving narratives of national identity. The book’s editors conclude that restitution processes can transform narratives of loss into opportunities for gain in building knowledge and reconstructing relationships across national borders.” (Source: NUS Press)

The book contains eleven chapters on the following topics:

1. Introduction: Collecting and Returning Southeast Asia’s Past
Part I: Artefact Ownership
2. The Selling of Khmer Artefacts during the Colonial Era: Questioning the Perception of Khmer Heritage through a Study of Traded Khmer Art Pieces (1920s–1940s)
3. The Looting of Koh Ker and the Return of the Prasat Chen Statues
4. Who Owns Ban Chiang? The Discovery, Collection and Repatriation of Ban Chiang Artefacts
Part II: Object Biographies and Colonial Legacies
5. On the Road Back to Mandalay: The Burmese Regalia – Seizure, Display and Return to Myanmar in 1964
6. Bridging the Missing Gaps: The Politics of Display at the Dong Duong Buddhist Art Gallery
7. Restitution and National Heritage: (Art) Historical Trajectories of Raden Saleh’s Paintings
8. Returns by the Netherlands to Indonesia in the 2010s and the 1970s
Part III: Museums, Restitution, and Cultural Identities
9. The Return of Cultural Property and National Identity in Postcolonial Indonesia
10. Plaibat: Reclaiming Heritage, Social Media, and Modern Nationalism
11. Myanmar, Museums, and Repatriation of Cultural Heritage

The publication is available directly from NUS Press or can be pre-ordered from major book-sellers.

Library of Southeast Asian Studies, Frankfurt: Cataloguing of books in Javanese script completed

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From July to November 2020 the Library of Southeast Asian Studies at the University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt was able to complete the cataloguing of its collection of Javanese, Sundanese and Madurese books in Javanese script.

Illustration 1: Lelara Influenza. 52 pp., Weltevreden: Balé Poestaka, 1920. Shelf mark: 84/LI Jv/J 57.

Several titles of this collection were previously included in the online catalogue during the retro-conversion of material in the outdated Dutch spelling system for Javanese which sometimes was given on the back covers. Most of the catalogue records were incomplete and did not mention page numbers, illustrations or series data which are normally part of the cataloguing. The transcription of titles and/or title metadata in Javanese Hanacaraka script was carried out by student assistant Prabono Hari Putranto, who is a native speaker of Javanese and able to read the script. Altogether more than 90 volumes are now completely catalogued in modern Romanized Javanese spelling.

Illustration 2: Purwaning Dumados: Genesis in Javanese. 173 pp., Singapore: British and Foreign Bible Society, 1913. Printed in Yokohama, Japan by Fukuin Printing Company. Shelf mark: 84/LI Jv/J 31.5

Most of the titles in this collection were acquired in 1963 by Prof. Otto Karow (1913–1992) with funding from the Volkswagen Foundation for the library. Karow visited several antiquarian booksellers in the Netherlands such as Gé Nabrink (Amsterdam), C.P.J. van der Peet (Amsterdam) and Brill (Leiden) and bought Javanese books in Hanacaraka script in addition to plenty of titles in Indonesian/Malay, Javanese in Latin characters, Sundanese, Batak or Madurese.1 Unfortunately, the inventory book of the 1960s does not mention the precise bookshops where Karow found these books, but only gives Dutch guilders as prices. However, during the period of the late 1950s and early 1960s many former Dutch or Indonesian colonial officials and scholars gave up their private libraries which were of no interest for Dutch public collections, as e.g. the KITLV Library, since most of these books were already held in their collection; thus, instead they were sold by antiquarian booksellers.2

Illustration 3: L.F. van Gent: Carita Peperangan ing Aceh. 142 pp., Weltevreden: Commissie voor de Volkslectuur – Balé Poestaka, 1921 [Balé Poestaka, No. 265]. Shelf mark: 84/LI Jv/J 22.6

The majority of the books in Javanese script in the Frankfurt collection date from c. 1875 to 1935. Only a handful of books in Javanese letters published in Indonesia after independence had been acquired since the 1980s by the Library of Southeast Asian Studies. This explains why most of the collection contains books and booklets which were published nearly exclusively by Dutch publishers, both governmental (e.g. Commissie voor de Volkslectuur or Landsdrukkerij) and non-governmental (e.g. Ogilvie & Co. or Albert Rusche). Only very few publications by Indonesian publishers were found in the collection.

Illustration 4: Karta Subrata: Punika Serat Piwulang: Wawaton Bab Agami Islam, Saking Wulangipun Ngulama Dhateng Anak Muridipun, Mijil Saking Suraosipun Kitab (Jauhar Tauhid) Tuwin Sanes Sanesipun. 66 pp., Semarang: G.C.T. van Dorp & Co., 1918. Shelf mark: 84/LI Jv/J 43.

The collection includes 25 titles published by the governmental printing house Landsdrukkerij in Batavia and 19 titles by Balé Poestaka (Ind. Balai Pustaka) resp. Commissie voor de Volkslectuur (Ill. 3). 17 of the Balé Poestaka titles were published before 1925 and belong to a group of publications which Waruno Mahdi (2006: 85) has referred to as only “cursory” mentioned, if studied at all.3 More than ten books were released in the Netherlands by well-known publishing companies like E. J. Brill in Leiden, Johannes Müller in Amsterdam or Martinus Nijhoff in The Hague. Independent Dutch publishers located in Java include, among others, Ogilvie & Co. (Batavia, 6 titles), Albert Rusche (Surakarta, 2 titles), G. Kolff & Co. (Batavia, 1 title), H. A. Benjamins (Batavia/Semarang, 2 titles) or van Dorp & Co. (Semarang, 4 titles)

Illustration 5: Prawira Hamijaya: Serat Wedha Agama: Anyariyosaken King Kawonteranipun Sarengating Para Kanjeng Nabi Sasaya Pipiridan Saking Kitab Bayan Udayan lan Kitab Kisasul Anbiya. 20 pp., Surakarta: Kantor Pangecapan NV. Budi Utomo, 1918. Shelf mark: 84/LI Jv/J 19.7

Only a few books by local Indonesian publishers or printing houses found their way in the collection: Boedi Oetomo (Surakarta, 2 titles) (ill. 5), Radja Poestaka (Surakarta, 1 title), Boekhandel Tan Khoen Swie (Kediri, 1 title) or Deng Tjun Gwan (Magelang, 1 title). Two publications of the Dutch East Indies Theosophical Society are also present in the collection. The existence of these two titles is significant, as their inventory number is close to the inventory number to the Javanese manuscript of the Jayalengkara story in Frankfurt. This manuscript has been described in detail by Wieringa (2008) and was copied in 1914–15 at the court of Yogyakarta for the Dutch orientalist and theosophist Dirk van Hinloopen Labberton (1874–1961). Taking into account the date of his death and the existence of a few other titles authored/edited by van Hinloopen Labberton with similar inventory numbers in the Frankfurt collection, it might be well possible that Karow was able to acquire not only this manuscript, but also several other books in the Javanese language from the Nachlass of van Hinloopen Labberton, including many of those in Hanacaraka script. Another hint towards van Hinloopen Labberton is the stamp of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences (Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen) in several books, to which he had close relations during his stay in the Dutch East Indies from 1914–1922.

Illustration 6: Adolf Friedrich von de Wall: Serat Lalampahanipun Robinson Kruso. [Kajawekaken Dhateng Mas Ngabei Reksatenaya] 192 pp., Batawi [Batavia]: Ogilvie & Co., 1891. Shelf mark: 84/LI Jv/J 21.8

Considering the colonial governmental background of more than half of the titles in Javanese script it is not surprising that the contents of many books and booklets reflect Dutch colonial interests. They include books on educational or moral matters, religion (ill. 4), Javanese historical chronicles as well as texts glorifying Dutch colonial wars (ill. 3), first efforts in modern Javanese literature (e.g. by authors like Yasawidagda, Puja Arja or Padmosusastro), translations of texts into Javanese considered to be suitable as schoolbooks such as A.F. von de Wall’s Hikayat Robinson Crusoe (ill. 6) or Abdullah Munsyi’s Kisah Pelayaran Abdullah (ill. 7) or booklets on hygiene and tropical and general medicine (ill. 1). In its contents the governmental Javanese books “showed a distinctly conservative or traditionalist profile with editions mostly in Javanese script” (Mahdi 2006: 89), in remarkable contrast to their publications in Malay or Sundanese.4 Only very few Bible translations or tracts of the various mission societies have made their way into the collection (ill. 2)

Illustration 7: Abdullah bin Abdulkadir Munsyi: Cariyosipun Ngabdullah bin Abdul Kadir Munsi saking Singapura Layar Dhateng Kelantan. 258 pp., Batavia: Ogilvie & Co., 1883. Shelf mark: 84/LI Jv/J 9.

Endnotes:

[1]              Information on Karow and his acquisition trips to Paris, London and the Netherlands was kindly provided by Prof. Ulrich Kratz, who was a student assistant in the Southeast Asian Studies Library in the 1960s (Ulrich Kratz, personal communication, 29 December 2020).

[2]              For example, some books of the collection in Frankfurt show the ex libris of Raden Soedono Nimpoeno (1889–1977), a Javanese Christian from Surakarta who worked as language teacher at the Amsterdamse Middelbare Technische School until 1935 and was an author of Malay and Javanese textbooks between the late 1920s to c. 1950 (Poeze 2014: 231). Two others belonged to Godard Arend Johannes Hazeu (1876–1929), a high-ranking Dutch colonial official in the East Indies.

[3]              Besides the Javanese titles in Hanacaraka script Karow was able to buy books in Javanese in Latin letters, Malay/Indonesian, Madurese and Sundanese. The publications of Balai Pustaka before 1930 reflect its general publication policy as the majority is written in Javanese language (Mahdi 2006: 89): Of 33 Balai Pustaka books and booklets located in Frankfurt 21 are in Javanese (Hanacaraka and Latin script), 8 are in Sundanese and only 4 either in Indonesian/Malay or Madurese.

[4]           This “conservative” attitude may perhaps also explain the existence of two brochures of the Javanese organization Boedi Oetomo in the collection. Its members were predominantly form the Javanese aristocratic (priyayi) group, whose efforts in the organization were directed towards a “reinvention of (Old) Java” (Bertrand 2005: 511–543).

[5]              Proudfoot (1993: 146) gives as editor of this edition Paulus Penninga (1863–1944), who lived in Pasuruan in East Java for some time in the 1890s and was able to speak Javanese and Madurese fluently. After c. 1900 he spent some time in Singapore and was active as an agent for the British and Foreign Bible Society (Genealogieonline 2020).

[6]              Lambertus Franciscus van Gent (1876–1961?) was a major of infantry in the Dutch Colonial Army, but later also seems to have active in the Dutch Topographic Service in the Netherlands East Indies. He had contacts to scholars like C. Snouck Hurgronje and edited several books and treatises between c. 1907–1925 in Dutch, Malay and Javanese, listed in WorldCat. His Malay and Javanese books were mostly published at the governmental publishing house Balai Pustaka. This book on the brutal Aceh War contains several illustrations of Dutch generals, high-ranking officers, but also of Indonesian soldiers fighting for the Dutch colonial army, most of those shown in the illustrations being Javanese.

[7]              This small brochure of the Javanese organization Boedi Oetomo refers to Javanese Anbiya texts (books on the Prophets (Pigeaud 1967: 129–131).

[8]           Javanese translation of the well-known Malay adaptation Hikajat Robinson Crusoe by von de Wall, from a Dutch version of the story, perhaps originating from Joachim Heinrich Campe’s German book Robinson der Jüngere (Proudfoot 1997). According to the title page the Javanese translator Reksatenaya was a school teacher in Brebes, located at the western north coast of the present province of Central Java and finished his translation in 1876.

References:
Bertrand, Romain (2005): État colonial, noblesse et nationalisme à Java: la tradition parfait. Paris: Éditions Karthala.
Genealogieonline [accessed 28 December 2020].
Mahdi, Waruno (2006): The Beginnings and Reorganization of the Commissie voor de Volkslectuur (1908–1920). In: Insular Southeast Asia: Linguistic and Cultural Studies in Honour of Bernd Nothofer (eds. Fritz Schulze & Holger Warnk), 85-110. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Pigeaud, Theodore G. Th. (1967): Literature of Java: Catalogue Raisonné of Javanese Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Leiden and Other Public Collections in the Netherlands. Volume 1: Synopsis of Javanese Literature 900–1900 A.D. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Poeze, Harry A. (2014): Di Negeri Penjajah: Orang Indonesia di Negeri Belanda 1600–1950. Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia.
Proudfoot, Ian (1993): Early Malay Printed Books. Kuala Lumpur: Academy of Malay Studies. Proudfoot, Ian (1997): Robinson Crusoe in Indonesia. In: The Asia-Pacific Magazine No. 6–7, 44–48.
Wieringa, Edwin (2008): Eine Handschrift der javanischen Panji Jayalengkara-Angrèni-Erzählung in Frankfurt/Main. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 158, 371–378.

(by Holger Warnk, J.W.Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Library of Southeast Asian Studies)

New issue of SEALG Newsletter published

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The latest issue of the SEALG Newsletter has been published recently and can now be downloaded from our group’s homepage at http://www.sealg.org/pdf/newsletter2020.pdf. Please feel free to circulate the link to anyone you think may be interested in reading the newsletter, which is an open-access publication freely available to anyone.

Contents of the newsletter include:

  • Researchers’ archives on the ODSAS platform: examples from Vietnam and Burma by Louise Pichard-Bertaux 
  • The Malay Studies Library, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Awang Azman Awang Pawi and Haslan Bin Tamjehi
  • Celebrating 50 years of excellence: Southeast Asia scholarship and stewardship at Berkeley, 1970-2020 by Virginia Shih 
  • The Javanese Manuscripts from Yogyakarta Digitisation Project by Annabel Teh Gallop 
  • Place names and descriptions of local landscapes recorded in the colophons of Shan Buddhist manuscripts by Jotika Khur-Yearn 
  • Textile book covers in the Shan manuscript tradition by Jana Igunma

Previous issues of the Newsletter that were published in electronic format are also available on the SEALG homepage.

(Jana Igunma)

The Lao Recitation YouTube channel of the National Library of Laos

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The Lao Recitation YouTube channel of the National Library of Laos recently went online, containing over 100 hours of traditional recitation and interviews with reciters. All recordings will also be available in the Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts, where some are readings of manuscripts and can be listened to while viewing images of the texts. This will greatly assist in the study of the texts and in learning to read the more complex scripts which are restricted to manuscript use and typically unreadable without training. The channel is also an excellent learning resource for Lao monks and novices who are training in the recitation of texts. More recordings will be added over the coming months. The project was kindly supported by the German Embassy, Vientiane. The project team comprised David Wharton, Bounchan Phanthavong, Bouasy Sypaseuth, and Nouphath Keosaphang.

Image of a Lao palm-leaf manuscript on the cover page of the Lao Recitation YouTube channel. With permission of David Wharton, National Library of Laos.

Among the high-quality recitations is the complete ‘Lam Phavet‘ by Achan Maha Bounteum Sibounheuang from Ban Pak Thang, Vientiane Capital. This Lao version of the Vessantara Jataka is the most popular of the Buddha’s Birth Tales (Jataka) not only in Laos, but across mainland Southeast Asia. The recitation in a variety of styles is in seventeen parts, and lasts over 11 hours. Separate sections of this same recitation are found under ‘Thet Mahasat‘ given by various monks in Luang Prabang: Sathu Nyai One Keo Kitthiphatho from Vat Pa Pha O, Sathu Chanthalinh Chinnathammo from Vat Phou Khouai, Sathu Bouavanh Pounyasalo from Vat Senesoukaham, Sathu Bouaphanh Phanthasalo from Vat Ban Sing, and Pha Sombath Sampanno from Vat Siphutthabat Thipphalam.

Another popular Buddhist text that can be found on the channel is ‘Nemilat‘, the Lao version of the Nemi Jataka, which is one of the Last Ten Birth Tales of the Buddha. It is well-known for its graphic descriptions of the Buddhist heavens and hells. Achan Maha Bounteum Sibounheuang from Ban Pak Thang, Vientiane, recites this text in Vientiane style, and the duration of the ten parts of this text is about three hours.

Achan Maha Bounteum Sibounheuang also presents a recitation in Vientiane style of the famous story ‘Sang Sinsai‘, a versified epic of the Lao of national significance which is also a much loved theme for theatre and dance performances. The recitation of fifteen parts has a duration of over six hours.

Kampha Kai Kaeo‘ is the title of another popular story in which the role of the hero, an orphaned boy, is similar to a Bodhisattva, or Buddha-to-be. This text in fifteen parts is recited by Achan Nouphath Keosaphang from Ban Sidamduan, Vientiane. This recitation from a manuscript in the Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts in hoi kaeo hoi kong style lasts over 3 hours.

Apart from Buddhist texts and folk stories there are also recitations of traditional ritual texts known as ‘Kham Su Khuan‘ (“calling the life essence”). The idea of khuan – the life essences of persons, animals, plants or objects – is a central element in Lao pre-Buddhist belief, and Su Khuan rituals are carried out on numerous occasions like weddings, well-wishing to new mothers (one month after giving birth) and of children, to support treatment of illness, blessing of a new house, well-wishing to new novice monks, blessing of rice, cows, buffalos etc. Following an introductory talk by Achan Maha Bounteum Sibounheuang, there are several recitations of ‘Kham Su Khuan’ in thamnong hai thammada style, lasting about two hours.

More recordings will be added shortly, including a complete reading of the epic poem Champa Si Ton by Achan Phouvong Soukchalern (Chan Kop) from a palm-leaf manuscript at the National Library of Laos, lasting over 25 hours. Several Lao-language video interviews with reciters will also provide additional context to the collection.

(Report by David Wharton and Jana Igunma)

Recitation at Boun Phavet festival, Vat That Luang, Luang Prabang, October 2020. With permission of David Wharton, National Library of Laos.

Asia – Pacific: Research Routes

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Exhibition on Occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Maison Asie-Pacifique in Marseille, December 9 to 19, 2019 – Now Virtual

Organized by the Maison Asie-Pacifique in Marseille, to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the CNRS (the French National Centre for Scientific Research), the exhibition “Asia – Pacific: Research Routes” pays tribute to the research work carried out from India to Easter Island by members of the Institut de recherches asiatiques (IrAsia) laboratories and Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l’Océanie (CREDO), and highlights the very specific and complementary skills of all research assistance professions at Maison Asie-Pacifique. By reflecting on themes developed by the IrAsia laboratories with regard to the different regions of Asia and the Pacific – history, anthropology, the study and translation of Asian literatures, etc. – the exhibition offers a closer look at the activities of the Maison Asie-Pacifique. Resulting from this collaborative endeavor involving the pooling of knowledge and know-how of all participants, the exhibition invites you to travel (virtually), to explore and to learn about the work of others.

The contribution of the head librarian of the Asia library at the Maison Asie-Pacifique consisted in the collective development of the exhibition, in supporting researchers on Asia according to their research areas, in the production of the various thematic posters (choice of themes, proofreading and corrections) as well as a summary of thematic bibliographies.

Posters concerning South East Asia in the exhibition:

  • The Irrawaddy, birthplace and fulcrum of Burma [L’Irrawaddy, berceau et pivot de la Birmanie]
  • City and literature in Thailand [Ville et littérature en Thaïlande]
  • Pencak and Silat: Malayo-Indonesian martial arts [Pencak et Silat : les arts martiaux malayo-indonésiens]
  • Transmission of shamanic knowledge among the Lebbo’ of East Kalimantan, Indonesia [Transmission du savoir chamanique chez les Lebbo’ de Kalimantan Est, Indonésie]
  • The petroglyphs of Sapa, Lào province, Vietnam [Les pétroglyphes de Sapa, province de Lào, Viêt Nam]
  • Ethnic tourism on Chinese borders [Tourisme ethnique aux frontières chinoises]
  • Cosmopolitanism: migration dynamics in Southeast Asia [Cosmopolitisme : dynamiques migratoires en Asie du Sud-Est]
  • Migration in Southeast Asia: growth and feminization [Les migrations en Asie du Sud-Est : essor et féminisation]
  • Vietnam, land of migrants [Le Vietnam, terre de migrants]

Southeast Asia is not the only region represented in this exhibition. Altogether 51 posters (with text in French language) expose a variety of exciting themes from across Asia. While the physical exhibition was open for only a short period in December 2019, it can now be viewed online to make it accessible to a wider audience, especially at a time when travelling is very restricted due to the corona virus pandemic.

(Report by Christophe Caudron, Maison Asie-Pacifique, Marseille)

Website of the virtual exhibition Asia – Pacific: Research Routes

New Thematic Portal online: The Southeast Asia Collection of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin

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With over 100,000 volumes, the Southeast Asia Collection of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is the most extensive collection of its kind in Germany and one of the most important Southeast Asia collections worldwide. The collection includes publications from all eleven Southeast Asian countries. In addition to a wide range of western language literature on these countries, extensive holdings of original-language literature and more than 2,000 Southeast Asian manuscripts are particularly noteworthy. 

The new thematic portal on the Southeast Asia collection provides an overview of the collection and allows an initial search of the collection, particularly of its modern part. Users are invited to search the online catalogue of the Staatsbibliothek and to explore further services of the “Specialised Information Service Asia” (FID Asia) and its portal CrossAsia

(Reported by Claudia Götze-Sam, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin)

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