Ganug Nugroho Adi
Ancient Javanese manuscripts are national treasures that keep traces of civilization. Unfortunately, not all of these manuscripts are well preserved. Most of the manuscripts – which are centuries old – have been badly damaged.
“We must treat these manuscripts, especially those that are already damaged, extra carefully,” said John Paterson, one of the founders of the Sastra Lestari Foundation (Yasri). The foundation is a non-profit organization focusing on preserving ancient manuscripts. Paterson founded the body with Suparjo, a lecturer at the Sebelas Maret University's (UNS) School of Culture in Surakarta, Central Java.
In the past 20 years, Yasri has preserved around 6,000 manuscripts created in the 19th century and early 20th century. Around 1,000 of those manuscripts have been digitalized.
“Not all people understand Javanese characters. therefore we have to translate that. The preservation effort is not only saving the physical manuscripts but also the meaning of them,” said Paterson, an Indonesianist from Australia.
The digitalization is done at the Yasri office by five staff members. They identify, preserve, translate, rewrite and upload those manuscripts to the website so that the public can read them.[yan]