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Jakarta Post

Saving Javanese ancient manuscript

Mon, October 22, 2018   /   06:15 pm
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    The already preserved and translated Javanese ancient manuscripts are stored at the Sastra Lestari Foundation (Yasri). JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi

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    A magnifying glass is used to read the Javanese characters in a manuscript. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi

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    Babad Majapahit (Majapahit chronicle) is one of the oldest manuscripts. It was written in 1901. Yasri’s oldest manuscript is Serat Darmawulan (Darmawulan epistle) written in 1810, while the most recent is a Javanese-script magazine published in 1942. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi

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    The rewriting process is done in pairs. One staff member reads while another types. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi

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    From 6,000 manuscripts at the foundation, most are written in Javanese script. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi

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    The identification of manuscripts is part of the preservation process. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi

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    A visitor looks at a manuscript being displayed at an exhibition in Surakarta, Central Java. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi

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    Australian John Paterson has been working hard over the past two years to save around 6,000 old manuscripts. JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi]

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]