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Jakarta Post

Indonesia to translate Bugis epic 'La Galigo'

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, December 10, 2017   /   02:45 pm
Indonesia to translate Bugis epic 'La Galigo' Treasured: A look into the pages of 'La Galigo,' one of the Asian Library's most treasured items. The text is written in old Buginese script. (JP/Linawati Sidarto)

The government aims to have a comprehensive archive of Indonesia’s historic manuscripts, including South Sulawesi ancient literary epic La Galigo, an official said on Saturday.

Known as one of the world’s largest literary works, La Galigo is a 14th century epic written by the Bugis in South Sulawesi. The government has translated three of a total of 12 volumes of the ancient script, culture director general at the Education and Culture Ministry Hilmar Farid said.

The ministry started the archival program this year and, in 2018, it plans to allocate some of its budget to continue translating the script through the ministry’s history directorate. The ministry began the process after meeting with Nurhayati, a philology expert who has been studying and translating the script for more than two decades.

“The biggest obstacle was the lack of people who could understand and read the script. Our focus was to add as many resources as possible,” Hilbram said on Saturday as reported by

Besides Nurhayati, there are only two other people who are involved in the program. Additionally, there is a local with knowledge on the subject. However, they do not speak Indonesian fluently.

The ministry has also moved to study several other historic items. It aims to collect photos taken by journalists during World War II and archives owned by a Netherlands-based researcher who traveled to Indonesia in the 1920s.