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Preservation Javanese Manuscripts in Malang, East Java

Malang, DREAMSEA – “After the manuscripts have been digitised, I intend to set up a transliteration and translation program”, said Lulut Edi Santoso, the owner of dozens of manuscripts in Javanese in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. Mr Lulut made this statement when he welcome the digitisation team on 24 February, 2019.

The digitisation team is led by Dr. M. Adib Misbachul Islam from the Nusantara Manuscript Society (Manassa). The team has just arrived at Lulut Edi Santoso’s place in Karangploso district, Malang, to assist him with preserving the manuscripts he has owned for some years now. Some of his manuscripts he inherited from his family while he bought the others in East Java.

“Sometimes I have to put my salary aside to buy manuscripts. They cost between 3 to 5 million rupiah”, Lulut said, who is also an art teacher at Senior Highschool in Malang.

Lulut owns at least 14 manuscripts in the form of codices while he also has hundreds of others that consist of only one leaf of paper. His manuscripts were written on local paper, European paper, and tree bark paper while some codices are bound in cloth or in leather.

His manuscripts were written in Javanese script and in pegon.  This reflects Javanese society in the past which was not only already culturally independent but also interacted with outside cultures such as Islam. That his manuscripts are not only inspired by Islam but also by other cultures is, for instance, reflected in the Babad Tong Tya which, although written in Javanese in Javanese script tells of the presence of the Chinese in Java.

Babad Tong Tya

“The fact that these manuscripts exist shows that already in the past, Javanese society was very adaptive to outside culture. However, this being so, the Javanese also managed to maintain their own character as Javanese society “, according to R. Adi Deswijaya, a cultural expert from the Universitas Veteran Bangun Nusantara.

Lulut is very happy with DREAMSEA. He is not only a teacher but he also initiated the Forum Boso Jawi (Javanese Language Forum) where enthusiasts for the Javanese language in Central and East Java get together. For him, the digitisation program is a very important step for the study of Javanese social identity.

For some time, Lulut has been active in putting his old books on other media and in a modest way he has started to scan them and to save them on hard disks so that he can read them when he feels like it. He became aware of the importance to do this when he noticed that his manuscripts started to become ruined and eaten by white ants. Also, the damp weather condition in Malang inspired him to take care of his collection enthusiastically.

“A few months ago, someone from Mataram, Nusa Tenggara Barat offered me to buy his manuscripts. While I was trying to find the time to go there in August last year, an earthquake had hit the area. This made me think how important it is that our rare manuscripts are back-upped as soon as possible, among others by digitizing them”, Lulut said.

Adib and Adi are now analysing the contents of Lulut’s manuscripts. They are accompanied by Alfan Firmanto (Ministry of Religious Affairs) and Evi Fuji Fauziyah (Ministry of Education and Culture) and their target is to digitise 7,000 manuscript pages. The images will be available digitally on the digital manuscript repository while the physical manuscripts remain with the owner.[MNF]

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