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19 posts categorized "Javanese"

16 June 2017

Malay and Indonesian manuscripts exhibited in 1960

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Until 1972 the British Library formed part of the British Museum. Its exhibition cases were located in the great King’s Library wing, built in 1827 to house the royal collection of over 60,000 books formed by King George III (1760–1820) and given to the nation in 1823 by his son King George IV. From July to August 1960, the King’s Library hosted ‘Books from the East: an exhibition of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books’ which aimed ‘to show something of the richness and variety of oriental literature’ through ‘books and manuscripts which stand out from the rest on account of their beauty, rarity, early date or unusual form’.

Interior of the King's Library, British Museum, by Frederick Hawkesworth S. Shepherd (1877–1948). The display cases visible continued to be used for books and manuscripts until the 1990s, when the British Library moved to St. Pancras.

One of the 22 cases in the exhibition 'Books from the East' was dedicated to eight Malay and Indonesian manuscripts, described below in the exhibition leaflet:

“In the centre are two Malay manuscripts: a Proclamation of 1811 by Sir Stamford Raffles written in the Malayan Arabic script, called Jawi, which is slowly being replaced by the modern romanised script; and the other – a seventeenth century translation of the Psalms of David – is in an early romanised script used by Dutch missionaries in the Netherlands East Indies. (Or.9484; Sloane 3115.) Two Javanese illuminated manuscripts are shown – A History of Kingdom of Mataram in East Java, which reached the peak of its power in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (Add.12,287); and a Pawukon or Treatise on Judicial Astrology with coloured figure drawings illustrating the text (Add.12,338). The very large Buginese book is an example of the interesting Court Diaries that were kept by the Bugis in the Celebes from at least the seventeenth century. (Add.12,354.) Two Batak bark books with wooden covers, from Sumatra, are also shown (Add.19381 and Or.11761) together with a wooden tubular section cut from a length of large bamboo, and inscribed with the Batak alphabet (Or.5309). Both of the books are manuals of divination and magic.”

This display from 1960 has been reassembled here in photographic form below, with hyperlinks to digitised versions and relevant blog posts.

Proclamation of the capture of Batavia by the British, 11 August 1811, in Malay in Jawi script. British Library, Or 9484

Psalms of David in Malay, late 17th century, probably written in the Moluccas. British Library, Sloane 3115, ff. 10v-11r

Add 12287 (2)
Babad Sejarah Mataram, Javanese history of the kingdom of Mataram from Adam to the fall of Kartasura; this copy early 19th c. British Library, Add 12287, ff. 3v-4r

Pawukon, Javanese calendrical compilation with illustrations of the gods and goddesses associated with each week (wuku), 1807. British Library, Add 12338, ff. 92v-93r

Bugis diary of Sultan Ahmad al-Salih Syamsuddin of Bone (r.1775-1812). British Library, Add 12354, ff. 17v-18r

Add 19381 (5)
Pustaha in Mandailing-Batak from north Sumatra, containing esoteric texts on divination and protection, showing on the right pictures of a labyrinth and the seal of Solomon, early 19th c. British Library, Add. 19381

Or 5309 - b
Bamboo cylinder with Batak syllabary, 19th c. British Library, Or. 5309

Or 11761 (1)
Pustaha in Simalungun-Batak, with nicely decorated wooden covers, a plaited bamboo strap, and carrying string. British Library, Or. 11761  noc

In subsequent years the King's Library witnessed more exhibitions of maritime Southeast Asian material, including Early Malay Printing 1603-1900, held from 20 January to 4 June 1989, and Paper and Gold: illuminated manuscripts from the Indonesian archipelago, held from 11 July to 27 October 1990. But 'Books from the East' appears to have been the first occasion on which Malay and Indonesian manuscripts were included in a thematic temporary exhibition in the British Museum.

Further reading:

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. 

Golden Letters: writing traditions of Indonesia / Surat Emas: budaya tulis di Indonesia. Annabel Teh Gallop with Bernard Arps.  London: British Library; Jakarta: Yayasan Lontar, 1991

Download 1989-Early Malay Printing

Download 1990-Paper and Gold

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia  ccownwork

20 December 2016

Old Javanese copper charters in the British Library

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One of the greatest periods of building in stone ever known commenced in central Java in the late 7th century, and reached a climax with the construction of Borobudur – the largest Buddhist monument in the world – in the 8th century, and the Prambanan temple complex in the 9th century. During the 10th century, for reasons that are still not entirely clear, the centre of activity shifted from central Java to east Java, where Hindu-Buddhist temples were built in stone and then brick through to the late 15th century, until halted with the spread of Islam throughout the island. Neglected and uncared for, the temples fell into disuse and thence decay, hastened by the unchecked growth of vegetation and volcanic and seismic activity.

The traditional writing material in Java was palm leaf or paper made from the beaten bark of the mulberry tree. Although if treated with great care organic materials may survive for several hundred years in the tropical climate, most of what we know about the early Javanese civilisations responsible for these great monuments is necessarily gleaned from a study of inscriptions engraved on more durable materials such as stone and copper.  The earliest known inscriptions from Java were written in Old Malay and Sanskrit, but by the 9th century Old Javanese was used. The Old Javanese language differs from modern Javanese in the very high proportion of Sanskrit words, while Old Javanese script, sometimes known as Kawi script, also differs from that used for modern Javanese. The earliest dated inscription in Old Javanese is the Sukabumi inscription of 804 AD, and Old Javanese continued to be used until the 15th century.  Hundreds of inscriptions survive, engraved on stone and copper. Some of the copper charters are later copies of earlier inscriptions, or more portable copies of inscriptions originally engraved on stone.

Mount Sumbing, a volcano in central Java, shown with a selection of Javanese antiquities in the foreground. From the Java-Album by Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn (1809-1864). Leipzig: Arnoldische Buchhandlung, 1856. British Library, 1781.a.21, Plate 5.

The British Library holds three separate copper charters in Old Javanese, all of which have now been digitised.  The two charters held as Ind. Ch. 57, both incomplete, relate to a man named Ugra in a village called Pabuharan. Although undated, there are textual indications that these charters may date from the 9th century. The plate which can properly be termed the ‘Pabuharan inscription’ (Prasasti Pabuharan), Ind. Ch. 57 (B), records a grant of the attributes of the Brahman-order and Kṣatriya-order by the king to Ugra's children named Dyah Kataywat and Dyah Nariyama in the domain (sima) of Pabuharan.  On this occasion several ceremonial gifts of cloth and gold were presented to various officials, and are listed in the inscription.

Pabuharan inscription, copper charter, in poor condition, possibly 9th century AD. British Library, Ind. Ch. 57 (B), f. 2v.

The accompanying plate, Ind Ch 57 (A), records the making of a canal in the lěmah asinan of Pabuharan by Ugra, who is described as a a teacher, with some rights and regulations to be maintained for it.

Both plates were in the possession of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Java from 1811 to 1816, but there is no information on how Raffles acquired them in Java. The plates were originally held in the British Museum before being transferred to the British Library.

Old Javanese charter recording the digging of a canal in Pabuharan. British Library, Ind. Ch. 57 (A), f. 1r.

The third charter was issued by King Siṇḍok, who reigned in Java from ca. 929 to 947, and it was probably during his reign that the main shift from central to east Java took place. Known as the Sobhāmṛta inscription (Prasasti Sobhāmṛta), the complete charter consists of seven plates, of which the first and third plates are held in the National Museum of World Cultures in Leiden, while the five remaining plates are held in the British Library as MSS Jav 106.  On the basis of the style of script, this is clearly a copy made sometime between the late 13th and 15th centuries of the original charter.  The inscription records that on 11 Suklapaksa in the month Waisakha 861 Saka ( 2 May 939 AD), the king – named in the text as Sri Maharaja Rake Hino Mpu Sindok Sri Isanawijaya Dharmottunggadewa – gave orders that rice fields, orchards, and house lands in Sobhāmṛta were to become a freehold area, in return for the duty of maintaining a temple.  The charter was discovered in 1815 in a village south of Surabaya in East Java during work on a water supply.  The name of this village was Betra, which could possibly be a corrupt version of the Sanskrit name Sobhāmṛta, meaning ‘splendid holy water’, from nine centuries earlier.

The beginning of Plate 2 of the Sobhāmṛta inscription, dated śāka 861 (A.D. 939), in Old Javanese. A copy made in the Majapahit period (1293 - ca.1500). British Library, MSS Jav 106, f. 1r

The last plate ends with a series of decorative motifs marking the end of the text, including two floral motifs probably derived from the lotus blossom.

Floral motifs marking the end of the text of the Sobhāmṛta inscription. British Library, MSS Jav 106, f. 5v  noc

For a full list of digitised Malay and Indonesian manuscripts in the British Library, click here.

Further reading:
M.C. Ricklefs, P. Voorhoeve & A.T.Gallop, Indonesian manuscripts in Great Britain. New Edition with Addenda et Corrigenda. Jakarta: EFEO, 2014; p. 257.

Ind. Ch. 57
Albertine Gaur, Indian charters on copper plates. London: British Museum, 1975; p. 32.
OJO (Oud-Javaansche Oorkonden) no. CXV in: J.L.A. Brandes, 'Oud-Javaansche oorkonden: nagelaten transcripties', edited by N.J. Krom. Verhandelingen van het Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen, 60 (parts 1 and 2), 1913. Batavia; ’s-Hage: Albrecht; Nijhoff; pp. 250-251.
Boechari, and A.S. Wibowo. Prasasti Koleksi Museum Nasional. Vol. 1. Jakarta: Proyek Pengembangan Museum Nasional, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, 1985-1986; inscription E.1.II (reading based on a cast).

MSS Jav 106
A.T. Gallop with B. Arps, Golden letters: writing traditions of Indonesia. London: British Library; Jakarta: Lontar, 1991; pp. 74-75.
Titi Surti Nastiti. Prasasti Sobhāmṛta. Jakarta: Pusat Penelitian dan Pengembangan Arkeologi Nasional, Departemen Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata, 2007

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia  ccownwork

10 October 2016

The Archive of Yogyakarta digitised

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The ‘Archive of Yogyakarta’ refers to a collection of some four hundred manuscript documents in Javanese dating from 1772 to 1813, originating from the court of Yogyakarta. A highly important source for the political, economic, social, administrative and legal history of central Java in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the archive comprises official reports, letters, accounts and other documents as well as the private papers of Sultan Hamengkubuwana II (r. 1792-1810, 1811-1812, 1826-1828) and his successor Sultan Hamengkubuwana III (r. 1812-1814). Together with many other Javanese manuscripts on literary, historical and religious subjects held in the royal library, the documents were taken during the British assault on the palace of Yogyakarta in June 1812, and subsequently entered the private collections of three senior officials of the British administration in Java (1811-1816): Thomas Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Java; Colin Mackenzie, Chief Engineer; and John Crawfurd, then Resident of Yogyakarta. The documents were evidently selected by Crawfurd, whose collection was later acquired by the British Museum in 1842, and is now held in the British Library. Currently bound in four volumes (Add. 12303, Add. 12341, Add. 12342 and Add. 14397), the Archive of Yogyakarta has recently been fully digitised and can be accessed directly through the hyperlinks in this post or on the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts website.

Anonymous sketch of the Water Palace (Taman Sari) of Yogyakarta, 1812. Mackenzie Private collection. British Library, MSS Eur. E118, f.29.   noc

The ‘Archive of Yogyakarta’ is the name given to this treasure trove of documents by the historian Peter Carey, who stresses the extraordinary and perhaps unique historical value of the collection: ‘For almost the first time in Javanese, and perhaps even in Southeast Asian, history, pre-colonial studies can be based on the activities of local actors themselves documented by their own records’ (Carey & Hoadley 2000: 435). Under the auspices of the British Academy, the complete Archive has been published in two volumes, with detailed summaries of the contents and full transliterations of the Javanese text for each document. The first volume presents 106 documents on politics and internal court matters (Carey 1980), while the second volume focuses on economic and agrarian affairs (Carey & Hoadley 2000).  But the second volume also draws on the first in presenting all 420 documents as sources for the history of the Yogyakarta administration in the following five categories: 1) governmental decisions, including letters of appointment, royal orders, legal digests, documents on statute law, treaties and judicial decisions; 2) material resources in the form of appanages [i.e. sources of provision for members of the royal house] and military resources of the realm; 3) court correspondence, both incoming and outgoing; 4) accountancy records, showing both credit in the form of taxes, loans and contributions, and debit from allowances and cash outlays; and 5) miscellaneous documents, including those relating to religious affairs. This thematic presentation was achieved with considerable effort, for three of the four volumes were bound by Crawfurd in a completely random order: ‘land grants for royal officials and lists of revenue payments are mixed up with sumptuary laws [i.e. laws to limit extravagant consumption], political correspondence between the Sultan and the Residents and notes on disputes over villages. More intimate items such as allowances for court ladies, petty kraton accounts, payments for pradikan officials, challenges to cockfights, instructions on fasting (amutih, patih geni) and letters of praise with imagery from the wayang are also interspersed indiscriminately throughout the three volumes’ (Carey 1980: 3).

Appanage grant from Sultan Hamengkubuwana II to Bendara Raden Ayu Srenggara, the principal unofficial wife of Sultan Hamengkubuwana I and the mother of Pakualam I, granting her 56 manpower units (cacah) in named villages, 21 Sura A.J. 1721 (18 August 1794) (Carey & Hoadley 2000: 14). British Library, Add. 12342, f. 253r   noc

List of hajis, palace santris [religious scholars], and their followers sent to Mecca in 1806 by Sultan Hamengkubuwana II [4 February 1806], begins: Punika pémut pratélangipun utusan-Dalem ingkang badhé dhateng Mengkah … (Carey 1980: 172-3). British Library, Add. 12341, f. 78r  noc

Letter from Sultan Hamengkubuwana II and the Crown Prince of Yogyakarta to John Crawfurd, 18 Dulkangidah A.J. 1738 (4 Dec 1811), written in Javanese in Pégon (Arabic) script (Carey 1980: 79-81). This is one of a number of letters from the sultan and senior court officials to British officials not from the court library, but which were evidently taken by Crawfurd from the British Residency archives in Yogyakarta to add to his private collection. British Library, Add. 12341, f. 146v  noc

The historical value of this archive is beyond doubt, primarily for - as highlighted by the compilers of the second volume - 'the lack of correspondence between what contemporary European accounts deemed important and what the contents of The Archive of Yogyakarta seems to suggest is vital from a Javanese perspective' (Carey & Hoadley 2000: 4). But the documents are also an exceptionally rich source for the study of formal Javanese diplomatics, to be mined for data on the palaeography, phraseology, nomenclature and internal structure of different types of governmental documents, as well as guiding principles on the use and placement of seals, choice of script (whether the Indic-derived Javanese script, read from left to right, or  Pégon, the adapted form of Arabic script which is read from right to left) and materials (whether imported Dutch or other European rag paper, or dluwang, Javanese paper made from the beaten bark of the paper mulberry tree).

Octagonal seal of Sultan Hamengkubuwana II, inscribed in the centre in Javanese: Ingkang pratandha Kangjeng Sinuhun Hamengkubuwana Sénapati Ingalaga Ngabdurrahman Sayidin Panatagama Kalipatulah (Carey 1980: 76), 'This is the seal of the exalted majesty who carries the world in his lap, the commander of the army in war, servant of the Most Merciful One, lord of the faith, protector of religion, vicegerent of God' (cf. Carey & Hoadley 2000: 436). The tiny inscription in Arabic script in the border has not yet been read. British Library, Add. 12342, f. 208r (detail)   noc

The four volumes of the Archive of Yogyakarta have been digitised by the British Library as part of an ongoing collaboration with the Libraries and Archives Board of the Special District of Yogyakarta (Badan Perpustakaan and Arsip Daerah Istimewa Yoyakarta, BPADIY), focusing on those Javanese manuscripts in the British Library identified by Carey as originating from Yogyakarta. On a recent visit to Yogyakarta, on 22 September 2016 copies of the digitised images of the Archive of Yogyakarta were presented to His Excellency the Governor of Yogyakarta, H.M. Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwana X (the sultan of Yogyakarta is the only hereditary ruler in Indonesia also accorded a constitutional role, in recognition of the heroic support of Sultan Hamengkubuwana IX for the fledgling Republic of Indonesia during the Indonesian revolution, 1945-1949).

With H.E. the Governor of Yogyakarta, H.M. Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwana X (third from left) and staff of the Libraries and Archives Board (BPADIY) including head of BPADIY Budi Wibowo (second from left), at the 18th-century Kadipaten, former premises of the Crown Prince of Yogyakarta and now the gubernatorial office. Photo by Suhardo, 22 September 2016.

Looking at manuscripts in the Widya Budaya library in the palace of Yogyakarta, with royal librarian K.R.T. Rintaiswara (second left) and staff of the Libraries and Archives Board of Yogyakarta. Photo by A.T. Gallop, 24 September 2016.  noc

After the British sack of the court of Yogyakarta, only three manuscripts were left in the royal library: a copy of the Qur’an (copied in 1797), the Serat Suryaraja (1774), and a copy of Arjuna Wiwaha (1778) (Carey 1980: 13, n. 11). The manuscripts currently held in the Widya Budaya library therefore mostly postdate 1812, and Romo Rinto shows here a volume of archive documents in Javanese dating from the mid-19th century. Photo by A.T. Gallop, 24 September 2016.  noc


Carey, P. B. R. (ed.), The archive of Yogyakarta.  Volume I.  Documents relating to politics and internal court affairs.  Oxford: published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1980 (Oriental Documents; 3).
Carey, Peter and Hoadley, Mason C. (eds.), The archive of Yogyakarta.  Volume II.  Documents relating to economic and agrarian affairs.  Oxford: published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2000. (Oriental Documents; 11).

One other Javanese manuscript from the Yogyakarta palace library now held in the British Library which has been digitised is the beautifully illuminated Serat Jayalengkara Wulang (MSS Jav 24), described in another blog post: A Javanese manuscript artist at work.

For a full list of Malay and Indonesian manuscripts in the British Library which have been digitised, see our Digital Access to Malay and Indonesian manuscripts webpage.

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia  ccownwork

09 November 2015

A Scottish poet’s favourite Malay poem? Syair Jaran Tamasa

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The Scottish orientalist John Leyden (1775-1811), ‘the Bard of Teviotdale’, was a close friend and collaborator of Sir Walter Scott who had won renown as a poet even before he sailed for India in 1803. A prodigious scholar of Indian languages, Leyden also had a deep interest in Malay, and built up an important collection of Malay literary manuscripts which is now held in the British Library. Leyden’s Malay manuscripts mostly originate from Penang, where from late 1805 to early 1806 he spent three months convalescing in the house of Thomas Stamford Raffles. Indeed, some of the 25 Malay manuscripts in Leyden’s collection are copies commissioned by Raffles, although older manuscripts are also found. The collection is rich in prose works (hikayat) and also contains a few syair, or long narrative poems composed of four-line stanzas with the same end rhyme, including Syair Silambari and Syair surat kirim kepada perempuan. But Leyden seems to have had a particular interest in a lesser-known Malay poem called Syair Jaran Tamasa, ‘The Lay of Jaran Tamasa’.

OP 220 Lembaga Melayu 001
A view of Penang from the sea. Anonymous watercolour, bound in to a copy of Norman Macalister, Historical memoir relative to Prince of Wales Island (London, 1803), presented by the author to Alexander Dalrymple. (With thanks to Nicholas Martland for first showing me this drawing.) British Library, 571.h.19.  noc

Two manuscripts of Syair Jaran Tamasa are found in the Leyden collection; both have now been digitised. MSS Malay B 9, which is in a brisk cursive hand, was copied by a scribe named Ismail on 10 May 1804. The second manuscript, MSS Malay D 6, is clearly a direct copy of MSS Malay B 9, and reproduces Ismail’s colophon word-for-word, while noting that this copy was made for Raffles by Muhammad Bakhar. Although this second copy of Syair Jaran Tamasa is not dated, it was probably copied in Penang in April or May 1806, for on 24 May 1806 Raffles wrote to Leyden in Calcutta, ‘I likewise send you herewith per favour of Mr Patton, the remaining sheets of the Jaran Tamassa’ (Bastin 2003: 40).   

Opening pages of Syair Jaran Tamasa, copied by Ismail, 1804. British Library, MSS Malay B 9, ff. 1v-2r  noc

Colophon of the original copy of Syair Jaran Tamasa: 'written on 29 Muharam 1219  (10 May 1804), in the year ba, on Monday, at noon; Ismail is the owner/writer of this poem' (pada sanat 1219 tahun-tahun ba pada sembilan likur hari bulan Muharam pada hari Ithnin pada waktu tengah hari akan surat ini Ismail empunya syair tamat). British Library, MSS Malay B 9, f. 103v  noc

Colophon of the second copy of Syair Jaran Tamasa, copied from MSS Malay B 9, which reproduces Ismail's original colophon, and then continues: ‘ordered by Mr Raffles to make a copy, I, Muhammad Bakhar, wrote this poem, and with the help of God the Exalted it has been completed in full, but if there are mistakes your forgiveness is begged for me, an old man with failing eyesight’ (disuruh Tuan Raffles salin senda Muhammad Bakhar menyurat syair ini ditulong Allah ta’ala sudahlah dengan sempurnanya di dalam ini jikalau ada salah pinta tuan2 maaf akan hamba tuan orang tuha lagi mata pun cedera tamat). British Library, MSS Malay D 6, f. 67r  noc

Syair Jaran Tamasa is one of a number of Malay literary works inspired by Javanese tales of Prince Panji, and in its first line introduces itself with the Javanese title Kakawin Jaran Tamasa. As the Indonesian scholar Poerbatjaraka noted, many of the names of characters in the Panji romances bore an animal title such as Bull, Buffalo or Horse, and the name of the eponymous hero of our story, Jaran Tamasa, means 'Horse Affected by the Darkness'. Set at the court of Majapahit in Java, our poem tells of the love between Jaran Tamasa, the youngest of three sons of the vizier Arya Senopati ('Noble Military Commander') who are adopted by the king after their parents’ death, and Ken Lamlam Arsa ('Admiration/Delight of Love/Desire'), who with pleasing symmetry is the youngest of three daughters of Temenggung Singa Angkawa ('Proud Lion'). [1]

Leyden’s papers suggest he spent some considerable time working on the Syair Jaran Tamasa. In his essay ‘On the languages and literature of the Indo-Chinese nations’ first published in 1808 in Asiatick Researches, Leyden discusses Malay works with ‘Javanese relations’, and alongside the Panji stories Hikaiat Chikkil Wunnungputti (i.e. Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati, MSS Malay C 1 is Leyden's copy) and Kilana Perbujaya Cheritra he includes ‘Hikaiat Jarana Tamasa, or the love of adventures of a chieftain of Minjapahit, in Java, composed by Andika’ [2].  The British Library holds a number of Leyden’s manuscript notebooks, and in one (Or. 15936, f. 108v) we find a page headed ‘Jaran Tamasa’ containing explanations of phrases such as ‘Dikichip dunghin ecor mata [i.e. dikecip dengan ekor mata], glance with the tail of the eye’ , evoking the sultry atmosphere of the poem. And in the list of Leyden’s books and manuscripts, purchased after his death by the East India Company, included in item 25 is the ‘History of Tarana (sic) Tamasa, from the Malay’ [3], suggesting that somewhere – albeit presently still unidentified – amongst Leyden’s papers now in the British Library is an English translation of the Malay Syair Jaran Tamasa [4].

The heroine is introduced in Syair Jaran Tamasa: 'The youngest was named Ken Lamlam Arsa / she looked like a royal flower / planted among samandarasa flowers / fit to be worn in the hair of a god' (yang bungsu bernama Ken Lamlam Arsa / Rupanya laksana bunga rajasa / diselang dengan bunga samandarasa / patut disunting dewa angkasa). British Library, MSS Malay B 9, f. 4r  noc

Leyden’s jottings on Jaran Tamasa, including, at top and bottom, the flowers to which Ken Lamlam Arsa is likened: 'Boonga Rijasa - a yellow flower' and 'Boongga semandarasa - a flower of a tree'. British Library, Or. 15936, f. 108v  noc

As far as is known, the two manuscripts in the British Library are the only known copies of Syair Jaran Tamasa, which has never been published. A closer look shows that both Malay scribes appear to have struggled with unfamiliar Javanese names and words. Ken Lamlam Arsa is most likely an error for Ken Lam Arsa, heroine of another Malay Panji story, Hikayat Ratu Anom Mataram, a manuscript of which is held in the National Library of Indonesia (W 135) [5].  Muhammad Bakhar has further transformed the Javanese Arsa (spelled a.r.s) to the (more intuitive and melodious to Malay ears) Rasa (r.a.s). And while John Leyden identifies the author of the poem as Andika, this is actually the Javanese word for 'you' [6], which is written Idika by Ismail in 1804 and Indika in Muhammad Bakhar's copy in 1806.

Muhammad Bakhar was certainly a less accomplished scribe than Ismail; his hand is more stilted and shaky, and he seems to have left out three stanzas, for while in Ismail’s copy there are 1525 stanzas of four lines each, totalling 6100 lines, there are only 6088 lines in Muhammad Bakhar’s. At the end of the manuscript Muhammad Bakhar blames any ensuing mistakes on his age and his ‘failing eyesight’ (mata pun cedera). Poor eyesight must have been an occupational hazard for Malay scribes: on 15 December 1810, Raffles, newly arrived in Melaka, wrote to Leyden in Calcutta: ‘Pray send me a Dozen pair of good Spectacles that all my people may see their way clear – I have had at least half a Dozen broad hints for them’ (Bastin 2003: 51). Muhammad Bakhar's protestations fall well within the range of conventional self-deprecations of Malay scribes (see Braginsky 2002); nevertheless, Raffles should perhaps have sent to Calcutta for spectacles a bit earlier.


[1] With many thanks to Vladimir Braginsky for information on the animal form of names/titles in Panji stories.
[2]  See p.178; in fact, no prose hikayat of this name is known, only the verse form.
[3] The list of Leyden’s collections is published in the Transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society (1911), pp. 55-6, and reproduced in Bastin (2003: 79-83).
[4] See, for example, the excitement generated by the recent 'rediscovery' in the British Library of Leyden's translations of Panjabi literary works.
[5] With many thanks to Gijs Koster for this identification.
[6] With thanks again to Vladimir Braginsky.


John Bastin, John Leyden and Thomas Stamford Raffles. Eastbourne: printed for the author, 2003.
V.I. Braginsky, Malay scribes and their craft and audience (with special reference to the description of the reading assembly by Safirin bin Usman Fadli).  Indonesia and the Malay world, 2002, 30(86): 37-62.
John Leyden, On the languages and literature of the Indo-Chinese nations. Asiatick Researches, 1808, 10: 158-289.

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia  ccownwork 

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Digital access to Malay manuscripts

29 June 2015

Panji stories in Malay

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Stories of the Javanese culture hero Prince Panji probably date from around the 13th century, and mark the development of a truly Javanese literature no longer overshadowed by the great Indian epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Set around the Javanese kingdoms of Kuripan and Daha, the stories tell of Panji’s search for his beloved, Princess Candra Kirana, and his many adventures, undertaken in various disguises and with a range of different names, before the lovers are reunited. During the Majapahit empire from the 14th to 15th centuries the Panji stories became extremely popular, and the figure of Panji is found engraved on temple reliefs (always wearing a distinctive cap on his head), while the Panji tales came to constitute the repertoire of wayang gedog theatrical performances. The British Library holds eight Javanese manuscripts containing Panji stories including Panji Kuda Waneng Pati (Add. 12319), Serat Panji Kuda Narawongsa (Add.12333), Serat Panji Murdaningkung (Add. 12345), Panji Angreni (MSS Jav 17) and the beautifully illustrated Panji Jaya Kusuma (MSS Jav 68), all described in the catalogue by Ricklefs & Voorhoeve.

Or.15026, ff.84v-85r-det
Prince Panji (on the right) hands a letter to his clown-retainers (panakawan) Bancak and Dhoyok, in a Javanese Panji romance, 19th century. British Library, Or. 15026, f.85r (det.)  noc

Panji tales are found not only in the Javanese literary tradition but also in Balinese and Malay, and on the Southeast Asian mainland in Thai, Lao, Khmer and Burmese versions, where the hero-prince is known as Inao (after his main Javanese name, Raden Inu Kartapati). The Panji stories appear to have been translated into Malay at an early date, perhaps in the cosmpolitan port city of Melaka in the 15th century, and influences can be discerned in the Malay texts Sejarah Melayu and Hikayat Hang Tuah. Over a hundred different Panji stories in Malay are known, in numerous manuscripts, many originating from the northern peninsular states of Kelantan and Kedah where wayang (shadow puppet) stories were most popular.


Sketch of Panji, wearing his distinctive rounded cap, found in a Malay manuscript of Hikayat Dewa Mandu, copied in Semarang, 1785. British Library, Add. 12376, f. 219r (det.).

The British Library holds ten Malay manuscripts containing Panji stories or related tales, all of which have now been fully digitised:
MSS Malay C 1, Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati. Under the name Cekel Waneng Pati, Panji undergoes innumerable trials to regain his love Raden Galuh Candra Kirana: he captures the deer with golden antlers, solves riddles, cures Candra Kirana of illness, defeats a black-bearded villain, himself falls ill but is cured by his son Mesa Tandraman who obtains a heavenly flower of blood from a nymph’s bosom, and wins yet more battles before all can finally live happily ever after.
MSS Malay C 2, another copy of Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati, dated 1787.
Or. 11365, possibly another copy of Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati, written on Javanese paper, acquired from Kelantan.
MSS Malay C 3, Hikayat Mesa Tandraman, about the son of Panji, copied in Penang by Ibrahim for Raffles in 1806.
Add. 12380, Syair Mesa Gumitar, about a king of Kuripan, apparently related to the Panji stories.
Add. 12383, Hikayat Carang Kulina.
Add. 12387, Hikayat Mesa Taman Sira Panji Jayeng Pati, written on Javanese paper.
Add. 12391, Hikayat Naya Kusuma, where the hero is named Mesa Susupan Sira Panji Kelana Asmara Pati.
Or. 16446, an unidentified Panji tale, starting with the Maharaja of Jenggala, written on Javanese paper in romanized Malay.
Or. 16447, ff. 89v-91r, a fragment of the Syair Ken Tambuhan, copied in Taiping in 1888.

Opening pages of Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati. British Library, MSS Malay C 1, ff. 1v-2r.  noc

Add_ms_12380_f003v-4r.jpg copy
Opening pages of the Syair Mesa Gumitar. British Library, Add. 12380, ff. 3v-4r.  noc

The seduction scene from Syair Ken Tambuhan, whose name, in this manuscript, is always spelt Ken Tabuhan (Ken Tabuhan terlalai dalam seketika / kainnya terlingsir lalu terbuka / pinggangnya bagai taruk angsuka / Inu mencium melakukan suka). British Library, Or. 16447, f. 89v (det.)  noc

The large number of manuscripts still found today testify to the enduring popularity of Panji stories in the Malay world, but the continuing enjoyment of literature rooted in the pre-Islamic era was never uncontroversial, as graphically demonstrated by the earliest of the Malay Panji manuscripts in the British Library. This is a copy of Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati written by a scribe named Da'ut, possibly in the environs of Kedah, and dated 10 Zulhijah 1201 (23 September 1787). Above the text frames on the opening page on the right is an exhortation to readers not to believe the contents of this story, with a similar comment on the left-hand page addressed to listeners (reflecting the fact that traditional Malay tales were not designed to be read silently by an individual, but were recited aloud to an audience). On a later page the threat posed by this ancient Javanese fantasy tale to Muslim faith is made explicit, and thereafter, the top of every single right-hand page of this manuscript of 151 folios bears the warning: ‘don’t believe this!’ (jangan beriman akan). 

In early 17th-century Aceh, the stern theologian Nuruddin al-Raniri decreed that copies of the Hindu-infused romance Hikayat Inderaputera should be banished for use in the lavatory, and, judging the writings of Shaykh Shamsuddin al-Sumatrani heretical, consigned his books to the flames.  The late 18th-century Malay scribe Da'ut has taken a different and very pragmatic approach, of boldly and visibly plastering his book with spiritual health warnings while leaving the text itself intact, so that those prepared to brave the morally hazardous terrain filled with deities, ogres, cross-dressing princesses and magic potions might venture forth at their own risk.

Opening pages of Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati, prefaced at the top with a strict message to readers and listeners: 'Will all readers please make sure not to take this book to heart because it's really just a pack of lies, and will you also please stress to your listeners on each page that they should not believe it' (Maka hendaklah tuan yang membaca surat ini jangan menaruh iman di dalam hati karena semata sekaliannya itu dusta belaka dan lagi / tuan2 kata akan pada sekalian orang yang menengar surat ini pada tiap2 halai tekan pada mereka itu, jangan beriman akan). British Library, MSS Malay C 2, ff. 1v-2r noc

One full page of the manuscript of Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati is dedicated to a warning about its potential impact on faith: 'Never fail to keep in mind Allah and His Prophet when you read this book; these Javanese stories are a tissue of fantasies, composed simply for amusement by writers whose skills were different from those of people now, and so these tales of olden times just read like nonsense today' (Jangan sekali-sekali lupa akan Allah dan rasulNya pada tatkala membaca surat ini perkataan surat Jawa ini terlalu amat dusta sekali oleh dicandakan orang yang menyurat yang bijaksana orang tetapi bukannya orang pada masa ini dahulu punya perbuatan ini maka orang sekarang ini sedikit2 dicandanya pulak jadilah perpanjanglah kata). British Library, MSS Malay C 2, f. 5r (det.)   noc

At the top of every single right-hand page, there is an appeal to readers not to believe the contents: jangan beriman akan. British Library, MSS Malay C 2, f. 8v (det.)   noc

Further reading:
V.I. Braginsky, The heritage of traditional Malay literature: a historical survey of genres, writings and literary views.  Leiden: KITLV, 2004, pp. 156-175.
Lydia Kieven, Following the Cap-figure in Majapahit temple reliefs: a new look at the religious function of East Javanese temples, 14th and 15th centuries. Leiden: Brill, 2013.
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, A history of classical Malay literature.  Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1977; summary of Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati on pp. 2231-250.

Pameran naskah cerita Panji: Exhibition of Panji manuscripts in Javanese, Balinese and Malay at the National Library of Indonesia, October 2014

Related blog posts: Soother of sorrows or seducer of morals? The Malay Hikayat Inderaputera

With thanks to Lydia Kieven for advice, and for identifying the sketch of Panji above.

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia   ccownwork

12 May 2015

Malay manuscripts on Javanese history

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From 1602 until 1684 - when they were ousted by the Dutch - the English East India Company maintained a ‘factory’ or trading settlement at Banten on the western tip of the island of Java. This lengthy sojourn of over eighty years is notable for the almost complete absence of interest from any EIC official based in Banten in the history and culture of the land on which they were encamped, and not a single Malay manuscript in the British Library can be traced to this period.  In striking contrast, around three hundred Malay, Javanese and Bugis manuscripts - indeed, the majority of Indonesian manuscripts in the British Library - derive from a brief period in the early nineteenth century centred on the British administration of Java from 1811 to 1816.  At the helm of this 'Enlightenment' group, who were inspired by the earlier studies of William Marsden in Bengkulu and the publication in 1784 of his path-breaking History of Sumatra, was Thomas Stamford Raffles, who served as Lieutenant-Governor of Java from 1811 to 1815. Other notable scholar-administrators of this period who accompanied Raffles to Java were John Leyden and John Crawfurd - both of whom had also spent time in Penang - and Colin Mackenzie. With the help of aristocratic local historians such as Kiai Adipati Sura Adimanggala, Regent of Semarang, and Panembahan Nata Kusuma of Sumenep as well as like-minded officials from the earlier Dutch administration including the naturalist Thomas Horsfield, great efforts were put into the collecting of source materials in the form of manuscripts in local languages on history, literature and legal institutions, drawings of archaeological remains and natural history specimens, and surveys of the surrounding countryside. Raffles was able to make swift use of these materials, in part by compiling and quoting wholesale from surveys and reports submitted to him, in his two-volume work The History of Java published in London in 1817.

The cleaning of Candi Sewu, Prambanan, Central Java, by Major H.C. Cornelius, 1807, from the collection of Colin Mackenzie. British Library, WD 957, f.1 (82)  noc

Raffles’s personal collection of manuscripts in Javanese and Malay is today held in the Royal Asiatic Society, but the British Library holds the collections of Crawfurd, Mackenzie and Leyden, as well as a few manuscripts originally owned by Raffles. The majority of the materials collected in Java were naturally in Javanese, but there are also manuscripts in Malay, including some translations from Javanese manuscripts.  Among the Malay manuscripts in the British Library which have just been digitised are several titles on Javanese history, collected and commissioned during the British period in Java. Hikayat Tanah Jawa, ‘Chronicle of the land of Java’, written in Jawi script (MSS Malay D 9), ends following the Second Javanese War of Succession (1719-23) with the death of Pangeran Purbaya (Ricklefs 1994: 87). Two other manuscripts are both in Malay in roman script.  Hikayat Babad (MSS Malay D 8), which according to the colophon was written for Raffles in 1815, mainly concerns Mangkunegara I (r.1757-95), founding ruler of the minor princely house of Surakarta. The third manuscript, Babat Sekander (MSS Eur Mackenzie Private 43), is a Malay translation from the Javanese of the pseudo-history, Serat Baron Sakender, about the coming of the Dutch to Java.  

Opening pages of Hikayat Tanah Jawa. British Library, MSS Malay D 9, ff. 1v-2r   noc

Final lines of Hikayat Tanah Jawa, which ends with the death of Pangeran Purbaya in Batavia (maka Pangeran Purbaya pun kembalilah ke rahmat Allah taala, maka disuruh bawa oleh kompeni akan mayat Pangeran Purbaya itu ka Kartasura, kemudian maka ditanamkan oleh Susunan akan mayat Pangeran Purbaya itu di Kartasura. Demikianlah halnya sampai sekarang ini adanya, tamat, tam.) British Library, MSS Malay D 9, f. 48r (detail)    noc

Closing lines of Hikayat Babat, naming Raffles as the owner (adapoon Ienie hiekaijat Babat die sambarken kapada njang mempoenja hie yaitoe njang die pertoean Besjaar Tomas Stamfort Raffles, Lieuttenant Gouvernoor njang batama darie Goovermijeent England die Noesa Jawa adanja). British Library, MSS Malay D 8, f. 107v (detail)  noc

Opening lines of Babat Sekander, a Malay translation in roman script of a Javanese manuscript of Serat Sakondar (Add. 12289, shown below), this manuscript copied in Surabaya in 1814. British Library, MSS Eur Mackenzie Private 43, f.2r (detail)  noc

Add.12289, ff.2v-3r
Serat Sakondar, the original Javanese version from which the Malay manuscript above of Babat Sekander was translated. British Library, Add. 12289, ff. 2v-3r  noc

Further reading

Theodore G. Th.Pigeaud, Literature of Java.  Catalogue raisonné of Javanese manuscripts in the Library of the University of Leiden and other public collections in the Netherlands.  The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968.
Thomas Stamford Raffles,  The history of Java. London, 1817. [Facsimile reprint, with an introduction by John Bastin. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1965].
M.C. Ricklefs, A history of modern Indonesia since c.1300. (2nd ed.)  Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994.

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia  ccownwork

28 April 2015

Qur’an manuscripts from Java

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The regional origin of an illuminated Qur’an manuscript from Southeast Asia may often be easily detected from the structure, motifs and palette of the decorated double frames that adorn the opening pages and other key locations of the text. Illuminated Qur’ans from Java, however, exhibit such an an extraordinary variety of colours, shapes, forms and patterns that it is not possible to talk about a single ‘Javanese style’ of Qur’anic art. Rather, there appear to be myriad ‘Javanese styles’, which on further investigation may point to links with specific localities within Java, or perhaps certain social, cultural or religious milieux.  

Opening pages of a Qur’an from Java, 18th-early 19th century. British Library, Add. 12312, ff. 1v-2r  noc

It is therefore quite difficult to identify positively a Qur’an manuscript as originating from Java on the basis of illumination alone, although smaller ‘internal’ decorative features such as the shape and colour of verse markers and marginal ornaments may offer conclusive evidence. However, there is one material aspect indicative of a Javanese origin: the use of locally-manufactured Javanese paper or dluwang, made from the beaten bark of the mulberry tree, Broussonetia papyrifera. As noted in an earlier blog post about Malay manuscripts written on Javanese paper, dluwang is technically classified as bark cloth or tapa rather than paper, as it is not made from the dried residue of a water-based solution. There are hints that in earlier periods, perhaps prior to the 18th century, dluwang may have been exported from Java throughout the archipelago or even made locally on other islands, for Qur’ans written on dluwang have been found as far afield as Ternate. But with the increased availability through trade of higher-quality European paper, usage of dluwang outside Java appears to have dwindled. Thus while it should be stressed that Qur’an manuscripts from Java – especially finely-illuminated examples – are also written on European paper, at least from the 18th century onwards the use of dluwang in a Qur’an can be regarded as a reliable indicator of Javanese origin.  

Opening pages of a Qur’an manuscript from Java, 18th-early 19th century. British Library, Add. 12343, ff. 1v-2r  noc

The British Library holds two complete copies of the Qur’an and one manuscript containing a portion of the Qur’an, all from Java and written on dluwang, which have just been digitised.  The two Qur’an manuscripts (Add. 12312 and Add. 12343) are from the collection of John Crawfurd, who served in the British administration of Java as Resident of Yogyakarta from 1811 to 1816. As is usual in most Southeast Asian Qur’ans, both Qur’ans have double decorated frames located at the beginning of the Holy Book enclosing the Surat al-Fatihah on the right-hand page and the Surat al-Baqarah on the left.  In Add. 12312 these frames are quite elaborate, in a simple but striking palette of black and red ink. Add. 12343 is much plainer, but illustrates well a notable structural feature of some Javanese Qur’an manuscripts, namely a marked preference for straight lines, juxtaposing vertical, horizontal and diagonal elements.

One of the most distinctive internal features of some Qur’an manuscripts from Java – whether written on dluwang or European paper – is that each juz’ or thirtieth part of the Qur’anic text is indicated with semi-circular ornaments on the vertical borders of the two facing pages, with the first words of the juz’ highlighted in a variety of ways. In Add. 12312 the precise start of the new juz’ is marked with a vertical stack of three red circles (seen five lines up from the bottom on the right-hand page below), while in Add. 12343 the first word of the juz’ is written in red ink.  

Start of the 2nd juz’ of the Qur’an, indicated in the margins with semicircular ornaments, and in the text with a stack of three red circles, with elaborate marginal 'ayn indicating ruku' divisions. British Library, Add. 12312, ff. 14v-15r  noc

Add_ms_12343_f013r-det  Add_ms_12343_f012v-det
Start of the 3rd juz’ of the Qur’an, with the semicircles inscribed in red, al-juz’ al-thalath / min al-Qur’an al-‘azim, ‘the third thirtieth / of the glorious Qur’an’, with the stylized letter 'ayn  in the margin indicating ruku' divisions. British Library, Add. 12343, f. 12v and f. 13r (details)  noc

In Javanese manuscripts the ruled frames around the text generally comprise a simple arrangement of two, three or four black lines; in Add. 12312, the text frames are triple-ruled black lines, while in Add. 12343 the pages are framed by four lines arranged in two pairs. In both manuscripts the verse markers are red circles, while surah headings are in red ink, with characteristically Javanese decorative multiple knots on the final letters ta and ta marbuta. In the margins the letters ‘ayn indicate the logical breaks between thematically-linked verses in the text where the reader is expected to bow (ruku’).  This feature is common in Qur’an manuscripts from India, but in Southeast Asia is only associated with certain areas, particularly Java and Sulawesi; it is rare to encounter marginal ‘ayn marking ruku’ in Qur’an manuscripts from Aceh or the Malay peninsula. In Add. 12312 the ruku’ positions are further indicated with a pyramidal construction of parallel lines alternately in red and black, surmounted by a finial in black, while in Add. 12343 the start of a ruku’ is indicated with the word awal.

Both manuscripts are undated, but must predate 1816 when Crawfurd left Java. Add.12312 bears a colophon in Arabic and Javanese stating that the manuscript was completed on a Saturday (Saptu) but without a year, while Add. 12343 has an inscription in Javanese identifying its writer as a court official.

Add.12343, own. note
Note identifying the scribe: Puniko seratanipun Abdi Dalem Pengulu Saila[n?], 'This was written by the Court Official Pengulu Saila[n?]' (with thanks to Ali Akbar for this reading). British Library, Add. 12343, f. 1r  noc

The penultimate chapter of the Qur’an, Surat al-Falaq: the scribe has stretched out the letters as much as possible in order to end precisely at the bottom of the page, so that the final chapter, Surat al-Nas, can be placed overleaf in a decorative frame, alongside the repeated first chapter, Surat al-Fatihah, on the facing page. Note the elaborately knotted final letters ta' and ta' marbuta in the surah heading written in red. British Library, Add. 12343, f. 189r (detail)  noc

The final manuscript, IO Islamic 3048, contains only juz’ 23 and 24 of the Qur’an. It is a very simple manuscript, with no verse markers or text frames, and with the surah headings written in black ink.  

Beginning of Surat al-Mu'min (Q.40). British Library, IO Islamic 3048, ff. 18v-19r  noc

Further reading

Colin Baker, Qur'an manuscripts: calligraphy, illumination, design. London: British Library, 2007, pp. 90-91.
A.T. Gallop, The art of the Qur’an in JavaSuhuf, 2012, 5 (2): 215-229.
A.T. Gallop, Islamic manuscript art of Southeast Asia. Crescent moon: Islamic art & civilisation in Southeast Asia, ed. James Bennett.  Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia, 2005, pp.156-183.
Ali Akbar, Khazanah mushaf al-Qur’an Nusantara [Blog on Qur’an manuscripts from Southeast Asia]

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia  ccownwork

10 April 2015

Royal genealogies from Indonesia and the Malay world

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The prestige of a royal house in the Malay archipelago rested in no small part on claims of  descent from illustrious ancestors. At the most deep-rooted level, myths of origin in Malay texts drew on primordial Austronesian beliefs of unity between the earth and sky, symbolised by the marriage between a prince who descended from heaven and a princess from the earth or water, who emerged from a mass of foam or a clump of bamboo (cf. Ras 1970: 81-99). With the coming of Islam, into this chain of descent were introduced powerful figures from the Islamic pantheon, pre-eminently the great hero Iskandar Zulkarnain (Alexander the Great), as well as the first man, Adam, and the Raja of ‘Rum’, as the Ottoman lands were known in the east. These ahistorical genealogies are found in court chronicles such as the Hikayat Raja Pasai, Sulalat al-Salatin or Sejarah Melayu recounting the origins of the sultanate of Melaka, the Hikayat Banjar from southern Borneo, and Hikayat Jambi from east Sumatra, preceding the more factual elements of the texts.  

In the Sejarah Melayu, the sultans of Melaka are said to be descended from the union of Raja Iskandar (Zulkarnain) and the daughter of Raja Kidi Hindi. In this episode, Nabi Khidir marries the couple according to Islamic rites and asks Raja Iskandar if he agrees to the dowry of 300,000 gold dinars (‘Bahwa sudahlah hamba kahwinkan anak Raja Kidi Hindi yang bernama Syahral Bariah dengan Raja Iskandar, adapun isi kahwinnya tiga ratus ribu dinar emas 300,000, ridakah tuan hamba?’ Maka sahut Raja Iskandar, ‘Ridalah hamba’). British Library, Or. 14734, f.4v (detail)  noc

As well as depictions in prose, royal genealogies or silsilah are occasionally visualised as charts or diagrams, as found in three recently digitised Malay manuscripts depicting the ancestry of the royal houses of central Java (Or. 15932), of the kingdom of Pajajaran in west Java (MSS Malay F 1), and of Luwu’ in south Sulawesi (MSS Malay D 13). Artistically the most impressive is a genealogy in the form of a tree tracing the descent of the kings of Java, starting with Adam, placed in the roots of the tree, and ending in the outermost leaves with Sasunan Pakubuwana keempat (Pakubuwana IV of Surakarta) and Mataram keempat (Sultan Hamengkubuwana IV of Yogyakarta). The genealogy is found at the end of a volume containing the work Papakĕm Pawukon, containing an illustrated description of the 30 wuku of the Javanese calendrical tradition. The manuscript, in Javanese and in Malay in Jawi script, was written in Bogor in the Javanese year 1742 (AD 1814/5). It is said to be from Kyai Suradimanggala, Bupati sĕpuh of Dĕmak, who was one of Thomas Stamford Raffles’s closest friends and informants in Java.

Genealogy of the Javanese kingdoms, from Adam to Pakubuwana IV of Surakarta and Hambengkubuwana IV of Yogyakarta (Adapun ini suatu masyal pohon riwayat tahta kĕrajaan tanah Jawa). British Library, Or. 15932, f.72r  noc

Little is known of the early history of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdom of Pajajaran in the Sundanese region of west Java, which was conquered by Muslim Banten in ca. 1579 (Ricklefs 1994: 38). A manuscript chart (MSS Malay F 1), just over a metre long, contains a genealogy written in romanised Malay starting with the legendary founder of Pajajaran, Prabu Siliwangi, and continuing through Suhunan Gunung Jati of Cirebon, one of the nine sages (wali) believed to have brought Islam to Java, to 'Pangeran Adipati Moehamad Djamoedin Aloeda' son of 'Pangeran Radja Nataningrat wakil Soeltan Sepoeh [of Cirebon] taoen 1880'. The list was probably written in the 1890s.  

First entries in the royal genealogy from west Java, starting with Prabu Siliwangi of Pajajaran, a MS chart in romanised Malay, ca. 1890s.  British Library, MSS Malay F 1 (detail, top)  noc

A third manuscript genealogy, like the west Javanese one above presented from top to bottom, but in this case written in Malay in Jawi script, is labelled 'Succession of the Datus of Luwu' (MSS Malay D 13) and contains the descent of the rulers of Luwu’, the oldest and most prestigious kingdom in south Sulawesi (see OXIS below). The genealogy starts with Orang Manurung and continues through 26 generations to Matinru ri Sabang Paru whose daughter married Sultan Nuh of Soppeng (r.1782-1820).

Genealogy of the rulers of Luwu' in South Sulawesi. British Library, MSS Malay D 13  noc

Perhaps the most grandiose narration of descent of a Malay royal house is depicted in a manuscript held not in the British Library, but in the Library of School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). This is an early 20th century  genealogy of the ruling houses of pre-Islamic Persia, the Malay sultanates and Turkey, joined by their common ancestor Yapit, son of Nabi Nuh (Noah). The left-hand branch shows the descent of the sultans of Johor and Perak from Iskandar Zulkarnain and the kings of Persia and Melaka. The right-hand branch shows the Turkish line, through mythical rulers to the Seljuks and Ottomans, ending with Sultan Abdülhamid II (r.1876-1909). This genealogy was published in the photographic exhibition Islam, Trade and Politics across the Indian Ocean, exploring links between the Ottoman empire and Southeast Asia.

Genealogy of the sultans of Perak and Johor, early 20th c. Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, MS 40334

Further reading

J.J. Ras, Hikajat Bandjar: a study in Malay historiography.  The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968. (Bibliotheca Indonesica; 1).

M.C. Ricklefs, A history of modern Indonesia since c.1300. (2nd ed.)  Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994.

OXIS (Origins of Complex Society in Sulawesi) project: website with many links to publications concerning Luwu' and other early Sulawesi kingdoms

Annabel Teh Gallop, Lead Curator, Southeast Asia  ccownwork