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25 Apr 2019

Getting to Know the Treasure of Ancient Sundanese Manuscripts

Medan Merdeka Selatan, Jakarta—Ancient Sundanese alphabets were developed in West Java during 14th – 18th century. Ancient Sundanese alphabets is the development of Pallawa Alphabets which reached modification level of its distinctive form as used on palm manuscripts in 16th century.

Ancient Sundanese manuscripts were developed before the coming of Islam. Ancient Sundanese manuscripts are commonly found on gebang leaf – a type of palm leaf but thinner. It is thinner than Kakawin Arjuna Wiwaha. The writing on gebang leaf manuscript used knife by scraping.

Many ancient Sundanese manuscripts were found in Kabuyutan Cilegon – donations from Raden Toemenggoong Soeria Kerta Adhi Ningrat or R.A.A. Wiranatakusumah IV in period 1846-1874. Currently, ancient Sundanese manuscripts from Kabuyutan Cilegon is preserved at National Library. Many ancient Sundanese manuscripts were also found in Kabuyutan Ciburuy as many as 27 manuscripts, Kabuyutan Koleang – now also stored at National Library, and Kabuyutan Gunung Sagara as many as five manuscripts according to R.A.A. Tjondronegoro in 1884.

“In fact, I am challenging anyone if there are people who say that most of Ancient Sundanese manuscripts are in Europe,” explained Sundanese philologist from National Library, Aditya Gunawan, at Seminar of Unveiling the Treasure of Ancient Sundanese Manuscripts at National Library on Thursday (25/4).

Aditya continued that the number of Ancient Sundanese manuscripts in Indonesia reached 90 percent. A total of 63 manuscripts are stored and preserved by National Library, 23 manuscripts are in Kabuyutan Ciburuy. Meanwhile, at Leiden University, Netherlands, only one manuscript is stored.

The gathering of Ancient Sundanese manuscripts is inseparable from a number of names, among others, Elisa Netscher, A.B. Cohen Stuart (1825-1876), I.E.G Brummund (1814-1863), Raden Saleh (1814-1880), Karel Frederik Holle (1829-1899), C.M. Plytc (1863-1917), Jan Laurens Andries Brandes (1875-1905), J. Noorduyn, and Atja. “They can be considered as pioneers, opening the way for the gathering of ancient Sundanese manuscripts,” added Aditya.  

 

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