Indonesian Manuscripts

The Indonesian manuscript collection at the Bodleian Library dates from 1627, when Andrew James, a brother of the Bodleian's first librarian, Thomas James, donated two manuscripts "brought from some part of the East Indies", one in Old Sundanese and the other in Old Javanese. The Old Sundanese manuscript, James's gift of 1627 - Bujangga Manik, MS. Jav. b. 3 (R), appears here on Digital Bodleian. The Old Javanese manuscript given by James, MS. Jav. b. 1 (R), is a treatise on Hindu-Buddhist doctrines.

A manuscript in archaic Modern Javanese was donated two years later in 1629 by the 3rd Earl of Pembroke, containing the story of the legendary exploits of Amir Hamzah (MS Jav. b. 2 (R)). Another early donor was Archbishop Laud. Among his gifts to the Bodleian was a single Balinese palmleaf, seemingly a record of an IOU, given to the library in 1635 (MS. Laud Or. Rolls a.1).

From these beginnings, the Indonesian collection has gone on to include manuscripts in Balinese, Batak, Makasarese and Sasak and totals 30 entries in Ricklefs, M. N., and Voorhoeve, P. (1977), Indonesian manuscripts in Great Britain, the standard catalogue. Another excellent introduction to Indonesian and Malay manuscripts in the United Kingdom can be found in Gallop (1991), Golden letters: writing traditions of Indonesia.