Old Indonesian manuscripts located in Netherlands

Old Indonesian manuscripts located in Netherlands

Photo document of old Indonesian manuscript. (ANTARA/Fanny Octavianus)

"There are a lot of old Indonesian manuscripts overseas."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Around 26,000 old Indonesian manuscripts are currently held in the library of Leiden University in the Netherlands, Indonesian National Library spokesperson Sri Sulasih said here on Monday.

Sulasih pointed out that the 26.000 is not nearly the amount of manuscripts in total.

"There are a lot of old Indonesian manuscripts overseas. The figure of 26,000 is in the Netherlands alone, not including the other historical documents located in England, Malaysia and other countries," she says.

The amount found in Netherlands is quite a large collection because the Indonesian national library only managed to acquire 103 old manuscripts.

With that being said, the Indonesian documents found in Leiden is 2.5 times the amount of documents found in Indonesia.

"We are finding it hard to return the manuscripts to Indonesia because the library overseas have obtained these historical documents by buying them, which means that they have already invested in its worth," Sulasih said.

According to her, the Leiden University has only given Indonesia one manuscript, which proved to be fake, and kept the real one in their library. " There needs to be a substantial amount of money to buy the real authentic manuscript," she says.

Now, Indonesian manuscripts cannot be obtained easily by libraries overseas.

Sulasih says that most libraries will ask the country of where the old documents came from, prior to purchasing them. This is a way to identify if said documents were stolen or not.

Meanwhile, according to Sulasih, the Indonesian national library is trying to gather all the historical manuscripts, that are spread across the Indonesian region.

"We ask for community libraries to collect historical notes, or even buy them if they have to," she says.

Sulasih also says that the Indonesian national library in Salemba currently holds 1 million books, 10.300 old manuscripts and 80.000 rare books.

Although the numbers sound pretty high, the Indonesian library does not compare to the British Library in England, which holds 14 million books, 920.000 journals and 3 million voice recordings.