Leiden library urged to return Indonesian ancient manuscripts

... believed to be the oldest Javanese manuscripts... "
Solo, Central Java (ANTARA News) - The Javanology Institute of the Sebelas Maret University (UNS) in Solo has continuously been seeking ways to get ancient Javanese manuscripts now kept in a Library in Leiden, the Netherlands, back to the country.

These are believed to be the oldest Javanese manuscripts dating back to before the advent of Islam to Indonesia.

The texts are stored in such forms as inscriptions, metal, temple reliefs, papyrus boat, bones, and bamboo, said Chairman of the Javanology Institute of UNS Solo, Sahid Widodo, here Wednesday.

Widodo said that returning the manuscripts to Indonesia is not easy.

"We continue to make efforts to get them back. We have sent a letter to one of professors there. We've tried to send people who can take care of it, and it is not easy. The library has been closed, and it cannot be accessed by anyone," he said.

Currently, Sahid said that an envoy from the university, Susanto, who is also a lecturer of the Faculty of Literature and Fine Arts (FSSR), is still in Leiden in connection with the efforts.

Besides, the institute will also will seek efforts through diplomatic channels, he said.

"We will also use diplomatic channels. We also have asked former Indonesian Information Minister Harmoko and the House of Representatives so they can make an effort through the KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies) or directly to Leiden for the purpose," he said.

The UNS Javanologi Institute will seek to obtain copies of the manuscripts. By having copies of the manuscripts the institute may be developed into an international Javanology study center in the future that can contribute to studies, as an information center and tutoring.

Meanwhile, the university is now building a Rp35 billion worth Javanology building on a total area of 3,500 square meters, planned to consist of four floors with the ground floor to be used for a museum and the floor above it as a manuscript library to save ancient texts, amounting to tens of thousands.

"The Manuscript Library has a concept different from that in the book library this library needs 24 hour-long steady air conditioning to prevent damages," he said.