New Catalogues of Indonesian Manuscripts
By Dick van der Meij
E.P. Wieringa, Catalogue of Malay and Minangkabau Manuscripts in the Library of Leiden University and other Collections in the Netherlands: Volume One comprising the acquisitions of Malay manuscripts in Leiden University Library up to the year 1896, Leiden University Library: Legatum Warnerianum, 1998, 608 pp. ISBN 0169-8672.
T.E. Behrend dan Titik Pudjiastuti, Katalog Induk Naskah-Naskah Nusantara Jilid 3-A, 3-B: Fakultas Sastra Universitas Indonesia. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia/Ecole Française d'Extrême Orient, 1997, 1160 pp. ISBN 979-461-275-8.
Interest in texts from the Indonesian Archipelago has never faded. They have been studied ever since the first interested scholars appeared in the field in the nineteenth century, and at present, editions are still being prepared and published. Finding the way in the many collections in the world has often been hampered by lack of the basic tools for searching: catalogues. Luckily, librarians and institutions concerned with Indonesian studies have always understood that catalogues are an essential part of the scholarly tradition of text exploration. Just as the methods of text editing have changed over the years, so has the method of cataloguing them. It is no longer sufficient to just list the manuscript by title and shelf number, nowadays the average scholar expects to find much more information and details.
Catalogues such as the vast four volume catalogue of Javanese Manuscripts in the Library of Leiden University and other collection in the Netherlands compiled by Th.G.Th. Pigeaud (1967-1980) contain a wealth of information on the text level, but not on the manuscript level. Details as to material (paper, palm leaf), measurements and such are found in them, but other details such as watermarks are not. Details on texts, however are. Since a catalogue is primarily concerned with texts and manuscripts, they now tend to offer information in detail on both.
The catalogue compiled by Wieringa has taken quite a few years to compile and the result is marvellous. Detailed descriptions of all manuscripts, references to other catalogues and places in secondary literature, as well as many illustrations of the manuscripts concerned has turned this book into an indispensable tool for scholars interested in Malay and Minangkabau texts and manuscripts. Also the inclusion of letters written in Malay make this book ever more attractive. Volume one contains manuscripts up to the year 1896. Other volumes of manuscripts acquired after that date I hope will appear in the near future.
The two volumes of catalogues of the University of Indonesia are a major achievement of Behrend and Pudjiastuti and their vast team of co-editors. All the manuscripts in many different languages have been described in detail and elegant illustrations of illuminations found in the manuscripts make this book even more attractive.
Both catalogues are augmented by detailed indexes and references to make them easily accessible.