Digitising Malay writing in Sri Lanka – Endangered Archives Program


EAP609 : Digitising Malay writing in Sri Lanka – Endangered Archives Program (British Library)

Dr Ronit Ricci, The Australian University
Archival partner: National Archives of Sri Lanka
Project Overview

This project aims to create a digital archive of Malay writing (including manuscripts, printed books, letters, other documents) held in private collections in Sri Lanka. Written for the most part in Arabic script (but also in the Roman, Tamil and Sinhala scripts) by descendants of exiles, convicts, and soldiers from the Indonesian archipelago and the Malay Peninsula between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, these rare and fragile documents attest to social and cultural aspects of the community’s life, allow for an expansion of our definitions of the ‘Malay World,’ and provide insight into local forms of Islam. There is urgent need to document and preserve such collections, endangered not only by tropical weather and the ravages of time, but also by their owners’ lack of knowledge in archival preservation and a contemporary ignorance regarding the manuscripts’ content and significance …

The project will result in the creation of a digital archive freely available to all. Copies will be accessible via the National Archives of Sri Lanka, the British Library and the library at the Australian National University.

Project Outcome

The project encompasses a range of materials written in the Malay language, in Sri Lanka, from around the mid 19th century to the late 20th century. It includes manuscipts, printed books, prayer booklets, wedding invitations, personal letters, family records, poems and songs. These diverse materials testify to the variety of ways in which Malay was, and is, used in Sri Lanka. The majority of older materials are Islamic in nature, including theological manuals, poems in praise of the Prophet, and tales and histories written in the hikayat genre. These are written in gundul (Malay-Arabic script) and/or romanised Malay. The collection also includes modern examples of Malay written in the Tamil and Sinhala script, as well as older materials in Arabic and Arabu-Tamil owned by Malay families, testifying to the lingusitic and orthographic diversity of the community’s writing practices.

Plus d’information sur : http://eap.bl.uk/database/overview_project.a4d?projID=EAP609;r=41

Voir les textes : http://eap.bl.uk/database/results.a4d?projID=EAP609;r=41