10,000 Ancient Scripts to Go Digital


A new programme will scan and digitally store 10,000 ancient Balinese manuscripts this year, as part of the provincial government’s plan to safeguard religious and social texts currently only held on lontar (leaf) scrolls.

The documents to be data-based in 2011 include most of the Ramayana story, the Usadha (treatment techniques) and lontar scripts describing Hindu life philosophy.

American academic Ron Jenkins, professor of theatre at the Wesleyan University and an acknowledged expert on Indonesian culture, is providing advice on the project.

Jenkins, who was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship in 2007 for an Indonesian translation project, has written extensively on Balinese art in collaboration with artists Nyoman Catra and Nyoman Gunarsa.

The head of the office of Balinese culture, Ketut Suastika, said when announcing the project last Thursday that it was also aimed at introducing the literary heritage of Bali to the world.

The digital records to be established will also provide the scripts in Balinese, Bahasa Indonesia and English as well as the original Sanskrit.

“We can then make better use of the material and also safeguard it because palm leaf scrolls are very fragile,” he said.

The material will be available online.

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