Organizer: Timothy E. Behrend, University of Auckland
Chair: Ann Kumar, Australian National University
Discussant: Alan Feinstein, Leiden University
Due to a fortuitous convergence of funding, preservation, and academic interests, a number of scholars are currently working on the manuscript traditions of Indonesia. In some cases this entails descriptive work that is making the outlines of these traditions generally available for the first time. In other, relatively more well-known areas, new approaches to the materials are contributing to the reshaping of historical and literary knowledge of quite disparate peoples and periods in the archipelago. The purpose of this panel is to provide an overview of the types of work currently being pursued, emphasizing a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches, and representing four quite different traditions of Indonesian writing. All presentations will be illustrated by slides.
Contending Voices of Reason and Passion: Prose and Verse in the Malay Manuscript
Ian Proudfoot, Australian National University
This presentation will explore deployments of the two principal modes of verbal expression captured and conveyed through the Malay manuscript tradition: that is, of prose and verse. A series of questions will be posed: How far is it valid to see prose as providing the rhetoric of reason (akal), and verse the rhetoric of passion (nafsu)? How do the discourses of prose and verse compete and complement each other? Can we re-construct a rhetorical economy by examining the deployment of these voices? How do these voices color arenas of meaning and/or experience?
Moving beyond the text as a verbal construct, we may further enquire how these voices are given physical representation in the manuscript tradition. Here the patterns of filled and empty space, graphic form, color, decoration, and shape may all contribute. These may be appreciated not only as qualities of a manuscript's physiognomy or codicological character, but also as attributes of the manuscript operating as the medium for a voice or voices. Such attributes impinge upon how the texts were read in the multiple senses of that word (physiological, intellectual, and social). The presentation will focus on evidence from the nineteenth century Singapore-Riau area.
On Writing the Not-To-Be-Read: Material Components of Textual Magic Among the
Uli Kozok, University of Auckland
This presentation will focus on the literary tradition of Batak laments. My research suggests that literacy in the precolonial Bataklands was far more widespread than is generally assumed, and that knowledge of the Batak script only declined after the introduction of Islam, Christianity, and Western education in the region. As has been observed among the Lampung people of South Sumatra, the extent of literacy in this society can be explained by the importance of written love poetry in courting rituals. The same seems to be true in the case of the Batak where richly ornamented bamboo tobacco and betel lime containers engraved with love lamentations were given to the beloved as a tanda, a proof of affection.
The literary lamentation tradition of the Batak is unique, for it lacks certain "essential" characteristics normally associated with popular literacy: laments were not written down in order to be passed on, for example, and they were not performed or otherwise uttered and repeated. They formed instead a culturally unreadable-or not to-be-read-literature. This unusual circumstance is best explained by examining the magic function of writing among the Batak. The subversion of lamentations qua literature by lamentations qua material components in the working of spells, undermined their verbal, linguistic, and literary characteristics. They became fragmented, often reduced to only a few lines or essential words from the opening formula. In the process these vestigial lamentations were transformed into charms of protective magic used to ward off bad fortune, illness and even the hostile flight of bullets.
An Overview of Islamic Texts in the Bugis Literary Tradition
Roger Tol, Royal Institute of Anthropology and Linguistics, Netherlands
Islam has quite naturally played an important role in the life of the Bugis people since its introduction to South Sulawesi around the beginning of the 17th century. This is reflected in numerous products of the Bugis writing tradition. Many texts deal with Islamic matters, ranging from short magico-mystical formulas to full-fledged tracts on Islamic law. Some contain stories adapted directly from the wellsprings of Islamic literary heritage, such as versions of the story of Lukman al-Hakim. Others contain similar works in Bugis filtered through the Malay tradition, such as the Bustan as-Salātīn and the Tāj as-Salātīn.
These texts may fill entire manuscripts or appear as parts of compound manuscripts written in both Arabic and Bugis scripts. It is also common that one or two pages of an otherwise secular manuscript have been used for jottings on Islamic belief, be it the profession of faith, a prayer, prayer techniques, or short magic diagrams and magic formulae of an Islamic cast.
Even in the present day lithographed texts in Bugis and Arabic on various Islamic matters are very common in Bugis society. In fact, for all intents and purposes, contemporary Bugis literature exclusively deals with Islamic topics. Also, these products may be considered as the last remnants of the indigenous Bugis writing tradition. In my contribution I will explore the formal characteristics, range and functions of Bugis Islamic writings with particular attention to these contemporary lithographed texts.
Encyclopedism, Systematics, Prescriptivism in Javanese Intellectual History:
Suryanagara's Compleat Illuminator and Mid-Nineteenth Century Yogyakarta Manuscript
Timothy E. Behrend, University of Auckland
Only the most sputtering and desultory of attempts have yet been made to comment on Javanese intellectual history. Until now, in fact, whatever contributions have been made to intellectual history, as with so much else dealing with Javanese culture, have largely been a byproduct of the textual investigations of Dutch philologists.
One promising idea with relevance to this field was first serendipitously hinted at by Pigeaud who spoke of an "encyclopedic spirit" prevalent in the period of the Surakarta "classical renaissance." This idea has recently been developed by Marc Perlman, writing about gendhing notation, into a theory postulating that the encyclopedism and systematization of thought found so prevalently in mid-nineteenth century Javanese works of all sorts might represent a reorganization of Javanese science in response to Dutch intellectual influence.
My paper will test Perlman's ideas in one of the great preserves of Javanese tradition, namely the princely and royal court scriptoria during the heyday of manuscript illumination in Yogyakarta. During this period Pangeran Suryanagara, a writer and patron of book arts, assembled a prescriptivist list of rules and styles for scribes to follow in illuminating their work. I will describe the textual and chirographic contexts in which this work appeared, compare it to other prescriptivist works and general literary and intellectual trends of the period, and draw general conclusions about Perlman's theories concerning this liminal period in Javanese intellectual history