Oldest Malay manuscript identified in Sumatra
Scholars from around the world gathered in Jakarta in December to attempt translation of a 700-year-old Malay manuscript rediscovered by a Minoa archaeologist and philologist.
Assistant Professor of Indonesian Uli Kozok found the 34-page legal code in a Sumatran village in 2002, where it had been seen but not pursued by a Dutch scholar 61 years earlier.
Recorded in Malay with a few sentences of Sanskrit on bark paper from the paper mulberry tree, the Tanjung Tanah document was radiocarbon dated to the 14th century, making it the oldest known Malay manuscript.
With funding from the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, UH and the Yayasan Pernaskahan Nusantara foundation are coordinating translation, publication and preservation of the document. A replica will be placed in the Indonesian national library and the original returned to its home village.
[Source: Malamalama: The Light of Knowledge, The Magazine of the University of Hawaii System, January 2005]