Javanese Manuscripts from Yogyakarta Digitisation Project

A Javanese manuscript with lavishly illuminated frames in red, blue and gold surrounding the text.
Serat Jaya Lengkara Wulang, the tale of a wandering prince, Yogyakarta, 1803. British Library, MSS Jav 24, ff. 2v-3r.

With the generous support of Mr S P Lohia, in 2018 the British Library digitised 75 Javanese manuscripts from Yogyakarta.

Published date:


During the British administration of Java (1811-1816) led by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, in June 1812, British forces attacked the palace of Yogyakarta in central Java.  The court was ransacked, and the manuscripts from the royal library were divided between Raffles and two other senior British officials, John Crawfurd and Colin Mackenzie. 

In the 1970s, Dr Peter Carey of Trinity College, Oxford, began a project to trace all the manuscripts originating from the court of Yogyakarta still held in British collections, with the assistance of Dr. Merle Ricklefs of SOAS.  75 Javanese manuscripts were located in the British Library in the Crawfurd and Mackenzie collections, comprising 61 manuscripts almost certainly from the palace library of Yogyakarta, and 14 other manuscripts possibly also originating from the court. 

Scope of the project

Following discussions with the Libraries and Archives Board of Yogyakarta and the palace of Yogyakarta, digitisation of this collection was prioritised by the British Library, and was enabled in 2017 through the generous pledge of support of Mr S P Lohia.  On 20 March 2018 Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X ofYogyakarta visited the British Library to launch the Javanese Manuscripts from Yogyakarta Digitisation Project. Over the next twelve months the 75 Javanese manuscripts were conserved, photographed, checked and finally published online through the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts website. On completion of the project, at a ceremony at the Palace of Yogyakarta on 7 March 2019, complete sets of the 30,000 digital images were presented by the British Ambassador to Indonesia, H.E. Moazzam Malik, to Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, and also to to the National Library of Indonesia, and the Libraries and Archives Service of Yogyakarta. 

A group of six people in Indonesian tops standing and smiling.

Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X of Yogyakarta welcomes the news of the Javanese Manuscripts from Yogykarta Digitisation Project, to be funded by Mr S.P. Lohia, in Yogyakarta, 7 November 2017. From right: S.P. Lohia, British Ambassador Moazzam Malik, Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, Peter Carey, Rachel Malik, Budi Wibowo.

Further information

Annabel Teh Gallop, The Javanese Manuscripts from Yogyakarta Digitisation Project, SEALG Newsletter, Dec. 2020, 52: 36-61.

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