- Malay Manuscripts from the British Library
Malay Manuscripts from the British Library
Malay manuscripts serve as an important source of understanding the intellectual and literary heritage of the Malays. The manuscripts cover a wide range of subjects, such as history, religion, law, culture, folklore and legends. Some of these works were later re-published in printed format when printing was introduced first in Java then Penang, Malacca and Singapore in the 19th century.
The British Library holds a significant number of Malay manuscripts written in Jawi script, mostly on literature, history and law, dating from the 17th to the late 19th centuries. Highlights from the collection include the oldest known copy of the Malay history, the Hikayat Raja Pasai, as well as a number of important titles of Malay literary heritage such as copies of Hikayat Hang Tuah, Sejarah Melayu, Taj al-Salatin, Undang-undang Melaka and Adat Aceh.
The British Library also holds an important collection of Malay diplomatic letters and legal documents written in Malay, such as the Proclamation of the Capture of Batavia by the British (1811), bearing the signature of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.
These manuscripts, letters and documents are now being digitised and published on the BookSG website. The digitisation of these materials is part of an ongoing collaborative project between the British Library and the National Library Board. Generously funded by William and Judith Bollinger, the project will digitise Singapore-related materials from the British Library and provide full digital coverage of these materials. The aim of the project is to improve access and to promote new research into these materials.
More digitised manuscripts will be made available in due course via the BookSG site as the project progresses.
The images will also be available on the British Library's Digitised Manuscripts online (search on keywords 'Malay' or 'Jawi').
[Kitab pengajaran] (1700 / 1799)
Unidentified text, in Malay in Jawi script. Begins: Bahwa ini kitab pengajaran pada segala orang sekalian. Broken into several pasal and bahagian.
A letter in Malay giving an account of a conversion to Christianity (1800 / 1888)
‘A letter in Malay giving an account of a conversion to Christianity’, in Malay in Jawi script.Autobiographical statement by a Malay living in Kampung Boyan (Singapore) on his conversion, seemingly written at the behest of a missionary (addressed as ‘tuan’). Begins: Bahwa ini peringatan sahaya awal mula sahaya mendengar pelajaran tuan.
A Panji story, probably Hikayat Cekel Waneng Pati (1800 / 1899)
Panji story, in Malay in Jawi script. There has been considerable damage and restoration; much of the MS is badly soiled, and the first 3 ff. are illegible. On f.52 v are Javanese wayang figures.
Adat Aceh (1815 / 1830)
Adat Aceh, in Malay in Jawi script. Apparently copied from Edinburgh University Library manuscript New College 132, but lacking pp.25 and 26 of the Edinburgh MS. Contents:A: ff.3v-26v. Mābain al-salāṭīn, perintah segala Raja-raja. Ascribed to Ismā’īl bapa Aḥmad. Advice to kings, divided into 31 majlis; the end of majlis 5 to the first part of majlis 24 is missing.B: ff.28r-29v. A list of 37 Sultans of Aceh.C: ff.31r-47v. Silsilah segala raja-raja yang jadi kerajaan dalam Aceh bandar Darussalam. ...
Babat Sekandar (1814)
Babat Sekandar, in Malay in Romanized script. This is apparently a Malay translation of Javanese manuscript Add. 12289, Serat Sekandar, a version of the Baron Sakender stories. Mss Eur Mackenzie Private 43 lacks the final canto of Add. 12289, and seems to contain many misreadings of the original Javanese manuscript. Said to have been 'copied at Surabaya Febry 1814'. At the beginning it is described as the property of the 'Toean Gezaghebber' [John Crawfurd?] and it is dated Alip A.J. 1731 (A.D. 1...
Caritra Rama (1812)
'Rama Charitra, in the Malayan Language', in Romanized Malay. Incomplete at end. Many Javanisms in the Malay. On f.5r: 'gecopieerd door H. Jansz.'; f.3r: 'copied at Suribaija [Surabaya], Feby 1812'.
Collection of hikayat (1805)
Collection of four hikayat, in Malay in Jawi script. A: ff. 1v-80r: Hikayat Muhammad Hanafiah. This was MS 'F' in Brakel, 1975. First two pages (ff. 1v-2r) set in wide borders. According to the colophon on f.80r, the MS was copied by Mahmud ibn Husain on Tuesday (malam Arba') 14 Syaaban 1220 (7 November 1805).B: ff. 81v-145r. Hikayat Syahi Mardan. Dated at the end on f. 145r '122' i.e. 1220 (1805/6). Copied in the same hand as A and C.C: ff. 146r-169v. Hikayat Pelanduk Jenaka. Copied in the same...
Collection of three syair and one hikayat (1806)
Four texts in Malay in Jawi script.A: ff.1v-18v. Syair orang berbuat amal, narrative verse on the obligations of Islam. Written in Kedah by Fakir Dar al-Aman (see f.1v).B: ff.20r-36r. Syair Silambari, concerning the conflict between a Portuguese and a Chinese over a woman. Decorated initial pages, with rectangular black and red frames filled with trailing lotus flowers in black ink (ff.22v-23r), and decorated tailpiece at end (f.36r). Colophon on f.36r states that this MS was copied by Ibrahim o...
Compendium of Arabic texts, from Tiro, Aceh (1800 / 1899)
Compendium of Arabic texts, from Tiro, Aceh.Contents:ff.1r-2r: Ilm al-mantiq, author describes himself as ‘abid al-rahman. In Arabic, poetical text using the rajaz metre on logic; incomplete. 7 lines per page; lacking beginning; colophon on f.2r gives date of copying as Muharam 1309 (August 1891 AD). ff.2v-9r: al-Barahin, anonymous short text on logic, consisting of two parts, fasal fi al-mufradat, dan fasal fi al-murakkabat. In Arabic.f.10v: fragment of [first?] text in Arabic, 7 lines, upside ...
Compendium of texts in Arabic and Malay (1800 / 1899)
Compendium of texts in Arabic and Malay in Jawi script. ff.1r-42v: Arabic text on wahdat al-wujud, the doctrine of seven grades of being, with brief marginal explanations in Malay, with some diagrams and tables; incomplete.ff.43r-55v: Text in Arabic.ff.56r-58r: Fragments in Arabic.ff.58v-59v. Prayer in Arabic, with explanation in Malay. ff.60r-61r: Prayer in Arabic, followed by commentary in Malay (adapun doa ini aqsam al-‘azim namanya), for invulnerability.ff.61v-79r: Text in Arabic.ff.80r-95v:...