Thursday, December 19, 2013

International Recognition Brings Babad Diponegoro Into Spotlight

Indonesia is proud that Babad Diponegoro has been included in the Memory of the World Register by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because the heritage documentary truly deserves the honor.

Babad Diponegoro, or Autobiographical Chronicle of Prince Diponegoro, is a beautifully written poetic masterpiece by Prince Diponegoro, who was not just a national hero but also a genius, Javanese mystic, pious Muslim, and leader of the "Holy War" against the Dutch in Java between 1825 and 1830. 

Last year, the proposal was submitted to UNESCO by Indonesias National Library and the Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-Land-en Volkenkunde (KITLV) or Royal Institute of Linguistics, State, and Anthropology of the Netherlands. 

The 1,151-folio chronicle was jointly proposed by the two countries as the original manuscripts are kept in Holland, and a copy in Indonesia, according to the KITLV Jakarta Director Roger Tol. 

"This is a self-memoir by one of the key figures in Indonesias modern history. This is also the first ever autobiography in modern Javanese literature and shows extraordinary sensitivity towards local conditions and experiences," UNESCO stated.

Prince Diponegoro was born as Raden Mas Ontowiryo in Yogyakarta, Central Java, on November 11, 1785. He was the eldest son of Sultan Hamengkubuwono III, the King of Mataram Kingdom. 

The Javanese nobleman and devout Muslim had opposed the Dutch during their colonial rule. He had given up his throne and decided to fight against colonialism. 

The leader of the five-year struggle against the Dutch, also known as the Java War (1825-30), had rallied a uniquely broad cross-section of Javanese society against the colonial state. 

The Java War had inflicted the greatest loss to the Dutch on Java, with the colonial rulers losing an estimated 15 thousand soldiers and 20 million gulden. 

Prince Diponegoro was captured by the Dutch during a ceasefire negotiation, after which he was exiled to Sulawesi Island. He was first sent to North Sulawesi and then moved to Makassar, South Sulawesi, where he died on January 8, 1855.

The Prince wrote the autobiographical chronicle during his exile in North Sulawesi between May 1831 and February 1832. Among other things, it features the princes points of view on national and religious leadership.

"It is amazing that the Babad Diponegoro chronicle, with its hundreds of pages, was written in just nine months by Prince Diponegoro during his exile," stated Indonesian Permanent Representative to UNESCO Ambassador Carmadi Machbub while presenting UNESCOs Memory of the World certificate to Deputy Foreign Minister Wardana in Jakarta, in November 2013.

At the same time, Babad Diponegoro was recognized by UNESCO with the inscription of Nagarakretagama during the 11th Session of the International Advisory Committee for the Memory of the World Program of UNESCO, in Gwangju Metropolitan City, South Korea, on June 18-21, 2013. 

The two Indonesian manuscripts are part of 52 documents included this year in the collective Memory of the World list signed by the UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. 

The vision of the Memory of the World Programme is that the worlds documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.

The Memory of the World Register now includes a total of 300 documents and document collections from five continents, safeguarded on various supports, from stone to celluloid and parchment to sound recordings. 

The script of Nagarakretagama is a eulogy by the poet Empu Prapanca to King Hayam Wuruk and Prime Minister Gajah Mada of the great Majapahit Kingdom. The epic poem was written on Lontar leaves in the ancient Javanese language by  Prapanca in 1365.  It contains legal aspects, laws and government regulations, which became the heritage of Majapahit. 

Majapahit is believed to have held sway over the present Indonesian islands, from Sumatra to Java, Bali, Lombok, Borneo, Celebes, Papua New Guinea, and beyond, as well as Singapore, parts of Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, and the Sulu Islands in the Philippines.

In addition to the two ancient documents, previously  UNESCO also included La Galigo Epic of South Sulawesi  in the Memory of the World Register in 2011. The La Galigo comprises poems in the ancient Bugis language and was written between the 13th and 15th centuries. 

Ambassador Carmadi Machbub said the inscriptions of the historical documents are part of the nations commitment to preserve Indonesian cultural heritage. 

Vice Minister Wardana said Indonesias documentary heritage must not just be kept in museums but should be widely promoted so that the public can access the documents and appreciate them better. 

Prof. Peter Brian Ramsey Carey of the Trinity College of Oxford University in the United Kingdom, who is also an adjunct professor of the Cultural Faculty of the University of Indonesia (UI), described Babad Diponegoro as a Noahs boat that accommodates all Javanese culture that should be inherited by the next generations. 

An interesting aspect of the autobiography is that it is written from the viewpoint of "the third party," although it is actually about Diponegoro himself, stated Carey, who helped in preparing the proposal for submission to UNESCO.

"After he (Diponegoro) died, the document was taken and translated by the Dutch because the Dutch were keen to know about the thought process of the indigenous Javanese. For historians, Diponegoro is a very competent and interesting source of history," Carey added.

According to Carey, Kuala Lumpur-based publishing house Art Printers of Malaysia was the first to publish the English version of Babad Diponegoro, as well as versions in Indonesia-Malay in 1981.

The book titled "An Account of the Outbreak of the Java War (1825-1830)," was edited by Peter Carey, who had conducted research on Babad Diponegoro for around 30 years.

He said that he had first approached Indonesia for the publication of the book, but no one had showed interest in his offer, hence, Malaysia accepted it.

Wardiman Djojonegoro, former Indonesian education minister, stated that Babad Diponegoro should be promoted among all parties, including the younger generation, simultaneously through books on history, films, and theaters. 

Babad Diponegoro is internationally recognized, and it is now time for the Indonesians to appreciate, treasure, and know about its first modern Javanese literature (Antara)

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