The La Galigo manuscript at Leiden University Libraries (UBL) has been digitized. The manuscript, which was inscribed in 2011 on UNESCO’s ‘Memory of the World’ Register, is now freely available online and can be used for teaching and research. La Galigo is the world’s longest epic, written in the Buginese language and script. The UBL holds one of the most extensive and valuable La Galigo manuscripts. The digitization of the Leiden La Galigo manuscript was made possible with support from Yayasan La Galigo.
The Leiden manuscript (NBG-Boeg 188) consists of twelve parts and includes the first part of the Buginese epic poem. It tells the story about the origins of mankind according to South Sulawesi tradition. It is the longest fragment of the manuscript in existence. It was transcribed in Makassar, approximately in 1852-1858, by order of Colliq Pujie (Arung Pancana Toa), Queen Mother of Tanete, a small kingdom in South Sulawesi (Indonesia). The manuscript is part of the Makassarese Buginese manuscript collection of the Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap (Dutch Bible Society) and has been on permanent loan since 1905.
The majority of La Galigo manuscripts that have been preserved are located in Indonesia and the Netherlands. Along with one other La Galigo manuscript, which is kept at the La Galigo Museum in Makassar, the Leiden manuscript was inscribed in 2011 on the UNESCO’s ‘Memory of the World’ Register. This entry underlines the global significance and importance of the La Galigo manuscript.
The digitized La Galigo manuscript can be found in Leiden’s digital collections: https://digitalcollections.universiteitleiden.nl/LaGaligo. In addition, transcripts of the Buginese text in Dutch are available, as are relevant documents, maps and images taken from Leiden’s special collections. The digitized text can also be downloaded.
La Galigo is also known as a musical work by the American avant-garde theatre director and artist Robert Wilson. His La Galigo-based performance premiered in Singapore in 2004 and has been performed in many cities worldwide. In the UBL’s online video series World Treasures, Gert Oostindie, director of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and Professor of History at Leiden University, gives more background and discusses the importance of the Leiden manuscript.
Festive meeting in Makassar
On Saturday 19 August, the digital La Galigo manuscript was officially made available online at the Hasanuddin University in Makassar. This event was combined with the launch of the reprints of Volume 1 and 2 and the new print of Volume 3. The seminar was attended by more than 250 interested participants and representatives of local Indonesian governmental institutions, Hasanuddin University and Leiden University.
As part of its Leiden Asia Year, H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands will open The Asian Library at Leiden University on 14 September 2017. This new library will house Leiden’s world-renowned and extensive Asian collections, including La Galigo. The Asian Library is a centre with state-of-the-art facilities for study, research and meetings for those with a deep interest in Asia and its position in the world.