SOAS Summer School on Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition
This year SOAS is running a unique three-week summer school on Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition, convened by Dr Mulaika Hijjas and Dr Ben Murtagh from the department of South East Asia at SOAS. Jawi is the adapted Arabo-Persian script used from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century across Indonesia and the Malay world. Materials written in Jawi include indigenous chronicles and romances, Sufi poetry, letters between rulers of the archipelago and European traders and administrators, legal codes, Islamic treatises, early autobiographies and nationalist journalism.
Knowledge of Jawi is an essential tool for students and researchers in fields as diverse as history, politics, literature, Islam, art history, law, anthropology and linguistics. The course aims to enable students with at least intermediate Indonesian or Malay to read Jawi. In addition to intensive classroom study of Jawi texts, and lectures by the convenors and guest lecturers, the course includes visits to three of the most important collections of Malay manuscripts in the world: SOAS, the Royal Asiatic Society and the British Library.
Last week the students visited SOAS Archives & Special Collections accompanied by Dr Ben Murtagh, Senior Lecturer in Indonesian and Malay and Dr Farouk Yahya, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Art and Archaeology. After a tour of the archives, students had the opportunity to look at a diverse selection of manuscripts from SOAS holdings and to hear Ben and Farouk talk about various aspects of the manuscripts. For some of the students it was a first chance to actually see and touch Malay manuscripts and the session really brought the task to life – it is one thing to learn to read Jawi based on copies and reproductions of manuscripts and early printed books, it is quite another thing to see the actual manuscripts up close.