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Editors: Dr. Ninie Susanti, Prof. Dr. Titik Pujiastuti and Drs. Trigangga
Copy Editor: Dr. Sian E. Jay
Published in 2015 for National Museum of Indonesia

Size: 270 x 240 mm
Pages: 282 pp
ISBN: 978-979-8353-08-6
Price: Non Commercial Product


A great many scholarly books and journal articles have been written about Indonesian scripts, inscriptions and manuscripts. For the majority of people these have remained out of reach intellectually to most people, being intended for the eyes of academics and experts who are fascinated by the minute details of a slanting upright of a letter or the presence or absence of a serif. Here, for the first time is a book that de-mystifies the subject and presents clearly and simply an overview of the historical development of writing forms in Indonesia.

Beginning with the earliest extant evidence, the ancient Indian Pallava script, the book traces its subsequent adoption and development through time as new scripts and writing systems and styles were either introduced or created indigenously. What is unique about this publication is the focus on the way that Indonesian scripts were developed to mirror and construct local identities reflecting the many languages, cultures and ethnic groups that have come to define modern Indonesia.

Beginning with the earliest scripts, a team of Indonesian experts, who have worked on the inscriptions and manuscripts for many years, have carefully crafted a book that will guide the general reader through many centuries of writing. They explain how ancient scripts were adapted for the writing of local languages, how different materials were introduced as writing media, and how scripts were adapted to those media. The introduction of the Arabic script, far from usurping earlier scripts, came to reflect the Islamic identity of many Indonesians as another thread in the rich tapestry of text and language.

Readers will be able to learn how writing: ancient Indian scripts, Chinese and Japanese characters, Arabic and Latin scripts, as well as numerous more localised variations such as the Batak script, have all played a role in the creation of identity in Indonesia.