SOAS University of London

South East Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Jawi and the Manuscript Tradition

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 1

The Jawi reading will begin by look at and the learning of the adapted Perso-Arabic script used in the Malay manuscript tradition.  After using texts from children’s primers, students will soon move on to reading printed texts before moving on to examples of lithographs and manuscripts. Texts chosen will be principally literary, though examples from Malay newspapers will also be used. One hour a week will be devoted to lectures and student led seminars, in which key issues relating to the manuscript tradition will be addressed (philology, writing traditions, illumination, emergence of printing), through lectures and also key reading in English. These classes will be supplemented by visits to significant London collections of Malay and Indonesian manuscripts such as those held by SOAS Library, the British Library or the Royal Asiatic Society.


Indonesian language 1A and Indonesian language 1B (or equivalent)

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of this module a student should be able to demonstrate . . . 

  • the ability to read simple manuscript Malay texts in the Jawi script both printed and handwritten
  • an awareness of the various philological issues involved in the study and editing of manuscripts
  • an understanding of the various writing systems in Indonesia, and the various writing materials used across the archipelago
  • an awareness of the key genres found in the various manuscript traditions of the archipelago, and the development and transformation of these genres with the emergence of lithograph and typographical production
  • written and oral skills of presentation in particular to learn to use primary textual examples to backup arguments and hypotheses
  • experience and knowledge of the various Indonesian/Malay bibliographic and other library resources
  • understanding of issues of illumination and other decorative arts in the manuscript traditions of the archipelago


A total of 10 weeks teaching with 3 hours classroom contact per week consisting of 1 hour lecture and 2 hour tutorial.

Method of assessment

An essay of 2000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1 in the term following that in which the module is taught (60%);  in class tests in week 5; (20%) in class test in week 10 (20%).

Suggested reading

  • Kamus Dewan. 1994. / ketua editor Hajah Noresah bt Baharom. Kuala Lumpur : Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka,
    Wilkinson, R. J. 1903. A Malay-English dictionary. Singapore : Kelly and Walsh.
  • Wilkinson, R. J, 1948. An abridged Malay-English dictionary (romanised). London : Macmillan.
  • Gallop. Annabel Teh. 1990. Early Malay printing; an introduction to the British Library collection. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 53(1) 85-124.
  • Gallop, Annabel Teh. 1994. The Legacy of the Malay Letter - Warisan
  • Warkah Melayu. With an essay by E. Ulrich Kratz. London: The British Library.
  • Gallop. Annabel Teh. 2005. The spirit of Langkasuka? Illuminated manuscripts from the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. Indonesia and the Malay World. 33 (96), 113-182.
  • Gallop, Annabel. Teh. 2004. An Acehnese style of manuscript illumination. Archipel, 68, 193-240.
  • Gallop, A. Teh and B. Arps. 1991. Golden letters; Writing traditions of Indonesia. London-Jakarta: the British Library-Yayasan Lontar.
  • Grijns, C.D., Vries, J.W. de & Santa Maria, L. 1983 European loan-words in Indonesian. A check-list of words of European origin in Bahasa Indonesia and Traditional Malay. Leiden: KITLV
  • Kratz, E.U. 1981. 'The editing of Malay manuscripts and textual criticism', Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 137:229-43.
  • Kumar, A. and J.H. McGlynn (eds.). 1996. Illuminations; The writing traditions of Indonesia, pp.247-52. Jakarta-New York: The Lontar Foundation-Weatherhill.
  • Jones, R. 1974. 'More light on Malay manuscripts', Archipel 8:45-58.
  • Jones, R. 1980. 'Review article: Problems of editing Malay texts, discussed with reference to the Hikayat Muhammad Hanafiyyah ', Archipel 20:121-27.
  • Jones, R 1986. 'The origins of the Malay manuscript tradition', in: C.D. Grijns and S.O. Robson (eds.). Cultural contact and textual interpretation, pp. 121-43. Dordrecht-Cinnaminson: Foris. [KITLV, Verhandelingen 115.]
  • Jones, R 1988. 'From papermill to scribe: the lapse of time', in: Papers from the III European Colloquium on Malay and Indonesian Studies, pp. 153-69. Napoli: Instituto Universitario Orientale.
  • Lewis, M. B. 1954. A handbook of Malay script, with passages for reading and a list of commonly-used Arabic words (calligraphy by Mohd. Nor bin Hashim). London : Macmillan.
  • Muhani Hj. Abdul Ghani. 1988. Teman pelajar Jawi. Petaling Jaya : Fajar Bakti,
  • Proudfoot, I. 1984. 'Variation in a Malay folk-tale tradition', Review of Indonesian and Malayan Affairs 18:87-98.Proudfoot, I. 1993. Early Malay printed books; A provisional account of materials published in the Singapore-Malaysian area up to 1920, noting holdings in major public collections. Kuala Lumpur: Academy of Malay Studies and the Library University of Malaya. (INTRODUCTION ONLY)
  • Reynolds, L. D., and Wilson, N. G. 1975. Scribes & scholars. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Robson, S.O. 1988. Principles of Indonesian philology. Dordrecht-Providence: Foris. [KITLV. Working Papers 1.]Shellabear, W. G. 1901. The evolution of the Malay script. JSBRAS (36), 75-135.
  • Za'ba. 1928. Some facts about Jawi spelling. JMBRAS, 6 (2), 81-104.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules