This man can read and write 30 ancient Indonesian scripts, some as old as 500 years

This man can read and write 30 ancient Indonesian scripts

JAKARTA: Diaz Nawaksara grew up in the course of the rise of the Internet and telecommunications.

When the 30-year-old went to school, he determined to review information administration, focusing on storing information by way of computational strategies.

But as fashionable as his academic qualification sounds, his job these days entails one thing very ancient: Preserving Indonesian scripts which might be as old as 500 years.

“I started in 2012 by studying the Javanese script first,” Nawaksara recounted, referring to the native language of these from Indonesia’s and the world’s most populated island of Java.

Today, he can read and write over 30 ancient Indonesian scripts. He understands fluently about half of the languages related to these scripts.

(ks) Sulawesi script

Diaz Nawaksara can read and write over 30 ancient Indonesian scripts. (Photo courtesy: PANDI – Pengelola Nama Domain Internet Indonesia)

It is a uncommon means contemplating that almost all Indonesians can solely read one or two scripts.

Most Indonesians can read Latin, the script used for the nationwide language Bahasa Indonesia as properly as English. Others additionally know Arabic for studying the Koran or Chinese.

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Nawaksara claimed that usually, it’s fairly straightforward to be taught ancient Indonesian scripts.

“The transformation of a script from time to time can still be traced, maybe the problem is more on understanding the language and its meaning. Because most of the languages in manuscripts are rarely used in daily conversation.

“The (mastery of) vocabulary determines the fluency in reading the ancient manuscripts, regardless of the type of script,” he informed CNA.

Once an English tutor and a tour information, Nawaksara is now a contract researcher who works to protect ancient Indonesian scripts as properly as historical past. 


Nawaksara was born and raised in Bandung metropolis, West Java. His mother and father are of Sundanese ethnicity.

His try and read and write Javanese script got here by likelihood.

He was at all times drawn to antiques. Since junior highschool, he has been gathering gadgets relationship again to the time earlier than Indonesia’s independence in 1945 such as old radios, gramophones and sacred daggers identified as keris.

Upon finishing his research, he moved to Yogyakarta in central Java to work as a tour information and English tutor within the metropolis typically dubbed as the cultural capital of Indonesia.

One day, he went to an area flea market and found an ancient Javanese manuscript.

He was intrigued by it and determined to buy it although he couldn’t read Javanese script. It turned out to be an ancient laws manuscript of Yogyakarta’s sultanate in the course of the Dutch colonial occasions. The manuscript was identified as rijksblad.

(ks) Javanese script

Diaz Nawaksara began learning ancient Indonesian scripts in 2012 by studying Javanese script. (Photo courtesy: PANDI – Pengelola Nama Domain Internet Indonesia)

Coincidentally, his girlfriend was Javanese and might read the manuscript. She taught him how one can read it. 

“Luckily, I was also passionate about languages so I could study it intensely and was focused.

“After a month, I could start writing it. And after two, three months I could read it fluently,” he stated.

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It marked the beginning of his quest to search out different manuscripts and be taught totally different old Indonesian scripts.

“Since then, I started collecting more Javanese ancient books.

“A year later, I stumbled upon an older script named Kawi script,” he informed CNA.

Kawi is taken into account the ancestor of Javanese script and is regarded as associated to Indian scripts which advanced someday in the course of the eighth to sixteenth century.

In order to boost his understanding, Nawaksara visited temples and museums that exhibited the script.


Nawaksara has since travelled throughout Indonesia to search out ancient manuscripts and examine the scripts. He stated this led him to a greater comprehension of historical past.

There are over 600 ethnicities in Indonesia and understanding some ancient scripts results in a greater understanding of how the varied ethnicities within the nation are associated and even stretching to neighbouring nations such as Malaysia and Singapore, he stated.

He typically buys ancient manuscripts to review them additional. As they can command a value of as excessive as 500 million rupiah (US$35,984), he typically bargains with the sellers and asks to rewrite them at a lower cost.

The researcher has by no means forked out greater than 5 million rupiah for a manuscript.

During his search, he additionally discovered a sacred Balinese script believed to have excessive religious values.

(ks) Bali Lontar

Balinese Lontar script is taken into account sacred and believed to have excessive religious values. (Photo courtesy: PANDI – Pengelola Nama Domain Internet Indonesia)

He loves understanding new issues and giving the solutions to individuals’s questions which he typically finds by studying the ancient scripts.

But above all the pieces, Nawaksara believes you will need to know Indonesian ancient scripts and protect them as a result of it displays a nation’s id.

“Many people don’t know their ancestors and what their expertise was. They don’t know because they can’t read the source.

“When they can read the manuscripts, it means they know more details about their ancestors.”

Paraphrasing a quote by Indonesia’s first president and founding father Soekarno, Nawaksara stated: “When being a Muslim, don’t be an Arab. When being a Hindu, don’t be an Indian. When being a Christian, don’t be a Westerner.”

“It is all about identity,” defined Nawaksara.

“Today, there are religious people who are lost because they don’t know their identity,” he stated.

This can also be the explanation why Nawaksara now desires to digitalise the scripts he is aware of so that they is not going to get misplaced in time.

His information administration experience obtained throughout faculty helps him with this. He is working in the direction of pc keyboards and web sites in ancient Indonesian scripts for the general public sooner or later.

For those that need to examine ancient scripts, Nawaksara recommends becoming a member of a neighborhood to make the method simpler.

He additionally hopes that the federal government will probably be extra concerned in preserving ancient Indonesian scripts.

“As much as possible, as soon as possible, the government should issue a law or a presidential decree that the Indonesian state owns these scripts.”

Read this story in Bahasa Indonesia here.


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