CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION OF MALAY MANUSCRIPTS
SHARIFAH TAHIRAH BT SYED KAMARULZAMAN
1.1 Background of Research
In the classical sense, the term ‘Manuscripts’ refers to a document handwritten by an author. Manuscripts are found in every part of the world where human beings put their thoughts and experiences into a written form. Human beings over the year have used plant material, stone, metal and parchment as writing supports. This plant material can either be a leaf that has been taken from a tree or plant to be written upon, or it can be a leaf that has been specially prepared for writing. The plant material can either be from the bark of trees or it can be from the pulp of plant that has been dried in the form of thin sheets which is called the traditional handmade paper. In recent years, writing material is in the form of thin sheets of paper manufactured & processed in modern paper factories. The earliest writing material produced from plant is acknowledged to be the papyri of the third millennium BC, from the Old Kingdom of Egypt. In India, palm leaves and tree bark were the principal writing supports that slowly began to replace by paper once it was introduced into southern Asia in the eleventh century AD (National Mission for Basic standard on Manuscripts; p1).
Additionally, the origin of Middle Eastern manuscripts stems are from the time when Muslims wanted to transmit the Qur’an via the written word rather than through an oral tradition that had been the case for centuries. Muslim devotion was expressed in fine binding, beautiful calligraphy and exquisite illumination. Indeed, these crafts were elevated to such a level to be worthy of the divine revelation. Particular attention was given to calligraphy, which was an attempt to make a spiritual connection to Islam through the written word. According to Al-Mucizz ibn Badis, the Prophet Muhammad said:
‘Beautiful writing gives to truth more clarity. It demonstrates that when the pens are good, the books smile’.
Conservation on the other hand is a process, which leads to the prolongation of life of cultural property and for its utilization now and in the future. It is also to recapture a sense of the past and to conserve, as much as possible the existing material in its original condition or situation. It also refers to the encouragement of the preservation of those cultural properties that constitutes the memory of mankind. In addition, conservation is a guardianship that provides protection of what presently exists from being destroyed or changed in an inappropriate manner.
Dr Mandana Barkeshli who has authored the book “Conservation and Restoration of Paper Documents” in 1997 has carried out extensive research on the conservation of Persian manuscripts. She has discovered many extraordinary findings that help us to understand the uniqueness and intricate value from that part of the world’s heritage. According to Mandana (1997), it is obligatory on our part to protect and preserve this heritage for as long as possible.
Many scholars have studied the art of writing and manuscripts making. In the world of Malay manuscripts however, Dr Annabel Teh Gallop who is the Head of the South and Southeast Asia section at the British Library, London has carried out far-reaching research on the art of Malay manuscripts. Her main research interests are in Malay manuscripts, letters, documents and seals, and the book arts of Islamic Southeast Asia. The research on Malay manuscripts has been emphasized on the illustration of art and the characteristic. It is clearly an attempt to preserves our heritage by understanding the history and background of the Malay manuscripts, its uniqueness and influences. However, there are no studies on how to conserve and preserve the Malay manuscripts.
1.2 Research Objectives
The primary aim of this research is to analyze and understand the Malay manuscripts...