Gedung Kirtya, A unique lontar library

 

In the former colonial capital of Bali, the old market town of Singaraja in the district of Buleleng, you will find a unique library named "Gedung Kirtya". This library annex museum collects, copies and preserves thousands of lontar (palm leaf manuscripts), "prasati" (transcriptions on metal plates) and books which deal with various aspects of human life, such as religion, architecture, philosophy, genealogy, homeopathy, "usada" (medical manuscripts), black magic,and so on, in the Balinese, Kawi (old Javanese) and the Dutch, English and German language.
 
 
 
the Gedong Kirtya was established on June 2nd, 1928 by Resident I.J.J. Calon, who was a government official in Bali and Lombok during the Dutch colonial aera. With the establishment the extensive research on the field of Balinese culture, customs and language by two Dutch scholars, F.A. Liefrienk and Dr. N. van der Tuuk, was commemorated. Initially, the Gedong Kirtya started as a Foundation, then called "Stichting van der Tuuk"; the words "gedong" (building) and "kirtya" (to endeavour) were added later on the initiative of I Gustu Putu Djelantik, then the Raja (King) of Buleleng. Because of its rich collection the Gedong Kirtya has always been a popular research center for those who are interested to learn more in depth about the Hindu based culture in Indonesia.
 
Lontar - The word 'lontar' is composed of two Old Javanese words, namely 'ron' (leaf) and 'tal' (rontal tree). The word 'rontal' therefore means 'leaf of the rontal tree'. The rontal tree belongs to the family of palm trees (Borassus fabellifer). Due to the shape of its leaves, which are spread like a fan, these trees are also known as 'fan trees'. The leaves of the rontal tree have always been used for many purposes, such as for the making of plaited mats, palm sugar wrappers, water scoops, orrnaments, ritual tools, and writing material.

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