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Museum in Bali Gedong Kertya

Lontars in Singaraja

Since the beginning of 2007, the local technical service unit of Gedong Kertya Singaraja has started extra visits to the museum. The visitors can go to that museum, on Jalan Veteran Singaraja, on Saturday and Sunday as well besides the working days. Since the beginning of this year, the number of the visitors has increased 30 %. The chairman of Gedong Kertya, I Ketut Suarsana, stated that the increasing number of the visitors to Gedong Kertya was not merely because of the additional days, but also because socialization that had conducted by the management in many villages in Buleleng and out of Buleleng regency.

Last year, the visitors were mostly foreigners, however in this year, starting from January 2007, the visitors were mostly local people, especially students of universities in Buleleng. There were many students of elementary schools, junior and senior high schools as well came to Gedong Kertya. Their teachers gave them assignments, such as about the history, Balinese heritage, Balinese culture and others, and the students should make the assignment, answer the questions, based on the authentic materials that they could only find in Gedong Kertya museum. It was one method to introduce the heritage to the young generation and develop the sense of belonging in their heart from the beginning. Besides, there were also many visitors from common people came to that museum.

Gedong Kertya is well known as lontar museum. Lontar is Palmyra palm, the member of palm family, the leaves of which may be written on and can easily be found in tropical areas. The lontar leaves, since the old days, have been used for many purposes; they are used for everyday items such as plaited mats, palm sugar wrappers, water scoops and also for making ornaments, ritual tools, and for writing material before paper introduced on this island.

Gedong Kertya is a manuscript library being the only one of its kind in Indonesia, even in the world. It contains collection and copies of hand written texts dealing with Balinese literature, myths, medicines, magic formulas, religious texts and others. There are about 5,000 lontar manuscripts stored in the building. They are 379 kinds of wedha, the Hindu holy book, 301 about religion, especially Hindu, the majority religion in Bali, 2110 about wariga, 1203 about itihasa, 392 babad, 400 tantri, and 218 lelampahan.

Nowadays, Gedong Kertya is more suitable to be called storehouse than a museum or library because the condition is not convenient anymore for the visitors. There are too many books and lontars in small rooms. The visitors may not feel comfortable in reading the book in that museum, moreover when there are a lot of visitors at once. That’s why the chairman of Gedong Kertya asked to the regent to allocate an expense for the rehabilitation of the museum.

There are two buildings used to store the important books and lontars. At the front is used for lontar museum, and at the back is for the copies of the lontars. If the visitors want to read the copies, they can only go to the building behind. The essences of the copies are the same as the original ones; however, the copies use Indonesian that can easily understand by the local visitors who do not understand the ancient Balinese and Javanese manuscripts written on the original lontars.

Besides written using ancient Balinese and Javanese, there are also lontars inscribed with drawings in comic-strip style which is called ‘prasi’. And besides ‘prasi’, the museum contains further examples of ‘prasasti’, inscribed metal plates, among the earliest written documents found on the island.

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