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Gedong Kirtya: Sacred Manuscript Library  

by on Wednesday, 23 May 20074 Comments | 2,739 views


Gedong Kirtya, the only palm-leaf manuscript library in Bali or maybe in the world is founded in 1928. Gedong Kirtya was opened to the public by the then Governor General of East Indies, A. C.D. de Graff on 14 September 1928. The date of the opening is engraved on a monogram or candra sangkala on the entrance door. This monogram consists of the image of a human riding on an elephant with a bow in his hand, killing his enemy with an arrow. This image is interpreted as follows: a human represents the figure 1; elephant figure 8; arrow figure 5 and the dead person figure 0. According to Caka year, Gedong Kirtya was founded in Caka 1850.


Situated in the heart of Buleleng regency, precisely on Jalan Veteren No.20 Singaraja, Gedong Kirtya houses some 7,500 cakep (titles) of lontar. The manuscripts here are categorized into some divisions based on their respective topic. Vedic group gives valuable information on Vedic teachings, Mantra and Kalpasastra (benefits of ritual activity). The religious group covers the Palakerta carrying the regulation like Dharmasastra, Kertasima, Awig-awig; Sesana or guidelines on moral; while Niti on law and legislation.


The Wariga group tells about astronomy and astrology; Tutur describes about the knowledge of cosmos. Itihasa group includes the Parva, Kakawin, Kidung and Geguritan. Meanwhile, the Babad group explains Pancangah (genealogy), history including the falls of kingdoms. The Tantri group is a narration originating in the literature of ancient India, similar to Aesop’s fables. Lelampahan group is story tale played in the performance of gambuh, human wayang and arja operetta.

Gedong Kirtya also houses a set of inscribed bronze plates inscribed with old Balinese edict from the Pejeng-Bedulu Dynasty dating from the 10th century. These are called prasasti and are considered the oldest written records in Bali.

In addition to preserving the ancient manuscript, the museum has responsibility to transliterate the most ancient and rarest palm-leaf manuscript into the romanized Balinese language. So sacred are the manuscripts that many Balinese in its early days of this museum were afraid to enter the Gedong Kirtya lest they be cursed by spirits.

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    • sunil priyadarsan cn said:

      I am sunil,Indian, a mechanical desighner by
      profession. I am having some rare collection of very old palm leaf manuscripts(100-500>years) which contains Ayurvedic medicines, black magics and Hindu religious texts. Iam interested in selling the above
      said manuscripts.
      I have gone through web site and
      beleive that your library is collecting these type of manuscripts.
      If interested please mail or contact me in the phone number given below so that i can send you some photos of the said manuscripts
      thanking you
      sunil priyadarsan cn
      (36 manuscripts with more than 500 pages in it)

    • John Johnson said:

      Dear Sir/Madam,
      I have in my possesion two Bali Lontar leaf books. They were obtained when my parents lived in Indonesia in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s. I would be very grateful for any information that you can provide about them. If you need any scans I will be most willing to provide them.
      Yours faithfully

    • admin said:

      please send them so we can have a look

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