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Editors Wacana


When newspaper archives crumble, history dies

Gerry van Klinken

Historians accept the death of oral sources, but expect newspaper archives in state institutions to be available for ever. Yet the majority of Indonesian newspaper titles in the National Library are today endangered. These crumbling papers are often the only copy in the world. This article first reviews the role these archives have played in pathbreaking historical work, both Indonesian and foreign. Provincial newspapers record the chatter of a new, literate middle class that emerged in the middle of the tumultuous twentieth century. Indonesian historiography is transformed by the many surprises scholars experience when reading their lives there. When those sources turn to dust, historical research dies. This will affect not just specialized historians, but social scientists in many fields. The article then maps quantitatively the extent to which these papers are endangered. It finally urges the social science community as a whole to campaign to save them through comprehensive digitization.

Gods, birds, and trees

Variation in illustrated Javanese pawukon manuscripts

Dick van der Meij

Many libraries in the world own illustrated manuscripts containing calendrical divination based on the Javanese 30 seven-day wuku cycle. Although the contents of these pawukon manuscript have been studied, the illustrations they often contain have almost been ignored. Apart from stating that these illustrations usually depict the gods, trees, buildings, and birds associated with each individual wuku, the variety among these illustrations has escaped scholars so far. Variation is found at many levels such as the general lay-out of the illustrations, the depiction of the various gods, trees, et cetera but also with reference to the position of the illustrations and the accompanying texts that explain the characteristics and divination possibilities of each wuku. This article intends to offer a start into the study of these illustrations by offering examples of these illustrations and the connections that may have existed between the makers of these illustrated manuscripts.