UNESCO acknowledges "Babad Diponegoro", "Nagarakretagama"

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently announced that Babad Diponegoro (The Chronicle of Diponegoro) and the ancient Javanese epic poem Nagarakretagama, would be included on International Memory of the World (MOW) list.

The two ancient manuscripts were included on the list along with 52 other documents from all over the world in June. Babad Diponegoro and Nagarakretagama join two other ancient Indonesian manuscripts on the MOW list, namely the archives of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) and South Sulawesi's literary epic La Galigo. The VOC archives was included on the MOW list in 2003 and La Galigo in 2011.

The Communications and Information Ministry head of research and development division Aizirman Djusan said on Wednesday that all citizens should be proud of this news.

"[The two documents] are part of world history and we should be proud of that, because to enter and be accepted on the international level is not an easy feat," Aizirman said, as quoted by the Antara news agency.

Indonesia submitted the Nagarakretagama manuscript to the regional MOW register in 2007. It was resubmitted with Babad Diponegoro in March 2012.

Babad Diponegoro was submitted by Indonesia and the Netherlands.

Written by Rakawi Prapanca, or Mpu Prapanca, on lontar leaves, Nagarakretagama contains a detailed description of the Majapahit empire during its greatest extent. The poem affirms the importance of Hindu-Buddhism in the Majapahit empire by describing temples and palaces and several accounts of religious ceremonies.

Included in the manuscript are descriptions of the Simping Temple in Blitar, East Java, where Majapahit's first ruler Raden Wijaya was buried, and the Singasari Temple in Malang, also in East Java, which was built to glorify Singasari's last king Sang Kertanegara.

UNESCO's MOW page on Nagarakretagama reads that the manuscript "gives testimony to the reign of [Majapahit's king Hayam Wuruk] in 14th-century Indonesia in which the modern ideas of social justice, freedom of religion, personal safety and welfare of the people were held in high regard."

"It is also testifies to the democratic attitude and openness of authority before the people in an era that still adhered to the absolute rights of kingship," the page reads.

The manuscript had been stored at the Leiden University library in the Netherlands for decades before it was returned to Indonesia by Dutch Queen Juliana during her state visit in 1973. It is currently kept in the National Library in South Jakarta.

Meanwhile, the Babad Diponegoro is a 1,151-page long autobiographic chronicle of national hero Prince Diponegoro, the son of Hamengkubuwono III of the Yogyakarta sultanate by one of his concubines. Diponegoro was one of the leaders in the locals' fights against the Dutch colonialists in the 19th century.

The document was written by Diponegoro during his exile in North Sulawesi in 1831-1832. After Diponegoro's death on Jan, 8, 1855 in Makassar, the chronicle was kept by the prince's family as an heirloom. It is also currently stored at the National Library.

"It is the personal record of a key figure in modern Indonesian history. It is also the first autobiography in modern Javanese literature and shows unusual sensitivity to local conditions and experiences," UNESCO's MOW page on Babad Diponegoro reads.

A collection of stories about Diponegoro can also be found at Yogyakarta's Sasana Wiratama Museum, also known as Diponegoro Monument Museum.