Digitising private collections of Acehnese manuscripts located in Pidie and Aceh Besar regencies (EAP329)

Aims and objectives

This project is a continuation of the previous pilot project which surveyed and located Acehnese manuscripts privately held by collectors in Pidie and Aceh Besar regencies. The pilot project identified and listed 405 manuscripts with 46,029 pages in total, written between the 17th and 20th centuries.

These important and vulnerable manuscripts are to be found in Pidie and Aceh Besar regencies. The content of the manuscripts is a part of Acehnese history with regards to lifestyle, the kingdom of Aceh, and the war against colonialism. They also relate to Islamic knowledge and Islamic mysticism (Sufism) and its order. However, the manuscripts are highly endangered. They are not kept in the best of conditions to aide their preservation, mainly through lack of knowledge and resources. They are often attacked by insects and some of them have been corroded by the ink used or have water damage. Conflicts and natural disasters in Aceh have also had a bad effect on the manuscripts.

To preserve them from destruction and further decay, immediate action must be taken for their preservation. One of the best actions that is the most urgent to perform is to digitise them to prevent the total loss of this cultural heritage.

The pilot project won the confidence of the collectors to preserve their manuscripts through digitisation and they understand the reason and the benefit of copying them. This major project will establish complete digital copies and lists of the manuscripts that will be useful for the owners and future scholars. Digital copies will be deposited with the Aceh Information and Documentation Centre, the National Library of Indonesia and the British Library. A printed copy of their manuscript will be given to each owner.


Training for the research team was undertaken at the start of the project, relating to digitisation and documentation techniques. 483 manuscripts were successfully digitised, comprising some 4,6401 images.

The manuscripts are housed with the owners or collectors. The copies have been deposited with the National Library of Indonesia, the Acehnese Information and Documentation Centre, and the British Library.

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as: