Tales of the Malay World: Manuscripts and Early Books
Level 10, Gallery, National Library Building
18 August 2017 – 25 February 2018
Step into the world of Malay stories – fantastical adventure tales of kings and heroes, founding myths of sultanates, and romantic poetry.
For centuries, Malay was the language of trade, diplomacy, religious discourse, and literature for maritime Southeast Asia. This exhibition explores traditional Malay literature captured in ink on paper – from handwritten manuscripts to early lithographed books.
It features precious manuscripts on loan from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, shown in Singapore for the first time.
Highlights include a manuscript (copied in 1710) of one of the oldest existing syair (narrative poem), which tells of the war (1666–69) between the Dutch and Makassar; the earliest manuscript on the exploits of the legendary Malay hero, Hang Tuah; one of the most ornate Malay manuscripts; and an 1811 letter from the sultan of Pontianak in Kalimantan to Stamford Raffles.
Come, discover these and other fascinating stories.