The Use of Traditional Conservation Methods in the Preservation of Ancient Manuscripts: A Case Study from Indonesia

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Indonesia has a rich heritage of manuscripts that represent the cumulative knowledge, values, experience, and practices of its people. This knowledge needs to be preserved. However, preservation does not need to use expensive equipment and materials. This paper examines some of the traditional methods and materials used to conserve manuscripts, and the philosophical viewpoints that underlie the traditional methods in Indonesia, based on a case study at Rekso Pustoko library at the Mangkunegaran Palace in Surakarta Province, Indonesia. This study used a qualitative approach with two research methods: A survey of manuscripts and one-on-one interviews with staff at Rekso Pustoko. The findings from the interviews indicated that traditional conservation methods are still applied by the caretakers of manuscripts. The use of vetiver and incense, of lemon grass, and the adjustment of air ventilation are the primary methods used in preservation. The findings also show that Javanese traditional philosophical understandings influence their conservation practices. The staffs believe that manuscripts are heirlooms from their ancestors, and if they disregard the ancestors, they will face hardships because of karma. The findings from this study are important in documenting empirical experiences in implementing traditional conservation methods to preserve the manuscripts' intellectual content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalPreservation, Digital Technology and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Manuscript preservation
  • cultural heritage
  • indigenous knowledge
  • libraries and archives
  • preservation in Indonesia
  • traditional conservation methods


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