culture

Lontar Library Gedong Kirtya Singaraja

Gedong Kirtya, Lontar Library in Singaraja

gedong kirtyaSingaraja – In the former colonial capital of Bali, the old market town of Singaraja in Bali’s most northern district Buleleng, you will find a unique lontar library named “Gedong Kirtya”. This library annex museum collects, copies and preserves thousands of so called lontar (palm leaf manuscripts), prasati (transcriptions on metal plates) and books which deal with various aspects of human life, such as religion, architecture, philosophy, genealogy, homeopathy, usada (medical manuscripts), black magic, and so on, in the Balinese, Kawi (old Javanese) and the Dutch, English and German language.

Historical background

The Gedong Kirtya was established in the previous century, on June 2nd 1928, by Resident I.J.J. Calon, who was a government official in Bali and Lombok during the Dutch colonial aera. With the establishment of this unique lontar library, the extensive research on the field of Balinese culture, customs and language by two Dutch scholars, F.A. Liefrienk and Dr. N. van der Tuuk, was commemorated.

In the beginning the Gedong Kirtya started as a Foundation, at the time called “Stichting van der Tuuk”; the words “gedong” (building) and “kirtya” (to endeavour) were added later on the initiative of the former Raja (King) of Buleleng, I Gustu Putu Djelantik.

Because of its rich collection the Gedong Kirtya has always been a popular research center for those who are interested to learn more in depth about the Hindu based culture in Indonesia.

Lontar

The word ‘lontar‘ is derived from two Old Javanese words, being ‘ron‘ (leaf) and ‘tal‘ (rontal tree). The word ‘rontal’ therefore means ‘leaf of the rontal tree’. The rontal tree belongs to the family of palm trees (Borassus fabellifer). Due to the shape of its leaves, which are spread like a fan, these trees are also known as ‘fan trees’. The leaves of the rontal tree have always been used for many purposes, such as for the making of plaited mats, palm sugar wrappers, water scoops, ornaments, ritual tools, and writing material.

Visiting Address

Gedong Kirtya
Jalan Veteran,
Singaraja – Bali

Opening hours
Monday to Thursday 07.30-03.30,
Friday 07.00-12.30,
Weekends and public holidays closed


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  • […] Gedong Kirtya is a small museum which houses some of the most important ancient manuscripts in Bali. These manuscripts, or lontar, are inscriptions on the dried palm leaves. Staff at the museum are involved in the preserving, cataloging and replicating of these precious bits of history. One of them guided us around and showed how the manuscripts were stored, what stories they hold, and how they are created. […]