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Gedong Kirtya Museum Library of Bali Lontar

7 February 2009

Thousands of ancient Balinese letters in the form of chronicles, kakawin (old Balinese poetry), geguritan, written on palm leaf, is stored in the original building that was built in 1928. The 3,000 or lontar (written on palm leaf) are stored in labeled tin boxes in this small nondescript archive, recording the literature, mythology, magic formulas, medical science, folklore, religion, and history of Bali and Lombok.

Many of the lontar were looted from the palace in Mataram during the Dutch military expedition to Lombok in 1894. L.J. Caron, a Dutch resident at the time, established the library in 1928. The leaves are etched with a sharp knife, the incisions then filled with a mixture of soot and oil. One of the jobs of the museum is to translate the most ancient and rarest palm-leaf texts into the Balinese language. So sacred are these manuscripts many Balinese are afraid to enter Gedong Kirtya lest they be cursed by spirits. Gedung Kirtya also contains rare Dutch and English books, a complete collection of traditional Balinese calendars dating back to 1935, and an extensive archive of Balinese scriptures’ still in near mint condition. The originals remain with citizens such as dukun’ and rajas’ families. Near the institute are the royal temples of Puri Kawan directly behind the library, and Puri Kanginan to the northeast. Gedong Kirtya located at Address: JI. Veteran, Singaraja, northern part of Bali Island.

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