Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Digitizing Relics

An international effort to preserve centuries-old Indonesian manuscripts has run into trouble getting access to privately owned texts. The Jakarta Globe reports that:

the surviving manuscripts were written in various languages and scripts, including Arabic, Malay, Javanese, Sundanese, Sasak, Balinese and the Wolio language of Buton Island. ... Jeje Abdul Rojak, the program coordinator for digitalization at Islamic pesantrens, said that many manuscripts from pesantren , or traditional Islamic boarding schools, have already been secured using digitalization. “The problem is that there are many more important ancient manuscripts in private hands,” he said. “The owners usually refuse us access to them because they consider them sacred relics that have been handed down for generations.”

This situation differs from the resistence to scholars of private owners of pieces of the Aleppo Codex in that here scholars only want access in order to make photographs and publish them digitally. The owners, however, seem to think this would desecrate the relic text and/or reduce its potency.