Betawi Literary Arts

The Betawi people have quite a wide range of artistic treasures. One of them is Betawi literary art.

Betawi literature is a literary art that uses language as a medium of expression.

At the end of the 19th century, written literary arts, or the Betawi script, were known. The literary tradition of writing Arabic letters continued until the Latin printing press became known.

The Betawi script coexists with general Malay literature or classical Malay as it grows in the Malacca Straits, Riau, Aceh, and various other places that use language as the medium of communication.

Muhammad Bakir is one of the prominent Betawi literary artists. He lived in Pecenongan, precisely in the village of Langgar Tinggi and was active in copying and composing from 1884 to 1906.

Some of Muhammad Bakir's works in the National Library include the Panji Semirang Hikayat, the Sultan Taburat Hikayat, the Thousand Tales of Tales, the Merpati Mas and Merpati Perak Tales, and Ken Tambuhan's Poetry.

The following is an excerpt from the Betawi Manuscript, Hikayat Ken Tambuhan:

If it's nighttime
each one goes inside
met Ken Extra again on the bed
reading the saga of Indra Nurul Alam

Ken Additions reprimanded all the princesses
come in sir dine sharia
all worship self-improvement
the princess likes to listen
(Ken Extra, pp. 8-9)

Source: Betawi Literary Anthology


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