1. What is the DREAMSEA?

DREAMSEA is Digital Repository of Endangered and Affected Manuscripts in Southeast Asia. It is a Programme that strives to preserve the content of manuscripts in the entire region of Southeast Asia.


  1. Who manages DREAMSEA?

The Programme is carried out by the Center for the Study of Islam and Society (PPIM) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta State Islamic University (UIN) Jakarta, Indonesia, in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of Manuscripts Culture (CSMC), University of Hamburg, Germany. The Programme is supported by Arcadia, a philanthropic institution based in London, England.


  1. What will DREAMSEA do?

DREAMSEA formulates its mission to attempt to save the diversity of written, Southeast Asian artefacts. This form of preservation is by transforming manuscripts from their original form into digital images.


  1. What do the manuscripts mean?

Manuscripts form an important source of the literary heritage in the world. They make use of different writing supports, such as paper, palm leaf, tree-bark, parchment, bamboo and other materials. Manuscripts also provide crucial historical sources for the study of past civilisations and modern societies.


  1. What caused the manuscripts to become endanger?

However, in the course of history people’s care for these sources became less and manuscripts were discarded as unimportant, so that many people today view manuscripts as an obsolete object that may be of only fleeting relevance. Social and political conflicts can also make manuscripts to become damaged or destroyed. As a result, manuscripts are not uncommon to be kept in a haphazard manner regardless of the potential for destruction.

 In addition to human intervention, damage to manuscripts can also be caused by natural conditions. Southeast Asian manuscripts have a limited life time due to climatic conditions of tropical temperatures, humidity dangers of natural calamities such as volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and other disasters. The cost of manuscript treatment by professionals is very high and often unaffordable for individuals.


  1. Why manuscripts should be digitised?

Digitisation is the way to preserve the text written in a manuscript. It will make copies of manuscripts by converting them into digital form through the process of photography.

Preserving the cultural heritage by digitisation is very important because the material of the manuscript (writing support) is highly vulnerable to damage, especially in the case of manuscripts in the tropical and socio-political climate of Southeast Asia. By way of digitisation, the owner of the manuscript will keep the original manuscript without worrying about losing its content. A digital copy of the manuscript will be presented to the owner as token of appreciation for allowing the digitisation. In addition, the digital results are also deposited in several places and published online in a digital archive. These online manuscripts can be studied by scholars from various academic perspectives which will add to the awareness of the diversity of Southeast Asian communities in the past and present. We also strive for more awareness with people of the communities who will be able to access and use the manuscripts for the good of the community and the continuation and change of its culture.


  1. What kind of manuscripts can be digitised by DREAMSEA?

Since this Programme wants to safeguard the cultural diversity in Southeast Asia, it will accommodate manuscripts written in any script and field of science as long as the manuscripts originate from the region of Southeast Asia. The basic principle is to preserve Southeast Asian manuscripts that are under threat to be damaged or lost (endangered), whose condition already may have been negatively influenced by natural or socio-political circumstances in Southeast Asia (affected). These conditions of endangeredness and affectedness may be used to define criteria for selecting the manuscripts to be digitised: (a) Uniqueness of the Manuscripts; (b) Significance of Text; (c) Cultural Endangeredness/Affectedness; (d) Physical Endangeredness/Affectedness; and (e) Number of Manuscripts. Please go to the ‘About’ menu to find out more details.


  1. How to participate in this program?

To ensure the quality of the Programme, manuscript to be digitised will be selected as follows:

    • Members of the DREAMSEA staff proactively will seek endangered manuscript collections. They will use the contacts they know from their own actions and from existing or newly established networks.

    • When a collection is located and first contact is made with the main stakeholder in the region, the DREAMSEA team member will ask for more information about the content and physical condition of the collection and how it is stored, in order to make an initial assessment of the collection. DREAMSEA will also ask photographs and if possible an assessment of one of the members of the local specialists in the network.

    • A Local Specialist is involved or will be contacted to assist in the assessment process. Criteria for selecting a Local Specialist are as follows: a single person, commitment to the preservation of manuscripts, familiar with the owner of the manuscripts and able to bridge communication between DREAMSEA and him, and able to deliver the vision and mission of the DREAMSEA Programme to the owner of the manuscript.

    • Local Specialist submits the assessment form by filling out the form and send to dreamsea.mss@gmail.com. 

    • Recent images of the manuscripts in the collection must be added with this online form to show collection conditions.

    • The Local Specialist informs the owner about consequences of the digitisation of the manuscripts in her/his possession. The Local Specialist asks and negotiates for permission for the manuscript to be digitised and allows if their digital images be published online in an open access database.

    • DREAMSEA will conduct an assessment of the proposal and will advise the PIs in accepting or rejecting the collection for digitisation. The PIs will take the decision and be responsible for the selection.

    • DREAMSEA will deliver the assessment results to the local specialist and, if positive, the digitisation of the collection will be scheduled. The digitisation will be carried out by a team that is based in Jakarta or Laos, or a local team may be employed to digitise. In the latter case quality of the digitisation needs to be guarded by an academic adviser in the DREAMSEA team.

    • DREAMSEA will also accept the information from public. Join us to safaguard endangered manuscripts in Southeast Asia by filling out the form and send to dreamsea.mss@gmail.com ! Spread the word so that many come forward and the rich literary heritage of Southeast Asia can be preserved for the next generations!


  1. When declared eligible for digitisation, who will digitise the manuscripts?

Our team will digitise your collection.


  1. Where will the manuscript be digitised?

The digitising activity will be carried out in the place where the manuscripts is stored. Our team is not allowed to take it out of there except with the manuscripts owner’s permission.


  1. Does the manuscript owner have to pay a fee to DREAMSEA?

No, this Programme will digitise the manuscripts to save the literary heritage and safeguard cultural diversity without having to pay high financial costs.


  1. What compensation will the manuscript owner get?

DREAMSEA cannot pay an honorarium or remuneration to owners for allowing the digitisation of their manuscripts. However, as form of compensation for the kindness received we will try to provide assistance to the owner in terms of manuscripts maintenance, compensation for electricity used and other costs incurred by owners, and possible small gifts in kind. The assistance is carried out in the form of an understanding of the importance of manuscript function in the context of human civilization. In addition, DREAMSEA will provide specialized training on manuscript preservation procedures so that the collection manuscripts can be well maintained. After the digitising activity is successfully executed, the owner of the manuscript will get one copy of digital manuscripts.


  1. What is the output of this Programme and how the manuscript owner remains accommodated in it?

The end result of the DREAMSEA Programme is a repository containing a database of manuscripts originating from Southeast Asia. In the database, DREAMSEA guarantees that the name of the owner of the manuscripts will be included in each collection of displayed digital manuscripts, if the owner would agree. However, we will inform the owners of possible consequences of the digitising process and publishing the collection online with full details, and will have to provide a range of possibilities to anonymise the owner’s name, hide details of the place the owner lives, and other personal details, if so wanted.


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