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MALAY PROJECT. GROUP MEMBERS: Ang Jin Hui Esther(2) Beh Ching Yee(4) Ng Wanwen Rose(24) CLASS: 2E. HISTORY of MALAY AKSARA First you will have to know what does AKSARA meant. 'Aksara' is the Malay word for 'alphabet' or 'system of writing'

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Ang Jin Hui Esther(2)

Beh Ching Yee(4)

Ng Wanwen Rose(24)




First you will have to know what does AKSARA meant.

'Aksara' is the Malay word for 'alphabet' or 'system of writing'

>In the Malay Archipelago, the significance of writing and literacy has a long history.

>the ability to read and write was very much revered and valued at that time.

>Scripts commanded great respect in traditional society as they were also associated with magical powers. 

>With the arrival of Islam at the end of the 13th century, religious literacy emphasize on the importance of reading the Qur’an and other religious texts.

>The scripts used in the Malay Archipelago during the pre-Islamic era were Pallava (in Sanskrit), Kawi and Nagari.

>Pallava originated from the Brahmi script of the Asoka Empire (272–231 BC) in India.

>During the Gupta Dynasty (320–540 AD), the strong Buddhist influence spread their scripts to this region.

>By the 8th century, Kawi had developed from Pallava, while Nagari appeared as a variant of the Gupta script.

>As writing and knowledge were regarded as sacred during the pre-Islamic period, it was only the ruling class, learned men, court poets and traders who were literate.


Religious texts and scriptures were jealously guarded by the few who performed priestly functions.

  • The masses wereneither literatenor given the opportunity to acquire the rudiments of the written language.
  • >With the advent of Islam, a new writing script known as jawicame into being.
  • >the use of jawienhanced the development of the Malay language, enabling it to spread extensively throughout the region
  • >In many royal courts, the Malay language written in jawibecame the diplomatic language for dealing with neighbouring states and Western powers.
  • >A fairly uniformed jawi script enabled Malay literature to spread throughout the region, which saw literary and religious works in Malay translated into some regional dialects.
  • >Jawi script became the dominant form of Malay writing system.
  • >The art of writing jawiwas later practiced in feudal courts as a symbol of grandeur and power.
  • >Most importantly, jawi was used bythe common people.
  • >With the arrival of European colonial explorers in the Malay Archipelago in the 15th century, a Latinised form of spelling and writing Malay, which became known as huruf rumi.
  • >Colonial officials initially learned jawi, over time they switched to romanised Malay which consists of 26 letters of the alphabet, sufficient to spell all the phonetic sounds in Malay.

>There isn’t any difference between using jawi or rumi as both are scripts that have been appropriated to represent the Malay language in writing.

>During the colonial period, jawi still predominated throughout the Malay Archipelago, particularly in the literary and artistic domains, Islamic theology, philosophy and mysticism, commerce and trade, as well as in feudal governance and laws.

>Over time, jawi was reserved primarily for religious writings only.

>Traders and intelligentsia of the Malay Archipelago have congregated in Singapore since 1819.

>Malay publishers, writers, educators, religious reformers and journalists made Singapore their base.

>These developments paved the way for a significant phase in the development of the Malay language, boosting the production of Malay works

>Today, script literacy is practiced and honored as a living tradition which includes Arabic script, for mastering religious scriptures, and romanised Malay script,


Brief history of JAWI…

>it is an adapted Arabic alphabet for writing the Malay language.

>Its development is linked with the arrival of Islam.

>It consists of mostly Arabic characters along with some extra characters unique to Jawi.

>The Jawi alphabet is one of the earliest scripts used for writing Malay. >Evidence of this is found in the Terengganu Inscription Stone (Batu Bersurat Terengganu), dated 1303 A.D. (702H by the Islamic calendar), whereas the earliest use of the Roman alphabet is found near the end of the 19th century.

>The Jawi script was the official script for Unfederated Malay States during British protectorate.

>Today, the script is used for religious and Malay cultural administration in Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis and Johor. The Malays in Patani still use Jawi today.



Comparing the malay language in latin alphabets and the jawi alphabets

Sample text in Malay (Latin alphabet)

Semua manusia dilahirkan bebas dan samarata dari segi kemuliaan dan hak-hak. Mereka mempunyai pemikiran dan perasaan hati dan hendaklah bertindak di antara satu sama lain dengan semangat persaudaraan.

Sample text in Malay (Jawi alphabet)


Now let us know more about KAWI language.

>Kawi is a language from the islands of Java, Bali, and Lombok. example of kawi language

>It is actually a literary language based on

Old Javanese, but heavily interlarded with

Sanskrit loanwords.

>The language has its own unique alphabets

for writing, including Old Kawi and Tulisan

Bali, a script that evolved from Pallava


>Kawi is extinct as a spoken language, but

is still used in Bali, Lombok and to some

extent in Java as a literary language.

>It is also the main language used for the

Lombok cultural practice of reading and

writing literature on the leaves of the

lontar palm.


Roman alphabets

>The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world today.

>It evolved from the western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, and was initially developed by the ancient Romans in Classical Antiquity to write the Latin language.

>During the Middle Ages, it was adapted to the Romance languages, the direct descendants of Latin, as well as to the Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, and some Slavic languages, and finally to most of the languages of Europe.

>With the age of colonialism and Christian proselytism, the Latin alphabet was spread overseas, and applied to Amerindian, Indigenous Australian, Austronesian, East Asian, and African languages.


Letters with diacritics

Digraphs, trigraphs, and tetragraphs

Latin alphabet[hide]


We have to know when the Malays use KAWI…

>The Javanese script dates back to the 8th century and was based on the Pallava script of India.

>The earliest example of the Javanese script, called Kawi (written in the Malang inscription of East Java, dated 760 A.D using the Sanskrit language)

>earliest record in Old Javanese was first written in 804 A.D in the Sukabumi inscription.

>During the Kediri period (925-1250), the old Kawi script developed into the ‘later Kawi’ through combination with the scripts from East Java and later evolved to be used in the Majapahit period (1250-1450 A.D). (Herbert, p.127)

>In the 14th century, Islam arrived in the Malay Archipelago; as a result, the Arabic script was introduced into Java, but on a limited scale.

>Some examples of this earlier Arabic writing can be found on tombstones of the 14th century in North Sumatra and East Java where it was mainly used for religious purposes.

>The arrival of the Europeans in the 17th century, the Portuguese and the Dutch, did not have much influence on Javanese writing.

>Javanese still continued using the Kawi scripts until the beginning of 20th century because it is replaced by Roman scripts

>However, the Kawi scripts are still used nowadays among scholars and Wayang specialists.


When do the Malays use


  • JAWI is intimately connected with the Malay people and the Malay language.
  • Where do Malays originate from? It has been theorized that the Malays belong to the Austronesia group who migrated out of Yunan in China in several waves and eventually settled in Southeast Asia.
  • The first wave was known as the Proto-Malays and the migration happened about 2,500 BC. About a thousand years later, a second wave known as Deutro-Malays settled in the fertile lands along the beaches and in the valleys. The Proto-Malays were pushed out and moved further inland. It is the Deutro-Malays which called themselves Malays nowadays.
  • Letters and documents were written in Jawi. Among the earliest still surviving included the letters of a number of Sultans _ Sultan Acheh to an English Captain, James Lancester written in 1601, to Harry Middleton in 1602 and to King James in 1612.
  • In Brunei too, the letters written by the various Sultans too were written in Jawi. One letter in particular survived, written by Sultan Muhammad Kanzul Alam to William Farquhar in Singapore in 1821. Replies by William Farquhar were also written in Jawi, as were agreements between Brunei and Britain.
  • One of the earliest usage of Jawi was on grave stones. The earliest in Brunei was traced to a grave in 1048 CE. Jawi must have been widely used. Brunei’s coins too, by the 15th and 16th centuries, were minted with inscriptions in Jawi.
  • The earliest known was Sultan Nasaruddin who issued coins with his name inscribed as Sultan Nasaruddin Malik Al Dzahir.

The Malay language received more influence from English but retained more Arabic words, while the Indonesian counterpart received more influence from Dutch and retained more Javanese and Jakarta Malay.

  • Throughout the 20th century, in Brunei, there were many efforts to revive Jawi as a script. When a newspaper called Berita Brunei appeared in 1957, it was partly written in Jawi, although the Jawi was dropped when it became Berita Borneo in 1958. Another publication in Jawi took over in 1958, called Malaysia, which also did not survive.
  • By the 1950s, a government ruling ensured that Jawi script would remain widely used in Brunei as shop signs are required to be written in Jawi, with the Jawi characters to be much larger than the other words on the signage.
  • Jawi is now taught in schools as well as used throughout the religious schools. At first, Jawi was dropped because it was said that children could not focus; but when the religious schools started, many Bruneians could not read their textbooks.
  • Realising the problem, His Majesty the late Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, made Jawi the official writing medium in Brunei.
  • His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in 2001 had also called for renewed efforts to ensure that Muslims in the country would be proficient in Jawi writing.Without such skills, he said, they would not be able to read the Holy Quran.
  • Jawi as a written script has survived the onslaught of the Romanised version of the Malay language. Its further survival depends on many factors.
  • we have to remember that Jawi is but a derivation of Arabic.

What is the period when the Malays start to use roman alphabets

>During the Late Modern Malay ( c1850 - 1957 ) ,Malay has absorbed numerous loan words from the colonists namely: Portuguese, Dutch and English.

>With the arrival of Western imperialism, specifically, that of the British, the role of the Malay language in officialdom began to diminish in the former Malay states of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore and Brunei.

In Sumatra (Indonesia), Malay as the language of administration was replaced by Dutch, whereas in Peninsula Malaysia, Singapore and Borneo, it was superseded by English.

Late Modern Malay incorporates loan words from Portuguese, Dutch and English.

Now we have to know which country influences the Malay aksara ….

>When the Indians set their feet on the Malay Archipelago, they brought along Vatteluttu or Pallava, an ancient Tamilscript from South India.

Thus it was the Indians who influenced the malay aksara


The earliest discovered writing of the Malay language dated back more than 1,600 years, around the 4th century. It was based on the Kutai Inscription of East Kalimantan written in Sanskrit with Indian scripts deriving from the Pallava scripts. This Pallava-based script is commonly considered to be the oldest form of Malay writing, and it continued in the Old Malay writing system.

  • There are other evidences of Old Malay. As many as four stone inscriptions had been found written in Old Malay with most of them written around the 7th century which were found in Kedukan Bukit, Talang Tuwo, Kota Kapur and Karang Brahi, all in Palembang.
  • The 13th century was the main period of change with the coming of Islam to the region. The Indian influences were replaced by the Arabic ones.
  • With the coming of Islam, the Malays tried to use the pallava or kawi characters to write about Islam. These were found to be unsuitable as they could not properly pronounce the verses of the Quran and words of Hadith.
  • The Malays experimented with Arabic characters and, in the process, invented the Jawi script. Additional letters had to be added in to the Arabic scripts to conform to the Malay syllables. These included che, nge, pa, ge and nye.
  • The earliest evidence of the existence of the Jawi script was the discovery of inscriptions on a stone dated 702H (1303 CE) where Sanskrit words could still be seen on the inscribed stone.
  • ->The Malay language and Jawi came under the influence of the Europeans by the 18th century., Jawi was not used by British Colonial Officers. It remained written in most paper currencies issued by the Straits Settlement government but the romanised Malay, “rumi”, slowly took over.