Mardijker People in Batavia Their history, language and literature

Date & Time

Fri & Sat 9th – 10th September 2022 


Trainee Centre 2.40, TŘ. SVOBODY 686/26


Some years ago, a lost manuscript was rediscovered in the National Library of Lisbon. It contains eleven stories from the late 17th/early 18th century in non-standard forms of Malay and Portuguese, and is written in the form of “pantuns”. The pantun is a traditional Malay verse form. The Malay variety used in these stories turns out to be a form of Vehicular (or “Low”) Malay which is similar to the Malay dialects spoken in eastern Indonesia. The Portuguese is a form of Asian creole Portuguese.

The manuscript gives us a unique insight in social interaction and
daily life in Batavia (the name of Jakarta in colonial times) and in
the literary and linguistic landscape of the city. In the 17th century,
this multi-ethnic city included a large group of “Mardijker” people,
freed slaves who were brought in from South Asia, eastern Indonesia
and (in a few cases) the Philippines. The manuscript also provides us
with the only specimens of the languages spoken by these Mardijker

The manuscript was transcribed, translated and annotated by an international team of experts, resulting in the edition of a bilingual book “Livro de Pantuns / Book of Pantuns” which was recently published by the Biblioteca Leitiana, (Lisboa/Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 2022).

In this workshop the editors will discuss some of the issues they have
encountered in the preparation of this book, and they are joined by
other experts on Malay and Portuguese literature and creole studies.


  • Sander Adelaar (Sinophone Project, Palacký University, Olomouc | University of Melbourne: The Book of Pantuns: what it tells us about the linguistic landscape in 17th century Dutch colonies)
  • Hugo C. Cardoso (Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Letras: Contributions of the Book of Pantuns to the description of Java Creole Portuguese)
  • Tom Hoogervorst (Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, Leiden: Malay lessons from Lodewijk Dominicus)
  • Gijs Koster (University of Minho, Portugal Incipient Lyricism and Rugged Balladry: The Poems in Malay in the Livro de Pantuns Waruno Mahdi Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, Berlin Some early reports on Mardijkers)
  • Waruno Mahdi (Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society,
    Berlin: Some early reports on Mardijkers)