Centuries-Old Manuscripts Showcased at The Apurva Kempinski Bali

Now gracing the majestic Pendopo Lobby at The Apurva Kempinski Bali are historical palm-leaf manuscripts known as lontar, on display until 31 May 2024. Working together with Samsara Living Museum, the resort presents ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika Lontar Exhibition’ to showcase Indonesia’s literary heritage with guests and visitors.

The exhibition features incredibly rare lontar, some of which date back to 400 BCE, offering ancient writings that explore social dynamics, spirituality, and our relationship with the natural world. The highlight is most certainly the Kakawin Sutasoma, an ancient Javanese poem which introduced the phrase Bhinneka Tungga Ika, Indonesia’s national motto meaning ‘Unity in Diversity’. It was written by Mpu Tantular (1365-1389), a prominent scholar and King Hayam Wuruk’s advisor during the Majapahit era in the 14th century.

These precious lontar come from the family of Ida Bagus Made Gunawan and Ida Bagus Agung Gunarthawa, who have devoted themselves to conserving, promoting, and safeguarding the cultural values through Samsara Living Museum in Karangasem.

The exhibition opened on 3 April 2024 and its ceremonious launching began with a mystical reading performance of the Kakawin Sutasoma by Ida Bagus Agung Gunarthawa. This was followed by an engaging talkshow with the founders of Samsara Living Museum as well as Ayu Kartika Dewi, a special aide to the President of Republic of Indonesia and Managing Director of Indika Foundation, whose endeavours aim to nurture the spirit of tolerance and diversity as well as advocate for education across the country. The discussion centred on the very essence of ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika’ (Unity in Diversity) and how it plays out in modern day Indonesia, drawing on themes of cultural inheritance, cross-cultural tolerance and social harmony among diverse communities.

Guests are able to see these historic artefacts in person, and delve deep into their histories through a curated guidebook made available. For further reading, feel free to access the guidebook here.


NOW Bali Editorial Team

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