curriculum vitae

malay concordance project

early malay printed books

other on-line materials

Online materials

History of Indian Religion

Printing history


Classical Malay and Concordances

Malay Texts and translations

History of Indian Religion

Ahimsa and a Mahabharata Story 

The Development of the Story of Tuladhara in the Mahabharata in connection with Non-violence, Cow protection and the Sacrifice

The story of Tuladhara is a locus classicus of the ahimsa ideal.  By applying a disciplined philological analysis to this story, the study demonstrates profound changes in attitudes to ethics, morality and ritual.  It also reveals much about the Mahabharata text tradition.

Interpreting Mahabharata Epsiodes as Sources for the History of Ideas 

Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 60 (1979): 41-63.

A critical analysis of scholarly approaches to the history of ideas, highlighting the dangers of making a priori assumptions, and suggesting means of avoiding this trap.

Economic and Social Background to Changes in Indian Religion 

The Modern Review (Calcutta), May 1967, 337-346.

A brief survey of factors associated with the radical changes in Indian religion accompanying the rise and fall of Buddhism.

Printing history

Early Malay Printed Books

Based on  Early Malay Printed Books: a provisional account of materials published in the Singapore-Malaysia area up to 1920, noting holdings in major public collections, Kuala Lumpur: The Academy of Malay Studies and the Library, University of Malaya, 1993.

•  On-line catalogue, including additions post-1993. 

•  Downloadable files of the original 1993 edition. 

Mass Producing Houri’s Moles, or Aesthetics and Choice of Technology in Early Muslim Book Printing 

Islam: Essays on Scripture, Thought and Society. A Festschrift in honour of Anthony H. Johns, ed. P. Riddell and A. Street, Leiden: Brill, 1997, pp.161-184. Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science, vol 28. Reproduced here with the kind permission of E.J. Brill.

A discussion of why the Islamic world, with a highly literate culture, was nevertheless late in adopting the technology of printing, and the important role played by lithography as a technique of printing readily adaptable to the needs of Muslim printers and readers.  The role of India in promoting Muslim lithographic printing was critical.

Malay Books printed in Bombay: a report on sources for historical bibliography 

Kekal Abadi (Kuala Lumpur), 13.3 (September 1994): 1-20.

In the early twentieth century, most old-style jawi books – kitab, hikayat and syair – in Malay and Javanese were imported from Bombay, through agent in Singapore.

A Nineteenth-century Malay Bookseller's Catalogue 

Kekal Abadi (Kuala Lumpur) 6.4 (1987): 1-11.

Haji Muhammad Siraj, Singapore’s leading bookseller, published this catalogue for his mail-order clients.  It gives a fascinating snapshot of the Malay book market.

A Pioneer Publisher in Palembang 

Kekal Abadi (Kuala Lumpur) 1.4 (1985): 14-18.

An early publication from Palembang throws light on readership and the displacement of a manuscript lending library by cheaper printed books.

Robinsion Crusoe in Indonesia 

Asia-Pacific Magazine, nos.6 & 7 (1997): 42-48.

When translated into the context of nineteenth-century Indonesian schoolrooms, Defoe’s story becomes a revolutionary hymn to individualism and justification for imperialism.

Malay Materials in the Houghton Library, Harvard 

Kekal Abadi (Kuala Lumpur) 19.1 (2000): 1-14.

The Houghton Library now holds the collection of the main American missionary society (ABCFM), including books collected by Alfred North and Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir formerly kept in the Singapore mission library.


A sketch of the Christian and Indonesian Muslim calendars 

A very brief outline of the calendars for historians of Indonesia.  The calendars covered are:  Christian (Julian, Gregorian),  Muslim (rukyah, hisabi),  Javanese-Muslim.

AHAD, a macro for converting Muslim and Christian dates.

This macro runs in Microsoft Word and in OpenOffice Writer.   It will convert a Muslim date to a Christian date and vice versa.  Once the macro is installed, it very easy to use.   It is only necessary to highlight the date you wish to convert, activate the macro, and the result will be pasted into your document.   The download packages include instructions for installing the macro.

•  AHAD for Miscrosoft Word 

•  AHAD for OpenOffice Writer 

Classical Malay and Concordances

Malay Concordance Project 

A corpus of pre-modern Malay texts, now comprising over 140 texts and 5.7 million words, including 120,000 verses.  It can be searched in ways that throw light on meanings and contexts, morphological patterns, and changing usage over time.

Concordances and Classical Malay 

Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 147 (1991):74-95.

Outlines the thinking behind concordances in general and the Malay Concordance Project, concordance in particular, and the issues facing concordance-makers.

First steps in classical Malay syntax 

Notes prepared for a class at the Australian National University, illustrating the word-order patterns of classical Malay prose.

Malay Texts and Translations

The Story of a Javanese Lieutenant

Tjrita-an dari satoe Letenant Djawa: the Malay text 

The story was published as a serial in the Surabaya Malay newspaper Bintang Timor from May to July 1865. It is a Malay adaptation of a Dutch sketch by W.A. van Rees, “Een inlandsch Luitenant”, pp.81-107 of W.A. van Rees, Toontje Poland, voorafgegaan door eenige Indische typen, Arnhem: D.A. Thieme, 1867.

Its theme is the irrationality and inhumanity of colour-based discrimination in the Netherlands Indies. I have given an English translation of the Malay version in my article, “Room to manoeuvre in the nineteenth-century Indies Malay press: the story of a Javanese Lieutenant“, Indonesia and the Malay World 102 (July 2007): 155–182.

A Malay Merchant of Venice

Syair Saudagar Bodoh: an English translation 

The Stupid Merchant is an example of popular Malay literature in the nineteenth century. It is written in the simple ballad style known as syair, in rhymed quatrains. Ballads in this style were immensely popular in the days when stories were meant to be read aloud. It is supposed that there was a craze for this kind of literature in the nineteenth century, but there are good reasons to believe that this popular genre has a much longer pedigree.

It is interesting that the more popular ballads of the nineteenth century have strong women as their protagonists. The Stupid Merchant shares this trait. This is in very marked contrast to the feudal and courtly cast of most Malay literature, in which the obligatory beautiful princess is no more than the swooning plaything of powerful and handsome men. The more popular ballads seem to envisage a rather different kind of society: not so court-centred, and not so patriarchal.