ASEAN Going Digital to Preserve the Region’s Cultural Heritage

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ASEAN Going Digital to Preserve the Region’s Cultural Heritage
Novia Rulistia and The ASEAN Editorial Team
ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Department
7 May 2020
ASEAN Identity and Community Building, Culture

Take a virtual journey to Southeast Asia’s museums, galleries, and libraries.

Through the ASEAN Cultural Heritage Digital Archive (ACHDA) website, now visitors can take a virtual tour of the digitised objects, which are on display in museums, galleries, and libraries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. The three are the participating countries in the project’s first phase which began in 2018.

ASEAN launched the digital archive on 27 February 2020 at the ASEAN Secretariat, in Jakarta.

At the launch, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, Kung Phoak, highlighted that the project is an important step for ASEAN, as it works to preserve the region’s cultural heritage for future generations. “I hope ASEAN citizens using the website will better appreciate the shared cultural heritage and instill in them a greater regional sense of belonging as we work towards fostering ASEAN Identity,” DSG Kung said in his opening remarks.

There are 161 cultural relics that have been meticulously documented in three-dimensional (3D) images, audio recordings, and videos.Tokyo-based NTT Data Asia Pacific assisted ASEAN with the process of digitisation.

The La Galigo script, an epic written in the 14th century, is one of the digitised documents from Indonesia. The script was inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World registry in 2011.

The website also gives a glimpse of Mak Yong, an ancient theatre form from Malaysia that combines ritual elements with acting, dancing, music, song, story, and spontaneous dialogues. The show is also performed in some parts of the ASEAN region.

Thailand presents a collection of gilded manuscript cabinets in 3D, which allows viewers to look at the intricately crafted stories involving mythical creatures in greater detail.

The ACHDA website also features a wide and rich collection of palm leaf manuscripts, modern and contemporary art, stone inscriptions, sculptures and statues, weapons, and golden jewels.

Japan Ambassador to ASEAN Akira Chiba said the ACHDA project was in line with Japan’s ASEAN Diplomacy which also aimed to protect and nurture Asia’s diverse cultural heritage and traditions.

This is an innovative project benefitting not only ASEAN but the whole world. Anyone can access cultural heritage easily through this ACHDA website anytime and anywhere, Chiba said.

The second phase of the project is scheduled to start in mid-2020 and will digitise collections from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam. All ASEAN Member States will be covered by the project in succeeding years.

The launch was capped by a tour of Indonesia’s National Museum and National Library to show attendees some of the cultural objects that were included in the digital archive.

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