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Cornelis Christiaan Berg collection

Identifier: ubl245

Scope and Contents

The collection reflects Berg’s main scholarly interests, resulting in numerous publications, and his teachings as a professor of Javanese and Javanese-Balinese linguistics and philology as well. The bulk of the collection consists of Javanese, Javanese-Balinese, Balinese and Old Javanese texts on palm leaf and on paper, including diplomatic documents.

The collection also includes some texts in Arabic-Javanese, Arabic, Malay, Madurese, Minahasa, one palm leaf manuscript from India (not yet identified), and many portfolios containing papers registered as "miscellanies" (including materials related to the language of the Talaud Islands, off the coast of North Celebes).

It is almost impossible to single out highlights in the collection, since many original texts have a great significance. One should keep in mind, however, that a significant part of the collection consists of romanised transcripts of manuscripts held at Leiden University Library.

It is nonetheless noteworthy to mention an impressive collection of transcripts of sound recordings of daily spoken dialects made by professor Berg all over Java and Madura (see below, CB 135). The 78rpm disc records were thought to have been destroyed in Batavia (Jakarta) during the Japanese invasion in 1942 (Pigeaud 196: 780). Surprisingly, they were rediscovered in the National Library of Indonesia in 2006.

A Malay manuscript acquired by professor Berg also deserves special mention, since it escaped the attention of the author of the catalogue of Malay manuscripts acquired by the Library up to 1998. The Hikayat Istambul (see below, CB 137) relates the Crimean war between Turkey and its European allies and Russia (1853-1856). The manuscript was fortunately identified by Petrus Voorhoeve (1899-1996), who described its contents, remarkable origin and location in one of his catalogues (Voorhoeve 1994: 54).

A portfolio containing original documents issued at the court of Palembang in the 17th Century deserves special mention as well (CB 146).

Items and portfolios Collectie Berg (CB):

  1. CB 1-27, CB 34: Palm-leaf manuscripts. Javanese and Javanese-Balinese texts on paper.
  2. CB 28: Loose leaves with Javanese narrative drawings in a popular naturalistic style, partly in Wayang style.
  3. CB 29-32: Arabic-Javanese and Arabic manuscripts.
  4. CB 33: Notes on the Javanese language and original Javanese letters originally from the estate of J.F.C. Gericke (1799-1857).
  5. CB 35: Arabic manuscript (ḵabar al-miʿrāǧ).
  6. CB 36: Malay texts from Timor (Kupang).
  7. CB 37: Collective volume with texts in Acehnese.
  8. CB 38: Bible stories in Minahasa.
  9. CB 39-117: Transcripts of Javanese-Balinese palm leaf manuscripts held in Bali.
  10. CB 118: Javanese-Balinese, Balinese and Malay. Portfolio containing genealogical and historical notes, copies of genealogical trees of Balinese noble families and Malay royal families. Copies made c. 1930 of documents originally belonging to the Dutch Government Archives in Bali.
  11. CB 119-124: Transcripts of Javanese-Balinese palmleaf manuscripts held in Bali.
  12. CB 125-133: Handwritten miscellanies (Javanese transcripts, four lists of Javanese manuscripts in private ownership in Indonesia before World War II.
  13. CB 134 (1-14): Materials pertaining to the Talaud language.
  14. CB 135 (1-14): Transcripts of c. 2000 phonographic records of spoken dialects, made in 1938-1939 by professor Berg in all districts of Java and Madura. Photographs of the Philips recording instruments, correspondence.
  15. CB 136 (1-2): Small collection originally from J.J. van Limburg Brouwer, school inspector in Surabaya (c. 1870-1880). Madurese, Javanese and Old Javanese texts, c. 100 Javanese letters (1830-1880), one religious text in Sundanese, Dutch, correspondence.
  16. CB 137: Malay manuscript, part of the small collection E.W. Maurenbrecher acquired by prof. Berg in 1933, originally from Karel Frederik Holle (1829-1896). Hikayat Istambul. (Hikayat tjerita sultan istambul tatkala berperang dengan radja moskou). On the Crimean war (1853-1856). A copy of this manuscript is MS Jakarta Ml. 699 (formerly Brandes collection No. 319), held at the National Library of Indonesia.
  17. CB 138-145: Collection presented on 12 June 1933 to Prof. Berg by assistant resident E.W. Maurenbrecher. East Javanese manuscripts on paper.
  18. CB 146: Palembang (Undang-undang Palembang. 1756-1800). Javanese, Malay notes (jawi).
  19. CB147: Balinese palmleaf manuscript. Unidentified. Presented to Prof. Berg in 1952 by J.L.B. Schoonheijt, Frankfurt.
  20. CB 148-153: Javanese-Balinese texts. Transcripts of Javanese-Balinese palmleaf manuscripts held in the collection of Putu JlantikPutu Jlantik (Singaraja, 1928).

Portfolios Bruikleen Collectie Berg (BCB):

BCB 1-221: Romanised copies by J. Soegiarto of Javanese, Javanese-Balinese, Balinese and also Madurese (see BCB 192-205, 212) manuscripts held at Leiden University Library, Leiden, and in private collections.

The portfolios with the following serial numbers originally given by Prof. Berg are not part of the collection: BCB 19, 37, 44-45, 49-50, 52-54, 58, 61-63, 70, 82-140, 160, 184, 187, 191, 206.

Donation C.C. Berg Jr. (acquisition 1991):

Or. 26.575 (1-51): Typewritten and handwritten scholarly notes, and draft articles or chapters of Berg’s publications (a.o. Mahābhārata, Arjunawiwāha), Javanese grammar, romanised copies of Javanese, Javanese-Balinese manuscripts. Correspondence with Louis-Charles Damais (1911-1966), member of the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient in Jakarta: letters of Damais to Berg, some draft letters by Berg to Damais (1947-1951).


  • Creation: 1790-1950
  • Creation: Bulk 1900-1950

Language of Materials

Various languages, including Javanese, Old Javanese, Balinese

Conditions Governing Use

Regulations that apply during the use of these materials can be found on the website of Leiden University Library.

Biographical / Historical

Cornelis Christiaan (Kees) Berg was born in Rotterdam-West on 18 December 1900. He went to elementary school in his own neighbourhood, where his intelligence and aptitude for learning were soon noticed and rewarded by private lessons from his headmaster and a clergyman. For his further education at a grammar school, Berg was sent to Schiedam. The parents of this promising young boy could though not afford the tuition fees and money was raised by their church and a family member to ensure the further education of the boy. When he passed his final exams on 2 July 1919, Berg had already, besides French, German, English, Latin and Greek, an amazingly good command of Hebrew. He was obviously predisposed for an academic career. His future as a brilliant student and scholar proved his choice to be the right one. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Colonies, Berg could matriculate at the University of Leiden on 23 September 1919. On 9 June 1922 he obtained his Bachelor’s degree (BA) in Arabic and Islam, Sanskrit and the Cultural History of India and Geography of the Indonesian Archipelago, followed on 20 March 1925 by a Master’s degree (MA) in Javanese, Austronesian Comparative Linguistics, Ancient History and Archaeology. Berg studied Javanese with G.A.J. Hazeu (1870-1929), and took his doctorate cum laude on 8 July 1927 with his thesis on the Middle Javanese historical tradition (De Middeljavaansche historische traditie).

Berg left for Java at the end of 1927, accompanied by his wife and first child, and was appointed teacher in Javanese language and literature at the secondary school (Algemene Middelbare School) in Solo, and later Yogyakarta.

Berg’s stay in Java would be unexpectedly short. In late 1828, his mentor and doctoral supervisor, Prof. Hazeu, resigned for health reasons. Berg was appointed to replace him at the chair of Javanese at Leiden University. Before embarking for the Netherlands, Berg undertook a study trip to Bali where he collected many copies of manuscripts and to the Philippines. Back in Leiden, Berg held his inaugural lecture on 20 February 1929 on the history of Javanese literature (Hoofdlijnen der Javaansche literatuurgeschiedenis).

In 1938, Berg was granted a leave from the Leiden university, primarily to conduct a linguistic survey of local dialects in the districts of Java and Madura. With their respective superiors’ assent, Berg and his colleague G.W.J. Drewes (1899-1992), professor at the High School of Law in Batavia (Jakarta), agreed to change places. Drewes departed for the Netherlands, whereas Berg left for Java with his family. In his luggage he carried the Philips recording equipment necessary for Berg’s purpose.

Berg’s activities in Java suddenly came to an end when the Japanese invaded Java in March 1942. He and his family were fortunate to survive the Japanese internment and could return home safely in 1946. Berg resumed his professor’s duties at Leiden University, and in 1949 accepted the newly-created chair of Austronesian linguistics. Berg was rector of Leiden university in 1948-1949.

In addition to his professorship in Leiden, Berg was appointed in 1951 to the post of professor for the History and Development of the Indonesian Language (Bahasa Indonesia), attached to the >Royal Institute of the Tropics (Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen) in Amsterdam.

Berg retired from his position at Leiden University on 20 September 1971. As emeritus professor, he continued his scholarly work and added several publications to his impressive bibliography, in particular the second volume of his magnum opus (Māyā's hemelvaart in het Javaanse Boeddhisme). He passed away on 25 June 1990, leaving a third volume unpublished.

Berg was member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen) from 1947 onwards.

In 1925 Berg, who was also musician and a talented singer, married Alida Apollonia van Ulden (d. 1978), a talented pianist. The couple had five daughters and two sons. The well-known botanist Cornelis Christian Berg (1934-2012) was one of Berg’s nephews.

In Berg’s biographical sketch, J. Soegiarto deserves special mention: Soegiarto accompanied Berg to the Netherlands in 1929 and was part of Berg’s household for many years. Soegiarto was assistant to Professor Berg and his successors at the chair of Javanese for more than thirty years. His numerous romanised transcripts and summaries of literary works held at the Leiden University Library are valued aids for the students of Javanese and Javanese-Balinese literature.


14 metres (c. 400 portfolios)

Abstract in Dutch

De collectie bijeengebracht door professor C.C. Berg (1900-1990) omvat hoofdzakelijk teksten op palmblad en papier in Javaans, Oudjavaans (Kawi), Javaans-Balinees en Balinees. De teksten en overige documenten weerspiegelen het onderzoeksveld en het professoraat van een geleerde die zijn leven, hetzij op Java, hetzij aan de Leidse Universiteit, grotendeels aan de Javaanse taal, literatuur en cultuur heeft gewijd.

Abstract in English

The collection brought together by Professor C.C. Berg (1900-1990) contains essentially texts on palmleaf and paper in Javanese, Old Javanese (Kawi), Javanese-Balinese and Balinese. The texts and other documents reflect the research field of a scholar and professor who dedicated most of his active life to the Javanese language, literature and culture either in Java or in Leiden.

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

  1. Javanese, Old Javanese, Javanese-Balinese, Balinese manuscripts : Pigeaud 1968, pp. 761-808.
  2. Acehnese manuscript : Voorhoeve 1994, pp. 242-243.
  3. Malay manuscript : Voorhoeve 1994, p. 54.
  4. The original Madurese manuscripts held at Leiden University Library, and copied by J. Soegiarto on behalf of professor Berg, are described in Juynboll 1907, pp. 47-65.

A descriptive list of the contents of the portfolios and bundles registered under Or. 26.575 is not yet available.

Custodial History

C.C. Berg collected manuscripts, copies of manuscripts and miscellaneous documents related to Javanese topics during his stay in Java (1927-1929, 1938-1946), and his trip to Bali (1928). In fact, the bulk of the documents collected in Indonesia Berg entrusted to Leiden University Library were brought together during his first stay. In 1938 and following years, Berg main research focused on his linguistic survey of local dialects in Java and Madura. The transcripts of the sound recordings were recovered after the war, but most of his belongings, and the materials he must have collected between 1938 and 1942, were lost as a result of the inevitable confiscation of his house after the Japanese invasion in March 1942.

In Leiden, mostly before his second stay in Java, professor Berg brought together a considerable amount of romanised transcripts of Javanese, Old Javanese Javanese-Balinese and Balinese manuscripts made by his assistant, J. Soegiarto.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

C.C. Berg gave on loan manuscripts and portfolios on several occasions. In 1950-1951 he entrusted to the Leiden University Library 38 manuscripts (CB 1-38), followed in September 1958 by the greater part of his collection of (copies of) manuscripts and scholarly notes (CB 39-153). This first loan collection was registered as "Collectie Berg" (CB).

Berg was still active in 1958, and therefore kept a substantial amount of transcripts of manuscripts and papers at his home, all the while collecting new materials for his research and publications. The bulk of this collection consists of romanised copies of manuscripts made in Leiden by Berg’s assistant J. Soegiarto. This resulted in a second loan collection registered as "Bruikleen Collectie Berg" (BCB). Both loan collections are now the property of Leiden University.

After Berg’s death on 25 June 1990, his son, C.C. Berg Jr., allowed the curator of the Leiden Oriental Collections to select a number of relevant materials from his father’s estate in Leiden. This donation has been incorporated into the Oriental collections under the classmark Or. 26.575, followed by the serial numbers 1-51.


No future additions are to be expected.

Related Materials

Javanese-Balinese manuscripts donated to the Library by C.C. Berg in 1932 and 1958 (Or. 6325, Or. 6911, Or. 8377).

The collection C.C. Berg is part of the larger Indonesian and Malaysian Special Collections preserved at the Leiden University Library.

Separated Materials

C.C. Berg bequeathed his own reference library of printed books to the Library of the University of Canberra.

A collection of 78rpm disc records of popular idioms spoken by common people in daily life in Java en Madura made by C.C. Berg in Java in 1938-1941 is held at the National Museum, Jakarta.


  • Biografisch portaal (Berg, Cornelis Christiaan)
  • Juynboll, H.H., Supplement op den catalogus van de Javaansche en Madoereesche handschriften der Leidsche Universiteits-Bibliotheek. Vol. I. Leiden 1907.
  • Pigeaud, Th., Literature of Java. Catalogue raisonné of Javanese manuscripts in the Library of the University of Leiden and other public collections in the Netherlands, Vol. 2 : Descriptive lists of Javanese manuscripts, Leiden 1968 (Codices manuscripti; 10).
  • Ras, J.J., In Memoriam Professor Dr. C.C. Berg, BKI 147 (1991), pp. 1-11.
  • Nagelkerke, Gerard A., Bibliografie Cornelis Christiaan Berg, BKI 147 (1991), pp. 12-16.
  • Uhlenbeck, E.M., Cornelis Christiaan Berg: 18 december 1990 – 25 juni 1990, Jaarboek 1991 Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, pp. 131-136.
  • Voorhoeve, P., Catalogue of Acehnese manuscripts in the Library of Leiden University and other collections outside Aceh , Leiden 1994 (Codices manuscripti; 24).


All material can be requested via the online catalogue (tab Special Collections; request uncatalogued materials) and consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Collection guide of the Cornelis Christiaan Berg collection (1790-1950)
Collectie Cornelis Christiaan Berg
Marie-Odette Scalliet, 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het Engels.

Revision Statements

  • 23 February 2015: latest update

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

Witte Singel 27
Leiden 2311 BG Netherlands
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