The digital image of Sultan Syarif Kasim II’s crown is stored at the Asean cultural heritage archive. The Sultan of Siak Sri Indrapura (1915-1949) handed the crown to Indonesia after its declaration of independence in 1945 as a grand gesture of the sultanate submission to the Republic of Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of Asean Cultural Heritage Archive)

Works Begin to Digitize Asean Cultural Heritage With Japan's Help

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

FEBRUARY 29, 2020

Jakarta. Countries in Southeast Asia have received assistance from Japan to digitize their diverse cultural heritages to ensure that they can be passed on to future generations.

Japan has provided the financial assistance and technological supports by Tokyo-based tech company NTT Data for the ten countries grouping in the Asean to run the project.

The bloc's socio-cultural deputy secretary general Kung Phoak said digitizing cultural heritage is pivotal in evoking a greater sense of belonging among Asean.

Passed on from one generation to another, cultural heritage has always been depicted as part of Asean's identity as a diverse yet inclusive society. However, the bloc has to face the stark reality that cultural heritage is extremely susceptible to damage - be it from natural and man-made disasters or degradation. Other challenges include the physical distance, which makes it inaccessible for the Asean people in different countries.

To prevent the irreplaceable history from being lost and exclusive, the bloc decided to digitize their heritage with the launch of the Asean Cultural Heritage Digital Archive (ACHDA).

"The ACHDA is a holistic approach to make Asean cultural heritage more inclusive and accessible to all. As we are gearing towards a shared identity, we need to enhance our understanding of the region's rich culture," Phoak said at the Asean secretariat building in Jakarta on Thursday.

The digital archive project is funded by the Japan-Asean Integration Fund (JAIF), financial support by the Japanese government aims to accelerate the bloc's integration efforts.

Japanese ambassador to Asean Akira Chiba also addressed the importance of heritage digitization with the loss of Japan's world Shuri Castle in Okinawa due to a suspected electrical fault in 2019.

"Hundreds of valuable heritages at the world heritage site were lost in the fire. Since then, we have been grieving a cultural loss. This is why we have to archive our heritage digitally," Akira said.

This 16-carat Golden Bowl is adorned with eight scenes of the Ramayana story. It was discovered unintentionally by a sand digger in a rice field located in Wonoboyo Village, Klaten Regency, Central Java Province, in 1990. (Photo courtesy of Asean Cultural Heritage Archive)
This 16-carat Golden Bowl is adorned with eight scenes of the Ramayana story. It was discovered unintentionally by a sand digger in a rice field located in Wonoboyo Village, Klaten Regency, Central Java Province, in 1990. (Photo courtesy of Asean Cultural Heritage Archive)

Thanks to Japanese tech company NTT Data, the first phase of ACHDA has digitally archived 160 cultural assets from Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia at a publicly accessible website.

The digital archive includes the 3D model of the Prajnaparamita sculpture - an embodiment of wisdom in Buddhism - that is placed initially at Indonesia Museum in Jakarta.

"With the 3D imaging of our AMLAD system, we can pass Asean's cultural heritage to future generations. The 3D model is also able to pick up the slightest detail that can be zoomed to up to 0.01 microns," NTT Data Asia Pacific chief executive Ken Tsuchihashi said.

AMLAD is the company’s product that allows users to store and archive large digital files including images, videos and audios and provides solution for museums, libraries and public archives around the world.

Asean seeks to digitize the cultural heritage of its member states in the succeeding years with the second phase comprising Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

Japanese ambassador to Asean Akira Chiba, Asean socio-cultural community deputy general Kung Phoak, Education and Culture Ministry senior advisor Ananto Kusuma, and NTT Data Asia Pacific Ken Tsuchihashi at the ACDHA launch in Jakarta on Thursday. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa).
From left: Japanese ambassador to Asean Akira Chiba, Asean socio-cultural community deputy general Kung Phoak, Education and Culture Ministry senior advisor Ananto Kusuma, and NTT Data Asia Pacific Ken Tsuchihashi at the ACDHA launch in Jakarta on Thursday. (JG Photo/Jayanty Nada Shofa)..

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