National Mission for Manuscripts


Oct 12, VISAKHAPATNAM, INDIA (SUN) — Manuscript Conservation becoming a National imperative in India.

India is the repository of an astounding wealth of ancient knowledge belonging to different periods of history, going back uncountable years. This knowledge primarily belongs to areas of intellectual activity such as religion, philosophy, science, arts and literature. It is preserved in the form of manuscripts that are composed in numerous Indian languages and scripts. Using whatever materials were readily available, the scribes preserved these manuscripts on materials such as bamboo leaf, birch bark, palm leaf, cloth, wood, stone and paper.

According to the National Mission for Manuscripts, India has possibly already lost a vast number of these manuscripts, which lie in a state of decay and damage. Among the extant collection, only a small percentage of manuscripts have been surveyed and documented properly. Experts fear that nearly all the palm leaf manuscripts may perish in the near future due to decay, wear and tear. The National Mission for Manuscripts is spearheading the national effort to protect this invaluable legacy.

The National Mission for Manuscripts was established to survey and locate manuscripts wherever they may be found in India. They are databasing an extensive catalogue of the manuscripts, which will eventually be made available to the general public. Leading conservationists in India are working to preserve damaged or threatened manuscripts and are setting standards for ongoing manuscript conservation.

The Mission has established an extensive network of Manuscript Resource and Conservation Centres along with partner groups from various institutions around the country. Many are themselves repositories of large numbers of manuscripts.

The New India Press recently reported on the manuscript conservation lab (MCL) at VS Krishna Library of Andhra University, which is now the second MCL in the State after the Gowtami Library at Rajahmundry.

With funding from the National Mission for Manuscripts, the lab is preparing catalogues, conserving manuscripts and providing technical training in manuscriptology and paleography, documentation and research and publication.

"According to Salar Jung Museum chief conservator Ahmed Ali, there are 16 repositories in Hyderabad in addition to the MCL at Rajahmundry. Together they have 5,286 manuscripts. Up to July 2006, 4,61,598 folios were given preventive conservation treatment and 66,628 curative treatment."

For more information please visit the National Mission for Manuscripts website.


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