Digitisation of rare palm-leaf manuscripts: Minister opens full-fledged Fumigation Chamber at ORI
News

Digitisation of rare palm-leaf manuscripts: Minister opens full-fledged Fumigation Chamber at ORI

September 30, 2022

Mysuru: A full-fledged Fumigation Chamber to conserve rare palm-leaf manuscripts at the Oriental Research Institute (ORI) was inaugurated by the Minister for Higher Education, IT and BT Dr. C.N. Ashwathnarayan yesterday.

ORI, established 130 years ago, is a repository of thousands of manuscripts that date back to more than 700 years in languages including Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. It also has 41,000 rare printed and other types of manuscripts. The manuscripts include the rarest and a complete treatise of Kautilya’s Arthashastra.

These manuscripts of ancient and mediaeval India are preserved by way of literary works and treatise on various subjects. University of Mysore (UoM) has signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Bengaluru’s Mythic Society for digitisation of manuscripts.

Normally chemical treatments are given using Fumigation Chambers to protect palm-leaves from white ants, fungus and other insects. Dried and powdered leaves of Aswagandha in small packets are kept with the manuscripts covered in clothes to repel insect attack.

Minister opens full-fledged Fumigation Chamber at ORI

Knowledge at fingertips

Impressed with the collection of manuscripts, Dr. Ashwathnarayan said that a slice of Indian heritage is available in the manuscripts collected at the ORI over several decades. “I appreciate the ongoing efforts in conservation and digitisation and once the project is complete, the knowledge and ancient Indian wisdom enshrined in the manuscripts would be easily available to scholars for research. This would add to the knowledge base,” he added.  

As per the project specifications, the palm-leaf manuscripts will be cleaned and a regular process for cleaning and preserving them will be put in place while the catalogue of titles that include palm leaf manuscripts, handwritten works and collection of printed works will be made available to the public.

READ ALSO  ‘The Malabar Gold and Diamonds Artistry Store’ launched in Bengaluru

Also, all the palm leaf works and books will be image-scanned and preserved in a safe place, while the images will be put for crowd-sourced text digitisation. The first phase entailing cleansing and conservation will take two years after which the scanning, digitisation and hosting a website will be taken up in a phase-wise manner, the Minister was told by UoM Vice-Chancellor Prof. G. Hemantha Kumar.

Minister opens full-fledged Fumigation Chamber at ORI

Process ensures longevity

The manuscripts are first cleaned with brushes and placed in a fumigation chamber to improve longevity of these manuscripts. For fumigation, the manuscripts will be placed inside the Fumigation Chamber to make them free from dust and termites.

At one time, around 20-25 manuscripts could be fumigated. With this simple technology, these manuscripts may be preserved for another 400-500 years. After the cleaning process,  lemon grass oil is applied to the fumigated manuscripts and dried for some time.

The Minister was told that the next process involves wrapping the manuscripts in a red cotton cloth before digitisation. After the manuscripts dry following lemon grass oil application, starch content is completely removed from the red cloth to ensure that there is no moisture.

As part of the digitisation, the manuscripts will be image-scanned. Palm leaf works will be identified and their Unicode digitisation will be undertaken with the help of manuscript readers. The scanned copies are then converted to formats including PDF, jpeg and PNG and uploaded on the website that will be the exclusive property of the ORI, the Minister was told.

Chief Minister’s e-administration advisor Belur Sudarshan, Mythic Society Honorary Secretary V. Nagaraj, ORI Director Dr. Ramapriya and Registrar Prof. R. Shivappa were present.

ABOUT

Mysuru’s favorite and largest circulated English evening daily has kept the citizens of Mysuru informed and entertained since 1978. Over the past 45 years, Star of Mysore has been the newspaper that Mysureans reach for every evening to know about the happenings in Mysuru city. The newspaper has feature rich articles and dedicated pages targeted at readers across the demographic spectrum of Mysuru city. With a readership of over 2,50,000 Star of Mysore has been the best connection between it’s readers and their leaders; between advertisers and customers; between Mysuru and Mysureans.

CONTACT

Academy News Papers Private Limited, Publishers, Star of Mysore & Mysuru Mithra, 15-C, Industrial ‘A’ Layout, Bannimantap, Mysuru-570015. Phone no. – 0821 249 6520

To advertise on Star of Mysore, email us at

Online Edition: [email protected]
Print Editon: [email protected]
For News/Press Release: [email protected]