Endangered Archives

EAP729: Cataloguing, digitisation, and preservation of ancient palm leaf and paper manuscripts archived in Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF)

Dr Dilip Kumar Rana, Chinmaya International Foundation
2014 award - Major project
£13,863 for 12 months

Archival partner: Chinmaya International Foundation


Project Overview

The Chinmaya International Foundation holds 3,600 rare paper manuscripts and 200 palm-leaf manuscripts, containing information on arts, mathematics, religion, spirituality, architecture, science, technology and medicine, dating back to the late 16th century. Due to their age and exposure to natural elements, these manuscripts are disintegrating - their urgent preservation, cataloguing and digitisation will benefit researchers and scholars worldwide.

Some of the manuscripts are in a poor condition requiring curative conservation and preservation. The damaged scripts are cleaned with soft cloth and lemon grass oil is painstakingly applied to each leaf. The leaves are aired for three days and then stored in acid free paper, wrapped in cloth and stored according to subject and date in the chamber.

The manuscripts are concerned with different subject such as mathematics, Ayurveda, rituals, Dharmasastra, philosophy, Sanskrit grammar, Sanskrit literature, astrology, and Vedas. The language and scripts also varies – Sanskrit, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil and in Devanagari, Grantha and old Malayalam, respectively. These manuscripts could open up new avenues of study for researchers and scholars studying both ancient and contemporary aspects of the subjects.

The manuscripts will be digitised and copies deposited with the Chinmaya International Foundation and the British Library.

Project Outcome

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as:

  • EAP729/1 Chinmaya International Foundation (CIF)

The catalogue is available here.