Endangered Archives

EAP759: Survey of Bengal puthis discovered in Sundarbans, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal

Dr Satish Kumar, Queen's University Belfast
2014 award - Pilot project
£9,180 for 10 months

Archival partner: Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, Sundarban Ancholik Sangrahasala


Project Overview

This pilot project aims to rescue & record Bengali manuscripts, or puthis, in private museums in the Sundarban coastal belt of West Bengal, India. These manuscripts contain literary, political, mythological and historical treatises. Through the centuries, the Bengal delta has been receptive to influences from both northern and northeast India, as well as from the Middle East and Europe. The Hindu and Mulim worlds intersected here, resulting in a profound mingling of religious, intellectual and artistic traditions, and the manuscripts also describe the political and mercantile history of the coastal region.

There are more than 70 private museums in Sundarban that contain these invaluable texts. Most of the manuscripts are fragile and are slowly being destroyed by pests and exposure to the humid conditions of tropical weather and coastal environment. A collection of 300 manuscripts held in the Sundarban Ancholik Sangrahasala dating back to the eighteenth century will be digitised. The project will also produce a written survey report of all the documents that are held in the local private archives as well as those held by individual families that would form the basis for a future major digitisation project.

Project Outcome

Survey report (PDF 984KB)

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as:

  • EAP759/1 Sundarban Anchalik Sangrahashala Collection [18th-19th century]