Endangered Archives

EAP781: Santipur and its neighbourhood: text and image production history from early modern Bengal through public and private collections. Major project

Mr Abhijit Bhattacharya, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
2014 award - Major project
£33,890 for 24 months

Archival partner: Urban History Documentation Archive, CSSSC

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Project Overview

This project continues the earlier pilot project EAP643. The district of Nadia in India has a long history of urban settlements since at least the 11th century: Nabadwip was the capital of of the Sena dynasty during the 11th and 12th century, and also the birth place of Shri Chaitanyadeva, founder of the Vaishnav religion. Santipur has a long medieval cultural history and was the cultural hub of Bengal before the intellectual focus shifted to Calcutta: the Rashotsav is a Vaishnvait festival famous since the 15th century and Santipur is also well-known for a special traditional handloom and community of weavers. Krishnanagar was a small Hindu kingdom under the Nababs of Murshidabad, from the 17th to 18th century. All three settlements were once places of traditional Indian learning with schools for Sanskrit learning and teaching.

This project will document the sources of history writing in the area, based on the survey findings of pilot project EAP643, and will digitise approximately 370 printed books; 500 paintings and photographs of Lalit Mohan Sen; resolution books, annual reports, colonial maps and town planning reports from the record room of the Santipur Municipality; and 2,000 manuscripts in Bengali and Sanskrit languages on palm-leaf, birch bark and paper. These are held in institutional and private collections in Santipur and the nearby village of Phulia. The core project team consists of the Principle Investigator, Mr Abhijit Bhattacharya, and Dr Rajarshi Ghose as the Co-investigator, responsible for most of the academic input into the project.

The digital copies will be deposited with the Archives of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta and with the British Library.

Project Outcome

The project team were able to digitise and catalogue almost all of the records that were discovered in the initial pilot project. The team digitised a total of 1265 manuscripts from Santipur Bangiya Puran Parishad; 78 bound volumes of resolution books from Santipur Municipality; 584 books and serials in Bengali and Hindi languages from the Santipur Bangiya Puran Parishad, Santipur Brahmo Samaj, and Krittibas Memorial Library cum Museum; 510 paintings, sketches, prints and photographs by the artist Lalit Mohan Sen (1898-1954).