Digitising Arabic manuscripts in Mattool, North Kerala (EAP1390)

Aims and objectives

The Arabic manuscripts and lithographs to be digitised in this project were collected by the archive owner, Sayyed Ali Ba Alawi, from local Muslim scholars and healers. The archive represents a unique local textual heritage significant for research on the Malabari Islamic networks that evolved over centuries of trade and cross-cultural exchange. The archive includes also Arabic-Malayalam manuscripts to be surveyed along with approximately 150 historical objects (coins, copper and wood artifacts) stored in a neighbouring family archive historically related to the Kuññāli Marakkārs, historically affiliated to the Zamorin of Calicut.


This project digitised nineteen manuscripts kept in the Darusadath family archive of Sayyid Ali Ba Alawi (Ali Thangal) in Mattul. The project also produced a detailed catalogue of the digitised manuscripts and three surveys: 1. A survey of fifty books in Arabic, all dating from before the mid-twentieth century, and mainly lithographs. They include three illustrated Qur’ans, the oldest of which is dated 1700. One book is in Arabic Malayalam. 2. A survey of a coin collection dated between the sixteenth and the early twentieth century, with two coins estimated to have been minted during the first millennium CE. 3. A survey of traditional household items that are preserved with the aim of constructing a local cultural heritage centre in the future. The project also took picture samples of stamp papers of historical value that were not surveyed. We estimate their number to be around 300. We have also received a written agreement to capture the books and manuscripts surveyed. We expect to receive a written agreement to digitise the coins as well the stamp papers. We plan to develop a future project for the preservation, display, and digitisation of the household objects along with larger historical objects that require better planning. if anyone is interested in the artefacts at the location, they can contact ophira.gamliel@glasgow.ac.uk. Last but not least, the project enhanced the local capacity to manage digitisation projects of manuscripts and books. The digitisation team members initiated and submitted a field report detailing the challenges that lay ahead in digitising some of the larger books in the survey, demonstrating the level of professionalism attained while working on the current project.

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as:

The manuscript survey can be accessed below: