| The manuscripts at Krishna Kanta Handiqui Library of Gauhati University. Telegraph picture |
Nov. 30: The Krishna Kanta Handiqui Library of Gauhati University has drafted people from xatras and other individuals in their initiative to preserve manuscripts written on the bark of sanchi tree (sanchipat).
The library took the initiative when it observed that many manuscripts were not being properly preserved by individuals or at the xatras because of lack of knowledge about the proper preservation techniques. At the same time, owners of the manuscripts were not willing to donate the manuscripts to the library or other preservation centres.
The library has trained 25 people, including those from xatras and other organisations from different parts of the state, who will work to preserve manuscripts in their respective areas besides spreading awareness about the importance of the manuscripts and the necessity of their preservation.
Most of the people who possess manuscripts consider them sacred objects and a matter of family pride. They do not want to donate for proper preservation. That is why we decided to make arrangements for on-the-spot preservation of those manuscripts, said Dhanjit Talukdar, archival assistant of the library.
Earlier, officials of our library used to visit different places on Saturday and Sundays for such conservation activities. This time, we have decided to involve others with us. We trained 25 people to preserve manuscripts with the help of locally available materials like neem leaves and chitranala oil, he added.
Talukdar said though they used some chemicals in preserving the manuscripts, they could not give these chemicals to the people because they might damage the manuscripts if not used properly.
The Krishna Kanta Handiqui Library was established to cater to the needs of students, teachers and research scholars of the university.
The library has about 4,500 valuable manuscripts written on sachipat, tula pat, bamboo leaf and paper and these manuscripts have been preserved in the manuscript section of its archival cell.
The post-graduate students of the Assamese department and other institutions and research scholars of various disciplines outside the university use these manuscripts.
Based on their outstanding value to humanity, contribution to Indian life, development of Indian thought and culture or simply for the history they represent, the National Mission for Manuscripts has identified 45 manuscripts, including two from Krishna Kanta Handiqui Library — Chitra Bhagavat and Ratnamalavyakarana — as Manuscript Treasures of India.
Under the digitisation process of the mission, we have digitised 2,000 volumes of uscripts comprising 1.5 lakh images, Talukdar said.