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Manuscripts & paintings showcase history

- Khuda Bakhsh library starts two-day exhibition to mark founder’s birth anniversary

Patna, Aug. 2: Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library is marking its founder’s birth anniversary with a two-day exhibition of ancient manuscripts and paintings starting today.

Khan Bahadur Khuda Bakhsh established the library in January 1891. State home secretary Aamir Subhani inaugurated the exhibition today. A regular visitor to the library and UPSC national topper in 1987, Subhani said: “I have been coming to this library since 1978 when I was pursuing my graduation. I owe much of what I have achieved in my life to this library.”

The oldest manuscript on display at the exhibition is in botany and dates back to 11th century AD. The manuscript, written in Naskh script, contains miniature paintings of medicinal plants, herbs and reptiles. Since it is a rare manuscript, its photocopy is on display at the exhibition. It was translated from Latin to Arabic during the regime of Mamun Rashid in Baghdad.

Another manuscript, which is also rare, “Kitabal-Tasrif”, was written by Abdul Qasim Zohrawi in 1710 AD. The book is on surgery and contains miniature paintings of surgical instruments.

Several miniature paintings on Hinduism including, Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita (both published in 18th Century AD), are also on display. That apart, there are 90 more items, including manuscripts and miniature paintings. A discount of 40 per cent is given on the purchase of publications from the library.

Deliberating on the process of conservation of old manuscripts, assistant librarian Abu Muzaffar said: “First, we manually check the pH level (level of acid content) of the pages in the manuscripts. Then the paper is treated in limewater to remove the acid content. Then a coating of CMC (Carboxymethyl Cellulose) is put on the paper to make it coarse. Finally, acid-free tissue paper is used to provide a support to the paper. The entire process is delicate and therefore it is possible to restore only 15 pages a day.”

Ayodhya revisited

Acharya Kishore Kunal, chairman of Bihar State Religious Trusts Board, who was also present at the exhibition, is getting some firmans (orders) of the Delhi Mughal Courts translated from Persian language for his upcoming book titled “Ayodhya Revisited”. The book is expected to be published within a few weeks.