Digitising Rare Medieval Sanskrit Manuscripts scattered in Newār Settlements in Rural Kathmandu and Hill Areas in Nepal.

Nepal has a rich tradition of manuscript production, especially from the Nepalese Middle Ages (12th to 18th century). These are mostly kept in private collections, where the conservation is minimal and the storage is not ideal. The digitisation of these manuscripts allows the preservation of Nepalese heritage.

Newar society paid great attention to manuscripts, which they considered sacred. They collected medieval manuscripts and created private collections in their family homes. The manuscripts date back to the 12th century and are a testament to the origins of Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as indigenous medical practices, astrological knowhow, art and mantras. The Nepalese manuscript tradition has increased throughout the centuries, and it is part of the nation’s heritage.

During the Malla period, manuscripts were venerated as deities and kept by private families for religious purposes. However, the manuscripts in private collections are not preserved appropriately, and are now in a state of decay. Moreover, the lack of general interest in these collections put the manuscripts at further risk.

Following a similar project in 2015, many families around Kathmandu came forward asking to digitise and preserve their private collections. This project located 28 collections in the Kathmandu valley and digitised 478 manuscripts, dated from the 10th to the 18th century. The staff at Tribhuvan University were trained in digitisation and manuscript conservation, and is continuing the digitisation of Nepalese manuscripts independently.

Project Details

Location: Nepal, Southern Asia, Asia Organiser(s): Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) Project partner(s): Tribhuvan University Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £22,550 Commencement Date: 09/2017 Project Status: Completed
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