Preservation and access of rare early Grantha books

Grantha script was widely used in South India to write Sanskrit material. After the arrival of printing machines, many Sanskrit texts were published in Grantha script. During the latter part of the 20th century use of Grantha script has significantly decreased. If not preserved, the remaining books will also be lost.

Grantha script, used predominantly for reading Sanskrit in South India from the 6th century, became obsolete in the second half of 20th century. The script was used in all the four states of south India which has different regional languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. This script acted as an interface for these regional language speaking people to read Sanskrit text. During the latter part of the 19th century many Sanskrit texts such as literature, puranas, Kavyas were published in Grantha script. Books in genres such as astrology, astronomy, history, rituals were widely printed in Grantha script.

During the latter part of twentieth century, usage of Grantha script has declined. Only scholars interested in the subject have been using the Grantha books and less importance is given to these collections. Due to both age and climatic conditions in south India they have become brittle and prone to disintegration.

The project identified and digitised 1,111 Grantha books. They were identified both from institutions and from private scholars and collectors. The collectors and institutions were urged to improve the storage conditions of the material, and were given basic conservation training. The Roja Muthiah Research Library’s staff were trained in digitisation and metadata collection.

Project Details

Location: India, Southern Asia, Asia Organiser(s): Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) Project partner(s): Roja Muthiah Research Library Funder(s): Arcadia Funding received: £39,100 Commencement Date: 07/2016 Project Status: Completed
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