A treasure trove of old manuscripts has kicked off a campaign to spread awareness of conservation techniques practiced in the past with good results.
Tripura University Professor Satyadeo Poddar said that it was essential to preserve these manuscripts for the future.
"You know after ten to fifteen years, the paper manuscript will be lost, it will be brittle, it will be lost forever. So, if you want to keep your property forever, your duty is to ensure the manuscript's safety. It is your property and it is your duty to keep the property intact for the coming generation at least for 10 to 15, or 50 years," said Poddar.
The five-day programme, which was held in state capital Agartala, imparted knowledge to local residents about affordable methods of safeguarding the hundreds and thousands of manuscripts found in the region as well as in other parts of our country.
The Manuscript Resource and Conservation Centre of Tripura University in association with the National Mission for Manuscripts initiated the programme where the owner of around 60 manuscripts in tribal language Chakma and Mog also participated along with the master degree students of the history department.
Most of these knowledge treasures are written on bhoj-patra (birch bark), barks of certain trees and palm-leaf while many other in paper and a large percentage of these manuscripts are badly in need of preserving.
Recent trends have shown a general lack of awareness of the importance of manuscripts among the public as well as authorities of institution that own a vast collection of manuscripts.
There is also a lack of awareness, of understanding of methods of preventive conservation, shortage of conservation facilities across the country to ensure the safety of these valuable manuscripts.
Many private owners as well as religious centre possess ancient manuscripts, which they consider to be sacred and religious for them.
Majority of these manuscripts were preserved as a part of their "Dharma", or religious duty and they offer salutations to them without understanding their importance and utility.
They also fear that the government may confiscate these manuscripts and hence avoid displaying their manuscripts.
Over time any manuscript whether on paper or palm leafs deteriorates in condition and at this stage it is crucial to ensure that the text is repaired and strengthened.
Presence of acidity in the paper is a big problem for manuscripts written on paper where as manuscripts written on palm leafs are infested by insects which results in brittleness and reduction of their flexibility.
During the workshop participants were taught the process of indirect application to protect the manuscripts in their collection from heat, humidity, temperature and biological agents, which contribute to the deterioration in the condition of a manuscript.
Apart from that participants were also taught the proper methods of handling and storage of these manuscripts, which is information essential for the owner of any manuscript.
The workshop also aimed at discussing the methodology adopted for conservation of manuscripts with methods such as storage, reorganization and emergency treatment of the document through use of various chemical reagents and techniques such as digitisation.
Manuscript resource centre (MRC) has so far taken preventive care of about 800 manuscripts and possesses a huge collection of paper text stored in good condition.
The manuscripts were found written mostly in Sanskrit, Bengali, Chakma and Mog scripts.
MRC has documented more than 500 manuscripts in different subjects like Ayurveda, Tantra-Mantra, Jyotisha, Pujavidhi, Drama, and Medicine etc. (ANI)