PUDUCHERRY, INDIA, July 5, 2024 (The Hindu Business Line): Nearly 12,000 age-old palm-leaf manuscripts that contain historic facts stored in Puducherry are getting a new lease of life. To research these invaluable manuscripts, a mobile container lab from Germany landed at Katupalli port at Ennore by container ship Prague Express and reached Puducherry last month. The container lab consists of seven containers – five contain lab rooms, another contains power generators and water supplies and a seventh serves as storage. For historians, the manuscripts are among the most important sources on religion, history, astrology, and medicine from a written culture that is around two thousand years old and belongs to one of the world’s most significant literary traditions.

The project at Puducherry is part of a program called Cluster of Excellence Understanding Written Artifacts (UWA), which is part of the Center for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC). This is a research center within the Universität Hamburg at the Faculty of the Humanities and the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Natural Sciences. The project brings together researchers from over 40 academic disciplines to develop a global framework for the study of all written artifacts from the beginning of writing to the present day and from all regions that have produced such artifacts, according to project details. The Palm-Leaf Manuscript profiling Initiative (PLMPI) Mission at Puducherry will include investigating the history of palm-leaf manuscripts from historical Tamil Nadu and South India; gaining insight into the craftsmanship of the production of palm-leaves for writing; testing the applicability of a number of analytic techniques to the study of palm-leaf manuscripts and demonstrating the functionality of CSMC’s novel container lab for overseas deployment.

HPI Note: Around 2010 Hinduism Today’s publisher, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, set up a project which took digital photographs–1.1 million total–of the entire palm leaf collections of the French Institute and the French School of the Far East. This is the same collection being studied by the German group. Their focus is more on the materials used–palm leaves and ink–and their long-term preservation than on the contents of the leaves, according to staff at the French Institute.


More at source.