Saving ancient Hindu Manuscripts
December 8, 2011 • Hinduism, Spiritual Adventures
Over the past few years, Markley Boyer (who will be one of our guides on the upcoming spiritual and culinary adventure to South India), along with Kauai’s Hindu Monastery has helped to set up an ambitious project to digitize palm leaf manuscripts in the collection of the French Institute in Pondicherry. The Institute owns a priceless collection of around 8000 palm leaf bundles that was assembled in the mid-20th century but that was beginning to deteriorate beyond saving. Palm leaf bundles have been used for thousands of years to record sacred texts. Traditionally, the manuscripts needed to be recopied roughly every 100 years, since the natural palm leaves begin to dry out and are attacked by insects.
The bundles at the French Institute were beginning to decay to the point of being unreadable. A few years ago Kauai’s Hindu Monastery began to collaborate with the Institute to preserve them. Markley Boyer helped to build software and hardware systems to digitize the palm leafs with a simple digital camera and copy stand built from PVC plumbing supplies and plastic street lamps! The system has been used to take about 775,000 photos over the last 2 1/2 years and archive them as PDFs that will soon be available online for scholars, preserving this priceless knowledge.
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