Indian Manuscripts and their Preservation: Strategies for Conservation, Diffusion and Awareness


Until the beginning of the 20th century, South Asian literary culture has been primarily transmitted through handwritten documents. Though a transition to "print-culture" has been effected, the majority of pre-modern South Asian literature on many subjects remains either unpublished, or published on the basis of insufficient manuscript evidence. And, the copying of ancient and medieval writings by hand has now virtually ceased: the last generation of South Asian manuscripts is now gradually decaying.

This two-day workshop aims to promote an awareness of the importance of conserving the hand-written heritage of Asia, to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas on its conservation in order to keep alive the hand-written knowledge of South Asia’s past.

There will be papers on "manuscript tradition" in Asian society, presentations by experts on technical aspects of conservation (with particular relevance to palm-leaf manuscripts), a demonstration of how palm-leaves are prepared and inscribed in South India, presentations on the state of progress of large-scale cataloguing and digitising projects. For school-parties and the general public, there will be a small exhibition of the manuscript collections housed at the French Institute, Pondicherry.

There will be a particular focus on types of manuscripts used in the Indian tradition and their preservation.

A few words on CHINDEU….
CHINDEU project aims at facilitating and promoting the dialogue between China, India and Europe. It will bring to light the various techniques of preservation, source of cultural diversity and enrichment of the intercultural dialogue.

CHINDEU Partnership consists of European Cultural actors : Centre de Conservation du Livre – CCL (Arles – France), EURelations (Campobasso, Italy), the Institute of Conservation – ICON (London –UK) and Laterna Magica (Budapest – Hugary); of one Chinese organisation : Guangzhou Museum – GZM (Guangzhou – China) associated to The Academy of Fine Arts in Guangzhou and of 3 Indian institutions : SEERI – (Kottayam), IFP and EFEO (Pondicherry).

CHINDEU’s web site shows a large presentation of the project, the partners as well as the project outputs obtained by the actions developed.


Download programme schedule


  • CHINDEU project
  • French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP)


Centre de Conservation du Livre, Arles, France


Dr. T. Ganesan, IFP


Jawaharlal Nehru Conference Hall, French Institute of Pondicherry, 11, Saint Louis Street, Pondicherry - 605 001.

List of Participants

  • 1. Dr. Kengo Harimoto, Representative of Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project, University of Hamburg
  • 2. Mr. Svevo D’Onofrio, Research Fellow, Indo-Persian Studies, Department of Linguistics & Oriental Studies, Universita Di Bologna, Italy.
  • 3. J. J. Witkam, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Leiden
  • 4. Dr. P. Perumal, Conservator, Maharaja Serfoji’s Saraswathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur
  • 5. Pulavar Chokkalingam, traditional scholar of palm-leaves writing and preservation, Thanjavur
  • 6. Mr. Cheng Cunjie, Director of Guangzhou Museum, China
  • 7. Ms. Shruti Asoka, Conservator INTACH, Bangalore
  • 8. Mr. Bhanu Prakash, Conservator, NMM-ICKPAC., INTACH, Bangalore
  • 9. Mr. Kharbade, Project Officer, Regional Conservation Laboratory, Mysore.
  • 10. Enzo Ziccardi, EU Relations
  • 11. Isa De Matteis, Prof. at Liceo Artistico di Campobasso.
  • 12. Fr. Dr. Jacob Thekeparampil from SEERI (St Ephrem Ecumenical Research Institute), Kottayam.
  • 13. Sandhya Mulchandani, New Delhi, Journalist and Writer focussing on Indian heritage.