INDIGENOUS METHODS OF CONSERVATION

INDIGENOUS METHODS OF CONSERVATION

Posted on May 10, 2013 by 

INDIGENOUS METHODS OF CONSERVATION

                                                                  Dr. P.Perumal, Conservator and Librarian (Retd)

                                                                   Sarasvati Mahal Library, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu

  In ancient days, knowledge and experience were recorded and preserved for the benefit of future generations. In India, writing was done on walls, foot-steps and pillars of temples (in the form of Inscription), metal sheets, silk and cotton cloths, wooden planks, bamboo strips, birch bark and leaves of palm tree etc. Writing on the above materials by hand is called manuscripts. Manuscripts are the form of recorded information, which are the vehicle for preservation and dissemination of knowledge to the endless generations to come. Generally Manuscripts are rare commodities written on wide range of subjects like religion, philosophy, history, literature, medicine, and science. Manuscripts can be classified on the basis materials used as Palm leaf manuscripts, Paper manuscripts etc.  Before the advent of paper, palm- leaves were mostly used for writing in South Asian countries in particular South India.

Palm leaf manuscripts

              The leaves of palm-trees were used as writing material because palm trees grew abundantly in India and South Asian countries. Palm-leaves were the cheapest and the most easily available material for writing. If well treated and carefully maintained, it has a reasonably long life and high durability. However as India and South Asian Countries are in the tropical region, the hot and humid climate conditions had an adverse effect on the durability of palm-leaves. Normally it is very difficult to preserve palm-leaf manuscripts for more than 500 years. We can preserve them for more than 500 years, if we have devices to keep constant temperature and humidity

. Palm leaf is a natural material, which are available in India and south Asian countries. Even though more than 100 varieties of Palm trees available,  only three varieties were used for writing, which are 1.Corypha umbraculifera 2. Borassus flaberllifer 3. Corypha utan

The Palm tree Corypha umbraculifra is known as Shritala or Talipot, which grows in humid coastal areas of South India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Andaman and Thailand. It is also called Talapana, Coondalpana or Talipanai. The leaves are broad and long. The Surface is smooth and thin. These leaves are more flexible than the leaves of the other types.

Borassus flabellifer is known as Palmyra. It grows in climate, comparatively dry. This type flourishes in South India. Its leaves are thick and are not longer than two feet.

The Third variety Corypha utan is known as Lontar, which grows some places in India, Burma and Thailand. Its leaves have a blend of the talipot and Palmyra. The Lontar leaves are long, broad and thick. Most of the Burmese manuscripts were written in these leaves.

 WRITING ON PALM LEAVES

            For writing on palm leaves, five-to-six-month old leaves should be collected, separated, removed the edge ribs and dried in the shadow. After drying, edges of the leaves were cut into convenient length for writing and burnished the surfaces.  Two small holes were made for passing thread to tie. The holes were put in such a way that they divide the leaves more or less in three equal parts. The burnished leaves can be used for writing on surface.

            Writing on palm leaves was done in two ways; (1) one way was to inscribe on the leaves with a stylus and other (2) one was to write with ink on leaves using bamboo pen or brush. For writing as in the first type, Palm leaves have to be seasoned before a stylus is applied thereto. Seasoning of palm leaves means softening the surface of palm leaves.  The stylus or salaka, made up of iron, steel, brass, bone, or ivory with a pointed tip was used for writing. One type of metal stylus had a pointed tip at one end and a sharp knife on the other end.

For using this stylus, the seasoned leaves duly supported, must be placed on the fingers of the left hand and inscribing in done with the right hand. The stylus rests on the thumb of the left hand and this prevents slipping.  The written leaves met with a twofold treatment for assuring the clarity of script. Turmeric water was applied on the surface of the leaves, which were sacred and therefore kept in pooja.  Mostly Ramayana and Mahabharata manuscripts were applied with turmeric paste and kept in the pooja room. Other manuscripts were applied with a mixture of vegetable juice (Cocina indica) and lamp soot (prepared using castor oil) for clarity of letters. Now-a-days lamp shoot mixed with some volatile vegetable oils like citronella oil is used for this purpose. In North India the palm leaves were written with ink by using pen or soft brush, because the North Indian scripts are in straight line form.

After writing, the leaves were arranged and strung and then placed between two soft planks of mango or bamboo. Sometimes, teakwood was also used to avoid damage by insect. To hold the manuscript in position, one end of the thread which runs over and over the manuscripts and thus binds it, is fastened to a device which forms part of a piece of palm-leaf with rib, which resembles the beak of a parrot. If the manuscript has more than 200 leaves, the thread cannot hold the leaves without damaging the leaves. Hence a small rod made up of copper or bamboo was pierced into the other hole of the manuscript.

 Paper Manuscripts

Written on paper are called Paper Manuscripts. After invention of Paper, it replaced all other writing materials. Paper is a substance of cellulose material, made from plant fibers. According to raw materials it can be classified as cotton group, baste group grass group, wood pulp group etc. In earliest days Paper was made by tedious hard process, which was called as handmade paper. Therefore most of the earlier manuscripts were written in uniform separated sheets of handmade Papers. The Paper manuscripts were written with Indian ink, which was prepared by mixing the lamp shoot gum acacia and rain water.  The pen used for writing manuscripts was made up of wood bamboo, vulture or goose quills. Mostly paper manuscripts are in loose-leaf form and very few are in the form of bound book form. Wooden planks were put on both sides as external guard and fastened with cotton or silk threads. In early days Manuscripts were covered with a cotton cloth to avoid external damages. In early days Manuscripts were decorated by ornamented letters, floral and geometric designs. The Illustrated manuscripts generally reflect some ideas or incidents of that work. Illustrated manuscripts reveal the work in illustrated form. Since Red colour itself acts as a insect repellent red line borders were drawn on most of the manuscripts. Some manuscripts edges were applied red colour and red colour thread was used.

 

Preservation:

 Preservation means any action taken to prevent or stop or retard deterioration.  It is obvious that preservation makes an attempt to maintain the object in a physical and chemical condition. It is therefore an unending process. For better Preservation, we should know basic constituents of the materials, its Character, method of preparation, factors of deterioration, proper storage preservation and restoration techniques.

 Factors of Deterioration

Manuscripts of Pam leaf and paper are organic substance. The organic materials are generally considered to be more susceptible to deterioration.  Generally the following physical, biological, and chemical agents cause deterioration, which are light, heat, moisture, fire, fungi, insects, air pollution etc.  Human error also caused damages to manuscripts.

The Ultra rays coming directly from the sun and other sources affect the cellulose bond of the paper. It makes the paper brittleness and discoloration.  Light not only affects the manuscripts directly but also indirectly it activates the chemical deterioration. Heat causes evaporation of moisture in the manuscripts, which leads to dryness, brittleness in manuscripts and alters the physical size.

Deterioration brought by biological agents is generally referred as ‘Bio deterioration”. The problem of bio deterioration is a matter of considerable significance of tropical-humid climate. The climate condition accelerates the growth and multiplication of living organisms. The common biological agents for deterioration of papers are fungus, insects and rodents. High humidity is helpful for the growth of fungus. The fungi produce enzymes, which mend the sheets one another.  The organic contents are nutrition to the living organisms. Most of the common insects affect the manuscripts are silverfish, termites, cockroaches, bookworm, booklice etc.

The impurities in the atmospheric gases such as Hydrogen sulphide, sulphur-di-oxide, carbon monoxide ozone, dust and other susceptible impurities are the main chemical factors. The chemical factors create acidity on the materials, which break the cellulose bonds, and make the paper brittle and colour changes.

 Palm leaves are cellulose fiber content materials, though which are having very good tensile strength compared to paper; it becomes very brittle due to dryness. Lignin present in palm leaves is susceptible to oxidation and hydrolysis, yielding acidic derivatives, which affect the fiber bond of the leaves. Like paper the palm leaf manuscripts too have some special problems.

 

Indigenous methods of Preservation:

The art of Preservation is not new. It was known from the inception of writing materials. Selection of materials, Preparation technique, and handling were carefully done for the durability of the manuscripts. In South India, palm leaf manuscripts were preserved in the houses of Pandits, temple treasuries, religious mutts and royal palaces. In the learned people’s houses, the palm-leaf manuscripts were kept in the kitchen to preserve them from the of fungus and insects. In ancient days, mostly thatched houses were built with mud walls. Due to heavy rain most of manuscripts were affected by fungus and insects. To avoid fungus and insect-attacks the palm leaf manuscripts were kept in a dangling position. The kitchen was usually warm and its smoke spreading over the manuscripts bundles. By this way they allowed to deposit smoke over the Palm leaf manuscripts. The smoke deposit would restrict absorption of moisture, which control fungus growth and insect affect. Every year after rainy season the manuscripts were cleaned and dried. Their condition was checked. Later day’s manuscripts were stored in wooden boxes, preferably camphor wood box. In Temples mostly manuscript were stored in a separate room with stone walls or a laft over the sanctum Santorum or a room in the tower  covered with a mixture of sand and calcium hydroxide powder. The four basic factors leads to deterioration, namely, dust accumulation, direct sun light, heat and humidity. To overcome these problems manuscripts were usually covered with red colour silk or cotton cloths which would control dust, light, heat and humidity. They used red colour cloth as it by its very colour acted as repellent to insects. It also explained in fact as to why red lines were drawn in front of the houses in the months of December – January. It was to avoid insects entering into houses after rainy season. This is the reason why the spine of the old volumes was bound with red colour cloth or leather in most of the Indian Libraries. Since turmeric has germicidal power, its paste or water treated with it, was applied to the leaves to prevent fungal attack. Most of the paper manuscripts in the Sarasvati Mahal Library were treated with turmeric paste.

 

 In ancient days people used some indigenous materials for preservation.  Some of the indigenous materials like cedar oil; neem leaves, neem seed powder, tobacco, sweet flag, camphor etc were used as insect and fungus repellent.   In the Thanjavur Sarasvati Mahal Library, a powder mixture of sweet flag (1 part), black cumin (1 part), Bark of cinnamon (1 part), pepper (1/4 part), cloves (1/4 part) and 5 to 10 gm of camphor is used as insect repellent. The mixture is made as small bundles, which are effective for six months. The development of Science and Technology paved way for better preservation techniques for the manuscripts and other cultural properties.

           

 

CONTROL MEASURES:

 

Physical Factors:Direct sunlight should be avoided on Book stack or other storage area by east west arrangement, fixing sun shade, curtains to window etc., Other artificial lightning can be controlled with  U.V.filter sheets. Heat and humidity can be controlled by Air conditioning the stack room. The air-conditioned stack room can be kept an ideal proportion of 21°-25° C and to 55% of relative humidity. Air conditioning is also protective measure against microorganisms, insects and dryness. But the air conditioning should be round the clock with thermo control of required heat and humidity. Otherwise the tropical climate leads to high fluctuation in heat and humidity, which deteriorate worse than ordinary condition. If we could not provide 24 hours Air conditioning we can adopt other methods to control the heat and humidity by Kash-kash screen to windows, water buckets in the corners, Humidifiers etc,          Humidity can be controlled in winter season by using Dehydrating agents like anhydrous calcium chloride, silica gel, carpet, dehumidifier; electric fan with heater can be used to maintain the required conditions. Much care should be taken for fire and flood damages.

           

Biological control: Climate is the main factor for the growth of fungus and insects. Maintaining the required humidity, proper light and ventilation controls them. In ancient days, Documents and manuscripts, were covered with Red or yellow cloth for the purpose of preservation. The cloth cover protects them from light, dust and humidity. The Red colour acts as insect repellent.

            Archival Materials are treated with fungicide and insecticide by fumigation method to control fungus and insects. Fumigation is a process to treat the affected documents in airtight chamber with wire mesh support by using evaporating chemicals of fungicide or insecticide. Mostly thymol is used as fungicide and Para di-chloro benzene is used as insecticide as well as fungicide. Some other chemicals like Naphthalene balls; Naphthalene bricks are used as Insect repellent.

Chemical factors: The dust accumulated over the object should be removed with fine brushes or vacuum cleaner. If the air pollution is controlled there will not be any external acidity in the paper materials. Presence of acidity can be tested with moist blue litmus paper, PH paper, PH pen, PH meter. If acidity is present in present in paper materials, it should be neutralized. The process of neutralizing the acidity is called as De- acidification.  The De-acidification process can be done in three ways, which are            a) Dry De-acidification           b) Wet De-acidification

c) Vapour De-acidification.    Only the dry de-acidification and vapour De-acidification can be done for the manuscripts. Wet de-acidification could be done only for printed book; it needs separation of sheets from binding. Only skilled staff can do this de acidification process.

 

            Conservation is a continuing processes for the betterment the manuscripts. Science and Technology is exploring various techniques in manuscript preservation. We have to selects suitable technique, suitable materials for manuscripts and for our climate. Manuscripts and are national wealth. It is our duty of one and all to preserve them for the use of future generation.

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THE SARASVATI MAHAL LIBRARY AND CONTRIBUTION OF RAJAH SERFOJI II

THE SARASVATI MAHAL LIBRARY

AND CONTRIBUTION OF RAJAH SERFOJI II

                                                            -P.Perumal, B.Sc(Spl).,M.A., M.L.I.Sc.,

                                                             Conservator, T.M.S.S.M.Library,  Thanjavur.

 

          Thanjavur has been renowned as a great centre of Art, Culture and Literature for more than ten centuries. Successive generations of the Cholas, Nayaks and Maratha rulers have contributed and enriched the cultural greatness. Thanjavur is well known through out the world for its BrahadeswarTemple, magnificent Palace and the Sarasvati Mahal Library.  The Sarasvati Mahal Library is one among the few medieval libraries that exists in the world. It is a treasure house of knowledge. It contains very rare and valuable collection of manuscripts, books, maps and paintings on all aspects of arts, culture and literature. The Encyclopaedia of Britannica in its survey of libraries of world mentions this as “The most remarkable Library in India”.

 

History of Library

              During the reign of Nayaks of Thanjavur(1535-1675), the Library was formed and developed in the name of Sarasvati Bhandar. The Maratha rulers who ruled Thanjavur(1676-1832) has patronised and developed the royal palace Library. After the death of last Maratha queen, the Library was made as public Library in 1918 under the Charitable Endowment Act. After the visit of our former Prime Minister Mrs.Indira Gandhi, Government of India has constituted a three-member committee under the chairmanship of Dr.S.R.Ranganathan. The committee report was implemented with generous funds received from the Government of India. In 1986 the Library was registered under the Tamilnadu Registered Societies Act 1975 with ex-officio members from State and Central Governments. The Library receives funds from Government of Tamilnadu for maintenance.  Among the Maratha Kings, Raja Serfoji II (1798- 1832) was an eminent scholar in many branches of learning. With great enthusiasm he took special steps for the enrichment of the Library.

      At present it is a living monument for our culture and reflects the glory of Raja Serfoji II. It is a fitting tribute to the great collector Serfoji, that from 1918 the Library is named as the Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Sarasvati Mahal Library.Among the Maratha Kings, Raja Serfoji II(1798-1832) was an eminent scholar in many branches of learning. With great enthusiasm he took special steps for the enrichment of the Library. At present it is living monument for our culture and reflects the glory of Indian culture.

                                                                                                                                      

Serfoji’s Early Education:

        Raja Serfoji II was born on 24-9-1777 and had his education under the guidance of Danish missionary father Schwartz. He was a scholar in English, French, Germany, Sanskrit, Tamil and Marathi languages. He came to power in 1798, but only one-year only he ruled Tanjore. In 1799, he had a treaty with the British. According to the treaty the British appointed Collector for administration, he diverted his activities for the development of art and culture till his death in 8th March 1832.

 

Contribution to the Library

         In India most of the Palace Libraries were destroyed due to war. The famous King Tippu Sultan had a Library in his Palace. It was taken away by the British, after the war with Tippu in 1799.  We can find some of those Library books in the Asiatic Society Library, Calcutta.  Raja Serfoji collected the descriptive catalogue of that Library prepared by Charles Steuwert of CambridgeUniversity and preserved in the library. It seems that Raja Serfoji’s decision of making accord with British administrators helped to preserve this treasure house of knowledge.

        Serfoji enriched the collection of this Library through various literary activities. He himself was author of quite a number of works in Sanskrit and Marathi. These manuscripts are preserved in this Library. He encouraged great Pandits in all branches of learning.

            

         The Pandits well versed in Dharmasastra were appointed as Judges in his courts of Justice, A legal vade macum entitled ” Vyavahara Prakasa” was compiled from various smiriti texts for daily use in the conduct of administration and Justice by the Pandits.

        Raja Serfoji made a pilgrimage to Banaras in 1820. He took 300 people along with him, which includes Pandits, copyists, artists and others. He employed Pandits to collect, buys and copy a vast number of works in Sanskrit from all the renowned centers of Sanskrit learning in the North and other areas. He commissioned his artist to draw the views of sixty-four bathing ghats of Banaras from East to West of the river Ganges in eight plates which is available in this Library.

        The Maratha kings started Chattrams for catering and other physical needs of the pilgrims. Raja Serfoji started School attached to the most of the Chattrams under his control and imparted free education to village Children. For the use of little Children, Serfoji ordered that the English books like Aesop’s fables to translate into simple Indian languages. He started the first printing press in 1805 in Thanjavur with Devanagari Script called “Navavidya KalasalaVarnayantra” for producing copies of all great works in languages for wider use and circulation among public.  The Journal entitled “ Indian Antiquary” vol.1 Published in 1872 mentions that the Serfoji’s printing press was the earliest printing press, which was started for Devanagari script printing in whole south India. The Types and Blocks were prepared using soft stone and hard wood. Even today the library preserves some of the books printed in press.

               Raja Serfoji was running an Institution in Thanjavur called Dhanvantri Mahal. He devoted himself for the progress of research in Ayurvda, Siddha, and Unani in the Dhanvantri Mahal. Recipes of medicinal preparations were recorded in Manuscript form in 18 volumes. These manuscripts are embodied in the series of words named Sarabendra Vaidyamuraigal. Besides basic research an many ailments, excellent work had been done on disease like Cancer, Polio, Diabetes and Tuberculosis by this institution in Ayurvedic and Siddha field.  The Library has published some in the Series.

        There was an Ophthalmic section in that Institution, which maintained the case history sheets for each patients with picture of the diseased eye, date of admission, types of treatment given and condition during discharge. The case history sheets reveal that free treatment was given to public and some amount was also given during discharge of the patients.

         Raja Serfoji was a great composer and a musician and had left several musical compositions in Indian languages as well as in English. He collected nearly 150 musical notation books and more than thirty hand-written Indian musical notation copies are preserved in the library. Even now some of his compositions are performed in Maharastra.

 

Serfoji’s Book collection:

       Raja Serfoji enriched this library by collecting not only manuscripts but also Books, Illustrated Manuscripts, Drawings, Atlases and Maps, Lithographic engravings, etc., Because of his multi-focal attraction he collected a large number of books in European languages. Now this Library has 3830 English books, 421 French books, 108 German books 35 Danish books and few books in Dutch, Greek, Latin languages. Serfoji has autographed all the books in his collection. These books mostly printed in London, Edinburgh, Paris and the year printing spanned from 1696 to 1830. These books dealt with all disciplines.

             It has the richest collection on European languages and literatures, Medical Sciences, Chemistry, Astronomy Geography, Explorations and Voyages, English Almanacs, Periodicals, Encyclopaedias etc., This collection has some rare and first editions of highly valued books.

             Some are Dr.Johnson’s Dictionary (5th edition, 1784 A.D.) in two volumes, A Pictorial Bible of 1791, Antoine Alaurent Lavoisier’s Elements of Chemistry, first edition of Fourcroy’s major work the General system of Chemical Knowledge in Eleven volumes, George Buffons 36 volumes of Natural History of the Earth (1749-1785).A catalogue for his book collection was also prepared in 1830. Under 27 Subject headings and the titles one arranged in alphabetically under each subjects.

 

Maps and Atlases:

     The Atlases and Maps collected by the Raja Serfoji are extraordinary important, which are preserved in the library. These Maps dealt with ancient History, Geographical details, Sea routes, Political divisions and their boundaries.  The Maps were made with the compilation of land survey. In the Maps printed in 18th and 19th century, we can see the name of India as “Hindoostan” or the Mogul Empire” Australia as New Holland, Japan as Nippon etc.,. The Oldest printed book available in this Library is an Atlas, in which the maps were printed in the years 1692,1693 and 1696.

      An interesting and rare map of India of size 112×106 cms is available in the Library. The title and other details are “A Map of Hindoostan or the Moghul Empire” from the latest authority inscribed to Sir Joseph banks Bart, president of Royal Society which was produced by Mr. J Rennel, a pioneer in Map making on 1st Jan 1788. In this map the coastal Tamilnadu and some portions extended up to Ongole in Andhra Pradesh are referred as the region of Carnatic. Hence the music flourished in this area has been called as Carnatic Music. It is significant to note that this map indicates AdamsBridge, which connects India and Ceylon. Maclean in his Glossary of Madras Presidency Gazetteers (Vol III pate 5) mentioned that the bridge was used for foot traffic till 1480 A.D.

               Later it was damaged by the breach. Some of the notable Atlas are Bengal Bihar Atlas, Geographial classica of Hermanmoll (1721) Atlas Coelets (1742) and other old and rare maps  of Arrow Smith, Robert Orme, Tracks and discoveries of Captain Cook, James Rennel, Baker, R..Wilkinson , C. Mackenzie are available in this Library.

 

Pictures and Drawings

          Serfoji collected many pictorial books on the views of scenarios , towns, temples, country sides, fort and battle, rivers etc. Some of the notable pictorial books are costumes of various countries, view of Burma, view of Mysore, Himalayan views, Chinese punishments etc.,

             A notable and interesting pictorial book available in the Library is “Human Physiognomy pictures”. It is a series of Lithographic drawings by Charles-Le-Brun, a noted French Artist, it is a Illustrative drawing of relation between human face with beast and birds face. Another 48 pictures of Oriental scenarios of Hindoostan by Daniel brothers is also 

available in the Library.

 

Paintings and Drawings

         Serfoji’s court artist were prepared some interesting colour drawings and paintings, these paintings are in the form of Illustrated Manuscripts, Pictorial books and other drawings. Some of the pictorial manuscripts are Aswasastra, Gajasastra, Rigveda samhita, Ramayan etc. Some of the pictorial books are Pictures of Ayurvedic plants,  View of bathing ghats at Banares, Tanjore Military costumes, varieties of Palanquin, Pictures of birds etc., These paintings and drawings  are available in the Library.

 

Catalogue preparation for Manuscripts:

        Even though the Library originated in 16th Century, the earliest catalogue available in the Library belongs to Raja Serfoji’s Period. The Catalogue for Palmleaf manuscripts were prepared in Palmleaf form and that of paper manuscripts in Paper form, The Palmleaf manuscript catalogues are three bundles in Telugu Script. The Palm leaf manuscript catalogue preparation work was started in 1801. The paper manuscript catalogue was prepared in 1807. It is an alphabetico-classified order. Now we can say that Serfoji’s catalogue earliest catalogue available in India.

            Thomas Robinson who accompanied Bishop Heber to meet  Raja Serfoji on 30th March 1826 written in the book “ the last days of Bishop Heber as ,” The Bishop paid a private visit to the Rajah, who received us in his library, a noble room with three rows of pillars, and handsomely furnished in the English style. On one side there are portraits of the Mahratta dynasty from Shahjee and Sivajee, ten bookcases containing a very fair collection of French, English, German, Greek, and Latin Books, and two others of Maharatta  and Sanskrit  manuscripts. In the adjoining room is an airpump, an electrifying machine, an ivory skeleton, astronomical instruments, and several cases of books, many of which are on the subject of medicine, which was for some years his favorite study. He showed us his valuable collection of coins, paintings of flowers and natural history, with each of which he seemed to have considerable acquaintance, particularly with the medicinal virtues of plants in his hortus siccus. When we took our leave his Minister showed us a noble statue of the Rajah by Flaxman . . . His stables contain several fine English horses; but that of which he is most justly proud, as the rarest curiosity of an Indian Court, is an English printing press, worked by native Christians, in which they struck off a sentence in Mahratta in the Bishop’s presence in honour of his visit. The British has given high regard to the King Serfoji II. He was included as a Honorary member of Royal Asiatic society of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1827 there were only four foreign dignitaries who were honorary members in the society, they are:-

           1. His Royal Highness the Duke Oeorleans

           2. His majesty the King of Oude

           3. His Royal Highness Abbas mirza, Prince Royal of Persia

           4. His Highness the Rajah of Tanjore.

              Raja Serfoji’s multi-focal knowledge, and recognition and good relationship of the British administrators cause him to collect more books and manuscripts. This Library currently list over 46,000 manuscripts and 52,000 printed books, in which a good number of manuscripts and 4,500 rare books were collection in the 19th century especially by Rajah Serfoji II. This Library manuscripts and books are national wealth. It is our duty of one and all to preserve them for the use of future generation.

 

 

 

 

 

A NOTE ON OPTHAMOLOGICAL CASE HISTORY SHEETS OF SERFOJI’S DHANVANTRI MAHAL HOSPITAL

 A NOTE ON OPTHAMOLOGICAL CASE HISTORY SHEETS OF SERFOJI’S DHANVANTRI MAHAL HOSPITAL

 

                                                                                 *P.PERUMAL,B.Sc.,(Spl) M.A.,M.L.I.Sc.,

                                                                                         Conservator and Librarian.

                                                                                           T.M.S.S.M.Library, Thanjavur.

 

Rajah Serfoji, King of Tanjore (1798-1832) has diverted his activities for the development of Arts and Culture after  the treaty with British. He collected and purchased  more than 5000 books on European languages and manuscripts on native languages. Medicine was his favourite subject. He had a hospital named “Dhanvantri mahal” in this Palace. It is found from the records that the hospital doctors were practiced Siddha, Ayurveda, Unani and Alopathy systems of Medicine. Most of the recipes practiced by the native Doctors were recorded in manuscript form with eminent Tamil Scholars. Now these manuscripts were brought into book form under 18 headings like Nayanaroga, Kunmaroga, Siraroga, Neerizhivu (Diabetics) etc. Through the records. it is found some foreign Doctors were worked in the hospital and the King has given some amount to run a Alopathy hospital in this Palace. As in present day system, the case history sheets of the patients were maintained. This Library is preserving a volume  records maintained in the eye hospital. This article gives a short note on the those records.

                        Ophthamological Case Sheets

It is a handwritten manuscript of legal size written in English language using Iron gall ink with few Illustrations of the diseased eyes. These records were written during 1827 August to October. Due to ink spreading, the letters are not readable. It was too brittle. Now it is strengthened with Chiffon mending technique and bounded in a book form. Because of the Chiffon mending the visibility of the letter is reduced. There are 48 case history sheets. The first seven sheets have some Illustrations and description in Devanagari script. From 8th to 43rd Sheets, the description is in English. Totally 18 case history sheets have pictures of diseased eye. The case history sheets gives the name of the disease, name of the patient, date of admission, nature of treatment etc., The description of the case sheets are given below:

 

 

Sheet

No.

Name of the

Patient & Age

Name of the

Disease

 

Date of Admission

Date of

Discharge

Cured/Not

Other

Information

Sheets 1-7 has single line description in Devanagari script with illustration.

8

Vaidyalingam

Age-30

Amourosis

17.8.1827

 

 

28.8.1827

Absent

Illustration

9

Sambasivam

Age-22

Cataract Capsula and Trista

 

19.8.1827

30.10.1827

Cured

Illustration

10

Gooroomoorthy

Age-25

Opthalmia Chronica

 

17.8.1827

26.9.1827

Cured

Illustration

11

Nutchitrum

Age-15

Opthalmia Purulenta

 

20.8.1827

24.9.1827

Cured

2 Illustrations

12

Subrayen

Age-22

Albego

 

17.8.1827

 

 

Absent

Illustration

13

Only Illustration. No description

14

Mootommah

Age-22

Opthalmia Purulenta

3.9.1827

15.10.1827

Cured

Illustration

15

Krishnammah

Age-50

Cataract

4.9.1827

30.9.1827

Cured

In his Highness Presence.

Discharged well with

Rs.2 enam

 

 

 

16

Cooppannah

Age-50

Linticular Cataract

7.9.1827

30.9.1827

Cured

In presence of his Highness

Discharged well with

Rs 2 enam

17

Mary

Age-8

Leucoma

15.9.1827

No information

 

 

18

Not  clear

 

 

 

 

 

19

Sundaram

Age-22

Amurosis

Hemerolopia

Night Blindness

17.8.1827

25.8.1827

 

 

Absent

19

Back

side

Nagammah

Age-9

Chronic Ophthalmia

17.8.1827

3.9.1827

 

 

Absent

20

Paramananiagum

Age-30

Opthalmia

26.9.1827

30.9.1827

Cured

 

20 Back

side

Narayanen

Age-22

Leucoma

17.8.1827

15.9.1827

 

 

Absent

No Illustration

21

Soshmah

Age-11

Neubula

14.10.1827

24.10.1827

Cured

No Illustration

21

Back

side

Soobramanien

Age-50

Cataract

2.10.1827

8.10.1827

 

 

Absent

22

Meera Saib

Age-50

Capsula Lenticular

Cataract

Aug.1827

 

 

Absent

22 Back side

Mootamah

Age-8

Lippitulo

4.10.1827

24.10.1827

Cured

 

23

Gopaulsamy

Age-8

Ophthalmia Purulinta

9.10.1827

1.10.1827

Cured

 

23

Back side

Jeeja Bai

Age-67                     

Cataract

Capsula Senticule

16.8.1827

19.8.1827

Cured

Discharged

 With tolerable vision

24

Muttama

Age-6

 

Opthalmia

8.10.1827

20.10.1827

Cured

 

24 Back side

Mungammah

Age-26

Opthalmia

9.10.1827

20.10.1827

Cured

 

25

Venkatechallam

Age-63

Capsular Cataract

19.10.1827

15.11.1827

Cured

 

25

Back side

Subbu Lakshmie

Age-50

 

9.10.1827

20.10.1827

Cured

 

26

Mean Khaun

Age-22

Amaurosis

10.10.1827

11.11.1827

Cured

 

26

Back side

 Puchee

Age-50

Amaurosis

Hemaralapia

8.10.1827

20.10.1827

 

 

Absent

27

Runga Chetty

Age-50

Opthalmia

24.8.1827

15.9.1827

Cured

 

27

Back side

Katha pillay

Age-48

Amourosis

9.10.1827

26.11.1827

     –

Discharged

28

Peramen Ageabout

Age-50

Ophthalmia

 

 

 

20.9.1827

25.9.1827

Cured

 

28

Back side

Kishnamma

Age-60

Lippitudo Phrigium

4.9.1827

20.10.1827

Cured

 

29

Latchmee    Age-55

Neubula

24.9.1827

4.11.1827

Cured

 

29

Back side

Ramasamy

Age-25

Cataract

4.9.1827

9.9.1827

 

 

Absent

30

Rungammah

Age-50

Lippitudo

4.9.1827

20.9.1827

Cured

 

30

Back side

Vinkitatree

Age-55

Ophthalmia

27.9.1827

4.11.1827

Cured

 

31

Letchmee

Age-9

Ophthalmia

17.9.1827

16.10.1827

Cured

 

31

Back side

Coomarasamy

Age-65

Lenticular Cataract of 6 months

7.9.1827

 

 

 

32

Gooroovamah

Age-4

Ophthalmia

14.9.1827

20.9.1827

Cured

 

32

Back side

Rookmaniamah

Age-55

Lenticular Cataract

15.9.1827

26.9.1827

Cured

Discharged with tolerable vision

33

Veerahee

Age-35

Ophthalmia

17.9.1827

20.10.1827

Cured

 

33

Back side

Venketamah

Age-40

Lippitudo

15.9.1827

8.11.1827

Cured

 

34

Sundoshee Pillay

Age-55

Hemarolapia

27.9.1827

20.10.1827

Cured

Discharged

With tolerable

Vision

34

Back side

Samuel

Age-24

Ptyrigium

16.9.1827

25.9.1827

Absent

 

35

Shoollay

Age-8

Nebula

17.9.1827

15.11.1827

Cured

 

35

Back side

Mary

Age-8

Leucoma

15.9.1827

15.10.1827

 

 

Absent

Almost well

36

Veeratha   Age-3

Ophthalmia

17.9.1827

13.11.1827

Cured

 

36

Back side

Letchmee

Age-30

Nebula

15.9.1827

23.9.1827

 

Discharged with lotion of Nitrate of Silver No.4

37

Bhavanmootoo

Age-20

Amaurosis

15.9.1827

20.9.1827

 

Discharged with somewhat vision

37

Back side

Sengmullum

Age-5

Allougo

15.9.1827

20.10.1827

 

Absent

Almost well

38

Age about 56

Cataract

22.9.1827

25.9.1827

 

Dumb man

38

Back side

Aroolanundum

Age-3

Allugo

15.9.1827

15.10.1827

 

 

Absent

Almost well

39

Aroomugum

Age-26

 

Leucoma

15.9.1827

25.11.1827

 

Discharged

39

Back side

Sreeneevaus Achar

Age-35

Ophthalmia C.Cornea Vascular

15.9.1827

2.10.1827

Cured

 

40

Karoopauee

Age-70

Cataract

17.9.1827

19.10.1827

 

Discharged with somewhat vision

40 Back

side

Letchmee

Age-45

Linticular Cataract

18.9.1827

30.9.1827

Cured

 

41

Iankunnoo

Age-30

Ophthalmia

18.9.1827

28.9.1827

Cured

 

41

Back side

Kauder Khaun

Age-24

Amourosis

18.9.1827

1.10.1827

Cured

 

42

Nagamah

Age-55

Cataract

18.9.1827

25.9.1827

Cured

 

42

Back side

Rutchannah Cootty

Age-55

Cataract

23.9.1827

10.10.1827

 

 

Absent quite well

43

Aroomugum

Age-55

Pterygium and Albugo

19.9.1827

4.11.1827

Cured

 

43

Back side

Veeraragoo

Age-7

Ophthalmia

1.10.1827

 

 

 

Absent

                 

 

These are the information available in Opthamological Case sheets of Raja Serfoji’s Dhanvantri Mahal Hospital.

 

                                    ——————

INDIGENOUS METHODS OF CONSERVATION

INDIGENOUS METHODS OF CONSERVATION

                                                                  Dr. P.Perumal, Conservator and Librarian (Retd)

                                                                   Sarasvati Mahal Library, Thanjavur, Tamilnadu

  In ancient days, knowledge and experience were recorded and preserved for the benefit of future generations. In India, writing was done on walls, foot-steps and pillars of temples (in the form of Inscription), metal sheets, silk and cotton cloths, wooden planks, bamboo strips, birch bark and leaves of palm tree etc. Writing on the above materials by hand is called manuscripts. Manuscripts are the form of recorded information, which are the vehicle for preservation and dissemination of knowledge to the endless generations to come. Generally Manuscripts are rare commodities written on wide range of subjects like religion, philosophy, history, literature, medicine, and science. Manuscripts can be classified on the basis materials used as Palm leaf manuscripts, Paper manuscripts etc.  Before the advent of paper, palm- leaves were mostly used for writing in South Asian countries in particular South India.

Palm leaf manuscripts

              The leaves of palm-trees were used as writing material because palm trees grew abundantly in India and South Asian countries. Palm-leaves were the cheapest and the most easily available material for writing. If well treated and carefully maintained, it has a reasonably long life and high durability. However as India and South Asian Countries are in the tropical region, the hot and humid climate conditions had an adverse effect on the durability of palm-leaves. Normally it is very difficult to preserve palm-leaf manuscripts for more than 500 years. We can preserve them for more than 500 years, if we have devices to keep constant temperature and humidity

. Palm leaf is a natural material, which are available in India and south Asian countries. Even though more than 100 varieties of Palm trees available,  only three varieties were used for writing, which are 1.Corypha umbraculifera 2. Borassus flaberllifer 3. Corypha utan

The Palm tree Corypha umbraculifra is known as Shritala or Talipot, which grows in humid coastal areas of South India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Andaman and Thailand. It is also called Talapana, Coondalpana or Talipanai. The leaves are broad and long. The Surface is smooth and thin. These leaves are more flexible than the leaves of the other types.

Borassus flabellifer is known as Palmyra. It grows in climate, comparatively dry. This type flourishes in South India. Its leaves are thick and are not longer than two feet.

The Third variety Corypha utan is known as Lontar, which grows some places in India, Burma and Thailand. Its leaves have a blend of the talipot and Palmyra. The Lontar leaves are long, broad and thick. Most of the Burmese manuscripts were written in these leaves.

 WRITING ON PALM LEAVES

            For writing on palm leaves, five-to-six-month old leaves should be collected, separated, removed the edge ribs and dried in the shadow. After drying, edges of the leaves were cut into convenient length for writing and burnished the surfaces.  Two small holes were made for passing thread to tie. The holes were put in such a way that they divide the leaves more or less in three equal parts. The burnished leaves can be used for writing on surface.

            Writing on palm leaves was done in two ways; (1) one way was to inscribe on the leaves with a stylus and other (2) one was to write with ink on leaves using bamboo pen or brush. For writing as in the first type, Palm leaves have to be seasoned before a stylus is applied thereto. Seasoning of palm leaves means softening the surface of palm leaves.  The stylus or salaka, made up of iron, steel, brass, bone, or ivory with a pointed tip was used for writing. One type of metal stylus had a pointed tip at one end and a sharp knife on the other end.

For using this stylus, the seasoned leaves duly supported, must be placed on the fingers of the left hand and inscribing in done with the right hand. The stylus rests on the thumb of the left hand and this prevents slipping.  The written leaves met with a twofold treatment for assuring the clarity of script. Turmeric water was applied on the surface of the leaves, which were sacred and therefore kept in pooja.  Mostly Ramayana and Mahabharata manuscripts were applied with turmeric paste and kept in the pooja room. Other manuscripts were applied with a mixture of vegetable juice (Cocina indica) and lamp soot (prepared using castor oil) for clarity of letters. Now-a-days lamp shoot mixed with some volatile vegetable oils like citronella oil is used for this purpose. In North India the palm leaves were written with ink by using pen or soft brush, because the North Indian scripts are in straight line form.

After writing, the leaves were arranged and strung and then placed between two soft planks of mango or bamboo. Sometimes, teakwood was also used to avoid damage by insect. To hold the manuscript in position, one end of the thread which runs over and over the manuscripts and thus binds it, is fastened to a device which forms part of a piece of palm-leaf with rib, which resembles the beak of a parrot. If the manuscript has more than 200 leaves, the thread cannot hold the leaves without damaging the leaves. Hence a small rod made up of copper or bamboo was pierced into the other hole of the manuscript.

 Paper Manuscripts

Written on paper are called Paper Manuscripts. After invention of Paper, it replaced all other writing materials. Paper is a substance of cellulose material, made from plant fibers. According to raw materials it can be classified as cotton group, baste group grass group, wood pulp group etc. In earliest days Paper was made by tedious hard process, which was called as handmade paper. Therefore most of the earlier manuscripts were written in uniform separated sheets of handmade Papers. The Paper manuscripts were written with Indian ink, which was prepared by mixing the lamp shoot gum acacia and rain water.  The pen used for writing manuscripts was made up of wood bamboo, vulture or goose quills. Mostly paper manuscripts are in loose-leaf form and very few are in the form of bound book form. Wooden planks were put on both sides as external guard and fastened with cotton or silk threads. In early days Manuscripts were covered with a cotton cloth to avoid external damages. In early days Manuscripts were decorated by ornamented letters, floral and geometric designs. The Illustrated manuscripts generally reflect some ideas or incidents of that work. Illustrated manuscripts reveal the work in illustrated form. Since Red colour itself acts as a insect repellent red line borders were drawn on most of the manuscripts. Some manuscripts edges were applied red colour and red colour thread was used.

 

Preservation:

 Preservation means any action taken to prevent or stop or retard deterioration.  It is obvious that preservation makes an attempt to maintain the object in a physical and chemical condition. It is therefore an unending process. For better Preservation, we should know basic constituents of the materials, its Character, method of preparation, factors of deterioration, proper storage preservation and restoration techniques.

 Factors of Deterioration

Manuscripts of Pam leaf and paper are organic substance. The organic materials are generally considered to be more susceptible to deterioration.  Generally the following physical, biological, and chemical agents cause deterioration, which are light, heat, moisture, fire, fungi, insects, air pollution etc.  Human error also caused damages to manuscripts.

The Ultra rays coming directly from the sun and other sources affect the cellulose bond of the paper. It makes the paper brittleness and discoloration.  Light not only affects the manuscripts directly but also indirectly it activates the chemical deterioration. Heat causes evaporation of moisture in the manuscripts, which leads to dryness, brittleness in manuscripts and alters the physical size.

Deterioration brought by biological agents is generally referred as ‘Bio deterioration”. The problem of bio deterioration is a matter of considerable significance of tropical-humid climate. The climate condition accelerates the growth and multiplication of living organisms. The common biological agents for deterioration of papers are fungus, insects and rodents. High humidity is helpful for the growth of fungus. The fungi produce enzymes, which mend the sheets one another.  The organic contents are nutrition to the living organisms. Most of the common insects affect the manuscripts are silverfish, termites, cockroaches, bookworm, booklice etc.

The impurities in the atmospheric gases such as Hydrogen sulphide, sulphur-di-oxide, carbon monoxide ozone, dust and other susceptible impurities are the main chemical factors. The chemical factors create acidity on the materials, which break the cellulose bonds, and make the paper brittle and colour changes.

 Palm leaves are cellulose fiber content materials, though which are having very good tensile strength compared to paper; it becomes very brittle due to dryness. Lignin present in palm leaves is susceptible to oxidation and hydrolysis, yielding acidic derivatives, which affect the fiber bond of the leaves. Like paper the palm leaf manuscripts too have some special problems.

 

Indigenous methods of Preservation:

The art of Preservation is not new. It was known from the inception of writing materials. Selection of materials, Preparation technique, and handling were carefully done for the durability of the manuscripts. In South India, palm leaf manuscripts were preserved in the houses of Pandits, temple treasuries, religious mutts and royal palaces. In the learned people’s houses, the palm-leaf manuscripts were kept in the kitchen to preserve them from the of fungus and insects. In ancient days, mostly thatched houses were built with mud walls. Due to heavy rain most of manuscripts were affected by fungus and insects. To avoid fungus and insect-attacks the palm leaf manuscripts were kept in a dangling position. The kitchen was usually warm and its smoke spreading over the manuscripts bundles. By this way they allowed to deposit smoke over the Palm leaf manuscripts. The smoke deposit would restrict absorption of moisture, which control fungus growth and insect affect. Every year after rainy season the manuscripts were cleaned and dried. Their condition was checked. Later day’s manuscripts were stored in wooden boxes, preferably camphor wood box. In Temples mostly manuscript were stored in a separate room with stone walls or a laft over the sanctum Santorum or a room in the tower  covered with a mixture of sand and calcium hydroxide powder. The four basic factors leads to deterioration, namely, dust accumulation, direct sun light, heat and humidity. To overcome these problems manuscripts were usually covered with red colour silk or cotton cloths which would control dust, light, heat and humidity. They used red colour cloth as it by its very colour acted as repellent to insects. It also explained in fact as to why red lines were drawn in front of the houses in the months of December – January. It was to avoid insects entering into houses after rainy season. This is the reason why the spine of the old volumes was bound with red colour cloth or leather in most of the Indian Libraries. Since turmeric has germicidal power, its paste or water treated with it, was applied to the leaves to prevent fungal attack. Most of the paper manuscripts in the Sarasvati Mahal Library were treated with turmeric paste.

 

 In ancient days people used some indigenous materials for preservation.  Some of the indigenous materials like cedar oil; neem leaves, neem seed powder, tobacco, sweet flag, camphor etc were used as insect and fungus repellent.   In the Thanjavur Sarasvati Mahal Library, a powder mixture of sweet flag (1 part), black cumin (1 part), Bark of cinnamon (1 part), pepper (1/4 part), cloves (1/4 part) and 5 to 10 gm of camphor is used as insect repellent. The mixture is made as small bundles, which are effective for six months. The development of Science and Technology paved way for better preservation techniques for the manuscripts and other cultural properties.

           

 

CONTROL MEASURES:

 

Physical Factors:Direct sunlight should be avoided on Book stack or other storage area by east west arrangement, fixing sun shade, curtains to window etc., Other artificial lightning can be controlled with  U.V.filter sheets. Heat and humidity can be controlled by Air conditioning the stack room. The air-conditioned stack room can be kept an ideal proportion of 21°-25° C and to 55% of relative humidity. Air conditioning is also protective measure against microorganisms, insects and dryness. But the air conditioning should be round the clock with thermo control of required heat and humidity. Otherwise the tropical climate leads to high fluctuation in heat and humidity, which deteriorate worse than ordinary condition. If we could not provide 24 hours Air conditioning we can adopt other methods to control the heat and humidity by Kash-kash screen to windows, water buckets in the corners, Humidifiers etc,          Humidity can be controlled in winter season by using Dehydrating agents like anhydrous calcium chloride, silica gel, carpet, dehumidifier; electric fan with heater can be used to maintain the required conditions. Much care should be taken for fire and flood damages.

           

Biological control: Climate is the main factor for the growth of fungus and insects. Maintaining the required humidity, proper light and ventilation controls them. In ancient days, Documents and manuscripts, were covered with Red or yellow cloth for the purpose of preservation. The cloth cover protects them from light, dust and humidity. The Red colour acts as insect repellent.

            Archival Materials are treated with fungicide and insecticide by fumigation method to control fungus and insects. Fumigation is a process to treat the affected documents in airtight chamber with wire mesh support by using evaporating chemicals of fungicide or insecticide. Mostly thymol is used as fungicide and Para di-chloro benzene is used as insecticide as well as fungicide. Some other chemicals like Naphthalene balls; Naphthalene bricks are used as Insect repellent.

Chemical factors: The dust accumulated over the object should be removed with fine brushes or vacuum cleaner. If the air pollution is controlled there will not be any external acidity in the paper materials. Presence of acidity can be tested with moist blue litmus paper, PH paper, PH pen, PH meter. If acidity is present in present in paper materials, it should be neutralized. The process of neutralizing the acidity is called as De- acidification.  The De-acidification process can be done in three ways, which are            a) Dry De-acidification           b) Wet De-acidification

c) Vapour De-acidification.    Only the dry de-acidification and vapour De-acidification can be done for the manuscripts. Wet de-acidification could be done only for printed book; it needs separation of sheets from binding. Only skilled staff can do this de acidification process.

 

            Conservation is a continuing processes for the betterment the manuscripts. Science and Technology is exploring various techniques in manuscript preservation. We have to selects suitable technique, suitable materials for manuscripts and for our climate. Manuscripts and are national wealth. It is our duty of one and all to preserve them for the use of future generation.

PREVENTIVE CONSERSVATION OF PALM LEAF MANUSCRIPTS

PREVENTIVE CONSERSVATION OF PALM LEAF MANUSCRIPTS

 

                                                                                    Dr.P.Perumal, Conservator (Retd)

                                                                                    Sarasvti Mahal Library, Thanjavur

 

The Cultural developments are the reasons for urging to write and leading to search new writhing materials, which played a vital role in the field of education and development Libraries. Various type of materials such as stone, clay tablets, metal sheets, wood, papyrus, palm leaves, barks of trees, cloth, leather, paper etc., were used for writing. Writing on the above materials on hand is called manuscripts. Manuscripts are the form of recorded information, which are the vehicle for preservation and dissemination of knowledge to the endless generations to come. Generally Manuscripts are rare commodities written on wide range of subjects like religion, philosophy, history, literature, medicine, and science. Manuscripts can be classified on the basis materials used. 

 

Palm leaf Manuscripts.

Leaves of palm trees are used for writing, which are called Palm leaf manuscripts. Palm leaf is a natural material, which are available in India and south Asian countries. Even though more than 300 varieties of Palm trees available, only three varieties were used for writing, which are

1.Corypha umbraculifera

2. Borassus flaberllifer

3. Corypha utan

 

The leaves of the above three varieties are differ with their character, size and other physical and chemical compositions. For the logitivity of the manuscripts leaves were collected, separated, dried, burnished, seasoned and written.  Even the string holes were made in an order to tie the leaves bound. For writing on stylus, seasoning was done to soften the surface and blackening the letters vegetable juice with a mixture of lamp shoot is applied. The written manuscripts were bound with external guard using planks of bamboo or teak wood. Chords or silk threads are used for string the manuscripts.

 

 

Factors of Deterioration

.           Palm leaves are organic nature, which are generally considered to be more susceptible to deterioration. Palm leaves are made up of cellulose fiber content materials. Though which are having very good tensile strength compared to paper; it becomes very brittle due to dryness. Lignin present in palm leaves is susceptible to oxidation and hydrolysis, yielding acidic derivatives, which affect the fiber bond of the leaves.        .

            Generally physical, biological, and chemical agents, which are light, heat, moisture, fire, fungi, insects, air pollution etc.  Human error also caused damages to manuscripts. The Ultra Violet rays coming directly from the sun and other sources affect the manuscripts’ brittleness and discoloration.  Light not only affects the manuscripts directly but also indirectly it activates the chemical deterioration. Heat causes evaporation of moisture in the manuscripts, which leads to dryness, brittleness in manuscripts and alters the physical size. Incorrect temperature that can be too high causing gradual disintegration or discoloration ; too low causing embrittlment, Fluctuations in temperature also cause fluctuations in RH. Incorrect relative humidity dampness which causing mold growth. Organic materials will gradually disintegrate and discolor, especially materials that are chemically unstable at any RH level above 0%. Fluctuating RH will shrink and swell unconstrained organic materials, crush or fracture constrained organic materials. Most objects are affected by a variety of these agents of deterioration at the same time. As you improve preventive care of your collections, you will be addressing each of the agents of deterioration through a variety of policies and procedures.

Deterioration brought by biological agents is generally referred as ‘Bio deterioration”. The problem of bio deterioration is a matter of considerable significance of tropical-humid climate. The climate condition accelerates the growth and multiplication of living organisms. The common biological agents for deterioration of papers are fungus, insects and rodents. High humidity is helpful for the growth of fungus. The fungi produces enzymes, which mend the sheets one another.  The organic contents are nutrition to the living organisms. Most of the common insects affect the manuscripts are silverfish, termites, cockroaches, bookworm, booklice etc.

The impurities in the atmospheric gases such as Hydrogen sulphide, sulphur-di-oxide, carbon monoxide ozone, dust and other susceptible impurities are the main chemical factors. The chemical factors create acidity on the materials, which break the cellulose bonds, and make the paper brittle and colour changes.

 

Other Form of deterioration:

Stains and Spots:  Stains of insect’s excreta, dust accumulation, lamp shoot, fungus etc., could be occurring on the surface of the palm leaves, which makes stains in the leaves.

 

 Discoloration of the Surface: Discoloration of the palm leaf may be due to presence of lignin, which reacts with light and other atmospheric gases to form acidity or may be formed due to frequent application of oil with dust or smoke deposit or fungus stains.  Discoloration also cause die to ageing

Fungal Effect: In a humid condition the palm leaves and the dust accumulated on the manuscripts absorbs water. In a suitable climate the spores in the atmosphere grows as fungus over the leaves. The fungus makes stains and spoiled the glazy layers. Due to the growth of fungus, the leaves stick one another, which lead to cleavage and crumbling. Filthy Smell of the fungus attracts insects.

Splitting and Cleavage of the surface: The main cause of splitting in the surface of the leaf is variations in the climatic conditions. The splitting on the edges are due to rough handling and storage. Fungus affect makes  irregular surface softness which lead to cleavage of surface layer from the main body of the leaf. This problem is mostly found in the shritala manuscript.

Insect Damage:. Insects were attracted, when palm leaves absorbs more moisture or at the time of fungal attack. the most common insects, which affect palm leaves are cockroaches, termites and worms (Gastrallus indicus).

 

PREVENTIVE CONSERVATION:

            “Preventive Conservation” means to protect the Cultural Property, from by various agents of deterioration.  It is the mitigation of deterioration and damage to Cultural Property through the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures for

            1. Appropriate environmental conditions

            2. Proper Storage

3. Proper Handling

4. Integrated pest management

5. Periodical verification and emergency preparedness

Objective of Preventive Conservation:

  • To extend the life of manuscript
  • To reduce the risk of catastrophic loss of manuscript
  • To defer, reduce, or eliminate the need for interventive treatment.
  • To extend the effectiveness of interventive treatment.
  • To provide a cost-effective method for the preservation of collections.

 

Preventive Conservation is an ever ending Process that continues throughout the life of the manuscripts. By using preventive conservation techniques, we could limit the deterioration of manuscripts. The art of Preventive conservation is not new. It was known from the inception of writing materials. In ancient days people used some indigenous Technique and the development of Science and Technology pave the way for better preservation techniques for the manuscripts

 

1. Appropriate Environmental condition:

            Palm leaf manuscripts need to be stored in proper environmental conditions. Generally they must be stored in a proper temperature of 21*C and relative humidity of 50-55% RH with controlled lighting, and clean air environment. In ancient days several indigenous techniques and materials were used for preservation. Indians understood the four basic factors for deterioration i.e. dust accumulation, direct sun light, heat and humidity. To Overcome these problems manuscripts were covered with mostly red colour silk or cotton cloths. The cloth will control dust, light, heat and humidity. They used red colour cloth because “Red colour” itself acts as repellent to insects. That was the reason that in ancient South Indian houses were drawn with red lines in front of the houses in the month of December – January. The reason was to avoid insects entering into houses after rainy season. This is the reason, the spine of the Back volumes were bound with red colour cloth or leather in most of the Indian Libraries. Since Turmeric has germicidal power. Turmeric paste or water was applied over the leaves to avoid fungal attack.

 

2. Proper Storage:

            Proper Storage is one of the factors for Preventive Conservation. In South India, palm leaf manuscripts were preserved in the houses of Pandits, Temple treasures, Religious mutts and Royal Palaces. In the learned people’s houses, the palm leaf manuscripts were kept in the kitchen to preserve from fungus and insects. In Ancient days mostly thatched houses were built with mud walls. Due to heavy rain most of manuscripts were affected with fungus and insects. To avoid fungus and insect attacks the palm leaf manuscripts were kept in the kitchen laft or hang in the beam. Mostly the kitchen would be warm and smoke deposit over bundles keeps away   the insects. Preventive conservation would need proper storage conditions.  In Temples manuscripts were stored in a room in the second level of the entrance. To protect the palm leaf manuscripts from deterioration factors, Palm leaf manuscripts were buried in a mixture of tiny sand with calcium hydroxide powder. Later Camphor wood or teak wooden cupboards were used for storage, because the wooden cupboard would acts as buffer to control heat and Humidity. Palm leaf manuscripts are wrapped with Red cotton cloth or acid free cardboard boxes are being used.

Advancement of Science and Technology pave way for storage with controlled Heat and climate by making  round the clock Air-conditions and oxygen free environment by keeping the manuscripts in special air tight cupboards filled with inert gases like Helium or Nitrogen.

 

3. Proper Handling:

            Palm leaf manuscripts should be handled with carefully. To avoid mechanical damages, proper guard on either side with raw unwritten leaves or bamboo strips or teak wood reaper.  The tying thread must be one third of the size of the hole and the thread must be very soft and not with more twist. Preferably silk thread many used. for reading  the manuscripts book support may be used for careful handling. During cleaning the brush must be moved from centre to either side with gentle pressure. Cotton should not use directly.

4. Integrated pest management:

         Integrated pest management is one of the main activities in preventive conservation of palm leaf manuscripts.  Monitoring and using insect repellent would control the Biological factors. Using insect repellent is since preparation of writing materials. Turmeric paste is used for fungus repellent; Dhadhura and Cocina Indica juice were applied to the palm leaf manuscripts as insect repellent. Ceder wood oil and balls are used for insect repellent. In India Sweet flag, dried Margosa Leaves (Neem Leaves) (Azadirachta indica), its seed powder, Tobacco, Camphor, Black cumin, Snake slough, Peacock feathers was also used as insect repellent. Even now these indigenous processes are followed in some Libraries and Museums.

                      The Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Sarasvati Mahal Library, at Thanjavur use a mixture of the following spices in powder form:

            Black cumin                       4 parts

            Sweet flag                          4 parts

            Cloves                                1 part

            Pepper                                1 part

            Bark of cinnamon              4 parts

20 grams of camphor is to be added with this powder mixture and wrapped in a small cloth as bundle. These bundles are kept in the cupboards as insect repellent. This is effective for six months.

            To give flexibility to the leaves, essential oils like citronella Oil, Lemongrass oil  are smeared on the surface with  a three to five years intervals.  These oils would give good clarity to the letters, flexibility to leaves and acts as insect repellent. Movement of silverfish is the monitoring element for fungus growth on manuscripts. Insect trap and mice trap may be used to protect from biological deteriorations. Wire mesh to the windows and other opening may be fixed to control the movement of rodents.

 

5. Periodical verification and emergency preparedness:

           

            Periodical verification is needed for Preventive conservation. From ancient days , mostly manuscripts’ are cleaned and taken care in before rainy seasons and after seasons.  To do cleaning and other Preventive conservation work a day Sarasvati Puja was fixed before rainy season and after rainy season mostly palm leaf bundles were rebound and kept near the windows for evaporation of excess moisture absorbed.   Mutt heads cleaned the palm leaf manuscript during chathur mash(Four months of rainy days), change new cloth and any damaged manuscripts were prepared copies presented to interested persons. In this way more manuscripts were prepared on the same title.

Conclusion:

There are a variety of ways you can protect your collections from the agents of deterioration. Here are few steps to stop or minimize damage,

1. Avoid the agents of deterioration.

2. Block the agents when you cannot avoid them.

3. Test the methods you use to block agents of deterioration by  

     Monitoring.

            4.  Monitoring and assessing condition of collections

5. Monitoring and evaluating museum environment and alerting staff to

    Signs and causes of deterioration

6. Practicing proper methods and techniques for storing, handling, packing

    and pest management.

7. Developing and implementing ongoing Integrated Pest Management

    (IPM), and housekeeping/maintenance program for collections

 

            Prevention is better than cure. Hence, Proper storage, Proper Environment, Integrated pest management system. Periodical verification, thorough understanding of the materials, causes of deterioration, proper preventive conservation techniques and Proper accompanying materials would give best Preventive conservation of Manuscripts.

 

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