Worms eat away treasures from a world of yore

Rare books at the Idara-e-Adabiyat-e-Urdu in Hyderabad in a state of decay.- Photo: Nagara Gopal

Rare books at the Idara-e-Adabiyat-e-Urdu in Hyderabad in a state of decay.- Photo: Nagara Gopal

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. Rare and priceless books are decaying fast at the Idara-e-Adabiyat-e-Urdu, and there is none to care. The hoary institute is infested with bookworms of a different kind.

Tiny beetle larvae have made mince meat of the invaluable collection here. Most books and manuscripts are in tatters and the pages so brittle that they disintegrate when touched.

The Idara, established in 1931 for the protection and advancement of the Urdu language, has fallen on bad times. Its excellent collection of books numbering 45,000, and 3,500 manuscripts are facing the biggest challenge from the moths. The bookshelves present a heart-rending scene. The Tarjuma Tuzike Jahangir , a 1291 CE biography, is in shreds. So is the Gazette Extraordinary , dated 1348 CE. The pages resemble a sieve with holes all over.

Rare books of philosophy, history, literature mostly in Urdu, Persian and Arabic are in need of urgent care if they are to be preserved for posterity. Until a decade ago, the Idara would get grant-in-aid from the State government, and also from the Government of India. But now, it is fighting a losing battle to protect its treasure.

Its management plans to introduce the ‘Adopt a Book’ scheme, so as to take care of its collection. Those who donate for the upkeep and maintenance will have their names mentioned on the book cover. “We had such a scheme earlier, but it did not evoke much response,” says S. A. Shukoor, Idara secretary.

Founded by Syed Mohiuddin Qadri Zore, the Idara boasts a museum containing rare objects of historical and cultural significance. They include royal farman s, decrees, copies of historical inscriptions, old miniature drawings, letters of notable persons, coins, arms and cloaks. The oldest map of the walled city of Hyderabad, dating back to 1772 CE is also to be found here. Also present is the ‘Zulfiqar’, a sword belonging to Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar.

Research scholars from different countries, including US, Japan and Germany come here to refer the books. But they are disappointed at the state of affairs. Will the government come to the rescue of the Idara?

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 10:45:34 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/worms-eat-away-treasures-from-a-world-of-yore/article7183218.ece