The State Department of Archaeology and Museums (DAM) is engaged in the chemical treatment of a treasure trove of 1,600 palm-leaf manuscripts, dated back to the 17th, 18th and 19th century, at the Andhra Sahitya Parishad Archaeology Museum and Research Institute here.
DAM Assistant Director K. Timma Raju told The Hindu that the text in the manuscripts belongs to the fields of ayurveda, mathematics, astrology, Telugu and Sanskrit literature and classical music.
“The text of the Hindu epics — Ramayana and Mahabharata — is also available in the manuscripts,” said Mr. Timma Raju.
AMD chemist K. Rambabu said the chemical treatment, applying lemon grass and other chemicals, began in February and would be completed by April 15. Each manuscript consists of nearly 500 pages. Much of the collection was in good condition and this had made their job easy, he added
Keeping pests at bay
Wooden wrappers are being added to the manuscripts to make handling easy during the chemical treatment exercise. The chemically-treated manuscripts are preserved by covering them with pure cotton fabric to protect from any pest attack in the future.
A crew of 15 experts led by Mr. Rambabu is involved in the conservation exercise.
In 2015, the government launched chemical treatment of 4,780 palm-leaf manuscripts housed at the Andhra Sahitya Parishad Archaeology Museum and Research Institute. As many as 3,060 manuscripts were chemically treated in that year.
In the 1970s, the Andhra Sahitya Parishad, a literary organisation, had handed over its collection of manuscripts to the AMD to run the museum and preserve the manuscripts in the city. All the manuscripts are now on display for the benefit of the visitors.