Endangered archives blog

21 posts categorized "Islam"

08 November 2010

Catalogue Announcement: EAP205 Endangered Manuscripts of Western Sumatra

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We are pleased to announce that the catalogue for the digitised material produced by the project EAP205 Endangered Manuscripts of Western Sumatra: Collections of Sufi Brotherhoods is now available to view via the British Library's search pages.

Dr Irina Katkova conducted a survey of collections held by Surau - Islamic study centres guided by a teacher of a Sufi brotherhood - and private individuals in Western Sumatra. 15 collections were surveyed, primarily material dealing with Islamic education, and Sufi teachings and rituals.

The images below are taken from Akal dan Kelebihannya [The Consciousness and More], a manuscript detailing the doctrine of Tariqah Naqshabandiyah. The manuscript is dated 17 Rajab 1320H [November 1902], and can be ordered in our reading rooms through the reference EAP205/1/1:

EAP205_PB-KN _03_34BLOG 

EAP205_PB-KN _03_35BLOG 

The image below is taken from Nahwu, a work on Arabic grammar. This copy dates back to the 18th century, and the image clearly shows the fragile condition of the original manuscript, which suffers from insect and mould damage, and tearing (reference EAP205/4/2):




29 September 2010

EAP127 Catalogue announcement

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We are pleased to announce that the catalogue for the Popular Market Bengali Books is now available to view via the British Library's Search Our Catalouge: Archives and Manuscripts pages.

2971 examples of Bengali street literature have been digitised by staff at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Digital copies and (some of) the original material can be consulted at the School of Cultural Texts and Records or the reading rooms here at The British Library. The books cover subjects including folk literature, music and songs, theatre booklets, homeopathy, astrology, adventure novels, horror stories, grammar guides, religious practices and belief, and many many other topics. Anyone reading this blog will be familiar with some of the material, and seen some of the images produced by the Project.

The material is organised into 11 separate Collections, based on the name of the Collector of the original material. This includes the School of Cultural Texts itself whose Collection contains seven sub-collections, reflecting the development of their holdings. The 11 Collections are:

EAP127/1 SCTR Collections

EAP127/2 R.P. Gupta Collection

EAP127/3 Devajit Bandyopadhyay Collection

EAP127/4 Sukanta Chaudhuri Collection

EAP127/5 Samantak Das Collection

EAP127/6 Arun Ghosh Collection

EAP127/7 Satyabati Giri Collection

EAP127/8 Gautam Mitra Collection

EAP127/9 Rudrajit Mookherjee Collection

EAP127/10 Prabir Sen Collection

EAP127/11 Sukumar Sen Collection


09 November 2009

October Accessions

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Last month we received material from two projects. Towards the end of October we received another consignment of discs from the United National Independence Party of Zambia. Included were correspondence papers from Regional Headquarters and minutes of government and provincial committee meetings, plus correspondence concerning elections. This project is nearly completed and we expect to receive more material in November.

We also received microfilm from the project Preserving early print literature on the history of Tamilnadu.


This project aims to produce both microfilm and digital copies of 19th and 20th century books and periodicals and to make them available to researchers. The material is currently housed in different library and private collections. The items being copied relate to the Dravidian and politicals movements. They also cover the histories of Vaishnaviam, Saivism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. The images here have been produced from the microfilm by the project.


30 October 2009


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Although it's exciting to receive material copied from all over the world, to be honest I sometimes wish I could visit all of the EAP projects first hand. That's why it's such a pleasure when members of the projects come to the Library and visit us instead. It puts a human face to all those correspondence emails and progress reports. Recently Cathy and I met members of two EAP projects.

Last month we were visited by Dr Fakhriati M. Thahir. Dr Thahir successfully completed a pilot project and is now working on a major project to digitise private collections of Acehnese manuscripts located in Pidie and Aceh Besar Regencies in Indonesia. The manuscripts being copied are held by private collectors and dealers. They contain stories and histories relating to the Acehnese lifestyle, the kingdom of Aceh and the war against colonialism. They also contain material relating to Islamic knowledge and Islamic mysticism (Sufism).

Here is a picture of Dr Thahir and myself at the British Library (I'm on the right):

EAP329 in british library 

Earlier this week Cathy and I caught up with Dr Tigran Zargaryan from the Fundamental Scientific Library of the Academy of Sciences, in Armenia. Dr Zargaryan's project is copying rare books, periodicals and newspapers dating back to the 16th century. The results of this project are being made available through the Fundamental Scientific Library's attractive and easy to use website. Some of the rare books may already be accessed via this site.

EAP180 from library site Girq_jamagrutyan

13 May 2009

The importance of story

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During May the National Literacy Trust, along with the rest of the UK, is celebrating National Share a Story Month. I thought the EAP blog should join in the fun. Several of our projects have copied manuscripts and printed books that contain stories, tales, myths and popular narratives of all sorts. This post is dedicated to the importance of story and the role stories have in our lives.

One of our projects working in India, Archiving texts in the Sylhet Nagri script, has digitally copied 103 texts. The Sylhet Nagri script was once widely used in north-eastern Bengal. The script was used in both printed texts and hand written manuscripts to record aspects of popular culture, including religious stories. The project copied several texts telling the story of the Battle of Karbala, a significant event in the history of Sunni and Shi'a Islam.


The battle was fought between the adherents of Yazid and the family and followers of Husayn, on Muharram 10 in the 61st year of the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680 CE). Yazid and Husayn both claimed the title and position of Caliph. Husayn and his 72 followers were travelling to Kufa when Yazid, who had a much larger military force, ordered an army to intercept them. Yazid's forces surrounded Husayn at the desert oasis of Karbala.

After days of fruitless negotiations, during which the water supply to Husayn's encampment was cut off, Husayn and his band prepared for the fight that could not be avoided. The night before the battle he offered his followers the choice to flee. None accepted. The battle itself saw Husayn and his male followers killed. The women and children, including Husayn's sister Zainab bint Ali and his son, were taken prisoner.

The story of the Battle of Karbala has been seen as a fight between good and evil - the pious Husayn, who wanted to protect Islam, against the wicked Yazid, who lived impiously and owed his position to greed and bribery. Four tellings of this story have been copied by the EAP Project. Three of these are in compilations that have been called Jamnama, stories of wars and battles. These texts also contain "Jari" songs. The story is told and the songs are sung together. The other edition of the story is in a text that has been called Sahide Karbala.


The version of the story told in the Jamnama is significant for its literary innovations and the creative narrative style that made this story of a distant land rouse spontaneous and heartfelt emotions in different regions of Bengal.

National Share a Story Month is organised by the Federation of Children's Book Groups.