Written Artefacts of Nepal
23 May 2023
Nepal is home to exceptionally diverse manuscript collections, both in terms of scripts and languages as well as materials used. In short videos, Bidur Bhattarai explains how these collections are preserved. This episode shows a Buddhist manuscript bearing witness to the cultural connection to Tibet
The new episode presents a Nepalese Buddhist manuscript that was probably produced in Lhasa (Tibet), sponsored by two Vajrācārya brothers from a nearby area of a vihāra (‘monastery’) in Kaṣṭhamaṇḍapanagara (Kathmandu City). The copying of the text was completed in 1692 CE. This artefact is witness to the longstanding tradition of knowledge exchange between Nepal and Tibet and their deep cultural and religious connection, in particular between Lhasa and the Kathmandu valley.
The video is the seventh part of ‘Written Artefacts of Nepal – Preservation and Documentation’, a series of short films that offers a brief and accessible introduction to Nepalese written artefacts, exploring their diversity and uniqueness in terms of writing, supports, materials, forms, and texts.
The first episode provides a general overview of preservation work carried out at the Tribhuvan University Central Library. In the second episode, Bidur Bhattarai introduces a rolled palm-leaf document with a raw clay seal. The third episode is about a Buddhist manuscript that is written on nīlapatra (‘black paper’) using ‘gold-like’ ink. The fourth episode presents the techniques used for cleaning and wrapping the manuscripts, how to prepare an acid-free customised E-Flute phase box (‘archival box’), and the long-term strategies for manuscript archiving. The fifth episode deals with a ‘land-related contract’ produced in Kāṣṭhamaṇḍapanagara in 1571. The sixth episode shows a Nepalese mini-manuscript that contains multiple texts relating to Buddhist tantrism. All episodes are available in Nepalese with English subtitles.
The CSMC has been engaged in safeguarding the valuable manuscript collections of Nepal since 2018. The project entitled ‘Preserving the Written Cultural Heritage of Nepal’ is generously supported by the German Foreign Office and the Gerda Henkel Foundation.