Revival and Re-evaluation of Some Traditional Methods of Conservation of Palm Leaf Manuscripts in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a land of a rich heritage. From very ancient times this island and herneighboring countries are rich in resources of manuscripts. Compared to other countriesof the world Sri Lanka is one of the richest countries in terms of palm-leaf manuscripts.The palm-leaf manuscripts are the written records of man which served as the path ofintellectual ideas reflecting the wisdom and knowledge of the ancestors of the medievalperiod. Therefore ancient rare palm-leaf manuscripts are a precious treasure for anycountry which possesses the literary evidence of the society to trace the cultural legacyof that particular nation.
Care of these manuscripts was a major concern in the past and efforts were madeto protect them from the different agents of deterioration. There are many biologicalagents which deteriorate these organic materials. This may have happened due to thelack of proper maintenance, unsuitable storage techniques and unsatisfactoryenvironmental conditions. Today many synthetic chemicals and pesticidesmanufactured are used for the preservation of this cultural property in Sri Lanka. Mostof the modern materials and readymade materials used to counter deterioration arerelatively toxic and harmful too. It is therefore important to find out the traditionalmaterials and methods which are in use and to conserve them for the sake of thesetreasures of knowledge.
This study will make an investigative approach into the traditional Sri Lankanmanuscript conservation techniques practiced in Sri Lanka and their applicability in thepresent day. Therefore the following stages of the palm-leaf manuscripts were discussedin detail with the traditional conservation techniques used for seasoning the leaves,preparation for writing, writing on leaves, oiling methods, storage and housekeepingmethods of palm-leaves and insect control methods. Some of the aforesaid informationmay enable us to unravel some of the secrets of preservative methods and techniquesused in the past time which are cheaper and convenient.
This study will make an investigative approach into the traditional Sri Lankanmanuscript conservation techniques practiced in Sri Lanka and their applicability in thepresent day. A literary survey will also be applied to identify the traditional methods inthe conservation of palm-leaves.
Therefore, by a reviewing of these traditional treatments of existing palm-leafmanuscripts and the materials used for conservation and protection may help in the fieldof conservation to improve the longevity and endurance of the cultural heritage in thecountry. According to the budgetary conditions of the repositories, the identifiedtraditional materials and methods can be applied to preserve the palm leaves.
Key words: Preservation, Conservation, Palm leaf, Traditional method, Sri Lanka
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