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Kashmir Archives gets award for preserving Gilgit Manuscripts

Jammu
Feb 20, 2007:

The Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums of Kashmir has been awarded with National award for preserving valuable Gilgit manuscripts by Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The Gilgit Manuscript (Sangahata-Sutra) written during 5th–6th century A.D. on Birch Bark and a prized possession of Sri Pratap Singh Museum Srinagar has been declared as one of the manuscript treasure of India amongst millions of identified manuscript in the country.

Regarded as among the oldest manuscripts in the world and the oldest collection surviving in India, the Government of India has nominated it for inclusion in UNESCO's World Register in 2006-07 along with the Rig Veda.

In this connection, a citation ceremony was organized by National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) on February 14, 2007 at New Delhi, presided over by Federal Minister for Culture and Tourism, Ambika Soni.

Among 45 manuscripts across the country, declared by Expert Committee Gilgit Manuscript of J&K was one of the nominees awarded with declaration certificate, a memento and a cheque of One Hundred Thousand INR, received by Director Archives, Archaeology and Museums, Khursheed Ahmad Qadri.

Government of Jammu and Kashmir is the repository of valuable manuscripts numbering about 16,000, composed in different languages covering many aspects such as religion, history, literature, geography, arithmetic, medical science and the arts. These scripts/inscriptions are preserved in various materials such as birch bark, hand-made paper, wood, stone, cloth and terracotta.

The Gilgit Manuscripts were accidentally discovered in 1931 when a group of cattle grazers unearthed a box in the region of Gilgit [now part of Pakistan administered Kashmir] in the then undivided Jammu & Kashmir state. This manuscript collection contains such Buddhist works, both canonical and non-canonical which helped in the evolution of Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Tibetan religio-philosophical literature. Gilgit was then the major trade centre on the Silk Route.

These manuscripts are yet to be deciphered fully. Part of these manuscripts were airlifted from Kashmir to New Delhi under special instructions from first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, during the 1948 India-Pakistan conflict.

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