(2 November 2013) The Southeast Asia Library Group, SEALG, reports that The British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme has awarded a grant to the Northern Illinois University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, for a pilot project dedicated to the preservation of Cham manuscripts.
The Cham are an important ethnic minority in Vietnam. Descendants of the Champa kingdom that lasted from the 2nd to the 17th century AD, the Cham are the largest group of Hindu and Muslim people living in Vietnam.
The Cham’s writing system is mainly based on Sanskrit, with the majority of Cham manuscripts still in existence written in the akhar thrar script. Writings were previously inscribed on palm-leaves, but in more recent times they are recorded on paper. Cham manuscripts contain rich information about Cham customs, religious practice, literature and daily activities of Cham people. Many are records of officials and families in the communities. Manuscripts still in existence are mainly from 50 to 150 years old.
Cham manuscripts unfortunately have not been well preserved.
Three digitised Cham manuscripts from this project are now available online on the library’s Endangered Archives homepage.
Read the announcement on the SEALG website.