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Scriptural manuscripts now on display

A copy of a 7th-century Qur'an and Persian translations of Indian epics are now on display at the National Museum.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2006 16:52 IST

A copy of a seventh-century Qu'ran and Persian translations of the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana done during the Mughal period are among the around 500 rare manuscripts that will be displayed at the National Museum here after a gap of five years.

The manuscripts would be put up at a permanent gallery that will be created especially for such rare documents in two months.

"The museum has around 15,000 manuscripts in its collection, out of which around 500 will be put up for display in the Manuscript Gallery," National Museum Director General A K V S Reddy told PTI here.

Dealing with a variety of subjects such as astrology, astronomy, philosophy, painting, religion, history and literature, and written on material ranging from palm leaves to leather, birch and paper, the manuscripts form one of the best collections in Asia, said Curator Naeem Akhtar.

The oldest manuscript in the collection is a 7th-century copy of the Qu'ran written on leather parchment, he said.


The collection has Persian translations of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana as well as Bhagwad Geeta, which were undertaken under Akbar's rule in the 16th century, Akhtar said.

"These manuscripts are worth viewing as they are illustrated with some very beautiful paintings," he said.

Reddy said till around four years ago, the museum had a gallery displaying around 135 manuscripts, but it was dismantled for renovation. Subsequently the space was devoted to displaying of naval artefacts.

"Now, after a gap of five years. We will again have a gallery exclusively dedicated to manuscripts," he said.

The collection also boasts of rare, illustrated copies of the Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth, holy books of the Sikhs.

"The chief priests of the Golden Temple and Anandpur Sahib have been to the museum to view the manuscripts," Akhtar said.

"The manuscripts in our collection have always been of great help to scholars. But now the public will also be able to see them," he added.

First Published: Aug 22, 2006 16:46 IST