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Digitisation of Sinhalese Manuscripts Housed in Overseas Libraries, Universities and Museums

During the period of colonisation that followed, under the Portuguese, the Dutch, and finally the British, a great repository of Buddhist literature written in palm-leaf manuscripts dispersed and evanesce as they were requisitioned and moved to Europe. Currently, most of the surviving palm-leaf tablets are respectfully and considerately being preserved in various public and private collections in the British Library and the Manchester University Library in the UK. However, the highly seminal religious, medical, historical and cultural knowledge and intellect they contain, which may be fundamental to Buddhist and South Asian cultural development, are left inaccessible for scholarly reference and academic research.

Why this is Important

In order to ensure the continued preservation of all possible surviving manuscripts housed across the world, it has become imperative to obtain their digital copies and compile an easily accessible collection or anthology. Most of the manuscripts in question are over 150 years old and as such, in extremely fragile conditions, which makes them unsuitable for physical public reference in the first place. These factors have formed a compelling call for obtaining digital copies/scans of the manuscripts, which shapes the first part of this research’s motivation

Secondly, all most all these manuscripts are written in ancient Sinhalese script, which requires to be translated to modern Sinhala and English, if these master pieces are to contribute to any ongoing contemporary theological, cultural or historical research and studies.

What We have Achieved so far

Through a generous donation from our supporters, we were able to complete the pilot project’s manuscript conservation and imaging, catalogue creation and online presentation in June 2021. The outputs of this project are four detailed and searchable catalogue records and fully digitised manuscripts made freely available here.

How to Contribute

Generous supporters like you are the key to accomplishing this noble mission.

Donations can be made on a one time or monthly basis to the International Centre for Theravada Buddhism UK (ICTBUK) using the details provided below.

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