Exhibition on Oral Traditions and Indigenous Methods and Materials of Conservation of Manuscripts,

1-7 February 2005, in collaboration with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. This exhibition showcased the various organic conservation materials and techniques practised in isolated pockets around the country. The exhibition was organised with the objective that exposure to actual materials and methods will help the seminar participants as well as the general public to appreciate the evolution of manuscripts conservation using only natural materials. Various medicinal plants and inorganic materials were also on display which helped the audience relate to the technical aspects to the lectures. Practitioners from different parts of India were invited to showcase the methods and materials which they had been using for centuries such as neem leaves, custard apple seeds and distillates from resins.

Exhibition on Oral Traditions and Indigenous Methods and Materials of Conservation of Manuscripts,

1 October 2006 – 7 January 2007, Museum fuer Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt

The first exhibition of its kind to be held outside of India, this event focused on all the various manuscript traditions prevalent in the sub-continent over centuries. Consisting of close to 70 manuscripts and 20 related items, this display encompasses a wide range of subjects, support materials, languages, scripts, writing instruments, shapes and forms of manuscripts et al.

Selected with great care by B.N. Goswamy, the Commissioner of the exhibition, the exhibits represent the best of Indian intellectual and artistic traditions. Some of the highlights of the exhibition included an illustrated version of the Balakanda of Ramayana, painted in the Mysore style in mid-19 th century; two terracotta figurines, dating back to the 2 nd century BC, each holding a learning board with Brahmi characters inscribed upon them; the Gita Govinda from Orissa written on bamboo leaves and another written in folios arranged to look like a garland of rudraksha beads; a folio of Palkapya Gajayurveda from Rajasthan depicting an elephant being attacked by a fever in the form of a demon; the Holy Quran, smaller than the palm of one's hand, with a seal of Mughal emperor and many others.

Desgined by Parthiv Shah, the exhibition architecture was also reminiscent of the contexts in which these manuscripts were originally meant to be written and read. The use of colours such as copper, brick red, haldi (turmeric) and Persian blue, as well as materials such as khadi for backdrops, wooden bookstands to display bound manuscripts and an installation reminiscent of places where manuscripts are idolized, the exhibition evokes the reverence with which manuscripts are often treated in India.

The Word is Sacred; Sacred is the Word, 7 February – 8 March 2007, National Archives of India, New Delhi

The manuscripts originally on display at Frankfurt were again exhibited in New Delhi in association with the National Archives of India. The display was arranged in 6 sections:

  • From Clay to Copper—which showed the materials on which the written word was inscribed—bamboo, clay, palm, wood to name a few
  • Fields of Learning—the various areas of knowledge contained in manuscripts—astronomy, arithmetic, erotica, geography, philosophy, etc
  • Veneration, Submission and Worship—how manuscripts are an object of veneration, not only as objects but for their content
  • From Clay to Copper—which showed the materials on which the written word was inscribed—bamboo, clay, palm, wood to name a few
  • Royal Orders and Plain Records—administrative and historical documents like farmans