Payment delay hits conservation of rare items, manuscripts in Patna and Darbhanga…

The much-needed conservation of rare manuscripts of Rahul Sankrityayan, the famous 20th century travelogue writer and scholar, and priceless ivory collections could not start as the Bihar government has allegedly declined paying the agreed amount to the agency it had roped in for their upkeep.

Given the historical significance of the manuscripts of Sankrityayan, which are kept at Patna Museum, and rare ivory articles in possession of Darbhanga Museum, officially known as Maharajadhiraj Lakshmeshwar Singh Museum, authorities had signed memorandums of agreement (MoAs) with the National Research Laboratory for Conservation of Cultural Properties (NRLCCP), Lucknow, for their better upkeep.

As per the agreement signed on the directions of chief minister Nitish Kumar, the culture department was supposed to transfer half of the total amount (Rs 74.30 lakh for Patna Museum and Rs 1.67 crore for Darbhanga Museum) to NRLCCP by March-end this year so that the conservation work could start. The MoAs were signed on March 12 and March 15 respectively.

Sankrityayan’s manuscripts include those written in gold and silver on handmade papers and books on Buddhist philosophy that were once in the library of ancient Nalanda and Vikramshila universities. There are about 10,000 such manuscripts that were brought back to India by him from Tibet. Dating back to around 700 years ago, these manuscripts were taken from these universities to Tibet before their destruction.

Darbhanga Museum, named after Darbhanga Maharaj, has the largest collection of ivory craft items in the country. CM Nitish Kumar, during his visit to the museum in 2017, had asked its officials to look for conservation of the collections for want of adequate care.

Currently, Darbhanga museum has more than 155 articles made of ivory, dating back to centuries. These include a royal chair made of ivory, golden polished sofa, golden decorated chair with oval throne, cot, etc.

Ravi Manubhai Parmar, principal secretary of the department of art and culture, said that the NRLCCP was asked not to wait for the money and start the conservation. “Where will the money go? It is a government work? I will examine the issue with NRLCCP and take necessary action,” he said.

First Published:
May 22, 2019 15:34 IST

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