Pune’s Bhandarkar institute preserves 700-year-old paper. Details here

The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (Bori) has reportedly restored a 700-year-old paper, made in 1320, notably, the oldest paper in Maharashtra, said Bori officials on Saturday.

Bhupal Patwardhan, chairman, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute said, “A little dive into history states that there were two ways to make paper. One is from bulk of tress and second is from cotton. This is a handmade paper made up of a bulk of tress. It has withstood any corrupt microbiological elements and we intend to keep it that way by preserving it,” according to Hindustan Times report.

Amruta Natu, a curator at Bori said that the plant-based paper was used for ‘Chikitsa Sara Sanghraha’ (Sanskrit medical manuscript). “The regular white paper we use today has cellulose and fibre aligned in one direction and is rolled on a roller during manufacturing. However, the cellulose and fibre in handmade paper is aligned randomly which affects its tear and mending capacity. There was no chemical usage while manufacturing this paper and it has zero chemical absorbing capacity from the atmosphere, hence, it has high lasting capacity. The paper can be preserved for another 100 years.”

The report further stated that the paper was earlier preserved at Elphinstone College, Mumbai during the British-era, Amruta Natu said. However, considering the humid weather in Mumbai, it was shifted to Deccan College in Pune in 1878, as the humid atmosphere increases the chances of biological infection, the report said. 

Interestingly, in the year 1922, the paper was shifted to Bori and the institute has also built an anti-fire wall for its preservation. “The paper is stores in a special Burma teak wood rack. To avoid pest, fungus and microbial infection mechanical cleaning, soft brushing is included in regular maintenance,” said Natu. 

Varsha Kotphode, head, conservator lab at Bori said, “Our preservation treatment depends on the damage. However, anoxia treatment is important. In this, the infested object is placed in a bag where oxygen level is reduced to a stage that can kill the life cycle of an insect. Then, through various stages like deacidification, flexibility treatment, anti-fungal treatment, tear mending process and strip lining we usually carry forward the process of preservation and restoration,” as per the Hindustan Times report.

(With inputs from Hindustan Times)

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