Heritage in the time of risks

This year’s celebration tackles all the risks and confrontation taking place in the world that threaten the contents, scientific and intellectual features, social and cultural characteristics of manuscript heritage.  

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MAi AL ABRIA –

It is important for Omani scientists to use everything they know to help preserve manuscripts. This was the message of Hamoud bin Abdullah Al Rashdi, Director of Manuscripts Department, in his opening message during the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s celebration of the Arabic Manuscripts Day held Wednesday this week.
With the theme “Heritage in the time of risks” and conducted under the patronage of Sayyid Fatik bin Fahr Al Said, the Secretary General of the ministry, Al Rashdi added that Omani scientists’ role is crucial in guaranteeing manuscript preservation for the future generation. He added that this effort needs the collective contribution from all fields of science and knowledge.
Defining what manuscripts are in the earlier part of his message, Al Rashdi also elaborated the efforts being made of the department in the context of preservation. He explained that one of their efforts include reprinting important manuscripts in a more beautiful, and attractive formats.
This year’s celebration tackles all the risks and confrontations taking place in the world that threaten the contents, scientific and intellectual features, social and cultural characteristics of manuscript heritage.
A film was also presented on the process of dealing with a manuscript and the preservation methods used which usually include indexing, restoration, photographing the manuscripts and then saving them on boxes.
Mohammed al Tarshi, head of Communication and Records Department, presented his paper on “Manuscripts and Risks” that revealed the enormity of distortion and theft manuscripts usually undergo addition to degradation due to constant clashes in the Arab world.
Al Tarshi pointed out, as an example, that many manuscripts were destroyed during the fire in Tamerlane in Baghdad. He said that thousands of books were lost, including the Diwan of Omani Imam Jaber bin Zaid al-Azdi.
He also specified that the Soviet Union inherited 80 thousand manuscripts when it extended its influence to the Arab and Islamic kingdoms in the Central Asia (Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara).
“In recent years, sabotage and destruction have reached a breaking point due to the constant conflicts in the Arab countries like in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, and Palestine. Conflicts have thus been added to the list of hazards that cause cultural manuscripts destruction alongside with negligence, bad conservation practices, climate and disasters,” he added.
“Some Arab countries go through difficult situations for years. One of the astronomers working in Mesopotamia sold more than 600 manuscripts to the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 1883. This also happened in Oman during the bad times in its historical past where individuals focused on increasing their personal incomes neglected heritage”.
The ministry programme ended with Secretary General Al Said toured the guests and participants on the Manuscripts Exhibition where everyone was given an opportunity to see the original manuscripts as well as the display of how the restoration process is conducted. (With report from ONA)