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Ancient Tamil manuscripts to be restored through US grant

Photograph: US Embassy Colombo

The United States announced it will fund the restoration of ancient Tamil manuscripts in Jaffna on Sunday.

The announcement was made as part of US Ambassador Samantha Power’s visit to the North, where she told Jaffna Library staff “we plan to partner with you as you seek to complete the task of preserving what you have”.

After a welcome from a traditional Tamil inniyam band, the ambassador met with staff members, signed the library guestbook and viewed some of the 1000-year old palmyrah manuscripts that have survived to this day.

The library lost over 95,000 unique and irreplaceable Tamil palm leaves (ola), manuscripts, parchments, books, magazines and newspapers, after it was set ablaze by Sri Lankan state security forces and state sponsored mobs in 1981.

The ancient manuscripts give the next generation a “window to the past,” said the ambassador, adding she was “proud to announce [the] US grant”.

A reported 1.5 million rupees will be made available to help restore the manuscripts housed at the library.

Photograph: US Embassy Colombo

See our earlier post: Jaffna Library burns - May 31st 1981 (01 June 2015)