Cultural Academy modifies safety code

Cultural Academy modifies safety code

The Academy, whose collection of valuable artifacts was damaged during the last year’s flood, has taken the decision to prevent the occurrence of such a situation in future.

Apart from fire proof and earthquake proof, the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Cultural and Languages has added flood proof code to its list of precautions for building any new strong room to store rare manuscripts and paintings.

The Academy, whose collection of valuable artifacts was damaged during the last year’s flood, has taken the decision to prevent the occurrence of such a situation in future.

The academy is in possession of some of the rarest manuscripts, many of which are the only surviving copies. “Just a day before the floods, on September 6, we shifted majority of our manuscripts and paintings to the second floor,” said Haroon Rashid, Secretary of the Academy.

“That saved our treasure from total annihilation.” The floods damaged around 40 newly acquired manuscripts and 50 paintings at the Academy’s repository.

“To restore these manuscripts and paintings we got a team of four experts from National Museum of India, New Delhi, and National Research Laboratory For Conservation Of Cultural Property, Lucknow,” said Rashid.

The experts worked for over two weeks by employing latest techniques for the preservation of manuscripts. “With their efforts we were able to save our entire flood-affected collection,” said Rashid.

“As of now the damage to the cultural treasure of Kashmir remains minimal.” Rashid said that the Academy was never prepared for floods, although precautions were always taken against other dangers like fire, theft and earthquakes.

“Now we have added another safety measure of protection against floods. Whenever our strong room is built it would be flood proof too,” said Rashid.

The Academy has currently shifted the strong room to the top floor. The Academy is in possession of over 400 manuscripts and 500 rare paintings.

Their total value runs into hundreds of crores although the officials say that they are priceless. Some of the manuscripts include first Quranic manuscripts handwritten in the subcontinent in 1237 AD by Fateh-ullah Kashmiri, the Holy Quran dating back to 1594 written in an ink prepared by blending gold with saffron, another Quranic manuscript written in gold dating to 1711 AD and a Persian manuscript written in embossed calligraphy with nail of thumb popularly known as Khat-e-Nakhun.

The paintings include those of M F Hussain, GR Santosh, NS Bendre, VS Gaitonde, Tayeb Mehta, J Swaminathan and others. One of Hussain’s paintings with the Academy is worth Rs 5 crores.