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Digitization on to preserve ancient Tibetan literature

Beijing, May 13: Chinese researchers are digitizing ancient Tibetan manuscripts that were taken overseas from the famed Mogao Grottoes a century ago, amid efforts to study and preserve the distinctive Tibetan culture. Launched by Northwest Minzu University in Gansu Province in 2013, the digitization programme has converted 11 volumes of photocopied ancient Tibetan literature into electronic files, with a database being built, reports Xinhua news agency. The photocopied manuscripts were purchased by the university from libraries in Britain and France where the original documents are housed.
The university has compiled and published 31 volumes from the photocopies of ancient Tibetan literature since 2005 and the figure is expected to increase to 45 in the following two to three years. The Dunhuang manuscripts were discovered in the Mogao Grottos in Gansu in 1900. There are more than 60,000 of them, featuring history, politics, religion and folk customs. The Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, feature a huge collection of Buddhist art, including more than 2,000 coloured sculptures and 45,000 square meters of frescoes spread over 735 caves. Dating from the 4th to 11th centuries, the majority are in Chinese, but some are represented in other ethnic languages such as Tibetan. In the early 20th century, however, a large number of Dunhuang manuscripts were taken to foreign countries such as France, Britain and Russia. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita