Project Purposed and Summary:
To restore and conserve sastra sloeuk rit and kraing manuscripts for current and future generations, vital aspects of Cambodia’s cultural heritage. It is important to do so before the last surviving materials from the late 19th and early 20th century are lost.
Objective 1: To digitize the hand written documents (manuscripts) in Batheay District, Kampong Cham Province, both from pagodas and families.
Objective 2: To sort and repair all these materials and establish a system in order to maintain them in proper conditions by educate local people on the importance of manuscripts and how to care for them.
Objective 3: To develop database and issue the results of project on the BI internet for easy access by both local and international researchers.
Detailed Project Description:
In 2003 a Buddhist Institute pilot project led by director, Nguon Van Chanthi, developed techniques for the conservation of sastra sloeuk rit and kraing Khmer manuscripts. The practical component of this project was undertaken at Broeus Meas Pagoda. This was conducted in association with the authorities in Kampong Cham and a strong relationship still exists between the department of Cults and Religions in Kampong Cham and the Buddhist Institute. The department of Cults and Religions in Kampong Cham and the Buddhist Institute are both very keen to continue the important process of conserving these manuscripts.
There is a project at the National Library of Cambodia which aims to create an archive of manuscripts on microfilm. The solution developed by the Buddhist Institute in 2003 is different in that involves the digitization of manuscripts by scanning them and storing them in a database. We have found the quality of the scanned manuscripts to be superior to that of the microfilm copies.
This project will be coordinated by Sor Sokny, Chief of the Mores and Customs Commission of the Buddhist Institute. Sokny will be working with a team of local people and Buddhist Institute staff which will be established in Kampong Cham in order to undertake this project. This will be done in the following phases.
1. Initial workshop to educate local people on the purpose of this project and on the importance of the manuscripts.
2. Cleaning, restoration, sorting, collation and documentation. This will be undertaken using the processes developed in the 2003 project. During this process.
3. Scanning and image enhancement.
4. Database design and data entry.
5. Dissemination. Information will be made available on the Buddhist Institute website (http://www.buddinst.gov.kh) and as a DVD. A post-project workshop will be conducted to make the existence of this data publicly known.
Project Significance & Urgency:
Historically, sastra sloeuk rit and kraing manuscripts have played an important role in Cambodian education, religion and other scientific and cultural aspects of society.
Today there are few people who can read these manuscripts, meaning that few people fully understand their significance. In some cases, manuscripts have been lost as a result of being sold by people who do not fully appreciate the value of these manuscripts to future generations.
Sastra sloeuk rit and kraing manuscripts are easily damaged by insects and by the tropical climate. It was recently discovered was that manuscripts are sometimes burned and consumed in an attempt to cure diseases.
The loss of these manuscripts would be a major loss to the cultural heritage of Cambodia. For this reason it is important that the Buddhist Institute continue its work in the preservation of these manuscripts.
For more information, Please feel free to contact me anytimes.
Mr. Sokny SOR
Chief of Mores & Customs Commission