Indo-Persian Manuscripts in Chennai and Delhi

ECAF Fellowship report from Dr. Arthur Dudney, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Early-Modern Indian Cultures of Knowledge, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford University


I spent five weeks in India in August and September funded by a BASAS/British Academy ECAF Visiting Fellowship. The purpose of my fellowship was two-fold. Firstly, it allowed me to visit the Persian manuscript libraries in Delhi and Chennai to view manuscripts that were unavailable to me during earlier stays in India. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, I hoped to identify collections that could benefit from a British Library Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) grant and encourage the custodians of these collections to apply to the scheme. The most successful manuscript archive visit was at the Governmental Oriental Manuscripts Library housed at Madras University, Chennai.

The relevant members of staff were welcoming and I was able to view some sixteen Persian texts from this rich but relatively unknown collection. While in Chennai, I also gave an invited lecture at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras. In Delhi, I gained first-hand knowledge of the state of administration of various libraries and discussed the EAP scheme with about a dozen people. This has led to at least one EAP application for this year, namely for the preservation of the Raja of Mahmudabad’s library in Lucknow.