Top US conservationist for Indo-Pak initiative on material heritage

Dr Taylor observed, “Till date no efforts have been made to fill the gaps in these series of historic documents by providing the missing materials in microfilm or digitized format. These gaps must be filled now and microfilming of documents should be done both in India and Pakistan. Later the copies of such microfilmed documents should be shared.”

The suggestion has been listed as an important objective of the conference on development of cultural preservation initiative in Punjab, which started in Chandigarh today. The event seeks to highlight new conservation technologies for preservation, research, exhibition and publication of priceless cultural heritage of Punjab. It is being sponsored by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum.

Among other crucial driving factors behind the initiative of the Smithsonian Institution and the Anandpur Sahib Foundation is near total lack of perspective in conserving material heritage in Punjab.

A host of rare manuscripts have been lost to heat lamination – a process fatal to the artwork, which will start showing signs of deteriorating three years after it has been heat laminated. Similar is the story of oil paintings which form part of the Amritsar school. Many such paintings are being destroyed due to the use of technologies that do more harm than good.

Dr Taylor is worried, as he has seen the deteriorating state of artworks at Khalsa College, Amritsar, where, as also the fading glory of limestone paintings at Quila Mubarak in Patiala. He is also keen to microfilm the Tribune archives housed by Khalsa College Library in Amritsar.

“The Tribune archives are priceless pieces but are in poor shape. t of the oil paintings of Amritsar school are also cracking due to improper conservation technologies. Lime stone paintings at Quila Mubarak are withering due to bio-deterioration. Our experts are here to show the way forward from here. It is sad that Punjab’s material heritage should be at high risk, despite the availability of new technologies for preserving, documenting, studying and improving access to that heritage.”

Today Dr Taylor heard some Sikh scholars question the relevance of Khalsa Heritage Complex in context to Anandpur’s indigenous landscape. The debate centred on the ethnic richness of the complex built by world famous architect he Safdie. “It is important for the Anandpur Sahib Foundation to find a mission that connects to the people of Punjab. Once that is done, our collaboration will find a greater purpose,” said Dr Taylor.

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