To preserve and archive ancient documents, Loden Foundation’s Shejun culture programme handed over 14 digital religious books to the National Library and Archives of Bhutan (NLAB) in Thimphu yesterday.

President of Loden Foundation, Karma Phuntsho (PhD) said this was done as part of preserving and promoting Bhutanese culture.

“The foundation tries to preserve original books, but also makes a digital copy of the books by taking photographs that have high-resolution. If the book gets lost, we can reproduce the book.”

He said that the copy might not be the same as that of an original but would have the same content that scholars, researchers, priests, and the public can have access to.

Four sets of handwritten Kanjur, a Bum, a Rinchen Terzo, a Gongdue, a Kagye and a Dzodun were handed over to the library. In 2012, Loden Shejun culture programme handed digital copies of manuscripts from 20 temples and family collections.

To understand written heritage in the country, a project to digitise ancient archives was conducted. Until now, about 18,099 Giga Bytes of data have been handed over to the National Library.

“Old manuscripts could get destroyed either by fire or earthquakes. It could get disintegrated because of weather and insects. Art thieves could also steal the rare documents,” the foundation’s president said.

Loden shejun culture programme visits dzongs, temples, and villages to photograph pages of the original version of manuscripts and documents.

It was found that the Shejun culture team also provides covers and shelves to protect ancient books and advises people to look after the original copies.

Besides preserving old books and manuscripts, the foundation also documents written heritage, oral tradition, wall paintings, statues, intangible culture, and practices such as agriculture, architecture and wedding ceremonies across the country.

Karma Phuntsho said that so far, about 400 million pages have been produced. “The government said that there are about 2,000 temples in the country. We assume that at least 10 percent would have archives and we hope to continue documenting these archives.”

Rinchen Zangmo