Gilgit Manuscript

Documentary heritage submitted by India and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2017.

The birch bark and clay coated Gilgit manuscripts are the oldest surviving manuscripts in India. These manuscripts include both canonical and non-canonical Buddhist works that throw light on the evolution of Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, Manchu and Tibetan religion-philosophical literature. They are used for the study of the history and development of Buddhist thought and writing is invaluable. The Gilgit manuscript contain inter alia Sutras (aphorism) from the Buddhist canon, Samadhirajasutra and the Saddharmapundarikasutra (the Lotus Sutra) form part of the corpus that covers a wide range of subjects including religion, ritual, philosophy, iconometry, folk tales, medicine and many other areas of human life and knowledge. Paleographically these manuscripts can be dated back to the 5th to 6th Cantury A.D. and are written in Buddhist hybrid Sanskrit language of the Gupta Brahmi and Post Gupta Brahmi script of that period. The manuscripts were discovered in three instalments in the Gilgit region of Kashmir. While the main part of the manuscripts is housed in the National Archives of India, New Delhi, the rest of the collection is at Sri Pratap Singh Museum, Jammu and Kahmir.

  • Year of submission: 2016
  • Year of inscription: 2017
  • Country: India
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