Collection 11 in progress

 

Krishnasamy examining letters to be digitized with the document holder in his living room. Our "home-made" portable photo stand is in the lower right hand corner

We are presently working on a large collection belonging to the family of an Anuppa Goundar Zamin family in Madurai district. The documents we are digitizing will eventually become “collection 11”.

The Zamin’s documents have been stored in a relatively neat and orderly fashion, unlike some collections where the documents were balled up together, which is making the digitization process less complicated and time consuming.

One of the two chest holding the family documents being opened for us....

So far we are not able to estimate the number of documents kept in the two wooden chests. During the first set of digitization around 1 000 photos have been taken. As is often the case in our project, the document holder is not quite sure of the contents of many of his documents.

...and the contents dispersed on the floor...

This first set of digitized documents is being painstakingly identified by Selvakumar, Muthukumar and Chandran who joined the project a month ago. The collection contains a vast majority of paper documents.  Among these a fair amount of land related documents (village leases, land sales, rentals, auctions, etc.), dispute documents (complaints, judgments, legal notices, etc.).

Though there are very few documents in English, the earliest document among those identified so far is a handwritten notice in English from dating from 1802 . A notebook dated from 1867 presented by the Madurai District Collector contains a number of handwritten copies of copperplates which were apparently lent by the Zamin to the British officer for the purpose of reproduction. The copperplates reproduced are said to have been issued by Tirumalai Nayakkar arounf the 1660s, thus latter that the copperplates of Collection 1 (which have been authenticated by the Archaeological Survey).

The second phase of the digitization process should be completed by the end of the month of October.

Here are a few more samples from the fieldwork and the collection:

 

 

 

A taste of golden rice …

Straying somewhat from the purpose of this research project, but delightful nonetheless, here is an appetizing artifact photographed among a vast collection of objects and documents dating from the golden years of the former Palayakkarar (later Zamindar) family of Uttukuli which we met last week during a document field search in Kongu Nadu :

 

Front side....

 

 

... et bon appetit !

 

Several gold leaves still remained in the leaflet, not so tasty after all…