NRI traces 200-year old historic manuscript at British Library

GUWAHATI, Dec 2: British Library has a stunning collection of manuscripts and paintings from all over the world. British Library has the book Comparative Vocabularies, the manuscript of a 200-year-old dictionary of 10 languages, including English, Assamese, Bengali, Manipuri, Garo, Rabha, Koch, Kachari, Panikoch and Mech. The lexicon was written by Dr Francis Buchanan Hamilton (1762 to 1829), a British polymath of the 18th century. Hamilton came to India when it was under the East India Company.
Dr Raktim Ranjan Saikia, Assistant Professor, Department Geology of JB College, Jorhat on behalf of Asomiya Jatiya Prakash, the publishers ofthe encyclopaedic dictionary, Asomiya JatiyaAbhidhan (Assamese National Dictionary), contacted Rini Kakati, in London, asking if it was possible to trace those papers at British Library which would be of great help to the Assamese society.
Rini Kakati, the Assam Coordinator for UK and the Director of FASS (Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters), being a proud Assamese, took theinitiative straightaway with relevant authorities. She spent considerable amount of time and effortto go through these papers and was able to acquire this historic collection for the benefit of Assam and the Assamese people. This book was written circa 1800, it has 155 pages of landscape-sized paper. There are 18,000 words inall with 1,800 words in each of the 10 languages.
Dr. Francis Buchanan Hamilton was an explorerand naturalist. Born at Branziet (Baldernock, EastDunbartonshire), Buchanan was the third son of Thomas Buchanan of Spittal and Leny, and Elizabeth Hamilton of Bardowie. He attended school in Glasgow and then read medicine at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1783. He joined the navy as a ship'ssurgeon but soon retired due to ill health. In 1794, he was appointed a surgeon with the East India Company in Bengal (India). He was able to explore Burma, Chittagong (1798), the Andaman Islands, Nepal (1802-3) and North Bengal and Bihar (1807-9)and made detailed surveys of the botany, geography, agriculture, economy, social conditions and culture of these areas, preparing extensive reports which now form an important historical resource. On return from the mission, being stationed at Jjakkipur near the mouth of the Brahmaputra, he wrote an admirable description of the fishes of that river, which was published in 1822. He wasa great scholar and wrote on anything under the sun and had visited Goalpara and stayed therefor some time till he wentback to England.
Devabrata Sharma, chief editor of Asomiya Jatiya Abhidhan (Assamese National Dictionary), is going to include this historic manuscript in the next publication of the dictionary. (Sentinelassam)

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