Syrian Christian History Inscribed on Palm Leaves

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For centuries, palm leaves were used as a traditional form of writing support in India. In 2008, HMML began working with the Saint Thomas Christian Community in Kerala, India to digitize and preserve their rich blend of Syriac, European and local traditions. Among the thousands of archival materials are 10,000 palm-leaf manuscripts written in native languages, some pre-dating and many post-dating the Portuguese colonial conquest in the 1500s. Rev. Fr. Ignatius Payyappilly, a HMML partner visiting from Kerala, India, will take an in-depth look at some of the palm-leaf manuscripts. The Syrian Christian palm leaves and inscriptions are among the least examined primary sources of history writing and academic inquiry in Kerala. The palm leaves record the facts of day-to-day life of the people and activities of the church. These records allow historians to draw together the socio-economic life of the people with their religious life. The micro history formulated can contribute to the development of the comprehensive history of Kerala.

Rev. Fr. Ignatius Payyappilly is a Catholic priest belonging to the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, Kerala, India. Fr Ignatius belongs to Syrian Christian Catholic Community and was ordained priest on April 7, 1994. He served as parish priest in six churches in Kerala. He holds MA in History from IGNOU, New Delhi, MA in Archives and Records Management from Liverpool University, UK and PhD from IGNOU, New Delhi. He is the one who organized the Archdiocesan archives in a systematic way 2001 and set up the Archdiocesan Museum in 2003, witnessing to the rich historical tradition of the Syro Malabar Church. Today hundreds of people visit this museum, for its heritage articles, and archives, and for research studies. Since 2001, he is serving as the Archivist and Curator and Librarian of the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, and serves as a Consultant of various religious and secular archives in India.

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