The UNESCO Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP) is pleased to share the results of the 2022 round of the Asia Culture Centre (ACC)-MOWCAP Grants Program.
In 2022, thirteen applications were assessed against the application criteria (outlined in the Grant Guidelines), with four organizations from eight countries in the Asia-Pacific region awarded grants. These grantees are from Australia, Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic and Republic of Tajikistan, and Vietnam. They will undertake projects to preserve and make documentary heritage collections accessible. The ACC-MOWCAP Small Grants Programme is made possible through the generous financial support of the Asia Culture Center (ACC). $20,000 USD was awarded under the 2022 grants cycle.
The Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC) received a grant for the Digitisation of Reel-to-Reel/Cassette Recordings of Songs, Dances and Stories of Yap State.
The collection of recordings showcase Yapese culture and PARADISEC will work with the Yap State Archives to digitise seventy tapes in the Yap language that are at risk of loss. The tapes are in poor condition and will also need conservation treatment prior to digitisation. Digitised tapes will be returned to Yap for access, and also served from PARADISEC’s collection with relevant access conditions.
The project will benefit the people of Yap who are unable to play reel to reel tapes held in their collection. These materials are proof of the artistic and creative nature of the Yapese people. Traditional dances and chants that are presented during special occasions rely on these recordings.
PARADISEC is a digital archive of records of some of the many small cultures and languages of the world. The PARADISEC research group has developed models to ensure that the archive can provide access to interested communities, and conforms with emerging international standards for digital archiving. The PARADESIC digital archive was inscribed on the Australian Memory of the World Register in 2013.
The Association of Young Mongolists received a grant to Build an Online Database for the Documentary Heritage of Mongolian Domestic and Ritual Culture in Private Collections.
Most of Mongolia’s documentary heritage is preserved in the collections of museums, libraries and universities. However some documentary heritage in the form of sutras belong to and are stored by private individuals.
The grant provides funding to develop a website which will include an online database, in Mongolian and English, of twenty known rare and priceless sutras from the 18th-20th centuries that belong to private individuals. It will have a directory of the sutras kept in private collections and will include their location, information on the owner, origin and numbers printed. Scanned copies of the sutras will also be available on the website as well as access to recorded oral histories associated with the sutras.
An information session is also planned for young Mongolian scholars utilizing the UNESCO Memory of the World online course. Future plans involve continuing to conduct research and adding to the online database.
The project will be undertaken by the administrative team members of the Association of Young Mongolists which has the support of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.
3. Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan
The International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) received a grant to develop a Catalogue of Sogdian Scripts in Central Asia.
Sogdian is a language belonging to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It was originally spoken in an area centered on Samarkand in present day Uzbekistan, and expanded to Bukhara in the west and Tashkent in the northeast. Sogdian merchants set up trading posts along the so-called “Silk Roads” deep into China. As a result, Sogdian came to be spoken and written over a very wide area, both as a native language and as a lingua franca used by people who were native speakers of other languages. . The latest known Sogdian manuscripts date from the 11th century. After that period, Sogdian was no longer used as a written language.
Sogdian texts are held in a number of different collections around the world, each of which uses their own numbering systems and publish their own catalogues.
The aims of the project are to: (1) promote regional networking in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) among libraries, academic institutions and museums in the cataloging and archival description of Sogdian scripts (2) support the digitisation and publishing of Sogdian scripts (3) create an inventory of documents using the Sogdian script (4) elaborate the strategy for a regional nomination of Sogdian scripts to the “Memory of the World” International or Regional Register.
The team working on the project will consist of specialists from the International Institute for Central Asian Studies and experts and organizations from Central Asian countries.
One of the roles of the International Institute for Central Asian Studies is to improve cooperation among local scientists and their foreign colleagues as part of a multidisciplinary study of the Central Asia region. The disciplines covered include tangible and intangible cultural heritage, environment, archeology, history, art history, history of religions, history of sciences, ethnography, historical geography, written and spoken literature, social sciences and others.
The Nguyen Huy Family from Truong Luu Village, Vietnam, received a grant to publish Volume 2: Ba kinh toản yếu đại toàn of Phuc Giang School Woodblocks. Three hundred books will be published.
The Phuc Giang School Woodblocks were created by the Nguyen Huy family between the 18th–20th centuries and were used for teaching and learning at the Phuc Giang School in Truong Luu Village. They include 383 woodblocks for printing twelve books for teaching and learning. The Nguyen Huy family has been undertaking a major project to digitise, transcribe, transliterate, translate and publish these twelve books.
Vietnamese books printed in ancient Han or SinoNom script are not easily accessible because there are a limited number of experts and researchers who can read the language. The Nguyen Huy family used MOWCAP-ACC grants from 2018, 2019 to translate two of these books and make them accessible to a wider audience. A MOWCAP-ACC grant from 2021 was used to print volume 1.
The Volume 2 publication is part of a larger project that is expected to be completed by 2026 and will facilitate access to the valuable content of the books, raise awareness of their existence and return them to the people of Vietnam and the world.
The Phuc Giang School Woodblocks (18th-20th Centuries) was inscribed on the MOWCAP Memory of the World register in 2016 and one of the books The Envoy Ship Journeys to China was inscribed on the register in 2018.