Abandoned historical documents salvaged for public access

Historical state documents dating back to the 16th Century, discovered in storage boxes at the President’s Office, have been catalogued and handed over to the Department of Heritage.

The documents were discovered in 2008 when the newly elected President Mohamed Nasheed was moving into the President’s Office vacated by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

They were stashed away in boxes and discovered on three different occasions at the premises of the President’s Office.

President Nasheed handed over the documents, digitally catalogued, to the Department of Heritage at a ceremony at the National Museum this morning.

The oldest document in the collection, which contains a total of 1005 documents, dates back to 1560.

The collection contains, among other state correspondence, letters of diplomacy between various Maldivian rulers and foreign states including Britain, the United States and Germany.

Other documents provide painstakingly kept records of how historical rulers divided up, endowed or gifted land, vegetation and even parts of the sea to members of the public according to their largesse and customs.

The documents also provide an opportunity to trace how land in Male’ came to be in the possession of particular families, and makes possible previously denied insights into what Male’ was like hundreds of years ago.

Some of the documents were written on ‘scrolls’ made from the skin of goat, while some others were scribed on cloth. Most of the documents, however, were written on paper that are now in different conditions of repair.

The document catalogue, prepared under the supervision of Aminath Shareef, Senior Projects Director of the President’s Office, contains over a thousand pages of digitised images of each document with accompanying explanations as to their origin and use.

The collection will be managed by the Department of Heritage, established recently to operate under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. The new Department will also manage the National Museum, the Boduthakurufaanu Memorial Centre in Utheemu, and the National Archives.

Director of the National Museum, Ali Waheed, told Minivan News that the documents will be on display for the general public early next year.

In addition to being exhibited, the documents will also be made available in electronic format for historians and other researchers.


2 thoughts on “Abandoned historical documents salvaged for public access”

  1. Wonder what these manuscripts were doing at the Prez office in the first place...


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