Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project

A. v. Rospatt rospatt at WLINK.COM.NP
Mon Dec 29 18:47:35 UTC 1997

Dr Klaus Dieter Mathes (also to be contacted by e-mail:
mathes at, the present German Representative of the NGMPP
in Nepal, asked me to convey the following message to the list:

He is, as Prof. Axel Michaels has pointed out, ready to help people
getting the copies they need frm the National Archives, but he asks
people not to expect that it will be a matter of days. First, the copies
have to be ordered in the National Archives, then an advance has to be
paid, then the copies have to be picked up and paid for, then they have
to be packed, and dispatched to Hamburg by diplomatic courrier. At the
University in Hamburg they have to be repacked, before they can finally
be forwarded to the person who ordered them in the first place.
Obviously with so many hands involved there may be delays. This will be
notaby the case when Dr Mathes is out of town, which he frequntly is
when going on  microfliming expeditions.

The entire procedure of getting films in this way is inofficial (in
theory Dr Mathes will be customer of the National Archive instead of the
persons ordering the film). Really, the films should be ordered directly
from the National Archives, as Prof Witzel has pointed out. This,
however, has not worked in the past due to problems of forwarding the
required money to Nepal.

Axel Michaels wrote:
> As one of the former Directors of the NGMPP I can only confirm what
> Michaels Witzel wrote about the situation. The agreement between H.M.G.
> Nepal and the German Oriental Society was and is for the copy right of
> their (!) texts and for the (financial) benefit of Nepal that microfilm
> copies have to be ordered directly from the National Archives.
> However, to quicken the procedure one can send the order to the NGMPP
> office in Kathmandu (present director: Dr. Klaus-Dieter Mathes), P.O.Box
> 180, Kathmandu, who will look after it. Usually it does not take more
> than a few days to receive a copy in Nepal since the staff is well
> trained and very cooperative. The rest of the procedure depends
> on money transfer and mail service (Getting a microfilm copy from
> Cambridge University Library took me two months recently.)
> That's it. There are no nationalistic ambitions in it. The NRC and the
> NGMPP has always been an international institution with no nationalistic
> restrictions at all. Microfilms are available for anybody in the world,
> but if the Nepalese side wants to reserve the copy right, one has to
> respect it. Such are politics.
> However one could think of an addition tothe agreement that copies can be
> ordered from Berlin if it is guaranteed that Nepal will get what she
> would get if the microfilms were send from the National Archives. I don't
> think that the Nepalese side would object it.
> I shall send a copy of this e-mail to Prof. Wezler.
> Best wishes, Axel Michaels
> Michael Witzel wrote:
> >
> > The Thanksgiving vacation allows for a somewhat detailed answer and
> > clarification, and some history:
> > Since there have been few answers, I venture one here.
> >
> > The recent question by D. Wujastyk has been answered about a year ago by a
> > current member of the NGMPP, Anne Macdonald, who has corrected my initial
> > reaction then (FO5A006 at It should be in the
> > Indology archives.
> >
> > >> I ask for reactions from members of INDOLOGY who have more intimate
> > connections with this project than I do myself?  What *is* the position?
> > Is it truly, as it currently appears, a matter of sheer nationality?  <<
> >
> > It is unfortunate that, again, the question of the Nepal-DMG agreement and
> > the use of NGMPP microfilms are confounded with nationality -- and this
> > inside the EU!
> >
> > For example, the project has employed,throughout its history, besides
> > Nepalese and Germans, some British, Canadian, French, Indian, Italian
> > nationals and maybe others.
> >
> > More importantly, based on my five years as director of the NGMPP at the
> > National Archives of Nepal (1972-77) and from what I have heard afterwards
> > I can categorically state that we have always tried to help all who asked
> > for assistance, irrespective of nationality.  <Incidentally, I come from
> > Swiebodzin, which is in Poland>. And we have hosted them at home or in the
> > Nepal Research Center (run under the aegis of the DMG), again irrespective
> > of nationality.
> >
> > The problem of the films, if it exists, is one of the *original agreement*
> > of a quarter century ago. And that was difficult enough to negotiate.
> >
> > The agreement clearly speaks about the use of the films by the "the German
> > Oriental Society" (DMG) not "members of the DMG". I may dig out the exact
> > wording from my basement if the file has not been destroyed in recent
> > flooding. ("rescuing and preservation" also here, where even the floods
> > are bigger and better!)
> >
> > But from my years at the NGMPP and at the National Archives I know that
> > the *interpretation* of the agreement *at Kathmandu* depends a little on
> > the winds prevailing there at the moment in question. (Therefore my
> > initial more "liberal" reaction about a year ago). Mostly, the good
> > relationship between the two parties will allow to speed up things. If
> > some local political mischief intervenes, NOT. --- POLITICS, as
> > everywhere.
> >
> > The only, and ALSO the *safest* and easiest way is to apply to the
> > National Archives, pay the cost for the film & the "MS tax" (it used to be
> > some 0.75 cents US$ per folio; I don't know the present rate).
> >
> > If you send a copy of your application to the Director of the project
> > (NGMPP, POB 180, Kathmandu), the NGMPP has ALWAYS been happy
> > and, I am sure, still will be willing to help you out and facilitate a
> > quick turn around. (Not 2 or  more months as with many European
> > libraries).
> >
> > However, the *offical* procedure has to go through the Archives. (Chief
> > Research Scholar, National Archives, Ram Shah Path, Kathmandu, Nepal).
> >
> > All of that was stated clearly a year ago or so, by Anne Macdonald
> > (FO5A006 at
> >
> > Therefore, H.O.  Feistel is right when he says:
> > > that this is explicitly stated in
> > > the Nepal-Germany agreement.
> >
> > But the reason, as stated by R.Torella, is not correct:
> >
> > > The reason is that the Nepalese Archives want
> > > to reserve for themselves only the right to get money for providing
> > > microfilm copies (to non-German scholars).
> >
> > They also want the "copyright". And Germans also have to pay at Kathmandu.
> > I paid for a number of MSS when I was in station, as director of the
> > NGMPP at the very Archives, and also after that, when visiting during the
> > Eighties.
> >
> > Simply, the NATIONAL ARCHIVES retain the right to allow use of the
> > microfilms, the "copyright" if you will. And they take a small tax.
> >
> > MW.
> > ===========================================================================
> > Michael Witzel                                  witzel at
> > phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295 (voice & messages), 496 8570, fax 617 - 496 8571
> > ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dr. Alexander v. Rospatt                      Tel.: 00-977-1-271018
Nepal Research Center                         Fax:  00-977-1-474463
PO Box 180
Kathmandu, Nepal

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