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Restoring pages of history

A collection of documents consisting of notices, confessions, tax invoices, etc, dating back to
300 years were recently restored by heritage activist and founder, History Lover’s Group,
Yogesh Nagvenkar from Sara Fernandes’ house in Chandor, discovers NT BUZZ

ANNOUSHKA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ

It was two years ago that Sara Fernandes’ son, Rajeev Fernandes first approached  heritage activist and founder, History Lover’s Group, Yogesh Nagvenkar about restoring a bunch of old documents from their house in Chandor.

And as a step towards preservation and posterity of Goa’s archival heritage, Nagvenkar, recently, through a conservation committee, has managed to restore these papers. This was done with the support of the social group, United Front of Navelim.

Dating back to the Portuguese and pre-Portuguese era, and having survived almost three centuries, some of the documents are written in Portuguese but most are written in Modi Marathi, the ancient Marathi script.

Numbering around 280 pages, the documents consist of notices, confessions, tax invoices, property papers, dealings, correspondence letters and letters used as a means of communication by the members of the Fernandes family, who incidentally were known as Raut Dessai before religious conversions were undertaken by the Portuguese in Goa.

 “These were more of correspondence confessions, though they are yet to be translated it is difficult to explain what they mean,” explains Nagvenkar.

Though the pages were in a dire condition and almost on the verge of extinction, all of the pages have been restored.

The documents which were written by the family’s ancestors had been stored in a file but as of now the documents are kept in a book format bearing similarities to an old photo album. “The paper used for conservation is a Japanese paper. The paper is special because it is used to prevent moisture and keep away fungus and bacteria, as these destroy the documents,” says Nagvenkar.

The documents were handed over to a restoration firm called the Renaissance Conservators who deal with restoration of old documents using professional restoration procedures. In fact the documents took over six months to be completely restored.  

“We have not translated the documents yet because it is a long process,” says Nagvenkar, admitting that it will take over a year to translate these documents.

The document is on view at the Sara Fernandes Museum at Cotta, Chandor also known as the Fernandes House, Chandor, for people to get a glimpse of it while also taking a tour of the historical house comprising of an
underground tunnel.

Nagvenkar who was also involved in the restoration of the Betul Fort, meanwhile states that he will continue to restore documents with a historical significance for other families. “For the next four to five years, I will be restoring documents,” says Nagvenkar.

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