Digitization of Hmong Sacred Texts

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Mitchell Paul Ogden

    University of Wisconsin–Stout

Work text
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A remote religious community, called Ee Nbee Mee Noo (Ib Npis Mis Nus), in northern Thailand has recently shared their extensive collection of hand-written religious manuscripts with researchers following extensive collaboration and community work. Interested in making these foundational sacred texts more accessible across the global Hmong diaspora, the community leaders sought the cooperation of scholars to digitize the texts in preparation for eventual publication. Rich in historical and religious content, these nine 200-page volumes are written in the community’s own sacred and obscure Puaj Txwm alphabet of the Hmong language.

The scope of our project includes the development of a set of digital tools that will perform OCR (built on the Tesseract engine), error-check based on phonological rules of the Hmong language, and encode the text (according to TEI guidelines) to make the text searchable and indexable for future distribution as electronic texts. In addition, the project will create a transliteration tool that will enable Hmong texts to be transliterated across the dozen or more orthographies used throughout the diaspora, thus facilitating the exchange and investigation of Hmong language texts across diasporic histories and geographies.

This poster will feature the project’s tools and process, emphasizing the solutions to obstacles including a hand-written manuscript and the complicated politics of ethnic minority religious movements in Thailand. The poster will provide context for these sacred texts and their obscure alphabet, overview the digitization process, and provide examples of the work and the innovative solutions developed by our research team.

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

XML available from https://github.com/elliewix/DHAnalysis (needs to replace plaintext)

Conference website: https://web.archive.org/web/20161227182033/https://dh2014.org/program/

Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO