Dharmapala Thangka CentreAsian Antiques

Palm leaf manuscript with painted book covers

Birma / Myanmar

Antique Buddhist Burmese Palm Leaf Manuscript

This antique Buddhist manuscript from Burma written in the ancient Pali script contains over 100 pages written on sides and is over 100 years old. The palm leaf pages have been painstakingly inscribed in a beautifully precise hand. The manuscript conveys the teachings from the Pali Canon known as Tipitaka, the standard collection of scriptures in Theravada Buddhism, first recorded in writing some 450 years after the death of the Buddha. Palm Leafs Books have been recorded on palm leafs for over 2000 years in Asia.

The text in palm leaf manuscripts was inscribed with a knife pen on rectangular cut and cured palm leaf sheets of the Palmyra palm or the Talipot palm tree. Coloring’s were then applied to the surface and wiped off, leaving the ink in the incised grooves. Each sheet typically had one or two holes through which a string could pass, and with these the sheets were tied together with a string to bind like a book. A palm leaf text thus created would typically last between a few decades and about 600 years before it decayed due to dampness, insect activity, mold and fragility

Characters are scratched into the surface of the leafs and blacked with sooty pigment. To make a book, holes were made in the leafs and the stack was bound on a cord or rod between wooden covers.

Top and bottom are protected by two painted wooden covers. Over time, the colors of the two covers have faded somewhat. Originally they were probably more contrasting.

This book got two pierced holes in the leafes and the stack was tied to a string between the wooden covers. Originally, the manuscript was held together by two strings. For this purpose, both the two wooden covers and the palm leaf pages were pierced. One ribbon has been lost. To strengthen the binding, two old Chinese punched coins were knotted to both ends of the remaining string which is probably not old.

The pages remain in excellent condition with just a little weathering of the edges of a few leafs.

Origin: Birma / Myanmar

Age: prob. 19th cent.

Measurements: 17.7 x 2.4 x 2.1" | 45 x 6 x 5.4 cm
Price: 541 $ | 525 €
Material: Wood, palm leafs
High resolution: Display [0.7 MB, 3940 x 955 px.]
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