19thC Buddhist Pali Manuscript Thailand EUO65


Offered here are 6 pages from a 19th century Buddhist manuscript written in the ancient language, Pali. Characters were scratched into the surface of the 6 bamboo leaves offered here using a metal stylus and black, sooty pigment in keeping with ancient tradition. They contain a section from the Pali Canon, and framed, make a beautiful physical record of these celebrated teachings. To make a book, holes were made in the leaves and the stack was bound on a cord or rod between wooden covers. These are six pages from such a book. Each leaf remains in one piece with some weathering of the edges and expected discoloration.

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In India and Southeast Asia Buddhist, scriptures known as sutras have been recorded on palm leaves and slivers of bamboo for over 2000 years. The leaves of the bai-lan tree were trimmed, flattened, and polished smooth with sand. They were recorded in Pali, most famous as the language in which the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism (also known as the Pali Canon or in Pali the Tipitaka) were written down in Sri Lanka in the 1st century BC. It is a tradition that continues today in some parts of Asia. Pali has been written in a variety of scripts and here appears in La-Na, the ancient language of the La -Na kingdom, now northern Thailand.

Example of Pali with English translation

Manopubbangama dhamma, manosettha manomaya;
Manasa ce padutthena, bhasati va karoti va,
Tato nam dukkhamanveti, cakkam va vahato padam.

Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.
If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts, suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

Translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita

Dimensions (each page)
Length: 49cm, 19.3 in
Width: 6cm, 2.4 in
Materials: palm leaf, ash

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