Asian art

Burmese Manuscripts

The earliest manuscript found in Myanmar was in the 5th century Khin Ba mound at Thayekhittaya. It is one inscribed with excerpts from the Vinaya and Abhidhamma (two of the three parts of the Pali Tipitika) on 20 gold leaves 16.5 cm in length and 4 cm in width. It had two gold covers bound together by a thick gold wire and its ends were fastened to the covers by sealing wax and small glass beads. Each leaf and comer had two holes through which the gold wire passed. This is stylistically related to two important manuscript types, palm-leaf manuscripts and kammavaca, both of which may have been produced early in the first millennium. The other important type, the parabaik, appears to date from the 14th century.

buddhist-manuscripts

From at least the classical Bagan period (11th-13th centuries), specially processed leaves from the palmyra and talipot palms (borassus flabellifer and Corypha umpraculifer) were employed as material on which a scribe incised with a stylus horizontal lines from Buddhist texts, plus other treatises. Only rarely were diagrams or drawings inscribed. The leaves were rubbed with oil, earth and soot to preserve them and darken the script. Usually the title was inscribed on the cover while the donor or authors name and the date appear at the end. The leaves, once collated, were placed between two boards to secure them; bamboo rods or string were passed through two holes bored at the center. Size and decoration varied.
Kammavaca are volumes consisting of one, five or nine extracts from the Theravadin Vinaya, each relating to specific ceremonies associated with monks. Noel F Singer writes that the earliest Kammavaca consisted of folios made of palm leaves, each of which had four lines of square-linked script; on a gold or silver background (Kammavaca Texts: Their Covers and Binding Ribbons, Arts of Asia, 23, May-June 1993). In the 17th century, folios began to be made of pieces of cloth coated with lacquer and painted with cinnabar, and the square letters were written in thick, black lacquer. On rare occasions, folios were of ivory. Designs in gilt which had been reserved for the ends of folios, and pages and wooden cover boards now began to appear between the lines of the text. By the second half of the 19th century, the lines of script on the folio increased to six or seven and sheets of brass or copper were introduced as folios.
Parabaik are manuscripts created from long strips of accordion-pleated paper processed from mulberry tree bark. Those for everyday use were darkened with a powdered charcoal mixture. Markings made by steatite crayons could be erased and the paper reused. Parabik, coated with a chalk mixture and polished, often bear beautifully illustrated Buddhist and other texts and have covers of glass-inset thayo.

See here one of our very nice Kammavaca manuscripts:

Downloadable E-books

Burmese Manuscript - Kammavaca Text

Burmese Buddhist Palm leaf Manuscript (Kammavaca). Hand written lines of text in square letter form of black lacquer on gold

Download Ebook

Share this page

View our collection of statues and arts

Large antique Mandalay Buddha statue

Large antique Mandalay Buddha statue

3950 euro
Antique Burmese offering vessel

Antique Burmese offering vessel

550 euro
Old bronze Samantabhadra statue

Old bronze Samantabhadra statue

850 euro
Old Burmese shrine

Old Burmese shrine

100 euro
Old Nepali bronze Buddha statue

Old Nepali bronze Buddha statue

275 euro
Special antique wooden Burmese Buddha

Special antique wooden Burmese Buddha

3750 euro
Antique Burmese Shan Buddha

Antique Burmese Shan Buddha

150 euro
Large old bronze Tara statue

Large old bronze Tara statue

2450 euro
Old wooden Buddha statue

Old wooden Buddha statue

125 euro
Old Nepali Lokeshvara statue

Old Nepali Lokeshvara statue

750 euro
Antique wooden Buddha statue

Antique wooden Buddha statue

275 euro
Antique Burmese Shan Buddha

Antique Burmese Shan Buddha

150 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

Old bronze Nepali Buddha statue

275 euro
Antique Burmese offering vessel

Antique Burmese offering vessel

375 euro
Special bronze Nepali crowned Buddha statue

Special bronze Nepali crowned Buddha statue

2750 euro
Old bronze Burmese Buddha statue

Old bronze Burmese Buddha statue

1950 euro
Antique Nepali bronze Basundara statue

Antique Nepali bronze Basundara statue

650 euro
Antique Burmese Shan Buddha

Antique Burmese Shan Buddha

75 euro
Antique gilded Shan Buddha statue

Antique gilded Shan Buddha statue

175 euro
Bronze Vajrasattva statue

Bronze Vajrasattva statue

150 euro
Antique Burmese sandstone Buddha statue

Antique Burmese sandstone Buddha statue

2850 euro
Antique bronze Nepali Prajnaparamita statue

Antique bronze Nepali Prajnaparamita statue

750 euro
Antique Burmese home shrine

Antique Burmese home shrine

350 euro
Large bronze Aparmita Buddha statue

Large bronze Aparmita Buddha statue

2750 euro
Old Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

Old Nepali Medicine Buddha statue

500 euro
Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

1450 euro
Old bronze Nepali Saraswati statue

Old bronze Nepali Saraswati statue

475 euro
Old wooden Burmese throne

Old wooden Burmese throne

1250 euro
Antique Burmese Buddha head

Antique Burmese Buddha head

1250 euro
Antique Burmese Buddha head

Antique Burmese Buddha head

1750 euro
arrow-right keyboard_arrow_right arrow-down chevron-down keyboard_arrow_down chevron-up arrow-left keyboard_arrow_left close menu search twitter facebook youtube-play linkedin envelope instagram google-plus pinterest whatsapp heart-o Wishlist share file-pdf-o printer trash