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

Antique marble Shan Buddha statue

Antique marble Shan Buddha statue

450 euro
Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

1950 euro
Old Nepali crowned Buddha statue

Old Nepali crowned Buddha statue

300 euro
Antique bronze Tara statue

Antique bronze Tara statue

1450 euro
Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

Antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

275 euro
Antique Burmese monk statue

Antique Burmese monk statue

125 euro
Old Nepali crowned Buddha statue

Old Nepali crowned Buddha statue

950 euro
Antique wooden Burmese Buddha statue

Antique wooden Burmese Buddha statue

750 euro
Old bronze Lokeshwor statue

Old bronze Lokeshwor statue

850 euro
Antique Burmese offering vessel

Antique Burmese offering vessel

475 euro
Large antique Burmese Throne

Large antique Burmese Throne

7500 euro
Pair of antique Burmese monk statues

Pair of antique Burmese monk statues

950 euro
Large antique Shan Buddha statue

Large antique Shan Buddha statue

8500 euro
Old bronze Garuda statue

Old bronze Garuda statue

275 euro
Large antique wooden Shan Buddha

Large antique wooden Shan Buddha

5750 euro
Antique Burmese offering vessel

Antique Burmese offering vessel

475 euro
Large antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

Large antique wooden Mandalay Buddha

2900 euro
Old Burmese Mandalay Buddha

Old Burmese Mandalay Buddha

1300 euro
Antique bronze Buddha statue

Antique bronze Buddha statue

1450 euro
Old stone Buddha head

Old stone Buddha head

275 euro
Very nice Burmese Mandalay Buddha

Very nice Burmese Mandalay Buddha

1950 euro
Antique wooden Buddha statue

Antique wooden Buddha statue

100 euro
Antique marble Mandalay Buddha

Antique marble Mandalay Buddha

150 euro
Old bronze Nepali Buddha

Old bronze Nepali Buddha

200 euro
Antique wooden Buddha statue

Antique wooden Buddha statue

250 euro
Antique bronze Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique bronze Mandalay Buddha statue

2100 euro
Antique bronze Mandalay Buddha statue

Antique bronze Mandalay Buddha statue

1750 euro
Antique Burmese crowned Buddha statue

Antique Burmese crowned Buddha statue

650 euro
Antique marble Shan Buddha statue

Antique marble Shan Buddha statue

325 euro
Large antique lacquerware Buddha statue

Large antique lacquerware Buddha statue

3500 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