Palm-leaf manuscript writing

Palm-leaf manuscript writing

Manuscript writing on palm-leaves


In the ancient world manuscripts and paintings were done on a wide variety of materials such as birch (a tree grown in northern hemisphere)-bark, papyrus (reed-like trees grown on the banks of Nile River) clay tablets (on which Babylonians were forced to write) and palm-leaf manuscripts including paintings, on cloth and paper.

Manufacture, preparation, writing and painting of palm-leaf (known as Ola in Sri Lanka) manuscripts are also, particularly, an art and science in South and South-east Asian countries including India, Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar) Thailand, Indonesia, Lao and Kampuchia (Cambodia). The manufacture, preparation, writing and painting of palm-leaf reflect individual, territorial and cultural identity, distinct style, techniques and patience and dedication.

Before the introduction of paper, palm leaf was the main raw material used for writing and painting for several centuries. There are large collections of palm-leaf manuscripts in several museums and libraries in South and South-east Asia, as well as in western countries. Hundreds of thousands of palm leaf documents have come down to us in the form of our ancient wisdom and heritage. It will not be out of place to mention that the manuscripts themselves were treated as objects of worship and not only as religious texts.


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