Inventory no.: 581

581. Burmese Palm Leaf Manuscript


Palm Leaf Pátimokkha Manuscript with Sarsekyo Binding Ribbon

Burma (Myanmar)

circa 1870

length of covers: 50.2cm; width: 5.8cm

This manuscript comprises two red lacquered wooden covers (kyan) and numerous palm leaf sheets etched on both sides with eight lines of Pali script.

The edges of the palm leaves have been embellished with gold and vermilion. Says Fraser-Lu (1994, p. 283) “On the finest manuscripts the pages were trimmed and the edges embellished with vermilion and gold.” Such manuscripts usually were read on stands; women were forbidden from resting them on their laps.

The manuscript details the 227 rules of Patimokkha – the rules that Burmese monks are required to follow. The rules cover the more obvious (such as a prohibition on stealing) to the seemingly trivial (no eavesdropping on other monks and no tickling!) The rules are broken down into subcategories: the four párájikas, the thirteen saµghádisesas, the two aniyatas, the thirty nissaggiyas, the ninety-two pácittiyas, the four pá†idesaníyas, seventy-five sekhiyas and the seven adhikaranasamathas.

This manuscripts also comes with a

sarsekyo binding ribbon. Usually such ribbons were reserved for kammavaca manuscripts but as Fraser-Lu (1994, p. 286) suggests, highly esteemed palm leaf manuscripts also were wrapped in them. Sarsekyo ribbons were woven by professional sarsekyo ribbon weavers and also by ladies of rank as an act of devotion. A part translation of this example says that it was made in Taung-mhu, a township near Mandalay.

The pages generally are in good condition. The covers have some age-related loss to the polychrome and some chipping. The binding ribbon is in fine condition.



Singer, N., ‘Kammavaca texts: their covers and binding ribbons’, Arts of Asia, May-June 1993; and Fraser-Lu, S., Burmese Crafts: Past and Present, Oxford University Press, 1994.

Inventory no.: 581



(Example of one of the enclosed palm leaf pages)