Odisha Has the Largest Reserve of Palmleaf Manuscripts
Odisha having the largest reserve of palmleaf manuscripts
Horoscopes engraved on palmleafs
Illustrated palmleaf manuscripts
Palmleaf compositions are manuscripts made out of dried and smoke treated palm leaves. Palm leaves were utilized as composing materials in South Asia and in Southeast Asia tracing all the way back to the fifth century BC and perhaps much earlier.One can’t say with sureness the time or the spot of inception of palm leaf etching. The botanical name of palm leaf manuscript is Corypha umbraculifera or tallipot palm .
Traditional style of palm leaves in Odisha is traditionally written on Vaishnavism (Ramayana, Krishna Theme, etc.), Ayurveda, Tantra, Kamsutra, painting, dance and music,fairs & festivals, maritime trade activities and temple architecture. Skilled scribes and conservationists from different parts of India were coming to Odisha, especially coastal Odisha, to master the art of recording their achievements and native knowledge through palm leaf books.
The striking truth is, it isn’t that Odisha had no contenders. Some advanced states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala had an extremely rich and varied ability in writing palm leaf original copies. Yet, Odisha scores over all.
Odisha is the solitary State in the country that still pursues its illustrative composition, sessioning and inking rehearses on palmleafs even today. Likewise, the palm leaves of the State are acceptable quality-wise. These very factors are fundamentally answerable for the State’s huge hold of palmleaf compositions.
When asked about reasons behind the high demand, different cultural and heritage experts are very much unanimous in their reply that the life expectancy of palm leaves is more than twofold that of the papers. All of them opine… “A normal paper survives for a maximum of 200 years against that of 400 years by the palm leaves without any chemical conservation”
Huge number of palmleaf manuscripts ( more than 1.5 lakh ) are still lying in a very much precarious condition in different rural households, temple premises, Gadajat areas, Brahmana Shasanas and mathas in different nooks and corners of Odisha….Out of which a large percentage were mutilated and wasted during supercyclone of 1999 in Odisha. INTACH in association with National Manuscripts Mission could have conserved a very scanty numbers of those huge reserve of palmleaf manuscripts…
One of the oldest surviving palm leaf compositions is a Sanskrit Shaivism text . That is “Paramesvar tantra”, a Shiva Sidhant text of Hinduism of 828 A.D found from Nepal and now conserved in Cambridge University Library.
The Spitzer Manuscript is an assortment of palm leaf fragmentary parts found in Kizil Caves, China. They are dated to about the second century CE and are the most seasoned known philosophical original scripts in Sanskrit.
It has come to notice from Old British records that Lord Mackenzie, the then Surveyor General of India was in Puri from 27.05.1819 to 13.09.1819 and he likewise went over countless number of palmleaf manuscripts. In Odisha ,the State Museum assortment surpasses 50,000 in number covering around 15,000 titles which incorporates, both illustrated and non-illustrated palmleaf compositions.
Some time before the creation of paper and pen, palm leaf was being utilized as a method for composing letters in the regal courts, temples and furthermore most ordinarily writing the horoscope of each new born babies all throughout Odisha.
The practice of Madala Panji composing, the exceptional account of Jagannath temple where the exercises, sebas, the working of Gajapati rulers were being arranged by the karanasebakas of Jagannath temple in palm leaves. It has been seen that the palm leaf can’t be safeguarded for over 400 years and in this way through palmleaf composition, it was important to duplicate the original copies to keep alive the content in the general public.
Despite the fact that, at the current stage, we can’t tell the exact time of inception of the workmanship, however the sculptural portrayals of palm leaf compositions with pointer in Parsurameswar & Mukteswar temple of Bhubaneswar and Sun temple of Konark , demonstrate that this craftsmanship was famous in Odisha and its collectibles can be followed at different places belonging to different times from sixth century A.D. onwards. This has also been supported by the prominent antiquarian Dr. Satya Narayan Rajguru.
We realize that two assortments of materials, for example the bhurja leaf in north India and palm leaf in south India were being utilized as the base material on which composing was made.
Researchers are of the assessment that the most established palm leaf composition protected in Odisha State Museum is a duplicate of the graceful work, “Abhinav Gita Govinda” composed by Kavi Chandra Ray Divakar Mishra, the copyist was Sri Sridhar Sharma and the duplicate was finished on sixth April 1494.
Among other illustrated compositions which were well known in the general public and their duplicates are safeguarded in Odisha State Museum are Gita Govinda by Sri Jaydeb, Bidagdha Madhab of Rupa Goswami, Amarusatak of Amarunka, Usha Vilas of Shishu Shankar Das, Lavanyavati and Koti Brahmanda Sundari of Upendra Bhanja, Bidagdha Chintamani of Abhimanyu Samnata Singhar and Rasa Kallol of Dina Krushna Das. From among the pictorial Chautisa Pothis, the Artatrana Chautisa by Dinakrushna Das, Kumuda Kanta Chautisa by Narayan Das and Janana Chautisa by Narendra Nuja were very popular.
The credit of Odishan craftsman is that they don’t draw or paint the figures half-hazardly, rather their canvases pass on the genuine importance of the content. Take for instance the content of Amaru Satak, a solitary duplicate of the delineation of this book is safeguarded in Odisha State Museum. Maybe it is the lone duplicate with illustration accessible in the whole country.
A few group of people opine that palm leaf engraving and conventional patta painting of Odisha both are one and same… .but actually it is not. By sixth century A.D palm leaf scribing was extremely well known in Odishan Society and the patta works of art has its inception from the way of life of Lord Jagannath, after the development of Jagannath Temple, Puri in the twelfth century A.D.
The ancientness, fundamentality, tasteful allure , its long relationship with culture and above all the handiness of this art prompts one to call it as an indeginous legacy art of Odisha.
It was just a few years back,
the Oriental Research Institute of Karnatak, had displayed a palm-leaf manuscript that measures 90 cm in length which often referred as the biggest palmleaf manuscript.They had also displayed another smallest manuscript( Bhagavad-Gita) which was of the size of a match box .
Jay Jagannath, ଜୟ ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ
Hello Manoj I have read this post and found it extremely interesting. I guess Odisha is an important place and it’s incredible how the messages and drawings survived on the palm leaves. I study the Mycenaean Linear B script writings which were visible on clay tablets from 1240 BC so you can see why I was interested in your post.
Thank you 💖 Madam for your appreciation. Odisha State Museum has developed a full gallery devoted for the purpose of conservation and display of thousands of centuries old palm-leaf manuscripts