Palm leaves and cow dung, less common writing surfaces in India and Asia
August 16, 2017 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Paper, textiles and stone have traditionally been used to as surfaces on which to write and paint, but Warli tribal or folk paintings are done on a cow-dung base on textile (though "gheroo," red mud or clay, is more common now). On the other side of India and throughout South and Southeast Asia, palm leaves have historically been used, including for one of the oldest known dated Sanskrit manuscripts from South Asia, and are still used to this day. If you want to try your hand at making or maintaining a palm-leaf manuscript, there are guides, collected on the AIC Wiki, sponsored by the American Institute for Conservation of Art and Historic Works. [historic manuscripts previously, including rolled palm leaf manuscripts in Nepal; indirectly via Dark Roasted Blend]
posted by filthy light thief (5 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
*at gallery*

"That's some good shit."
posted by leotrotsky at 10:54 AM on August 16, 2017

I have a beautiful piece of Warli tribal art on my wall at home right now - I loved it so much it was one of the few large items I brought from India to the US, carefully wrapped in my suitcase. Will try to take a photo of it when I get home. It has extra resonance for me because the wall of our open air auditorium in my Indian school was painted with red clay and these paintings. I just love their playfulness.
posted by peacheater at 11:54 AM on August 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

One of the most famous love letters in literature is Shakuntala's to Dushyant , which she's said to have written using the sharp edge of her thumb nail, on a lotus leaf.
posted by infini at 11:56 AM on August 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Although one of the unfortunate things about the use of palm leaf as primary transcription medium is that in the present day we can't do anywhere near the level of textual analysis/intellectual history we can with European texts because the number of extant copies of a given manuscript is typically very small. This especially hits if you're looking at things from the Vedic period like the Ashṭādhyāyī of Panini.
posted by PMdixon at 12:35 PM on August 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Who/what/where did Palm leave?
posted by reiichiroh at 3:05 PM on August 16, 2017

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