Palm leaf manuscripts

jayabarathi barathi at PC.JARING.MY
Sun Mar 15 11:16:35 UTC 1998

At 12:53 AM 3/15/98 EST, you wrote:
>In a posting dated    Mon, 5 Jan 1998 18:49:52 -0500
>Michael Witzel <witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU> said about some manuscripts in north
>"All written with ink (except for a very few South Indian MSS in the National
>Archives, inscised with stylus)."
>Is incising palm-leaf manuscripts with stylus a southern Indian custom? How
>were manuscripts prepared in the north ? Only by writing instead of incising?
>Has the word nArAca ever been used to mean 'stylus' in the north/Sanskrit?
>S. Palaniappan

        Dear S.PL.,

                The documents from the North known as "lekha"
        and "lipi" were generally written on "burjapatra"
        by painting the letters onto the leaf with "maSI" or
        ink. With such a method a sharp stylus -"elzuththANi'
        can't be used.
                The majority of the Tamil manuscripts have been
        incised on the palmyra leaf - "tAlipatra" or "Olai"
        or "Edu". The instrument "nArAcam" was used for punching a round
        hole at the left end of the palm leaf. A bundle of leaves
        comprising of a full document or a complete book
        could be compiled in order, and then tied by a ribbon
        of rattan thong which is  passed into the respective holes.
        This compilation is known as "cuvadi" or "poththakam".
                Rarely was the word used to mean the stylus.
        "ANi" or "elzuththANi" was the most commonly used word.
                The nArAcam was also a small sharp instrument
        which was used to pierce the ear-drums of people to
        make them deaf. This was a form of punishment.




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