Burmese mss ?

Stephen Hodge s.hodge at PADMACHOLING.PLUS.COM
Sun Oct 1 14:51:40 UTC 2006

Dear George,

Here is some more information for your friend.

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

From: <justinm at ucr.edu>
To: <palistudy at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Sunday, October 01, 2006 9:43 AM
Subject: Re: [palistudy] Re: Burmese mss ?

> This is a strange piece for a number of reasons. I just
> looked at it a few minutes ago, since I had never seen the
> original message (thanks for sending it to me Jim).It is in
> Pali (Kammavaca), clearly written in Yuan script. However, it
> was produced probably no earlier than the 1930s on Pap Saa
> paper (the insect holes in the Pap Saa paper came after the
> writing as the cracks and holes run through the writing).
> These insects can eat through the paper pretty quickly. You
> often see it on Pap Saa and woodpulp paper more than 40-50
> years old. This type of black Pap Saa was first used in the
> 1830s. The famous Thong Noi edition produced under the
> direction of Raama III and later promoted by Raama IV was the
> well-known edition composed on this black paper in gold
> script. However, the Thong Noi, finished about 1843 (by Mae
> Chi scribes actually) was in Khom script. This piece seems to
> be a Northern Thai adaptation of the Thong Noi edition. Or
> perhaps held that as an ideal. There are three very good Thai
> books on the history of these manuscripts, editions, paper
> quality, etc. Sadly, all three are out of print and hard to
> find now. I can send the citations if anyone is interested.
> Reproducing famous Siamese editions in Yuan script became
> popular in the 1930s (Chiang Mai officially became a
> Changwat/Province in 1929). With the condition of the Pap Saa
> paper and the gold writing (actual flecks of gold used to
> produce it and it lasts a long time), I would guess (and this
> can only be a guess without actually feeling the paper and the
> script) it could be as old as 1935ish. There was another
> period of Northern Thai repoduction of Siamese manuscripts in
> the 1990s (around time of 700 anniversary of CM and the
> "Amazing Thailand" tourist campaign). But, of course mss. for
> ceremoninal purposes were produced regularly. However, this
> paper is evenly eaten and the script was not added to old paper. 
> Phra Dhammanando is absolutely correct, Kammavaacaa are the
> most popular texts on the tourist market (this is because the
> Mon and Burmese Kammavaacaa are so elaborate and became very
> popular for collectors (as far back as the colonial period in
> Burma -- Noel Singer has written about this). The Thai
> followed this popularity. However, this was not necessary a
> tourist production. Just as Burmese Kammavaacaa were not
> tourist productions, but were just produced in such great
> numbers they flooded the market. They are easy to find at
> River City in Bangkok and to a lesser extent on Chaloen Krung,
> The Old Siam Mall, the book section of Chatuchak market and
> sometimes in the small amulet market near Wat Thidawanaram on
> Thanon Mahachai. Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar has an older
> section near the Mae Ping hotel which also has some Burmese
> manuscripts for tourists. 
> The Paali is clear, the writing is
> well-done (usually tourist pieces are poorly written and based
> on vernacular Kammavaacaa Nissaya mss. which are much more
> common in the area to copy). Moreover, most "fakes" are
> produced on wood-pulp paper soaked in coffee (to age it) and
> then the edges are burnt slightly. Moreover, the text of most
> fakes in the region of Northern Thailand, is Tibetan! This is
> because Manali people (from North Central Nepal) are the
> biggest tourist market traders (mostly semi-precious gems, but
> also other items like fake manuscripts) and move and trade
> from Katmandu to Singapore to Melacca to Chiang Mai to Bangkok
> and now even to Siem Reap, Luang Phrabang and Hoi An. That is
> why you can largely find the same tourist items in Katmandu
> and Chiang Mai. Prista Ratanapruck has written about this.
> Tourists will buy almost anything fake, it doesn't take this
> much work to fool them. This manuscript is a little too
> well-produced in my opinion to be produced for tourists.
> Instead, I guess that it was produced as ceremonial gift
> (probably in honor of an ordination) and then sold later by a
> lay family in control of a monastic library.  The paper is old
> (and doesn't seem to be unnaturally aged). Maybe 1935ish. It's
> a common text though of course, hundreds of copies, but black
> pap saa with gold writing in Yuan is odd. Thanks for the photo.
> Best,
> justin
> ______________
> Dr. Justin McDaniel
> Dept. of Religious Studies
> 2617 Humanities Building
> University of California, Riverside
> Riverside, CA 92521
> 951-827-4530
> justinm at ucr.edu

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