Re: [INDOLOGY] Meaning of Paṭa?

Lubin, Tim LubinT at
Thu Oct 31 21:48:56 UTC 2013

To George's references we can add Turner, CDIAL, 7692, paṭa- 'woven cloth', cf. 2paṭṭa- 'cloth, woven silk', with many cognates with related meanings in other Indian languages.

Many inscriptions make it clear that the decree or grant contained in them were written first on perishable material (e.g., palm leaf), transmitted in that form, and only secondarily copied onto durable material -- a process sometimes self-consciously reflected upon in the inscription itself.  This is clearly the case even with Aśoka's edicts (including reflection on the purpose of making permanent, public versions).  So why not cloth?  We know of its use in Tibet and China.


From: George Thompson <gthomgt at<mailto:gthomgt at>>
Date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 5:32 PM
Cc: "indology at<mailto:indology at>" <indology at<mailto:indology at>>
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Meaning of Paṭa?

Dear List,

I apologize for accidentally sending my note before it was finished.  The last paragraph should read:

The proposed etymologies of these words are all difficult, but their meanings are more or less clear, and probably related.

Hope this helps,


On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 5:20 PM, George Thompson <gthomgt at<mailto:gthomgt at>> wrote:
Hello Don,

This also may be relevant to your question.

Mayrhofer in his KEWA [sv:  paTaH (sorry, Dominik, we are philologists here, for the most part, and we have an incorrigible habit of displaying our  knowledge of Latin rhetorical short-hand); none of us talk like this, of course!]:

Mayrhofer there, glossing paTa as "woven cloth, garment, blanket," refers also to three neuter nouns: paTalam: 1 = cover, veil; 2 = heap, mass; 3 = basket.

He also cites a masculine noun paTalaH = section of a book.

The propetymology of these words are difficult

On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 2:34 PM, Richard Salomon <rsalomon at<mailto:rsalomon at>> wrote:

Have a look at D.C. Sircar's Indian Epigraphy, pp. 66-67; also my Indian Epigraphy p. 132, for further references. It has been suggested (I don't remember exactly where -- this may go all the way back to Buehler's Indische Palaeographie) that archival copies of land grants were kept on cloth.


Rich Salomon

On 10/31/2013 8:41 AM, Donald R Davis wrote:
Dear Colleagues,

I am working on the /Smṛticandrikā/ of Devaṇṇabhaṭṭa and its discussion
of documents.  Several passages in the sub-section on /rājaśāsana/
enjoin a king to inscribe a land grant “/paṭe vā tāmrapaṭṭe vā/.”

Yājñavalkya (1.319) is the first, I think.  Most translators have
rendered /paṭa/ here as “cloth,” which makes no sense to me, as I have

never seen a cloth inscription of this sort and it seems an unusually
non-durable material for an important inscription.  So, /Amarakośa/ (and

MW lists this, too) gives several synonyms, all of which point to the
chirauli/chironji nut (Buchanania Latifolia) or, I suppose, its bark.

Can anyone help me identify /paṭa/ here more certainly?  I don’t know

the first thing about trees and this appears to be a common enough tree
in India and other parts of Asia, but is the bark of this tree meant
here?  Thanks for any help or leads you may have.


Don Davis

Dept. of Asian Studies

University of Texas at Austin

INDOLOGY mailing list


Richard Salomon
Department of Asian Languages and Literature
University of Washington, Box 353521
Seattle WA 98195-3521

INDOLOGY mailing list

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