[INDOLOGY] rubrication in Indian mss.

Arlo Griffiths arlogriffiths at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 23 19:29:11 UTC 2015

Dear colleagues,

However interesting the evidence for non-palmleaf writing materials in early Southeast Asia, it must not be ignored that the epigraphical passage cited by Dominic explicitly mentions palmleaf (riktapattra). I think we have to come to terms with some use of 'earth' in the contexts of writing on palmleaf. Further evidence for such a practice is furnished in some passages cited in this interesting article on manuscript culture of early Java:

  Aditia Gunawan. 2015. “Nipah or Gebang? A Philological and Codicological Study Based on Sources from West Java.” Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia 171 (2-3): 249–80. doi:10.1163/22134379-17101004.

I attach the article hereto. The sources are in Old Javanese and in Old Sundanese language; the context is explicitly that of writing on one or the other type of palmleaf (the local term lontar comes from rontal 'leaf of palm', where tal = tāla); the word for 'earth' is tanah, which still means 'earth' in Malay/Indonesian. Aditia Gunawan briefly discusses but does not solve the problem of what purpose 'earth' would serve in writing on palmleaf.

Best wishes,

Arlo Griffiths
École française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris
Université Jean Moulin – Lyon 3 

From: christoph.emmrich at utoronto.ca
To: mkapstei at uchicago.edu
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:18:52 +0000
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] rubrication in Indian mss.
CC: indology at list.indology.info

Dear Matthew,

Anthony Reid (A History of Southeast Asia: Critical Crossroads, 2015: 133) mentions the import of paper to SEA from China in the 15th cent., and there is the 14th cent. Niitisaararasamuccaya ms. from Kerinci. Also, there is an indication
 in a Bagan inscription, dated 1223, that features both the terms parabaik (i.e. other than palm leaf) and a donation of steatite in a container typical for usage on black (paper) parabaik more recently. Lammerts (2010, 232, fn. 7 and 10) points out that the
 terms and materials mentioned there may, but need not necessarily point to the usage of paper.

Many thanks for raising this intriguing larger question, Matthew.



Sent from my iPhone

On 23-Nov-2015, at 2:31 PM, Matthew Kapstein <mkapstei at uchicago.edu> wrote:

Dear Christoph,

Your comment is very interesting, and there does seem to be a prima facie similarity between

what is described in Dominic's passage and parabaik techniques. But when does paper-making

(or parabaik-making) technology begin in SE Asia? What do we know of its early history in the


all best,


Matthew Kapstein


Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,

The University of Chicago

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