The text in the Burmese Kammavaca Palm leaf Prayer Manuscripts and Paysar owes its origins to the Pali language of India. The Therevada School of Buddhism adhered to in Burma for hundreds of years was formalized as the main form of religion during the reign of King Anawrahta of Pagan between 1044A.D. and 1077A.D. Few other Buddhist country’s has kept this faith more sheltered from change than has Burma.
The Pali language is closely related to Sanskrit. The Tripitaka (Pali, Tipitaka), the Buddhist name for the three great groups of canonical texts.
- Vinaya – The Vinaya, as known in Burma, is the monastic code handed down by the Theravadin sect in Ceylon, that is the sect professing the doctrine Theravadin sect in Ceylon.
- Sutta, and Abhidhamma – known as the Abhidhammatthasangaha, also of Sinhalese origin.
- Pitahas “baskets” is known in Burma as the Pali recension consecrated in Ceylon.
The text within the Kammavaca manuscripts are the formal monastic acts or ceremonies prescribed in the Vinaya. Burmese manuscripts have been produced in many forms such as Ivory, palm leaf, metal and stiffened cloth in varying sizes.
The traditional Burmese and Mon manuscripts present the text in lacquered black “tamarind seed” lettering on an ornate gilt red and gold (or silver) background, on both sides of the leaves. The Tai Khun use black ink lettering on white paper accordion books, the covers of which have stenciled designs, often in silver and red lacquer.
Usually these Burmese Kammavaca and Palm leaf manuscripts (Paysar) are held together with bamboo sticks holding the pages together and a narrow hand woven ribbon called sasigyo or sarsekyo made from silk, cotton, or felt is wound around the outside of a manuscript to hold it together.
The weaving in the sasigyo includes either text or patterns, or both. Informative articles on the Burmese Kammavaca and Palm Leaf Prayer Manuscripts.