Definitions

palm leaf

Palm leaf manuscript

Palm leaf manuscripts are manuscripts made out of dried palm leaves. They were used to record actual and mythical narratives in South Asia and in South East Asia. It was the paper of the ancient world. Initially knowledge was passed down orally, after the invention of alphabets in South Asia, people eventually began to write them down in dried palm leaves of Palmyra palm or talipot palm. Once written down, each document had limited time frame before which the document had to be rewritten or copied onto new sets of dried palm leaves. With the spreading of Indian culture to South-East Asia countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia are also are home to a collection of documents in Palm leaves. With the addition of printing presses in the early 19th century this cycle of copying from palm leaves has come to an end. Many governments are making efforts to preserve what is left of the palm leaves documents.

In 1997 The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO recognised the Tamil Medical Manuscript Collection as Memory of the World Register.

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