The written word has appeared in many different forms throughout history. Although the holdings in Special Collections predominantly take the form of printed books, there are some fine examples of other written mediums.
One interesting example held is pictured above, a Bhagavatam, “a Sanskrit religious poem ... on palm leaves in Oriya script form Orissa (South East India)”1. Producing works on palm leaves was common in India and South East Asia, and involved flattening the leaves, polishing them smooth with sand, and then scratching the characters on to the surface. These characters were later coloured by adding a sooty pigment. Once the work was complete the pages were holed, threaded on to a string, and sandwiched between two wooden boards2.
This particular work was donated to the Library by Emeritus Professor W. K. Lacey.
William Hamill, Special Collections
1 D. Ghosh (Curator, North Indian Section, The British Library), personal communication, August 16, 1994.