-Palmleaf Manuscript and Sinhalese
Written in the Sinhala language spoken by the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka, this manuscript consists of dried palm fronds secured with string. This method of writing dates back millenia, and was popular across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. These manuscripts were created by first drying palm fronds, then inscribing the letters using a stylus, and finally adding ink. This type of manuscript is fragile and prone to deterioration caused by excess humidity, insects, or mold. Not only is this palm leaf book important to preserve the historical text it contains, but also as an example of the diverse forms, materials, and construction used to make texts.
Also featured here is an English to Sinhala phrasebook, designed to facilitate intercultural communication. It was published in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo by the Wesleyan Mission, a British Methodist society that also sent representatives to China and New Zealand. The phrases contained in this book are all designed for colloquial conversations and would be of little use in understanding the palm leaf manuscript.
Palm Leaf Book. 19th century.
John Callaway (d. 1841).
A Vocabulary in Cingalese and English: with a Series of Familiar Phrases
Colombo: Wesleyan Mission Press, 1820.
Lehigh University Catalog Record: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/257221