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Asian Manuscripts Collection

Identifier: MsC0913

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Scope and Contents

The numbers assigned to this collection require some explanation. Numbers 50, 51, 53, 55, 56, and 64 displayed these numbers when they came to us. Notes were made on the manuscripts using these numbers and it seemed wise to keep them. Furthermore, thinking that they may have been part of a larger collection that had been broken up, we retained these numbers in case other manuscripts come to light.

Numbers 9, 10, and 11 were assigned by personnel at the University of Iowa and are arbitrary.

The palm leaf manuscripts were reviewed by Fred Smith who provided the following commentary.

The palm leaf set with numbers in the fifties are probably Singhalese and probably came from Sri Lanka and were routed and possibly re-wrapped in China, based on the Chinese coin used on the books (see number 51). An interesting note is that these palm manuscripts use curvilinear text developed for use with palm leaves, as linear text writing would crack the palm, in contrast Northern India where dried birch bark is used, with the writing on the inside employing linear writing as curvilinear writing would make the birch bark crack. The curvilinear text is etched into the palm leaf with a stylus using no ink. Then black ink powder is rubbed over the surface to reveal the writing.

A note included with the palm leaf manuscripts of unknown origin states that the language is Pali which is " . . . the name of the literary language of the Buddhists in Ceylon. It is a dead language except as used in their sacred writing."


  • Creation: -


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


6.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Mostly palm leaf manuscripts, but includes other formats.

Method of Acquisition

Parts of this collection were donated by Reverend Tai Kwong and parts by Professor Bose. Other items in this collection are from known and unknown sources. The donor's name in included in the individual entry of those for which we know it.

Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)