Palm Leaf

A Canvas from the Past - Exquisite painting and etchings on palm leaf from Odisha

Palm leaf writing is probably the oldest form of writing in India. The Mahabharata is believed to have been dictated by Sage Vyas to Lord Ganesh, who scripted it down on palm leaf. From Vedas and manuscripts to horoscopes, this ancient method was followed not by the common populace, but only by scholars and wise men. The temples of India acted as storehouses of all such manuscripts and were customarily the centres for learning the same. It was here that the texts were copied into fresh ones as they wore out. And Odisha, the temple state, was no exception. Stories were written, poems were weaved and futures predicted, all on palm leaves. By highly revered Lipikaras.

Owning a palm leaf picture or manuscript would be equivalent to owning a piece of a three thousand year old history. Unchanged over the centuries, this beautiful art epitomises not only culture and tradition, but also the spirit of an ancient civilization, which flourished in spite of numerous invasions and raids aimed at destroying it. While you may not be able to visit their homes and learn about the finer nuances of the craft, you have a chance to take a piece of history home, with you.

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