[MYANMAR / MANUSCRIPT / BUDDHISM / ASTROLOGY] [A long and richly illustrated parabaik in Pali written in Burmese round script]
Myanmar, [circa early 19th century].
Original dark brown leather with embossing on the front board with an initial-like symbol. The black script in ink with several pencil annotations on rectangular pieces of thick hand-made mulberry paper. Closed size: 38x12,5 cm. Open size: 550x38 cm. Text in Pali, written in Burmese "round" script, richly illustrated in red, black, white, and yellow from the most influential Buddhist and astrological texts of the region. Well-preserved and in very good condition.
Extremely rare example of one of the longest and a richly illustrated parabaik from Burma, "reflecting an old system of Theravardan magical beliefs pertaining to Burma / Myanmar over 100 years ago". A highly collectible item from the pre-colonial period of the Konbaung dynasty, formerly known as the Alompra dynasty, the Third Burmese Empire, the last dynasty that ruled Burma/Myanmar from 1752 to 1885, Buddhist Myanmar. With its open size, it is extremely rare in length with 44 folds; "The longest one would have 64 folds" (Harvard online).
The scenes might show episodes from the Buddhist folk tales popular in Burma towards the end of the 19th century including many ancient tables and ca. 40 specific depictions of Buddha's life, Buddhist practices, some historical scenes, and religious practices like sky burial scenes, etc, as well as astrological and astronomical chapters.
Folding-book manuscripts (Parabaiks in Burmese) are a type of writing material historically used in Mainland Southeast Asia, particularly in the areas of present-day Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. The manuscripts are made of thick paper, usually of the Siamese rough bush (Khoi in Thai and Lao) tree or the paper mulberry, glued into a very long sheet and folded in a concertina fashion, with the front and back lacquered to form protective covers or attached to decorative wood covers. The unbound books are made in either white or black varieties, with the paper being undyed in the former and blackened with soot or lacquer in the latter. Along with paper made from bamboo and palm leaves, parabaik were the main medium for writing and drawing in early modern Burma/Myanmar.