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Ramayana palm-leaf manuscript

 Collection — Box: 1
Call Number: MS Q57


Palm-leaf manuscript created sometime in the 1600s possibly in or near Tirupati, now part of southern India, containing a 13th century Telugu translation written by Bhaskara of the first five books of the Ramayana.


  • Creation: approximately 1600s



1 linear foot (1 volume + 1 folder in oversize box)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This palm-leaf manuscript, also known as a Pothi, contains the first five books of a 13th-century translation of a popular story that probably originated before 1000 B.C.E. The story is told in couplets (slokas), and this version of the story was translated freely into Telugu by the 13th-century writer Bhaskara. This manuscript version of the story was probably written down in the 17th century.

The collection also includes a brief essay by Donald Pady regarding palm-leaf manuscripts and captioned photographs of his mother in India and Indian staff working with palm-leaf manuscripts.

The five books presented in this manuscript are

  1. Bala Kanda: tells the birth and childhood of story hero Prince Rama.
  2. Ahodhya Kanda: tells of the prince's activities (Ahodhya is the capital of Prince Rama's father's kingdom).
  3. Aranya Kanda: tells of Prince Rama's living in the forest due to another of his father's wives wanting her son to be crowned king. Rama's wife Sita is kidnapped by Ravana.
  4. Kishkindha Kanda: tells of Prince Rama making friends with the monkeys, who tell him his wife is in Lanka, what is now Sri Lanka.
  5. Sundara Kanda: tells of Hanuman, devoted chief monkey, crossing the water to save Rama's wife Sita, and Rama's plans to follow.

Call Number

MS Q57


This manuscript was held at the Sri Venkateswara Oriental Research Institute in Tirupati, India. In 1969-1970 Dr. Stuart Pady and his wife Rose lived there and worked with the institute, at which time Mrs. Pady purchased the manuscript. Her son Donald sold the manuscript to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Donald Stuart Pady, 2014.

Physical Description

The manuscript is made of oblong talipo palm leaves perforated with holes for iron rods to hold the leaves in order. Words are incised with a stylus or other sharp instrument; these incised leaves are rubbed with a dark pigment to increase contrast and readability. The leaves are threaded with cords (sutra), and a long iron rod holds the leaves between two strips of wood for protection. While paper was available in India at this time, palm leaves were a more readily available substitute.

Guide to the Bhaskara Ramayana Collection
Ramayana palm-leaf manuscript
Finding aid prepared by mwh. Finding aid encoded by mwh.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid permalink

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States