Description & Technical information

This set for writing on palm leaf comprises a knife, stylus and a bifurcated pricker kept in a leather sheath which has three slots, for each three items. The stylus is decorated with geometrical patterns and has an amlaka shaped shaft in the middle. The handle of the knife has floral motifs all over. The upper part of the pricker is decorated with geometrical pattern whilst the lower part has a swirling pattern around it. The pricker has a rounded terminal. Both the stylus and the pricker would have been used for inscribing talipot palm leaves whilst the knife was used for trimming and erasing. Writing on palm leaf was ancient tradition in Sri Lanka, which continued into the 19th century. Although the scribe’s sets with knife and stylus are not common, the ones with the pricker are even rarer.
For a similar example (in gold and steel) of a full set with the three items, dating to the 18th-19th century, see Metropolitan Museum, New York, Accession Number 36. 25. 967a-d.

Period:  18th-19th century
Origin:  Sri Lanka
Medium: Cut steel; leather (sheath).
Literature: Bibliography
Jeremiah P. Losty. The Art of the Book in India. British Library, London, 1982.  

Categories: Oriental and Asian Art