Arts and Culture
In the humid South-Indian climate, palm-leaf manuscripts do not last long, at best a couple of centuries, and that may be one reason why they have been regarded too ephemeral to become an object of study in themselves. However, if codicology is to be developed and if the chances of roughly dating the ca. 90% of manuscripts that come down to us without a colophon are to be improved, it is necessary to understand how and from what they are made. Only two types of leaves (Borassus Flabellifer and Corypha Umbraculifera) are mentioned by what brief presentations there are, while anybody who has actually worked with the material will agree that it is just not possible that the full variety of colour, texture, thickness, etc. in existance goes back to only these two species. However, there are other parameters we know next to nothing about, namely how preparation, but also storage and location, influence the outer appearance of a leaf. An additional question in that respect is how use relates to preparation, that is, whether certain types of leaf are correlated with certain functions. The present paper will make a modest attempt at collecting various typical shapes and textures, where possible with a date and with some comparison between leaves of roughly the same age but kept under different conditions.