University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Object Number: 89-13-251
Current Location: Collections storage
Culture:Thai
Provenience: Thailand
Period: 19th Century
Date Made: 1870 - 1889
Early Date: 1870
Late Date: 1889
Section:Asian
Materials:Khoi Paper
Iconography:Phra Malai
Narakas
Hell
Heaven
Chet Kamphi
Length: 69cm
Width: 13.5cm
Credit Line:Gift of the Estate of Elizabeth Lyons, Keeper of the Asian Collections, University Museum, 1989

Description

Accordion style khoi paper manuscript interspersed infrequently with pairs of paintings which run at the ends of two pages. Written in Pali with note and colophon in Thai (Pali in Khom script; Thai in Thai script). Manuscript tells the story of Phra Malai, a Buddhist monk, who visited heaven and hell, receiving instruction from Maitreya in heaven. He subsequently returns and transmits what he has learned to his followers. Most likely a village manuscript not produced with royal backing. The text is usually chanted at funerals and is interspersed with extracts from the Pali canon Abhidhamma (chet kamphi) and the Thai Phra Malai tale. (1. f.A02-A05: Abhidhamma chet kamphi -- 2.f.A05-46B: Phra Malai.) A note in the text of the manuscript advises the monk after finishing the previous three prayers to take and break and drink hot tea (f. B12). Donor names are penciled on the cover. Images include a depiction of the constellations around Mt. Meru, the center of Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, around which celestial objects were imagined to revolve. Sides are brown. Both ends have slightly shiny brown colored painting, lacquer or glue. Manuscript has come apart in several places. Donated to a monastery for a funeral by a woman nicknamed Older Sister Nu (mouse; colophon in pencil, f. B47). Written in central Thailand, probably in the 1870s or 1880s. 13 illustrated folios with images of deities (f. A02-A04) and episodes from the Phra Malai (f. A06, A26-A27, A41, B12-B13, B26-B27, B37, B46). Attached covers with a border formed of additional layers of heavy paper; shiny patches from former lacquer or glue.


Current & Past Exhibitions:

Reconsidering Asian Material Texts Workshop (19 Apr 2013)View Objects in Exhibition

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