Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/31
paper Sanskrit MS. written in India is one from Gujarat, belonging to the early part of the thirteenth century. In Northern India, where ink was employed for writing, palm leaves went out of use after the introduction of paper. But in the South, where a stilus has always been employed for scratching in the character, palm leaves are still common for writing both MSS. and letters. The birch bark and palm leaf MSS. are held together by a cord drawn through a single hole in the middle, or through two placed some distance apart. This explains how the Sanskrit word for "knot," grantha, came to acquire the sense of "book."
Leather or parchment has never been utilised in India for MSS., owing to the ritual impurity of animal materials. For inscriptions copper-plates were early and frequently employed. They regularly imitate the shape of either palm leaves or strips of birch bark.
The actual use of ink (the oldest Indian name of which is mashi) is proved for the second century B.C. by an inscription from a Buddhist relic mound, and is rendered very probable for the fourth century B.C. by the statements of Nearchos and Quintus Curtius.
All the old palm leaf, birch bark, and paper Sanskrit MSS. have been written with ink and a reed pen, usually called kalama (a term borrowed from the Greek kalamos). In Southern India, on the other hand, it has always been the practice to scratch the writing on palm leaves with a stilus, the characters being subsequently blackened by soot or charcoal being rubbed into them.
Sanskrit MSS. of every kind are usually kept between thin strips of wood with cords wound round them, and wrapped up in coloured, sometimes embroidered, cloths. They have been, and still are, preserved in the