Burmese Palm Leaf Manuscript (Eighteenth Century)
Palm leaf manuscripts served as the paper of the ancient world for thousands of years and continued to be used in parts of Asia until the introduction of printing presses in the early 19th century.
The leaves are laced together and then tied onto two solid wooden blocks, but their fragility and impermanence meant that documents often needed to be copied onto new sets of dried palm leaves.
The introduction of printing brought the cycle of copying from palm leaves came to an end, and today many governments are making efforts to preserve what is left of their palm leaf documents. The example at Chetham's is remarkably well preserved and beautifully embellished with hand-painted gold leaf.