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Subject: Buddhist manuscript book

Buddhist manuscript book

From: Becky Cameron <becky_ann_cameron>
Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2001
I am currently doing some work at the National Archives of Nepal in
Kathmandu, and the conservation scientist and myself have been asked
to treat a Buddhist manuscript book. The book is made up of loose
leaves kept between boards, and is written in gold and silver
coloured ink on blue-black paper. The paper is 4 layers thick, with
the outer layers dyed dark blue-black. The central text area is
coated a glossy black. It looks like a traditional mss, but
observation shows that the paper is machine rather than hand made
and the ink is not real gold and silver; it was likely made sometime
round the mid 20th C.

I would like some information on two areas:

1.  Exactly how this type of paper was traditionally made. So far I
have two slightly conflicting written sources.

    Jasper Trier.
    Ancient Paper of Nepal
    Jutland Archaeology Society Publications, Vol X, 1972

says that the dye came from an extract of the Areka palm, and then a
lacquer or glaze (but of what?) for the text areas.

    CL Gajurel and KK Vaidya.
    Traditional Arts and Crafts of Nepal
    Schand and Co. Ltd, New Delhi, 1984/1994

give wax, lamp-black, and arsenic sulphide (as an insecticide) to
coat the text areas and suggest copper sulphate (which is completely
the wrong kind of blue and generally seems very unlikely) as the
blue dye. Any offers?

2.  Has anyone any advice on treating the pages? There is very
extensive insect damage, which has made some of the sheets resemble
doilies. The plan is to repair a few of the pages that are more
intact (although I have pleaded for it to be allowed to rest in
peace). The black coating and inks are slightly water sensitive;
they will move if rubbed when wet. The pages are fairly stiff and

Becky Cameron
Paper Conservator

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:49
                  Distributed: Friday, March 23, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-49-023
Received on Tuesday, 13 March, 2001

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