Illustrated Manuscripts of Manipur

– Part 1-

HISTORY

The precise historical period of the beginning of a written script in Manipur is not known. It is certain though that by 11th and 12th century many books were written on agarbak (bark of Aquilaria agallocha). During the reign of Khagemba (1547-1652 AD), the Meiteis had learnt making paper and begun writing on them.

According to Cheitharol Kumbaba, the royal chronicle of Manipur, many manuscripts were written during his reign in 1616 for learning. It is possible that illustrated manuscripts were in vogue by this time even though we are yet to come across such ancient illustrated manuscripts.

Whatever illustrated manuscripts that are now available are mainly associated with astrology. Perhaps an exception would be Paphal Lambuba as it depicts many forms of the Paphal. Indeed, the ancient manuscripts dealt with a variety of topics such as genealogy, climatology, geography, politics, healing, mineralogy, religious issues, and battle chronicles.

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