via Phnom Penh Post, 01 December 2019: How a former monk is preserving the tradition of making palm leaf manuscripts.
Being a palm leaf inscriber comes with different challenges. For one, it isn’t exactly a recipe for fame or fortune. For another, it’s a complicated process that requires a great amount of skill and patience. It takes about a month and several steps before the leaves are dry and hard enough to be written on.
“A type of palm leaf called Sloek Rith has to be freshly cut. The trees can be found in abundance in the Chhaeb district in the province of Preah Vihear. The leaves need to be cut into pieces of the same size and then dried for a whole month.
They also need to be smoke-treated for a few days before they become durable enough to go under the blade,” Loeng says.
Believed to have begun in India and Southeast Asia around the 5th century BCE, palm leaf manuscripts in Cambodia were made for inscribing “Tripitaka” – also called as Preah Trai Bekdok in Khmer – which are sacred Buddhist scriptures that contain the teachings of Buddha.