Palm Leaf Etching - Arts

Major literary works like the Mahabharata were originally inscribed on palm leaves. Even the later copper plate inscriptions were first etched on palm leaves.
Palm Leaf inscription used for recording horoscopes in many parts of India till today, has been developed into a fine and precise art by the master craftsmen. The skill of the artist is reflected in the precise use of the stylus in the delicate art of Palm Leaf Etching. The process of preparing the palm leaf and making it ready for etching is quite elaborate and time consuming. Unripe leaves of the Palm tree are first cut into required shapes and are sun-dried. Semi-dried leaves are buried in muddy swamps and left for 4 or 5 days for further seasoning. After these are retrieved and washed, they are once again air-dried. Then the leaves are kept inside paddy heaps.
This makes them insect-proof and stiff. The leaves are stitched and strung together drawn with pencil. The etching is done with the help of an iron stylus. After the etching is complete, the leaf is rubbed with the soot derived from burning the Undi fruit oil. The palm leaves are wiped with a piece of cloth and the paste lodged in the etched portions of the palm leaf to reveal the pattern as dark engraved lines. Palm Leaf inscription used for recording horoscopes in many parts of India till today, has been developed into a fine and precise art by the master craftsmen. The skill of the artist is reflected in the precise use of the stylus in the delicate art of Palm Leaf Etching. The process of preparing the palm leaf and making it ready for etching is quite elaborate and time consuming. Unripe leaves of the Palm tree are first cut into required shapes and are sun-dried. Semi-dried leaves are buried in muddy swamps and left for 4 or 5 days for further seasoning. After these are retrieved and washed, they are once again air-dried. Then the leaves are kept inside paddy heaps. This makes them insect-proof and stiff. The leaves are stitched and strung together drawn with pencil. The etching is done with the help of an iron stylus. After the etching is complete, the leaf is rubbed with the soot derived from burning the Undi fruit oil. The palm leaves are wiped with a piece of cloth and the paste lodged in the etched portions of the palm leaf to reveal the pattern as dark engraved lines.