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Two Different Storage Environments for Palm Leaf Manuscripts: Comparison of Deterioration Phenomena

Der Einfluss unterschiedlicher Aufbewahrungsbedingungen auf den Erhaltungszustand von Palmblattmanuskripten
Meifang Zhang EMAIL logo , Xin Song and Yaya Wang


Precious palm leaf manuscripts are kept in public libraries, archives, museums, and temples in China. Recently, private collectors have gained interest in collecting such manuscripts as well. Different storage environments and preservation measures may have an impact on the overall condition and deterioration of manuscripts depending on the respective collecting entirety. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the storage situation of palm leaf manuscripts in different storage conditions, identify their state of deterioration and further analyze the underlying reasons. This research focuses on the palm leaf manuscripts stored at the Cultural Palace Library of Nationalities and in the Fandian Palace. Deterioration phenomena, such as acidification, staining, mold, tearing and blurred ink have occurred. The main problems could be identified as inadequate storage materials and acidification of the wrapping materials. Unfavorable storage conditions also affect aging and deterioration. By comparing palm leaf manuscripts of the two collections, we found that the manuscripts of The Cultural Palace Library of Nationalities are well preserved as a whole, with few signs of deterioration and slight damage, while the manuscripts of the Fandian Palace show more serious problems. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the storage conditions at the latter location and take some measures to prevent the palm leaf manuscripts from continuing to deteriorate.


Kostbare Palmblattmanuskripte werden in China in öffentlichen Bibliotheken, Archiven, Museen und Tempeln aufbewahrt. In letzter Zeit interessieren sich auch private Sammler für diese Manuskripte. Unterschiedliche Lagerungsumgebungen und Konservierungsmaßnahmen können sich positiv oder negativ auf den Gesamtzustand der Manuskripte auswirken, abhängig vom jeweiligen Sammlungskontext. Daher ist es notwendig, die Aufbewahrungssituation von Palmblattmanuskripten unter verschiedenen Lagerungsbedingungen zu untersuchen, problematische Umstände zu identifizieren und die dafür verantwortlichen Gründe weiter zu analysieren. Dieser Beitrag konzentriert sich auf die Palmblattmanuskripte, die in der Kulturpalastbibliothek der Nationalitäten und im Fandian-Palast gelagert werden. An den untersuchten Manuskripten sind Alterungserscheinungen wie Versäuerung, Fleckenbildung, Schimmel, Risse und Verblassen der Tinte aufgetreten. Als Hauptprobleme konnten unzureichende oder ungeeignete Verpackungsmaterialien identifiziert werden. Ungünstige klimatische Bedingungen beeinflussen ebenfalls die Alterung. Beim Vergleich der Palmblattmanuskripte der beiden Sammlungen haben wir festgestellt, dass die Manuskripte der Bibliothek des Kulturpalastes der Nationalitäten insgesamt gut erhalten sind und nur wenige Anzeichen von nur leichte Schäden aufweisen, während die Manuskripte des Fandian-Palastes ernstere Probleme zeigen. Daher ist es notwendig, die Lagerungsbedingungen an letzterem Ort zu verbessern und einige Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, um den weiteren eine weitere Verschlechterung des Zustandes der Palmblattmanuskripte zu verhindern.

Corresponding author: Meifang Zhang, School of Information Resource Management, Renmin University of China (RUC), Haidian District, 100872, Beijing, China, E-mail:


This paper was supported by The Cultural Palace of Nationalities, and we would like to express our deepest appreciation to Xianba librarian for his support. In addition, we would like to thank Professor Sambu for his help, and the staff of Fandian Palace for their valuable support for this research.

  1. Research funding: This work was supported by the Key Projects of Philosophy and Social Science Research of the Ministry of Education, China [name: Research on rescue protection of ancient books of Potala Palace (palm leaf manuscript). Grant number: 19JZD040].


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Online erschienen: 2021-07-05

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