CULTURE - MANUSCRIPT WRITING
Preserved manuscripts in a Sattra
There are three styles of manuscript writing which are popular in this region :-
- Gargayan script- this style was popular during the reign of the Ahoms around Gargaon in the Sibsagar area. This type of script is very artistic in character. Well-educated writers were patronized by Ahom kings to practise this school of script.
- Kaithali - this style is associated with the Kayastha community. Suvankazri, Kitabar Manjari and Hasti Vidyarnava by Sukumar Bankayastha are the examples of this style script. In lower Assam, the kayasthas are known by the title of Lahkar and hence known as Lahkari script or letter.
- Bamunia- The writer of Bamunia scripts were the Sanskrit scholars or people associated with the study of Sanskrit(Devanagari) and Kamrupi script. In the script of their writing, there is an influence of the structure of Later-Brahmi or evoluted Kamarupi script.
This art of paintings and manuscript writing was patronized by the Ahoms and also by the Sattras. The Ahoms mostly patronized the translation and original works of secular nature, while the Sattras prepared the Assamese rendering of the Bhagwat Purana, the epics and other Puranas bearing religious significance and importance in the context of Neo Vaishnavism. The earliest illustrated manuscript of Assam is the Adya Dasama of the Bhagwat Purana rendered into Assamese by Shri Shankaradeva, Chitra Bhagwat (Manuscript with painting).
Manuscript on sanchipat (sanchi bark)
- Likhak was mainly involved in copying from original text
- Khanikar prepared colors and illustrated the text
- Early Period: 5th to 13th Century
- Middle Period: 14th to 19th Century
- Present Period: From of 19th Century (with the publication of Arunodoi in 1846) to present time.
The writing of scripts on the bark of sanchi or tula pat had some specific rules -The writings were generally done from the reverse side of the leaf. A margin on all four sides was left on both sides of each sheet and on the left side of each leaf numbers were given as identification. Hence on each and every paper there was a small central whole with some empty portions called salabindha (Nabhi).
Part of the word or sometimes part of the even letter or compound letters are found written separately in two lines. In the manuscript there was no use of coma (,), semi-colon (;), note of interrogation (?), note of exclamation (!) or other marks as in its modem form. They would only use stop marks indicated by single line (I) or double lines (II) and also by colon (:) marks. Stress was practically on pronunciation and often the sense or meaning of the writing was determined from the manner of pronunciation. In case of a mistake they did not remove it from the paper.