Illustrated Phra Malai Manuscript. A Buddhist Saintís Journeys to Heaven and Hell.

EUR 1.500,00
Starting price
EUR 4.000,00 / 5.000,00


Illustrated Phra Malai Manuscript. A Buddhist Saintís Journeys to Heaven and Hell.

A Buddhist Saintís Journeys to Heaven and Hell.

Thailand, 19th century.

On mulberry paper in concertina form, with gilt embossed thick paper covers. 145 x 690 mm each page; 145 x 690 x 85 mm manuscript close. 93 Folios, of which 7 blank, with 20 miniatures in colors. Each image 290 x 190 mm. In Khmer script. Damage on the covers, internally good state of conservation.

Condition Report

This classic Thai Theravada Buddhist text recounts the experiences of the Sinhalese monk, Malai, on his journey to hell and to heaven. In the form of a poem, it serves as a moralising tale in which the consequences of oneís deeds in this life impact on oneís fate in the next. The story is one of the most popular subjects of 19th-century illuminated Thai manuscripts. In 19th-century Thailand, it became a very popular chanting text for weddings and funerals. The legend describes Phra Malaiís visits to heaven and hell by the powers he achieved through meditation and great merits. Afterwards he teaches the laity and fellow monks about the karmic effects of human actions, which he learned about when meeting Buddha Maitreya in heaven. It was through these narratives that the Buddhaís message of hope for a better rebirth and for attaining nirvana was conveyed. Phra Malai manuscripts were frequently produced and donated to Buddhist monasteries as acts of merit. By the mid-19th century the representation of celestial and royal figures in Thai painting was entirely stylised complete with its own iconography. However, the corruptible individual, still motivated by his/her own desires, such as the two adulterers located in an earthly landscape were depicted in a naturalistic manner that demonstrates an awareness of European pictorial devices.


See Ginsburg, Henry, (1989), Thai Manuscript Painting, The British Library, London. Jana Igunma, Henry D. Ginsburg and the Thai Manuscripts Collection at the British Library, Collectors and Collections in the History of Thai Manuscripts, Volume 2 Issue 1, 5-4-2018. 
thu 25 June 2020
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