Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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  Page 171  

CHAPTER XVI.                             171

being cut out of the papyrus stalk. Written on this
material, the orders of the Khalifs went out into all the
world until shortly before our time. Papyrus has this
advantage over vellum, that you can neither rub out
nor change anything on it, because thereby it would be
destroyed. It was in China that paper was first manu¬
factured, Chinese prisoners introduced the fabrication
of paper into Samarkand, and thereupon it was made
in various places, so as to meet the existing want.

The Hindus have in the south of their country a
slender tree like the date and cocoa-nut palms, bearing
edible fruits and leaves of the length of one yard, and
as broad as three fingers one put beside the other.
They call these leaves tdri (tdla or tdr = Borassus fia-
helliformis), and write on them. They bind a book of
these leaves together by a cord on which they are
arranged, the cord going through all the leaves by a
hole in the middle of each.

In Central and Northern India people use the bark of
the tuz tree, one kind of which is used as a cover for
bows. It is called hhurja. They take a piece one yard
long and as broad as the outstretched fingers of the
hand, or somewhat less, and prepare it in various ways.
They oil and polish it so as to make it hard and smooth,
and then they write on it. The proper order of the
single leaves is marked by numbers. The whole book
is wrapped up in a piece of cloth and fastened between
two tablets of the same size. Such a book is called
puthi (cf. pusta, pustaka). Their letters, and whatever
else they have to write, they write on the bark of the
tuz tree.

As to the writing or alphabet of the Hindus, we have Onthe
already mentioned that it once had been lost and for- alphabet.
gotten ; that nobody cared for it, and that in conse¬
quence  people  became   illiterate,   sunken  into  gross
ignorance, and entirely estranged from science.    But
then Vyasa,  the son of   Parasara,  rediscovered their
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