‘Picture This #10’—’The perfection of wisdom’ in 8,000 lines
Cambridge, University Library, MS Add. 1464, The perfection of wisdom in 8,000 lines, features as the tenth image in the University’s ‘Picture This’ series—short articles exploring images from around the University. Commissioned by a female devotee of Buddhism, this exquisitely painted palm leaf from the 10th century is part of the oldest dated and illustrated Sanskrit manuscript known worldwide. Written in an ornamental South Asian script known as Kuṭila, the palm leaf shows Buddha, making the gesture of teaching, with disciples sitting either side. Although the manuscript is over 1,000 years old, the source is much older: an oral text thought to have been originally composed in South India between 100 BCE and 100 CE.