11. Calligraphic Magic: Abhidhamma Inscriptions from Sukhodaya
Peter Skilling [+]
Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient and Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
The article presents five fifteenth- to sixteenth-century Pali inscriptions from Sukhodaya, Thailand. Three of them are engraved in the Khom alphabet on large square stone slabs, with considerable attention to format; they seem to be unique in Thai epigraphy. Two of these carry extracts from the Abhidhamma; the third gives a syllabary followed by the recollection formulas of the Three Gems. The other two epigraphs are written not on stone slabs but are inscribed on small gold leaves; they contain the heart formulas of the books of the Tipiṭaka and the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṃgha. The exact find-spots and functions of the slabs and gold leaves are not known. I suggest that they are the products of widespread and enduring Buddhist cultures of inscription, installation, and consecration, as well as of customs of condensation and abbreviation that have have been intrinsic to Thai liturgical and manuscript practices up to the present.