Parabaik page with text - 2014.55.13_1


Parabaik page with text

Maker: Unknown
Medium:paper, wood
Geography: Myanmar (Burma)
33.5 x 63 cm
Object number: 2014.55.13
Credit Line: Gift of Goss Family, in memory of Chris and Eleanor Goss
Not on view

This framed work features a piece of black manuscript paper (parabaik) with Burmese text in white. There is white text on view through the matte and a second text is on another page of parabaik folded behind the first. A translation of both still needs to be made but it is likely the typed letter press caption glued to the lower left corner of the glass is a translation of the text on view. References in the Goss archive at the ROM suggests at least one of these Burmese inscriptions was done by the hand of King Mindon Min (r. 1853-78) and given as a gift to Dr. Clement Williams. 

Parabaiks were the main medium of writings and drawings of ancient Burma. Extant black parabaiks consist of works of scientific and technical importance like medicine, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, history, social and economic commentary, music, historical ballads, fiction, poetry, etc. The majority of Burmese chronicles were originally written on parabaiks.

This object is associated with Louis Allan Goss (29 October 1846 –  10 July 1933), who likely framed the parabaik and kept it during his time at Cambridge University. He arrived in Mandalay, Upper Burma, in April 1866 to join his maternal uncle, Clement Williams (1834-1879), in business. While there, he studied the Burmese language and published a transliteration of the Thimbongyi, the Burmese spelling book, with the Royal Press. He moved to Rangoon in 1873 and become the editor and manager of the Educational Gazette, a vernacular-language newspaper. From 1878-1902, he was the Inspector of Schools and then Acting Director of Public Instruction. In 1886, he produced an English version from Pali of We-than-da-ya (Vessantara-Jātaka), illustrated by an unidentified Burmese artist. Upon retiring from government service in 1901, Goss taught the Burmese language at the University of Cambridge. L. Allan Goss donated a large collection of photographs and maps to the Cambridge University Library, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) in Cambridge, and the British Library. Another collection of photos and artifacts was given to the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, by his descendants in Canada.

Southeast Asia
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