return icon

An Giang to preserve Khmer Buong leaf writing

The People’s Committee of the southern province of An Giang has approved a project on preserving and upholding the cultural values of writing on buong (fan palm) leaves of the Khmer ethnic group by 2030.

The project is significant to conserving cultural and intangible cultural heritage in An Giang.

An Giang is a multi-ethnic province, with about 29 ethnic groups, of which there are 4 main ethnic groups: Kinh, Khmer, Hoa and Chăm. The Khmer are mostly concentrated in the two mountainous districts of Tri Ton and Tinh Bien, possessing a treasure of unique and diverse cultural heritage.

According to the State Records and Archives Department, the Khmer people first carved scripts on buong leaves, known as Satra, in the 19th century to record Buddhist teachings, folk stories, descriptions of festivals and folk games, and lessons. 

The scriptures written on buong leaves play a significant role in the spiritual and religious life of Khmer ethnic people. VNA/VNS Photo Cong Mao

More than 100 Buddhist scriptures, written in ancient Khmer or Pali language on buong leaves, are now kept at 30 out of 65 Khmer pagodas in Tri Ton and Tinh Bien districts.

Each buong leaf prayer book comprises 20 to 60 leaves, with five lines containing 150 words on each leaf. A book weighs less than one kilogramme and its thickness depends on the content.

The scriptures play a significant role in the spiritual and religious life of the Khmer people.

The manuscripts on buong leaves are carved with an iron stitch, and then absorb a mixture of coal and turpentine through a sheet of cloth. Thanks to the durability of the leaves and the skills of the writers, manuscripts can be written on both sides of the leaves.

Monk Chau Ty, head of Xvay Ton Pagoda in Nui To Commune, Tri Ton District, said young leaf sprouts were chosen and pressed between two boards for three to five months before being exposed to the sun until they are withered.

Writing prayers on leaves is not an easy job, as it requires patience and must be performed by those who master Buddhist teachings and have a tranquil mind, he said.

It takes artisans several months to complete each prayer book, according to Chau Chenh from Co To Commune, who used to join in with the writing.

With its unique value, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognised the art of writing on buong leaves as a national cultural heritage in 2017. 

On the verge of oblivion

Through ups and downs, the buong scriptures have long been on the verge of oblivion. Currently, only Monk Chau Ty knows how to write the ancient Khmer language on buong leaves. He is striving to pass down the art to Khmer monks and nuns in the region. 

The Buddhist scriptures written on leaves at Xvayton Pagoda, Tri Ton District, An Giang Province, are hundreds of years old. VNA/VNS Photo Cong Mao

Due to several wars, only a small number of Buddhist scriptures have been preserved at large ancient pagodas. This preservation work has also met a wide range of difficulties and environmental impacts.

Previously, the writing was passed down to the best monks and nuns. However, the teaching is now expanded to other groups, helping to promote the art.

Buong is a tree in the mountains, currently only scattered on To, Dai and Cam mountains in An Giang. The tree is as tall as a palmyra tree, but the leaves are longer and thicker, with many layers like plywood. Each leaf can be divided into 3 small pieces for writing, about 50-60 centimetres long.

It is now not as easy to find buong leaves as it was in the past, said Monk Chau Son Hy from Sa Lon Pagoda in Luong Phi Commune, Tri Ton District.

“We have to buy materials collected from Cambodian forests,” he said. 

Digitized scriptures

The project on preserving and upholding intangible cultural values of writing on buong leaves of the Khmer ethnics by 2030 is necessary and matches policies and guidelines of the Party and the State regarding traditional culture preservation and promotion.

A monk explains the unique features of the Buddhist scriptures written on buong leaves. VNA/VNS Photo Cong Mao

Under the project, from 2022 to 2026, An Giang will focus on researching, collecting, verifying, classifying and restoring this heritage.

It will also digitize the scriptures on buong leaves, and make variants of some books to serve educational and tourism services, thus promoting the heritage to attract more resources in the preservation work.

Meanwhile, during the 2028-2033 period, the province will build a dossier on the scriptures on buong leaves, seeking recognition of the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific. 

Source: Vietnam News 

Thai man preserves and promotes ethnic script

Thai man preserves and promotes ethnic script

Sam Van Binh was proud to be one of the attendees at an event held in Hanoi recently to honour role models from across the country who study and follow the ideology, morality and lifestyle of President Ho Chi Minh.

Stories told from threads on a loom

Stories told from threads on a loom

With colours as words and patterns as metaphors, ethnic Cham artisans in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang passionately create stories through weaving.



Vietnam backs rules-based multilateral trading system: official

HCM City museums seek to digitize, widen reach

Most museums in HCM City are in the process of restoring, upgrading and rearranging their display systems after long closures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

VN determinedly stops slow public investment projects

It is estimated that until May 31, Vietnam disbursed only 22.37 percent of its public investment budget.

Vietnam’s SEA Games football victory finds prominent coverage in foreign media

ESPN ran a front-page story headlined “Vietnam retain Southeast Asian Games gold medal against Thailand to prove they are still force to be reckoned with,” saying “even at the simplest level, it was a victory with plenty of significance.”


SEA Games 31: Vietnam’s shooting team surpass set target

Vietnam’s pangasius exports return to high level

After a period of difficulty in key export markets, Vietnam’s exports of pangasius catfish have recovered and grown strongly in the early months of 2022.

New record, big stride of Vietnam’s sport

Vietnam have wrapped up their SEA Games 31 run at the top of the medal table with 205 golds, including the much-anticipated one in the men’s football claimed on May 22 night.

More favourable rule system urged for healthcare PPPs

A more robust legal framework is being sought to strengthen public-private partnerships in the health sector, thus increasing the system’s resilience and sustainability for better preparation for new pandemics.

Vietnam promotes development agenda on WEF 52 sidelines

Deputy PM Le Minh Khai of Vietnam met a number of executives of international organisations and businesses on the sidelines of the ongoing 52nd World Economic Forum in Switzerland to promote connectivity between the government and businesses.

Hanoi’s specialty listed among CNN's best Asian noodle dishes

Pho, Bun cha and Cao lau were praised by US news site CNN to be the best the most mouth-watering noodle dishes across Asia.

Vietnam's special things: Bun rieu served on pink-themed boat at floating market

An old farmer in Gia Lai Province turns bamboo into a micro communal house while a teacher in Quang Nam Province creates unique works of art from discarded leaves.

Foreign e-commerce platforms must set up an office or appoint representative in Vietnam

Foreign traders and foreign organizations having e-commerce activities in Vietnam must establish representative offices or appoint representatives according to Vietnam’s regulations.

Coal reserves running out, VN to import coal to generate electricity

Domestic coal production is mainly used for electricity production. In 2019, domestic coal for power generation accounted for 76% of total coal output.

Banks unveil ambitious charter capital hike plans

Banks have faced pressure to increase their charter capital over the past few years to enhance their financial capacity and improve safety indicators to get closer to international standards.

Can businesses still make money from stock trading?

Financial reports in the first quarter of the year highlighted that many enterprises earned profits from financial investment activities but the profits plunged over the same period last year and their investment portfolios were narrower.