Arrival of the 2000-year-old palm book in Hue

(No.3, Vol.6,Apr-May 2016 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

Fragments of the ancient palm Buddhist book that will be displayed in Hue.
Photo: Le Dac Nguyen Quy

On April 26-27, the rare ancient Buddhist
manuscripts of the Schoeyen Collection
will be displayed in a pagoda in Hue for public view. It is a special occasion to Buddhist followers and researchers in Vietnam.

Audiences and Buddhists in Vietnam will get a chance to view and pray in front of a collection of palm Buddhist books that date back 2,000 years and were found in a cavern system near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The first fragments of the book were found in a site near the ruined Buddha statues by professors from Norway, Japan, Germany, and the US. Formal arrangements later were done by the collection owner, Martin Schoeyen.
Following exhibitions held in Asian countries including Thailand and Myanmar, the Buddhist manuscripts of the Schoeyen Collection will arrive in Hue on April 25 for a two-day exhibition. At the exhibition, ancient Buddhist artefacts stored at Huyen Khong Pagoda will be on display for public view as well, according to Venerable Phap Tong.
The rare, precious palm book is a world cultural heritage item and is under management of the Norwegian Government, who lent them and authorized Thai Sangha to exhibit the Buddhist manuscripts of the Schoeyen Collection in South East Asia and North Asia.
Inspired by this Buddhist treasure, the Venerable Phap Tong asked to have permission to exhibit the ancient palm book in Hue, despite the fact that Vietnam was not in the list of arrivals.
“Arrival of the ancient palm book in Hue gives a good chance for Buddhist followers to have a look at a glorious stage of Buddhism from 2,000 years ago,” said Venerable Phap Tong.
The Venerable also appraised the collection of the palm book as a great archaeological achievement, saying it would be meaningful to local researchers as well.
In January of this year, Venerable Phap Tong got a chance to view the Buddhist manuscripts of the Schoeyen Collection in a side-line exhibition at the World Peace Buddhist Conference held in Myanmar.
A strong determination was generated inside of him for the Buddhist community in Vietnam to pray and admire the religion’s treasure.
In recent weeks, delegates from Norway and Thai Sangha have arrived in Hue to examine the exhibition venue at Theravada Huyen Khong Pagoda, which is located in the outskirts of Huong Ho Commune, about 2 km from Thien Mu Pagoda.
After the Hue exhibition, the priceless book will be sent back to Thailand, accompanied by Thai Sangha delegates. About 50 Buddhist officials and followers from Thai Sangha will accompany the exhibit.

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