China has launched a two-year project to study and preserve rare Buddhist Sanskrit scriptures of Indian origin that were written on leaves more than 1,000 years ago and brought to Tibet, the state media reported.
There are some 4,300 'pages' of the rare tree-leaf Buddhist Sanskrit scripture in 426 volumes, said Hu Chunhua, a top official of Tibet Autonomous Region, quoting figures from the local cultural heritage administration.
The documents were brought to Tibet from India between the 7th and 13th centuries and have remained quite well preserved, president of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, Cewang Jinme said.
The scriptures are inscribed on stripes of leaves of the pattra tree which is native to tropical climates and similar to a palm tree.
The tree's leaves, which are easily transportable and durable, were used before there was wide access to paper. A steel pen was used to etch the Sanskrit directly on to the leaves, which themselves became a Buddhist symbol of brightness as the scriptures brought enlightenment.